Thursday the 31st.  The bad news today is that our nephew Wesley broke his collarbone and skinned his face last night in a bicycle wreck.  The good news is that Sue was able to get from the house to the car and go for a ride with Amy and the boys.   I'm sure that cabin fever was starting to set in for all four of them.  It also worked as a little trial run for Sue's trip on Saturday to our house.  Amy's birthday is on Sunday and wouldn't it be great to have everyone back together in Mount Airy by then.  Speaking of Mount Airy, I checked out the progress being made on the new amphitheater being built just up the street.  We are very much looking forward to having such a nice place so close by to enjoy live music and shows this summer.  I also took a photo of our new Andy and Opie statue to show that Spring is coming to Mayberry.  The boys enjoyed the warm weather today in Colonial Heights by playing in the neighborhood playground.  And during their time out and about in the car, while the boys both snoozed in the backseat, Amy and Sue visited the cemetery where Amy's father is buried.

Wednesday the 30th.  Okay, this is a good snapshot of my bachelor life this week.  I walk in the door around eight this evening, ten minutes later the door flies back open, smoke rolling out, I'm in the middle of the smoke, running, oven mitts on, tripping over the cat, carrying a pan piled high with this black burnt smoking stuff.   Yep, I guess I don't really cook that much anymore... more story.

        

Paddling at Sunset on Belews Lake (1.5MB) Mar05 

Tuesday the 29th.  Jackson went with Jesse, Sherri, and children from the Little School to see Robots this afternoon.  I used my lunch hour to ride up the mountain and back on the Virago.  After work I carried the kayak to Belews Lake in Walkertown, NC for some twilight paddling.  Afterwards I visited our friend Sharon McMichael and finally got to meet the very sweet little Kasey McMichael.  Very precious indeed, I had a wonderful time holding him. 

                                                                                    

Exactly seven years ago today, Amy and I landed in San Jose, Costa Rica to start our honeymoon.  Our travels there took us high into the cloud forests of Monteverde and west to the secluded beaches and high cliffs of Iquanazul on the Pacific coast.  Amy didn't know where we were going until we got to the airport, which made it even more of an adventure for her.  I had read everything I could find on the country for months and made all the reservations over the Internet, pretty novel idea back in 1998.  The trip was filled with wonderful memories and some funny ones, like Amy running to catch a ferry while carrying plates of beans and eggs or me nervously carrying a giant stack of money through downtown San Jose.   Click here to read the whole story.

Monday the 28th.  Today Amy and I celebrate our seventh wedding anniversary hundreds of miles apart.  Jackson asked me "Daddy, did you think you were the luckiest boy on Earth when you saw mommy in that pretty white dress?"  I told him that I certainly did.  And I still do.  Amy and I are so much alike, yet she is so much better.  I am truly lucky.

I spent the night working on the lawn, riding the bike, and watching our old wedding tape for the first time in years. 

Click here to go the Wedding Gallery or click here to find out more about Amy and I.

Sunday the 27th. Jackson woke up, looked at me, then yelled "It's Easter! You forgot, but I remembered!!"  He ran down the steps and looked outside to  check on the carrots he left out the night before.  Jackson was very excited to see that the Easter Bunny had eaten almost all of them.  He was so excited that he didn't notice the full Easter baskets next to them.    After Benjamin woke up, we brought his baskets inside and started going through them.  The boys loved eating candy before breakfast.  Once Jackson saw that the Easter Bunny had hid eggs all over Grandma Sue's yard, we rushed outside to start finding them.  Ben's favorite egg had three pacifiers in it.  Ben calls them poohs, not sure why or... more story

 

Click here to go to the Easter page.

Saturday the 26th.  Today we colored our Easter Eggs.  Ben was a mess, literally, he was a mess.   Click here to watch the movie.  Jackson did a great job and, as is the tradition, Grandma Sue helped.  Monday is our seven year anniversary and, since we'll be apart that day, Amy and I went out to dinner tonight.  Alan stayed with Sue and the boys while we were gone.  Then later in the evening Dee Baird and his daughter Kelley stopped by to visit.

