Thursday, May 31st, 2007. We decided to get outside this week and enjoy some quality family time. We borrowed a canoe from friends and went to The New River Trail State Park for some fun in the sun. This is the same place I went kayaking earlier in the week. Jackson loved running the rapids in the canoe and Ben showed no fear by leaning over the bow far enough to scoop his sand bucket into the water as we dropped through the ledges. Jackson also enjoyed jumping into the water at my favorite play-spot and let the current float him downstream. Ben laughed and laughed as we made a couple of our own trips floating down the river. It was a great break from a hectic week. The only bad part was that whenever we were off the river, Amy's allergies raged. I had never seen her have an allergic reaction that bad. By the time we left she couldn't even see because her eyes were watering so bad.
Today Jackson played basketball at the sporting goods store on Main Street, Ben used birthday money to buy a train at the train store, and I met them for lunch at Barney's. They then spent the rest of the day at the pool. That means they have been to the pool three times and the river once in the last four days. So don't you think they are glad it's Summer!
One of the things that will keep us busy over the next week is painting the house. We decided to paint all the rooms before our new carpet is installed this Tuesday. And with our boys, we don't really have a choice other than to wait until they go to sleep before we start. Yawn... we might not get much sleep for awhile.
Tuesday, May 29th, 2007. We had a really nice Memorial Day weekend. My sister and mother took Ben to Winston-Salem for his first shopping spree. He loved it and has enjoyed having outfits that he picked out from a store. He kept them all in a shopping bag, then went through them each day to pick out which new outfit he would wear. See, he recently realized that all his clothes just show up in his closet (hand-me downs from his brother) and that he never gets to pick out his own things like his brother does. He had said that for his birthday he wanted shoes, the kind of shoes that light up and that you get in a store. Ben has suffered through many visits to the shoe store when Jackson needed new shoes, but we pick out his shoes by going through the boxes of Jackson's old things in the attic. Amy figured out that what he really was trying to say was that he wanted to go to the store and pick out his own shoes. Upon hearing that, my sister and mother volunteered to take Ben on a bona fide shopping trip to the mall. He came home with an unbelievable amount of clothes, caps, sunglasses, flip-flops and shoes. And his shoes, are exactly like his big brother's. And they light up.
Amy and Jackson spent their time alone that afternoon playing mini-golf. Then that evening we had nieces and over to play with us on. Sunday was Ben's birthday party. Then yesterday I went kayaking at Foster Falls on the New River while Amy and the boys enjoyed their first day at the pool. When you combine really hot weather and the opening weekend of a pool, you get a crowd. And I think Amy and the boys had LOTS of company at the pool. More than I had on the river for sure. A season pass to the pool was another of my sister's gifts to the boys for their birthday. They were back at the pool again today cooling off and playing and found it much less crowded. Last night we had a cookout with friends at their house across town. Taste testing different brands of India Pale Ale over a grilled hamburger is a great way to end a weekend.
Other big news from the weekend involves my back. I've had lower back pain for close to a year that ranged from annoyingly painful to really painful and often left me in less than stellar moods, which I didn't like at all. I almost completely stopped picking Ben up, Amy moves our furniture if it needs to be moved, I drive with a pillow behind my back and sometimes walk like an old man. Then on Friday night I had the kids in the front yard playing leap frog when Jackson landed square on the middle of my back while I was on my hands and knees. I felt this unbelievable POP in my spine. I collapsed on the ground and just knew that my back was out if not broken. Instead, while laying in the grass, I slowly realized that for the first time in forever, I didn't feel anything in my back. No pain at all. Nothing. At first I couldn't believe that it was really better, but it's now been four days and I've been totally pain free. Isn't that amazing? Jackson thinks it's really cool that he fixed my back. I don't know how or why or if it will last, but I've been pretty stoked over not hurting. For more photos and details from my fun on the river, you can click here.
Sunday, May 27th, 2007. Happy Birthday BenBen, We Love You! Click here for photos from Ben's party and past parties. We celebrated at home with family and friends with a cupcake/sundae party. Ben couldn't decide what kind of cake he wanted, so Amy made cupcakes instead. What Ben did want though was to make sundaes, so Amy setup a very fun sundae bar that I think the kids enjoyed. Ben was in a great mood all day. We hung streamers on his bedroom door last night to greet him when he woke up and hung our Happy Birthday banner. Lots of family called to wish him a happy birthday and I believe he felt very special today.
Thursday, May 24th, 2007. Only one more day of 1st Grade for Jackson. It's been an exciting few weeks for him at school. This morning he and his fellow students performed an End Of The Year program for the parents, then had a party this afternoon. As one of the four students that read the most advanced reading books this semester, he was awarded a trip to the movies and saw The Princess Diaries II. He is more than happy to tell you that he finished 2nd to the little girl he constantly competes with. According to him, they had each read all the books available, except for one. And on the last day of the competition, she was in line ahead of him and got to read the only book left. So she beat him by one book. We calculated tonight that Jackson read over 200 books this school year.
