Wednesday the 31st. All of our thoughts today are with our very good friend Timmesa, her family, her mother Sue and especially her father Don. Don fell at least twenty feet this morning from the roof of the house he and Sue are building and sustained critical injuries. It's been hard for us to think about much other than worrying about everyone and what they are going through. Don fell while working alone and was discovered later by a passerby. The rescue workers had to work to stabilize him enough to be transported to the local hospital and doctors there had to work to stabilize him enough to be transported to Baptist Hospital in Winston-Salem where he has already underwent one surgery.
Tuesday the 30th. Amy and the kids hit the pool for the second day in a row while I once again split time between the bed and the bathroom. But rather than look at is as being miserable and sick, I'm trying to think of as loosing a few pounds for summer.
Monday the 29th. To recap since our last update... Ben had a wonderful birthday party. He had anticipated it for weeks and completely enjoyed it. Amy made a great spread of food, we had games setup in the front yard and had many good friends and family over. Amy's sister and nephews were in town for a soccer tournament and got to celebrate with us this year. To see photos from the party, click here. My sister has more photos than I do in her gallery from the party here, including a photo of Ben's birthday rainbow. Our friend Brooke called to tell us about it, so we all went into the front yard to enjoy the view. I told Ben that it was his present from Nana Sue. When Amy and Sherry came outside, Ben pointed excitedly to the sky and said "It's a rainbow, to me, from Nana Sue!"
On Saturday we first went to our nephew Wesley's soccer game in Greensboro, NC. Our nephew Jesse then joined us for a fun afternoon at the Greensboro Science Center. Ben's wanted to go back there ever since our friend Molly's birthday party in January. He calls it the Dinosaur House. From there it was dinner with Wesley's soccer team at Logan's Roadhouse. Ben slept on me for much of the time at the restaurant, which was a nice treat because who knows how many more times he will do that. He's getting so big. After dinner, the soccer team went outside to wait for the parents. Jackson stuck close to his cousins and their friends. When I went outside to check on Jackson he walked out of the group of fifteen and sixteen year old boys to meet me halfway and whispered "don't embarrass me Dad." If he's already saying that at six, I wonder how many more times I'll hear that line before it's over with. We then took Ben to McDonald's for soft-serve ice cream and more play. Both boys had to be carried from the van to bed when we got home.
Amy was sick on Sunday, so we stayed close to home, playing with the sprinkler and kiddie pool in the front yard. Jackson spent most of his time dressed as either the Red Power Ranger or Spiderman, which saved time when applying the sunscreen. Just like last year, Ben stays around the perimeter of the water-play and doesn't really jump right into it like Jackson.
Today, it's my turn to be sick. I stayed home from work and spent a sunny day in bed, while Amy and the boys spent their first day at the pool in Holly Springs. The boys came home extremely excited about pool season. They were both talking a mile a minute, trying to tell me everything they did. I still feel pretty yucky, but hope to feel better tomorrow.
Saturday the 27th.
Thursday the 25th. As the end of Jackson's school year and Ben's birthday approaches, things are in hyper-drive at our house. Jackson put his tooth under his pillow last night, using the same tooth fairy pillow that Amy used when she was a little girl. It has a pocket on it for the tooth to go in. He woke up in the middle of the night and was very happy to find that the tooth fairy had left him Glow-in-the-Dark Silly Putty, four dollar bills and a hole punch (Jackson LOVES office supplies). My mom and sister joined Amy and Ben this morning for Jackson's end-of-the-year program at school. He did great, especially when it came time for his air guitar solo. Hopefully they got some good photos. Ben and Amy went straight from that to Ben's end-of-the-year picnic at the Surry Art Council's Music Time. My sister picked Ben up from there to take him to Opie's Candy Store on Main Street while Amy ran to the grocery store before returning to Jackson's school in time for his end-of-the-year party. Tonight we have to cut the grass and trim the hedges so that things will look nice for Ben's party, plus Jackson has karate and doesn't want to skip. My mom may come over to help watch Ben so that I can work outside on the yard. Amy's sister and nephews arrive late tonight from Prince George, Virginia. In the morning they will all join Jackson's class for an outdoor 'summertime' last-day-of-school party. Tomorrow evening Ben celebrates turning three with a Count Von Count party at his house. I was pleased with the invitations since they started out as this coloring book page. On Saturday, Ben's actual birthday, we will go to Greensboro, NC to watch our nephew Wesley play soccer, then hopefully go to the Greensboro Science Museum. So if you don't hear from us again before Sunday, don't worry, we're just running around having fun.
Update: My sister made the following video montage of Jackson rocking out on his air guitar during his end of school presentation. You've got to check it out, he's taking it to a whole new level.