                    

Friday the 25th. Jackson almost knocked me down with a hug this morning.  Ben was pretty happy to see me too.  The boys went to their Aunt Sherri's Little School to hunt Easter eggs with the kids there.  The playground was more important to Ben than the eggs, but Jackson found plenty and had lots of fun.  His Aunt Sherri might have helped point out a few that no one had found.  I had fun talking to all the children.  They all wanted their pictures taken.

   

Thursday the 24th.  Wow, even though this is the fifth straight week I've made the drive to C.H., it seemed like a much longer two hundred and thirty miles tonight.  I guess it's because Amy and the boys were waiting for me on the other end of the road.  Really glad to be back with everyone and looking forward to three days together. 

Other news today is that I once again have strep throat.  I spent the morning at the doctor's office getting yet another, yuck, throat culture.  At least I can now tell from the first symptoms what I've got and go straight to the doctor.  Otherwise I would have been stuck over the long Easter weekend out of town with no antibiotics.    Sooner or later I'm going to have to reconcile my image of myself as an incredibly healthy person and the fact that I seem to be sick all the time.

I also got the Gran Am back from the shop today.  Very happy that it is fixed.  Even though it was an unwanted expense, it's still cheaper than a car payment.  Go, go, go little red car.

And to all the people that have heard me whine and complain about the insane amount of time you have to wait at the DMV to get a drivers license renewed (I've walked out twice because I can't stand to see people move that slow) let me say that I walked out the door with a new license today five minutes after I walked in the door to get it.  I know because I timed it.  So, at least this time, the DMV has proven me wrong.

Wednesday the 23rd. Amy's brother and one of her sisters stopped by for a few hours today which gave both her and the boys their first chance to get out and about in a while.  They went to the mall, rode the merry-go-round, rode the train, saw the Easter Bunny, went toy shopping, and grocery shopping.   Amy said that Benjamin LOVED the merry-go-round, kicked the horse and yelled WHOOAA each time it went up.  Kelly, Lexi, and Nicole stopped by the grocery store and took Jackson to dinner with them.  PT continues to work with Sue.  Other than using the walker, she is able to get around unassisted some. I can't wait to see everyone tomorrow night.

I really had no intention of paddling again today, but as I left the office the rain stopped and the sun began breaking through the clouds over the mountains to the west.  And since the kayak was still on the van, off I went to Virginia.  The mist hovering over much of the lake made for a scenic and relaxing paddle.  As usual I planned on paddling only, but again got side tracked taking photographs.  It seemed like every time I put the camera away I saw a scene that I wanted to snap.   One of the first things I noticed this evening was that after three straight days of being on the water, I am paddling much smoother and quieter.  I paddled straight across the lake without pause, before spotting the wild turkeys from yesterday.  I wasn't happy with any of the photos I took then, so I pulled the camera from the bag to hopefully get a better one.  The sun then broke through creating wonderfully bright reflections on the water.  Most of the lake is still dark and glassy, with only the upper most part of the reservoir muddy from the heavy rains.  And, as usual, the beavers swam out to either say hello or buzz off, I'm not sure which.  I decided to just drift for a few minutes and watch them work.  One of the big guys swam about a foot below the surface, parallel to my kayak, and just a foot off starboard.  Awesome.  Seriously, I thought that was pretty cool.  I'm starting to feel like Marty Stouffer from Wild America.

      

Tuesday the 22nd. Our nephew Jesse spent last night and all of today at Sue's house to help Amy and Grandma Sue out.  Jackson enjoyed Jesse being there to play with.  The pictures to the left are some that Amy sent me from Colonial Heights this afternoon.  It's very cool that I get to see what the family is up to because I certainly miss them this week.  While they had another beautiful, sunny day, I had a cloudy rainy one, much of which was spent in Marion and Wytheville, Virginia.    Yesterday, when I had sunshine, I went paddling.  So today I had rain, and guess what, I went paddling again.  more story and photos...                             