He wanted to sign up for little league football this week and kept talking about how the girl from his class was going to be a cheerleader and how she said she would quit if she had to cheer for him. He told that story enough times that it occurred to me that he probably only wanted to play because she was going to be a cheerleader. Amy asked me, "Is that a bad reason to want to play football?" I told her that she was right, that's probably why most guys play football. At the sign-ups we learned that the schedule would mean missing three months of karate, so he decided not to play this year. Jackson also went bowling with his class this week, had a field day and did lots of other fun "end of the year" activities. His teacher put together an awesome slideshow of the entire year that we've enjoyed a lot. She picked great songs that bring tears to Amy's eyes.. Jackson helped me burn enough DVDs of the slideshow for everyone in his class to have a copy.
I've meant to post for months about how the boys are now sharing a room. Ben decided that he didn't like sleeping in his bunk-bed anymore, Jackson has always wanted Ben to be in his room and both boys liked the idea of turning Ben's room into a playroom. Amy liked that idea too. Especially because it meant we could move the wardrobe in Ben's room and open the door up between it and the kitchen. I was resistant because I thought they would have a hard time falling asleep if they were in the same room. But Amy and Jackson were pretty sure it would work out and moved all the furniture around one day. We traded the bunk-bed to friends for a twin-sized bed. And sure enough, it was a great move. Having all the toys in one room has worked out well and it keeps the bedrooms from being so cluttered. Amy can keep an eye on the boys while she cooks now. And neither boy would have played in the room otherwise, they have to tell us everything they are doing, everything, seriously, everything, every little tiny detail, especially Jackson, so they are almost never out of eyesight from us. Bedtime hasn't been an issue at all and probably goes more smoothly. Ben doesn't keep Jackson awake like I thought he would, Jackson still falls asleep quickly. And if Amy or I decide to lay down with one of them at bedtime, the other one doesn't feel like they are getting left out. In this photo, both boys are reading at the end of the day. Amy and the boys get all the credit, but it was big change in our house that went perfectly.
Tuesday, May 22nd, 2007. Jackson competed on Saturday in the May Mountain Madness Sport JuJitsu tournament in Dublin, Virginia. I think he had a really good time competing, playing with his friends, watching the adult Black Belt self-defense competition and seeing the demonstration on sword technique. He competed in the free-style fighting advanced lightweight 7-9 year old division and placed second behind his buddy Jake. We were worried about him having to fight much bigger kids because he only turned seven a few weeks ago, but were pleased to see the age group divided by weight class. Jackson also competed in kata, placing third. We were very proud of him for performing a longer kata than the one he did in the last tournament. He only learned the last section of Seisan on Thursday, then went back to the dojo Friday night to practice it some more. He played, stretched and laughed while waiting for his age group's turn to compete. He didn't seem concerned about the competition at all, but once he was on the mat he turned around, still smiling, and said "I'm so nervous I think I'm going to be sick!"
This was the first tournament he's placed in that awarded trophies, so he was very happy about that. It's so much fun to watch the kids slip off alone and stare at their trophies. To see all the photos from the tournament, click here. What do little brother's do to pass the time at something like this? They eat snacks, a lot of snacks.
Wednesday, May 16th, 2007. Today was Ben's last day of his first year of pre-school. Amy, Papa, Mo and I all attended the end-of-year program and watched Ben do a super job singing with the rest of the school. You can see him on the front row in this photo returning my "thumbs up." I learned years ago when Jackson went to pre-school that you can't take a focused photo in the chapel, so I didn't really try. It's much easier to just buy the DVD of the performance. For lunch, we all met at Ben's favorite restaurant, Barney's on Main Street. From there, Ben rode to Virginia with Papa and spent the afternoon riding the four-wheeler through the cow pastures and helping with all sorts of projects. Amy was able to add a mid-day "Body Pump" class at the gym to her earlier 5AM "Boot Camp" class. She then picked Jackson up from school early and took him to Greensboro for his bi-annual pediatric ophthalmologist exam. Jackson was student-teacher today, so he wasn't thrilled about having to leave school. He's also old enough now to anticipate having the drops put in his eyes. His checkup went fine though, his prescription hasn't changed and he doesn't have to go back until he's nine.
May 11 was Amy's father's birthday, and since he was such an avid golfer, we decided to mark the day by swinging our putters on the local miniature golf course. We had such a good time that we plan on going back soon. And hopefully it will be something we can do every year on Grand Jimmy's birthday.