Jackson end of school concert
Wednesday the 24th. Jackson worked with the adult class tonight at Mount Airy Martial Arts following a photo session for the local newspaper. Hopefully the photo on the left will be in tomorrows paper.
Huge milestone today. Jackson lost his first tooth. It didn't exactly turn into the moment I thought it would be though. Jackson was all about loosing it and wiggling it and the tooth fairy. But in the second it took to actually pull it, his outlook turned 180 degrees. He wanted his tooth back, he was upset that it had hurt and that he was bleeding, he didn't want the Tooth Fairy to come, he wanted a tooth that he could wiggle again and he even tried putting the tooth back in his mouth. It was quite a scene. I finally got the tooth away from him and put it up. It all worked out in the end, but it wasn't the father/son moment I had hoped for. Of course I should have done the Google search before I pulled the tooth. Instead I did it afterwards and learned that you aren't supposed to pull the teeth. Yeah, that's a great thing to know now. See, you let your child wiggle it as much as they want, then give them a cold wash cloth and let them twist on it rather than pull on it. This reduces the chance of bleeding and the chance of them getting hurt. There isn't any reason to pull it before it comes out on it's own. Well, now we know.
Early Morning Update: The photo and story did run in this morning's Sports section. And I forgot to update that Ben is feeling much better.
Monday the 22nd. I took the boys to my office's annual picnic yesterday afternoon, but our stay was short lived. I feel bad, because it took way too many clues for me to figure out that Ben was feeling bad. The simple fact that he wouldn't eat any of his lunch should have told me I should take him home. If Ben doesn't touch his corn on the cob or Cheetos, then you know something's wrong. When he held his cotton candy for thirty minutes and didn't touch it, I finally caught on. Jackson was having a good time though and I felt bad dragging him away from all the fun. The company I work for hosts a really fun family day at our local fair grounds each May with food, cotton candy, ice cream, etc... games for the kids and music by our friend Mandy's band. This photo from the picnic two years ago has been used, with my permission, for a church bulletin in Florida and for a greeting card. (read more...)
Saturday the 20th. We were up bright and early this morning to meet in the rain at Jackson's dojo at 7:30am. We arrived at the tournament location, scenic Anderton Farm overlooking Claytor Lake, around 9:00am under a bright blue cloud strewn sky. Jackson left seven hours later with a third place medal in free-style fighting, participation medals in kata and self-defense, and two badly sunburned cheeks. We had an awesome day. Today's tournament was outside, allowing the kids a lot more freedom to move around, which meant that Ben was happy and we could stay longer than we did at the tournament in March.
I'm glad Jackson's five-to-six year old divisions go first, because I can't really enjoy anything until after he fights. Amy cries and I feel like my heart is going to pound out of my chest. I was so proud of Jackson because he couldn't have tried any harder, he was at %100 today. I like this photo of Marcus and Jackson taken immediately after their self-defense match. They worked great together. We also heard Jackson cheering for Marcus, who was in his own division, during free-style fighting. Amy and I both were happy to hear that, it demonstrates one of the many positive things he is learning from martial arts.
Most importantly, Jackson enjoyed the day. He had fun playing with his friends and competitors from other schools, enjoyed the competitions, handled the nervousness well, and I think this photo shows his emotion over actually winning something. I have a whole series of photos that I took after they gave him his medal and he is looking at it in every one of them. So anyway, it's late and I'm spent. If you want to see scores of photos from today, go here.
AllStar (1.8MB) May06 - Video Clip of Jackson competing and placing 3rd in Free-Style Fighting
Thursday the 18th. Today was Ben's last day of the Surry Art Council's Music Time before Summer. He really enjoyed his mornings singing and dancing with Miss Jackie and his friends. I stopped by the playhouse for a few minutes and got to see Ben play the triangle he's told me so much about. He's asked for a triangle and a trumpet for his birthday. Amy was able to order a Do Re Mi trumpet today from one of the other mothers at Music Time. It should be here just in time for his party next week.
Amy and Ben joined Jackson yesterday for a fun Field Day spent outside playing games. Jackson's had a really good first year of school. His teacher is a lot of fun, he's got a great kindergarten class and I think he's enjoyed learning how to read. That's not to say that he isn't ready for a Summer vacation spent playing at the pool though.
Ben is in the middle of potty training. It's going great. As a matter of fact he pooped in the potty tonight while we were at Jackson's karate class. But on Tuesday night, when I went in Ben's room to check on him, he spun around on his bed, looked at me and said "you don't smell anything Daddy. You don't smell anything.." The boy doth protest too much, methinks.
Tuesday the 16th.
Photo #1 is Ben's version of his aunt's "Cooking with Rollie" photo from her behind the lens post.