Monday the 21st. Happy Birthday Sue Schrader!  Amy had a good day, busy, but good.  Sue was slightly more mobile and even sat at the dining room table for a brief period to work on her bills and checkbook.  The boys again spent time outside going on adventures.  Jackson enjoyed telling me how he played his aunt Sherri and Grandma Sue in a game of Go Fish and won.  I started my evening by taking an early Spring paddle on Loville's Creek Lake.  The frogs were singing, the baby ducks were swimming, the geese were nesting, and the beavers were splashing.  The family of beavers put on quite a show.  They swam close by very quietly, then with a huge splash from their tails would disappear.  The baby ducks were a little bigger than I thought they would be.  Three weeks ago I didn't see any ducks, only geese.   I then stopped by my favorite Italian diner for more of Chef Timmesa's delicious strombolis and dessert.  Once home I replaced the faulted plugs on the motorcycle and took it out for a brisk ride around town.  While out I stopped in to say hello to our friend Terry Hill.  Then it was back home to Tchaikovsky's 6th, a frosted Yuengling, the website to update and bed.  Oh yeah, the GranAm broke down today and had to be towed to the shop. 

 

Sunday the 20th.  I left Grandma Sue this evening in the very capable hands of Amy, Benjamin, and Jackson.  Of course that means I'm on my own for a few days.  Hopefully we'll all fare well.  It was another sunny day and the kids spent much of it outside.  Hilary, Virginia, and Walter Scott came for a visit.  Jackson and Virginia played together wonderfully.  Later in the day Sherri, Wesley, and Jesse stopped by.  And it's hard to believe that Wesley drove them there.  Click here to see Wes when I met him and click here to see him now.  Wow, time flies.

       

Saturday the 19th. Beautiful day.  The boys were outside all day long.  Ben picked up sticks, climbed ladders, and went on adventures.  Jackson played with the neighborhood kids and with his cousins.  He went on walks, played in the woods, and rode his scooter.  Sue has a long way to go to get her strength back, but she surprised us by making it to the front porch in the wheelchair.  She was able to visit with all the neighborhood friends that were waiting for her to come home.  The boys and I were exhausted and asleep by eight.

Friday the 18th. Now that Double has made it a month without going belly-up, I guess it's safe to include him as a permanent member of our zoo.  One more thing that our very nice friends have to worry about when we are out of town.  Double has proven to be a pretty hearty little beta and continues to get livelier as he gets used to the new digs.  And speaking of out of town and new digs... We are in Colonial Heights and Grandma Sue is here with us.   Sherrie, Wesley, and Jesse picked Sue up at MCV this evening and brought her back to her house.  We were all anxiously waiting to help her settle back in.  Both boys were very happy to see Sue.  Benjamin keeps climbing on top of her.  I'm really happy that Amy has her Kodak digital camera on hand again because if she didn't, we wouldn't have great shots like the pics of Ben playing with his shadow.  She captures some really sweet times from when it's just the two of them at the house.

Thursday the 17th. Happy Saint Patrick's Day!  And Happy First Birthday Ryan Eads!  Sam and Jack had plans to make green Kool-Aid and go on a gold coin hunt at our house in celebration of Saint Pat's, but since school was snowed out, Megan and Matthew were also free to join them.   Ben is happy that another candy holiday is rolling around.  (Candy Holidays = Halloween, Christmas, Valentine's Day, and Easter)    We don't ever seem to run out of candy at our house, it's hid every where.   Grandma Sue went into the hospital twenty-two days ago.  Amy and the kids have managed to be in Colonial Heights for at least part of the day for sixteen of those twenty-two days, definitely making it a home away from home over the last few weeks.  But it hasn't seemed very homey with Grandma Sue not in her house.  So I'm very happy to hear that we may be able to bring Sue home tomorrow as soon as we can get there to pick her up.  Very good news indeed.   

Wednesday the 16th.  Just heard that my first cousin Mark and his wife Sue are going to have a baby girl and that the due date is Aug 16th! 

My sister Deana stopped by and gave the boys an early Easter basket full of candy and The Incredibles movie.  Grandma Sue continues to do well at MCV.  Tonight she gets to have jello and water for the first time.