Amy's Mother's Day celebration started Saturday night. My sister Deana bought her a ticket to dinner and a show at The Star Theater in Stuart, Virginia. Dinner was great and Deana, Amy and I thoroughly enjoyed the music. It's hard to beat a good rockabilly band for just good old fashioned fun music. We had planned on going to the Zoo on Sunday for Mother's Day, like we did in 2005, but Ben woke up sick. He felt better as the day went on, but he had a rough morning. That afternoon we were all able to spend time in the front yard working on our Mother's Day area. In this photo you can see what Amy's Mother's Day tree looked like in 2005 when the boys and I planted it. In this photo you can see what it looks like now. The boys give Amy things to go around the tree each year. This year it was two frogs playing leap-frog, a small rabbit and flowers that they each picked out. We named the frogs Jack and Ben. After dinner we were able to go on a nice walk to one of the neighborhood playgrounds. While we were there, Ben had an emergency need for a bathroom, so Amy took off running with him all the way to Main Street, because we made the quick judgment call that it was closer than getting back to the house. When they got there she discovered that the nice new public bathrooms were locked. That was as far as poor Ben could make it. Remember that he had been sick earlier in the day. It upset Ben terribly. He never has accidents and gets very stressed out by them. Amy had to carry the poor little guy all the way back to our house, which is close to a mile, while he cried and Jackson and I walked our three dogs and pushed the stroller. So Amy started her Mother's Day by cleaning up vomit and ended it by cleaning up diarrhea, perfect huh?
And finally, I have this photo of Jackson playing NASCAR 07 on his PlayStation. To make it more realistic, Jackson uses the "in-car" view, wears a motorcycle helmet and only plays sitting down. He's such a nut. Amy had toyed with the idea of keeping Jackson out of school tomorrow so that they could go pick strawberries. Jackson says he doesn't want to miss school though. Can you believe that?
Thursday, May10th, 2007. Amy joined Ben and his pre-school class a few weeks ago for the Central Methodist Pre-school March of Dimes Team-walk and the popsicle party that followed. It seems like just yesterday that we were walking with Jackson and his three year old class while pushing baby Ben in his stroller. For more photos from this year and from Jackson's pre-school team-walks, click here.
Friday, May 4th, 2007. In this photo, Jackson is taking a photo of me at Jamestown, while I'm simultaneously snapping one of him. Ben has his own "like father, like son" photo. Amy took this one of Ben and I grilling hamburgers on the back porch. The Queen of England is visiting Jamestown today for the 400th anniversary of its founding. No wonder they had it spruced up so nice when we visited.
Today I've also got BenBen photos. We have photos of Ben chilling with a powdered donut early in the morning, chilling with a video game, pouting on the Va Tech drill field. And for those that don't believe Ben has an attitude, we have this photo.
For those that liked the photo of Ben watching his brother in the front yard, I posted two more of those.
Thursday, May 3rd, 2007. Happy Birthday Jackson! Our very first post, seven years ago, was to announce Jackson's birth. Ben's birthday is in three weeks. I remember that when Jackson turned four and Ben turned one, I thought it worked out well that Jackson's birthday came first. That way, when Ben's birthday rolled around, Jackson's celebration would still be fresh in his mind and he wouldn't be jealous. And Ben wouldn't care that Jackson's was first because he was only one. Well, Ben isn't one anymore. We had one mad jealous little three year old this morning. He doesn't want to hear about how he'll have his celebration in three weeks. He wants his surprises NOW! Amy put streamers on their bedroom door with a big Happy Birthday sign to greet Jackson when he woke. Ben wanted to tear them down. Amy even stuck a Happy Birthday sign on the inside of the toilet seat lid to surprise Jackson when he raised it. Our present to Jackson was a new adjustable basketball goal and he was very excited to get to shoot hoops before school this morning. It started raining before we left for school though, so I didn't get to give Jackson a ride to school on my motorcycle like last year. I told him I'd take him to school on the bike another day. After taking Ben to preschool, Amy took donuts and strawberries to Jackson's class and got to see Jackson stand on his desk as the class sang him Happy Birthday. Getting to stand on your desk is a pretty big treat for a 1st grader. There was a mix-up on the time for snacks, so Amy was still at the house getting them ready when Jackson called to see where she was. Getting to use the phone at school will be another of his highlights from the day. Tonight Jackson will get to "run the gauntlet" at karate and then go to Golden Corral, his favorite restaurant. I'm not a big fan myself, but Jackson thinks it's awesome that kids can fix their own plates at the buffet.
Tuesday, May 1st, 2007. Today's photo is of Jackson practicing his jump side kicks in the front yard. It's been exactly two years, somewhere close to 250 classes and zillions of kicks since Jackson's first karate class. I can't believe how big he's getting..