Photo #2 and Photo #3 show BenBen's One Man Marching Band. Sometimes he hands out instruments so that everyone else will march with him. Ben adores his musical instruments and has one with him almost all the time. The Easter Bunny brought him the recorder he's playing in Photo #3.
Photo #4 is Ben drinking the juice in the bottom of a bowl of pineapple with a straw. Ben eats cherry tomatoes by the dozen, lemons without making a face and as much as he can of any fruit you put in front of him.
#5 is a2MB video of Ben singing while playing his drum. You can see a lot of Ben's personality in this clip, plus his hip swinging dance style. Ben and Jackson have a game that they started playing after watching Drake and Josh: The Movie. They say "TRL Baby! Hug me brother!!!" in their best Josh Peck voice, then give each other big bear hugs. That's what you hear Ben singing in the clip. Maybe I should send this into MTV so they can use it for a TRL (Total Request Live) promo.
Monday the 15th. After two straight weekends of fun, it was time for some work, like trips to get mulch, cutting down dead trees in the backyard, cutting the grass, trimming trees, laundry, etc... Jackson started helping me, then decided that he made a better supervisor than worker. He sat on the truck watching me unload the mulch and said "You should keep your shovel straighter." When finished, I stepped back, all sweaty, tired and dirty, to admire my work. "Now, that looks pretty good" I proclaimed. Jackson popped up from where he was playing and said "Thanks, I told you keeping your shovel straight would help." He'll make a perfect supervisor one day.
Last year we gave Amy a tree for Mother's Day. This year we gave her a bird bath that she decided to put next to her tree. We love traditions, so I'm thinking next year's gift might be something else for this little Mother's Day spot in the yard. (read more...)
Sunday the 13th. I can't say enough about how lucky our sons are to have Amy as a mother. Amy truly loves being a mother and it shows in everything she does. This wasn't a surprise to me, I knew very early how important being a mother was to her. We met on a Saturday. On Sunday Amy told me the names she had picked out for her first child. But motherhood is hard work, even for a natural like my wife. The work that Amy puts into each and every hour of our son's lives amazes me to no end and surpasses anything I have within my own ability.
As good of a mother as Amy is though, she was equally that good of a daughter. A day doesn't go by that I couldn't write something about Grandma Sue. We miss her daily. The boys miss her. I recently caught Jackson kissing a snapshot of his grandmother that he found laying on a table. Ben talked just last night about how he and Nana Sue would sit on the couch together and eat popcorn. I miss her. I miss how proud she would have been of Jackson, of how well he's done in school and of how hard he works in karate. But there isn't a way for me to fully understand how much Amy misses her mother, much less explain it here. However, I can say that on this Mother's Day, our first without Sue, not only would I like to honor my sons' mother, but also their mother's mother, because I know that is where the lesson of how to love and care so deeply was learned.
. . . . . .
On Friday, we took my grandmother out for a steak dinner. Afterwards she came to Jackson's Friday night karate class, which tickled him very much. My own mother is wrapping up a vacation at the beach today. To her, my wife, my grandmother and all the other mothers out there, I'd like to say Happy Mothers Day.
Thursday the 12th. Last night I saw the best movie about Beatrice Wood on the Documentary Channel. What a fascinating person.
A very nice neighbor on a nearby street stepped out onto her front porch recently as Amy and Ben strolled by and said "You're not the only liberals in Mayberry!", which was a reference to a line I use on this website. She has a canoe and found Life In Mayberry while researching a local reservoir.
I'm a big fan of the Internet. Take youtube.com for example, what an awesome deal that is. I can watch Ray Charles' doing a smokin' hot cover of Ring of Fire on The Johnny Cash Show in 1969 or Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan singing The Girl From The North Country Fairy together on the same show. Or live footage of Springsteen singing Thunder Road in '76, and in my opinion, it doesn't get any cooler than 76 Springsteen. Or the 80's Boss singing the first Springsteen song I knew all the words to, Johnny 99. Or if you want an even older Bruce and an even younger Dylan you can watch that too, check out Jacob Dylan singing One Headlight with the Boss. But wait, maybe it does get cooler, you can actually watch Lightnin' Hopkins, just the coolest cat ever, playing Mojo Hand in '64. Yeah, if you want to know why I play guitar, just watch that clip, and maybe this one. Ah, but let's go full circle and watch a clip of Lightnin' covering a Ray Charles song. How about that for symmetry, starting and ending with Sweet Ray. I've listened to those Lightnin' Hopkins songs a thousand times but didn't think I would ever be able to sit on the couch and watch him play them on my laptop. I love it. I could go on and on, but you get the idea.
Wednesday the 10th. These photos and others in our new Mabry Mill gallery represent the last of our weekend photos. Mabry Mill has the distinction of being the most photographed spot on the Blue Ridge Parkway, our most visited National Park. Few people drive by without stopping to snap at least one photo. Just do a Google image search on Mabry Mill to see what I'm talking about. It's so scenic in fact that it's been claimed by other states on postcards promoting tourism. (read more...)