Tuesday the 15th. Last night Jackson saw a parrot on the Animal Planet channel sing Yankee Doodle.  Jackson laughed and laughed.  This morning he walks into the laundry room holding a toy stuffed parrot he owns and says "I taught my parrot to sing, want to hear it?"  I said sure.  Then, while doing an impression of a high-pitched scratchy voiced parrot doing a Waylon Jennings southern drawl impersonation, Jackson sings

"I'm just a good old bird
never meaning no harm,
beats all you ever saw,
been in trouble with the law
since the day I was born"

Maybe it's just because he gets his sense of humor from me, but I think that's pretty funny stuff.  This afternoon Jackson got a haircut, then played with Ben at the playground.  They also ran into friends Mark and Patrick Blevins there. This evening we accepted the Ead's invitation to join them for a very nice dinner across town.  So did anyone check out Johanna Wandel's website?  She is now in Iqaluit on... more

Monday the 14th.  Amy stayed with her mom until 5:30 this morning.  When she arrived in Colonial Heights the van was loaded and ready to go.  We woke the kids up and hit the road, allowing the boys to ride in their pajamas.  Now back in Mount Airy, we are hoping for a week full of good news from Richmond.

Sunday the 13th. 10:00am. An eventful night last night.  After rehabilitating for only one day at the convalescence center following her release from the hospital, Grandma Sue returned to ER at Southside Regional, the place she had just left, when she became sick to her stomach.  A CATscan showed a blockage in her intestines, which could possibly require surgery.  Because surgery is a very high-risk option for Sue, she was transported to MCV ... more.

7:00PM.  Sue was admitted into a room on the ninth floor today at noon.  After spending the afternoon in Richmond, we brought Amy back with us to Colonial Heights so that she could take a brief nap.  As of now the plan is for Amy to return to Richmond and spend the night with her mom, then drive back to Colonial Heights in the early AM so that we may all return to Mount Airy together.   We don't know exactly... more

Saturday the 12th. Amy has spent the day with Sue in Colonial Heights.  The boys and I made a visit this morning, but Ben has a cold and has been irritable, so we stayed in the rest of the day.  Sue looked good today, but was still very weak and short of breath.  Then this afternoon her stomach started bothering her and she started getting sick, so they are taking her to the emergency room tonight.  As of six pm they were still waiting for the ambulance.  Jackson is currently sleeping on a pile of stuffed animals under the dining room table and Ben is watching an Elmo tape with me. 

Tonight after the boys went to sleep (Jackson never woke up after falling asleep on the floor, I did move him to the recliner though), I used a tera server website to research paddling opportunities in the area.  Amy and all her siblings are waiting in ER with Sue.  They have scheduled a CAT scan for tonight.  Jimmy and I scouted Swift Creek, which is just up the road from Sue's house, last fall.  So I started with that and panned out.  I was amazed to see how... more

Friday the 11th. While thinning out the photos in her purse, Amy ran across this picture from when Megan was four years old.  Megan is eight now.  That's got to be the cutest picture of Megan I've seen yet, and that's really saying something because all her pictures are good.

We've safely arrived in Colonial Heights and somehow made the trip in just under four hours.  We stopped by to see Sue first.  Benjamin was very happy to see her.  He climbed up in a chair next to the bed and talked and talked to Sue.  He seems to be calling her Nana, that would be funny... Nana Sue.  The boys and I then went to Grandma Sue's house for the night, while Amy returned to spend more time with her mom.  Sue seemed to be much better since we saw her last weekend, but she still is without a lot of her strength.  She moved today to the Colonial Heights Convalescence Center for rehabilitation.  Hopefully this will only be for a few days and she will be able to move back home where Amy can care for her for a week or so while she fully recovers.

Thursday the 10th. Brooke just sent me these photos of the new baby Kasey James McMichael!

I always have my eye out for other personal websites.  For two reasons mainly.  One is to get ideas for my own website.  Some of the things on our website are, I think, ... more

Wednesday the 9th. Congratulations Keith and Sharon!  Baby Kasey McMichael was born early this morning at 12:07 AM and weighed 7lbs 9ozs. 

