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Tuesday, May 28th, 2013.  Photos from Ben's last soccer game, Jackson's last regular season baseball game, our trip to Great Wolf Lodge and more. The weather has been nice and cool, which has allowed us to sit on the back porch around the fire pit.  We also lit a fire in the driveway one evening and watched Peter Pan with the Venables.  Jackson's baseball team ended the season on a roll, winning their last three games.  Jackson played great and had his best hit of the season in the final game against the Rockies.  Many more baseball pics here.

Monday, May 27, 2013. Ben's birthday started with birthday muffins, followed by Epic in 3D, then Air Bound in Winston-Salem and dinner at Arigatos.  It was great that it fell on Memorial Day this year.  He told Amy that he wanted a strawberry shortcake, except with cherries instead of strawberries, so that is what she made him.  It was pretty good.

May 24, 2013.  The kids finished their EOGs, wrapped up their school year and took a trip to Great Wolf Lodge to celebrate Jackson's birthday.  He took his friends Simon, Tanner and Ryan with him and I think they had a lot of fun.  Ben's soccer team finished their season strong and came in 2nd place after loosing a really, really close championship game.  I went camping/kayaking/hiking in the Wilson Creek Gorge with my friends Joe F and John K.  And we celebrated Mother's Day with a hike at Cumberland Knob, followed by ice cream at Scoops and a trip to see Hama and Mo in Claudville.

May 13, 2013. Amazing win against the regular season champs.  Coach Joel loaded up the defense in the first quarter, then opened things up on offense in the second.  Team Orange took a 1-0 lead going into the half following a goal by Austin.  Then in the third quarter, Ben scored his first regulation goal of the season!  We were very, very proud of him as he played his best game of the year.  The team held on to win 2-1 and advanced to the championship game where they will play our friends the Tilleys. 

May 12, 2013.  In a rematch of our last game, Ben's team went down 2-0 in the first half of their tournament game before rallying to tie it 2-2.  Following two tightly contested overtime periods, the game went to penalty kicks.  Austin and Alexis both scored, while Austin made two great stops as goalie.  Then their team scored and we missed.  Ben was the fifth and final player up.  He made a fantastic shot into the corner to win the game.  Very exciting.  Click here for video of his goal.

Friday, May 10, 2013.  A late game 3-9 loss to the Pirates last night.  The rain-makeup game did not start until 8PM and ended at 10PM.  Jackson had a good night at the plate, he popped up in his first at bat for an out, but got the first RBI of the season for the Reds against the Pirates in the 4th.  He did not have anything for their ace pitcher in the 6th though as our batters went three up and three down, all on strikeouts.  In Jackson's last 10 at-bats, he has struck out only twice.  He had 2 hits, was walked twice and either grounded out or popped up 4 times.  I am proud of his efforts to improve that part of his game.  He is putting the ball into play and like I always say, good things happen when you can do that.   The baseball game followed Ben's soccer game, where they lost 0-1.  His regular season is over, the tournament starts on Monday.  Jackson is right back in action tonight when the Reds take on the Astros at Graham Field.

Thursday, May 9th, 2013. Amy bought her little red Grand Am one week before we met back in 1996. A week later, we made a road trip in it to see friends in Newbern, NC. It took us 9 hours to get there because we were talking so much that I kept missing turns. We had lots of crazy adventures and road trips in that car before we were married, then drove it away from the reception covered in shaving cream with cans dragging behind it. We brought Jackson home from the hospital in it. It survived when we were t-boned in Stuart, VA one night on our way to visit my grandfather in the hospital. It started making a noise, so we took it to a mechanic, who referred us to the dealership who told us that we needed a new engine. A friend told us to change the oil and to just keep driving it. That was at least 9-10 years ago. The noise went away with the oil change. We once found a bullet hole in the hood on New Years Day and a bullet laying in the drive way. Someone had shot straight into the air and the bullet just happened to land on our car. I sold my own little red truck, we bought a mini-van and I took over the red car, proclaiming that we would drive it till the wheels fell off. I put a roof rack on it and a bunch of kayaking and political stickers. The political stickers were eventually replaced with my kid's honor roll bumper stickers, I slid it into a pasture when I went kayaking in a snow storm (photo below), it survived. I locked the keys in the trunk on another kayaking trip which resulted in a small dent in the back bumper (photo below). This week, after we traded the little red car in, Amy realized that we did not take a photo of it. I didn't remember taking a photo of it either, but I do take a lot of photos of my boats and the car made a few cameos in those.

Tuesday, May 7th, 2013. Below are photos from Jackson's birthday.  In other news, I bought a truck today!  That also meant that we parted with the old red Grand Am, which pre-dated mine and Amy's relationship.  It was nice, new and shiny when we first met, only one week old, fresh off the lot.  A lot of good memories in that car, a lot of fun trips, we brought Jackson home from the hospital in it.  I had always said that we would run it till the wheels fell off.  They hadn't yet, but they were pretty close.

Friday, May 3rd, 2013.  Happy Birthday Jackson!  As I look back through photos of Jackson, I realize just how much he has accomplished in his 12 years, far more than I did in all the years of my youth. I am proud of many of the qualities he possesses, but I have often been most impressed by his willingness to try new things and to put himself into unfamiliar territory. He is a brave kid. He also works really, really hard at everything he tackles and has spent much of his life balancing multiple sports and school, most recently playing three sports simultaneously. He may not be the best at everything he tries, but man does he work hard to be. His first passion was karate. He was competing in tournaments at age 5 and by 7 he was a brown/black stripe with a shelf full of trophies and medals, including a 1st place trophy in both Sport Jujitsu and in Kata. He also has 1st place trophies for basketball, soccer and photography. He has scored a 60 yard touchdown in little league football, recorded a perfect score on his EOGs, been recognized many times for his academic achievements, been the leading scorer in basketball games, been whitewater kayaking, placed in science fairs, had leading roles in plays, been on the student council, been in spelling bees, ran 5Ks, been a starting pitcher, a 2nd and 1st baseman. He ran track and placed multiple times in the 600M. He has always been good reader, he read all 6 Harry Potter novels over a 5 month span when he was only 9. He participates in CAP and Duke TIP and has already taken his SATs. He goes camping, participates in Beacons and spends zillions of hours practicing basketball, which has been his love affair for the past 6 years. I can often find him practicing for practice. As I look at all those old photos, I now realize that Jackson was never as old as I thought he was. At each stage of his life, I treated him as if he was much older, because I just had so much confidence that he could accomplish anything and could handle anything we asked him to do. He is self-motivated, is a good friend and a good son. I will always miss those early years, but I look forward to seeing what he accomplishes next.