Tuesday the 9th. Today's photos are from our picnic along the Blue Ridge Parkway this past weekend.
Jackson performed in a musical program last night at his school. He enjoyed it so much and really hammed it up. I'm still chuckling over the Lawnmower Dance.
Monday the 7th. Saturday morning, following some work and play around the house, Jackson and I dropped by a weekend karate class to check it out. Jackson ended up working with them for about an hour before we hopped in the van with Amy and Ben for a drive into the mountains and a picnic along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Next, the boys spent over three hours exploring the grounds at scenic Mabry Mill. On our way home we passed a strawberry field at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains and ended up picking two gallons of the most delicious strawberries you've ever tasted. Once back in town we stopped at the grocery store to get ice cream and whipped cream to go with our dessert. A free concert was just starting in the neighboring parking lot and Jackson just HAD to see it. So we let him jam out in front of the flat-bed stage for a few songs before dragging him home. It was a day that started early and ended late. I'll post photos and more info from the Parkway and Mabry Mill later, but for now you can see more photos and read more on our Strawberry Fields page. I can't believe Ben is already as big as Jackson was on our first strawberry field outing.
Saturday the 6th. Today was so jam packed that I don't even think I can start describing everything we did. I'll save it for a day when I'm not so tired and have more time, plus I took over two hundred photos, so it will take some time to go through them all. I will go ahead and share some photos from last night's pool party though. Jackson loved it and I think his guests all had a good time too. The party was from 4 to 7 pm. After a day at school and three solid hours of swimming, Jackson still was able to make it through his 7pm Friday night Sport Jujitsu tournament training class with a little energy to spare. I'm not sure how he does it. But if we didn't completely tire him out yesterday, I think we did today. He's sleeping hard and I probably will be soon... (Click here to see all six of Jackson's birthday parties)
Friday the 5th. After my grandmother passed away, Amy transplanted some of Nannie's iris bulbs from her house in Virginia to our house. We are so glad to have such a beautiful reminder of my grandmother each Spring.
We have a lot going on today, not the least of which is celebrating Jackson's birthday tonight with an indoor pool party in Pilot Mountain. I think it's going to be a lot of fun, at least I hope so.
Wednesday the 3rd. The photo on the left shows Jackson on every May 3rd of his life. Jackson's birthday started this morning with a present from mom and dad, plus a birthday sprinkle donut that Amy picked up on her way home from spin class. Riding to school on the motorcycle was Jackson's next big thing. It was his first motorcycle ride ever and as you might expect, he was pretty excited about it. We live right next to the school and typically walk, so the bike didn't even get out of first gear or out of sight of Amy. But I revved it up a few times while coasting and when Jackson pulled his helmet off, he said "We went fast!" I think it was way more about impressing the other kids at school than it was about the motorcycle ride itself. And Jackson seemed to think he was pretty cool, pulling up to the school's curb with his black leather jacket and black helmet on. Jackson started calling my bike cycledaddy when he was one and it's what we still call motorcycles to this day. It's just another Heath vocabulary word, like luckalucks, doobiedoos, neigh neighs and ellies.
There were a lot of high points today. Jackson's aunt took him to the candy store, ice cream store and playground. Amy got to hang out with Jackson's class after taking them birthday cupcakes. Friends came over for a cookout and birthday cake. Jackson was very happy about all the phone calls he got. He said that he was very popular. But we also had a freakish number of low points today. I won't go into all of them, it would take too long, but here are a few; (read more...)
Tuesday the 2nd. Amy and Ben had a really nice stroll from the house to downtown today. After finishing off an ice cream at The Bluebird Diner, Ben climbed down from the stool and into a booth, then said "I'll take Dinosaur Chicken Nuggets, please." He got his wish and ate lunch before walking on Main Street and finally snoozing in the stroller on the way back home. Today is Jackson's last day as a five year old!
Monday the 1st. With temps not rising above 70F/21C this weekend, the family spent lots of time outside. Amy and Jackson started early Sunday morning by walking/biking to Main Street shortly after 6am while Ben and I slept in. Amy thought that we should go on a hike while the weather is still nice. We decided to hike to the top of Papa's Mountain behind my grandmother's house in Virginia. Emma usually gets to go along on this type of outing because she enjoys them the most, but this time we picked her little sister Cassie. Zorro sticks pretty close to home because he gets car sick and has crooked little front legs that hurt after long walks. I was so glad that we took Cassie too, because it was the first time in seven years we managed to get a good photo of her. We walked along Pigg Creek, past our cabin, then up, up, up through the woods to the top of Papa's Mountain. (read more and see more photos...)