As of today, Sue's doctor is not releasing her to come home this weekend, even with Amy staying at her house to help take care of her.  They also are ... more

Tuesday the 8th. Without going into my long primer on digital cameras (think optical zoom, not mega-pixels), I'll just say that I am a fan of Kodak, at least in my price range.  Although it annoys me that I have to convert their movies from Quicktime to AVI before I can use them in Windows Movie Maker II.  And if  ... more

Monday the 7th.    Okay, I know this picture of Ben from yesterday looks exactly like one from last month, but he just happens to be wearing the exact same shirt and doing the exact same funny thing.  Benjamin continues to be happy about being home, he was even happy about going to the ... more

Sunday the 6th.  After not ever having strep throat, I've now got it for the second time in just five months (blaaaaahhhh!).  I spent the morning at a doctor's office in Colonial Heights, then took a nap with Ben while Amy went to visit Sue.   Jackson spent the entire day at his Uncle Alan's house playing both with Nicole and Jimmy.  We then all made one more stop by the hospital to see Grandma Sue before heading back to Mount Airy together.  We got home right at 11:00PM.  Jackson only woke up long enough to brush his teeth before going to bed, but Benjamin was far too excited to sleep.  He walked through the entire house pointing at everything in it and yelling.  He played my guitar, played with his blocks, his refrigerator toys, and his Cookie Monster toy.  He yelled at Frankie, Double, and Zorro.  After being gone for twelve days, Ben is definitely glad to be back in his house.  He's still awake now and it's midnight, I'm not sure when we'll get him into bed...

Saturday the 5th. Amy was able to spend the middle of the day with her mom, but the rest of us stayed in on a cold wet day filled with a wintry mix of precipitation.  Plus I'm starting to come down with a sore throat.  After having strep in November, I'm pretty paranoid.  But I'm hoping it is just something that has been going around.  Amy returned again at bedtime to stay with Sue.  Jackson was thrilled that our niece Nicole came over for a Saturday night sleepover.  Of all Jackson's cousins, Nicole is the closest in age and they have really hit it off recently.  They played with Play-Doh, braided my hair, and watched Bambi before falling asleep on Grandma Sue's living room floor.  Grandma Sue managed to buy the Bambi movie for the boys from her hospital bed.

Friday the 4th. Amy visited with Sue this morning, then after lunch at Colonial Restaurant, we all went back to the hospital to see Grandma Sue.  Later in the afternoon, Jackson went with Jimmy, Nicole, Charla, and Alan to see Because of Winn-Dixi.  While Jackson was gone, Benjamin, Amy, and I enjoyed the rare treat of taking an afternoon nap together.  Grandma was able to spend a little time out of her bed and in a chair this afternoon, so she continues to get a little better one day at a time.  Amy visited her again after dinner, came home to help get the kids to bed, then returned to spend part of the night with her mom.

            

Thursday the 3rd. We are going to have a new nephew!  Melanie just found out that the new baby is going to be a boy!  And I am back in Colonial Heights with Amy and the boys. 

Wednesday the 2nd.  Amy's mom was moved out of ICU today.  Amy tried to visit once but with the kids she was only able to stay for a few minutes.  Hopefully I'll be back in Colonial Heights tomorrow night and we can all spend more time with Sue.  It will be nice to be able to sit in the room with Sue for as long as we want, ICU was very strict and visits were pretty limited.   Lexi came by after school and spent the evening with Amy, Jackson, and Benjamin at Grandma's house.  Meanwhile, I went to Cana, Virginia for a quick paddle around the lake and then stopped by the Eads house for delicious stromboli and key lime pie.      

I've spent some of my spare time this week putting together our February 2005 Slideshow (2.8MB) and re-working the Music Page

Tuesday the 1st. Grandma Sue's ventilator was removed today and she is doing great.  They even brought her a phone so that she could call Jackson.  We are very, very pleased that she has continued to progress so well.  It was a big day for another reason too...  I registered Jackson for kindergarten, can you believe that!  By far the fastest five years of my life. 

Jimmy and Nicole spent the evening playing with Jackson and Benjamin.  Jackson and Nicole have been getting along fabulously.  Grandma Sue called again to tell Jackson goodnight.  And since our house in Mount Airy is so empty, I spent my evening with the Eads enjoying their company and a great dinner.