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Friday, May 29th, 2009.  Tonight, we'll spend our evening participating in the fight against cancer during the American Cancer Society's local Relay For Life event.  This morning Deana told me that our long time blog friend Terri-Lynn from Nearest Distant Shore lost her lengthy battle with cancer earlier this week.  Terri-Lynn, who lived at the coast of our state, was a frequent visitor to Life In Mayberry back when Ben was a toddler and I updated daily.  She kept a link to our site on her side-bar and once sent me a photo of her son Liam when he was Ben's age because they looked so much alike, both with long blond curls.  I visited my blog friends more often back then and often enjoyed Terri-Lynn's perspective on things.  She wrote a post about religion in the South and her relationship with it that, to this day, remains my favorite all-time blog post by anyone.  I worried about Terri-Lynn and her battle with cancer.  And also about her son, who lives with diabetes.  Tonight, I'll think about Grand Jimmy, Terri-Lynn and the others we know who died of cancer.  And I'll also think about Sam, Woo, Jennifer, our neighbor Mrs. Smith, and all the inspirational others who came out of their battles with cancer as survivors.

Thursday, May 28th, 2009.  More party pics here.   We finally finished our backyard project tonight.  Over the past week we've built a raised garden, shoveled three loads of mulch, one load of dirt, cut down three trees, planted hosta, flowers and veggies.  Almost all while it was raining.

Wednesday, May 27th, 2009.  Happy Birthday Little Buddy!  Ben celebrated all day today.  First he spent the morning and afternoon playing with Amy and all the toys that Deana got him yesterday during their big shopping extravaganza.  He then partied with 15 of his buddies at McDonalds.  Following that, he closed out the night riding rides at a carnival with Jackson and his cousin Seth.  What a day!

Tuesday, May 26th, 2009. The big ticket item last week was Ben's graduation from pre-school.  Another biggie was Jackson's soccer team reaching the tournament finals.  They lost to his cousins Caleb and Isabelle's team, but it was a great game and a great season.  Ben wrapped up his tee ball regular season and will start his tournament on Thursday, weather permitting.  And Jackson finished his End-Of-Grade testing with the highest possible score in both Math and Reading/Writing.  He was the only one in his class to do that, so as a reward, we let him stay home from school on Memorial Day.  I was off from work and we spent the day landscaping in the yard.  We also had dinner club at Ken and Tonya's house, a trip to the movies to see Night at the Smithsonian, a visit to my grandmother's house and to my parent's house.  Amy volunteered as a proctor during one of the testing days at Jackson's school.   If you want to know how fun that was, you should ask her sometime.  It makes watching paint dry sound exciting.  Tomorrow is a REALLY big day, because Ben turns SIX!

   

Sunday, May 24th, 2009.   We spent last night sleeping beside the creek, Browns Dam, in the lower corner of my dad's farm.  Our last family camping trip, five years ago, was to a different location on the same farm.  This time, we drove and drove and drove through fields, crossing a creek twice, before parking as close as we could get to where we wanted to pitch our tent.  We then carried all our gear across the creek, over a barbed wire fence and four hundred feet up a trail into the woods.  Amy's allergies started to flair up pretty bad, but subsided as the night went on.  We went on a walk up the creek, with fish swimming between our legs, cooked hotdogs in the campfire, grilled hamburgers and went on a hike to the top of the mountain.  Jackson got to use his pocket knife for the first time and spent a lot of time whittling sticks.  Papa gave him the knife three or four years ago and we've kept it in a box until yesterday.  Ben swung on the grapevine hanging in our campsite and made s'mores.  It was a fun, quick camping trip, which was a primer to our four day camping trip next month.  And I got to try out the new canopy that Amy and the boys gave me as an early Father's Day present.

 

Monday, May 18th, 2009.  Isn't the photo Ben took of his lollipop cool?  The other photo is from the football camp that Jackson attended on Friday.  I was out of town, so Amy and Ben killed time by playing a round of miniature golf while Jackson ran his drills.  I've been out of town a lot lately, so Amy has been pulling double-duty all by herself.  This evening, she swung by Subway on the way to soccer practice and had the slightest, most minor fender bender ever in the drive-thru.  And even though the other car only had a teeny tiny smudge where their license plate touched the bumper, Amy still had to wait there for a police officer.

Wednesday, May 13th, 2009.  Ben had his kindergarten screening this morning and did fantastic.  Amy said that he even enjoyed it and called it "kindergarten practice."  He graduates from pre-school in less than two weeks and I am really looking forward to his class singing James Brown's I Feel Good in the end of year program. 
We spent the weekend in Colonial Heights, Virginia, celebrating Jackson's birthday with Amy's family.  His party, which included Laser Tag, lasted four and a half hours.  The kids played long and hard and we didn't leave until Swader's closed at eleven that night.  Earlier that day, we drove to Richmond to watch our nephew Jimmy play soccer.  Jimmy has developed into a fantastic player and we all enjoyed the game.  Ben was thrilled that an ice cream truck was there.  Jackson had his own soccer game last night and we couldn't have been any more proud of Jackson's effort and energetic defense.  His whole team played superb, especially in the second half where they stayed even with a really, really good team.  It was their first loss of the season, giving them second place in the regular season.   I've been either on the road or out-of-town this week, but I made it back last night just in time for the game.  On Monday, Mo came over to keep Amy and the boys company and I believe that all three enjoyed her visit.

Thursday, May 7th, 2009.  Ben was very happy that his team won their tee ball game last night.  He was the lead off batter for this game and was able to score on all three at bats.  His game overlapped with Jackson's soccer game, so Amy went with Ben, while I stayed at the soccer field.  Papa and Deana also made it to Ben's game, then to Caleb and Izzy's, which followed Jackson's game.  It's been a busy sports season this Spring.  Jackson's team had another good soccer game, playing great team ball, winning 3-0.  Caleb and Izzy's team played great too and won as well.  That means that their two teams will both be undefeated when they meet in the final game of the season this Tuesday.   Regrettably, Caleb and Isabelle will not be there as their family will be in the middle of a visit to Disneyworld.  So they will not get the chance to play against each other unless they meet in the championship game of the tournament.   After all the games ended, we went to Subway for sandwiches and frozen yogurt.  But before we went in to eat, we decided to walk next door to visit Jackson and Ben's old dojo.  Who knows, maybe one or both boys will find their way back to the mat this Summer.

Wednesday, May 6th, 2009. The MAJWC fundraiser that Amy organized made the front page of both our local newspapers.  I'm terribly proud of the time, effort and creativity Amy puts into her volunteer work.   Amy tutors reading once a week at the elementary school and attended a breakfast this morning in honor of all those that volunteer there.  The photos today are of a few of the self defense class participants, the boys finger painting with Brett and our friends Christie and Will's baby girl, Ann Rachel, who came by for a visit last week
Our grill of ten years died sometime last Summer and we finally got around to replacing it over the weekend.  We've been grilling hamburgers, hotdogs and T-Bone steaks ever since and I've been loving it.  Ben too.  Tonight, after he tasted his steak, he proclaimed me the best griller ever.  Jackson isn't as big of a fan and opted for left-over Cinco De Mayo tacos.

Monday, May 4th, 2009.  I'm amazed that in less than three months, RubySue went from this to this.

 

Sunday, May 3rd, 2009. Happy Birthday Jackson!!  (Will and Sharon too!)

 

Friday, May 1st, 2009.  When plans fell through to repeat last year's Wait For A Cure fundraiser due to the current ecomomy, Amy came up with a new idea for this year.  She organized a Fight For The Cure women's self-defense class as a MAJWC fundraiser for Relay For Life.  Our friend from Jackson's karate years, Sensei Eric Latza, was the instructor.  I think she had a prize winning idea, because not only was it raising money for a great cause, it was actually a worthwhile cause in its own right.  They had thirty participants, raised twice as much money as last year and, from all reports that I've heard, everyone really enjoyed the class.

Click here for a very funny video of Brett and Ben dancing to Womanizer by Britney Spears.  Our boys have a lot of fun on the days Brett is at our house.  Yesterday they apparently all laughed themselves silly bouncing on the bed.  Last night I was able to watch my first full tee ball game.  Both teams played great.  As soon as the game ended, Ben and I rushed to Jackson's soccer game because we heard that his team was in overtime.  We arrived right after it ended and discovered that Jackson, who's D is not weak by the way, took a pretty strong whack to his forehead from the knee of the biggest player on the opposing team.  He came home sporting a goose egg on his forehead and a headache to go with it.  The game ended in a 2-2 tie.  We've got another busy weekend planned that includes Jackson turning nine on Sunday.