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Friday, November 28, 2008.  Following a wonderful meal at my grandmother's house, the older kids and adults played football across the road wile the smaller kids played in the front yard.  It was a perfect Thanksgiving Day spent with family and friends.  We left Hama's house around 3:00 so that we could get home in time to pop a ham in the oven for our dinner with the Eads later that evening.  They arrived at the house at 6:00 for round two of wonderful traditional Thanksgiving food.  Amy, along with everyone else that cooked, did a wonderful job.  I think I'll be full for two days.  It may also be that long before I can move after playing football.  (More photos on the Thanksgiving Page).               


Wednesday, November 26th, 2008.  To Celebrate Amy's friend Jim's 70th birthday, she and her other crazy early morning friends ran seven miles, one for each decade, in the cold and dark while the boys and I snuggled in a nice warm bed, taking advantage of not having to wake quite as early thanks to their day off from school.   We are looking forward to a very fun holiday weekend filled with lots of food, family and friends.  Happy Thanksgiving everyone.               

Wednesday, November 19th, 2008.  Jackson placed first in his classroom's spelling bee today, qualifying him for the school spelling bee.  Ben has also been a bit of a learning sponge lately.  Amy has been busy teaching him all sorts of things during the afternoons.  Ben has also been on a big jig-saw puzzle kick lately, quietly working on puzzles by himself several times a day.

When Ben first started getting his name on the board at pre-school, we decided to try positive re-enforcement first.  The deal we made was that if he didn't get his name on the board all week, then he got a Happy Meal after school on Friday.  For the first three weeks, he did great and didn't get into any trouble.  Then last week, he got his name on the board once, so no Happy Meal.  Today, he not only got his name on the board, but he also had two check marks next to it. 
When he got home, he told Amy that he didn't even know why we made that deal because he just forgets to be good at school.  When Amy said something about needing to remember, he exclaims with exasperation, "Mom, don't you know you can't be forgetting and remembering at the same time!"               

Monday, November 17th, 2008. On Sunday, I, along with nine paddling friends, decided to go play-boating at Foster Falls, Virginia.  We did this despite the fact that snow was falling and an extremely cold wind was blowing.  That's creek boat weather, not the kind of day for what we were setting out to do.  I didn't get cold, save for my hands though, which most decidedly did get cold.  In the end, we had a great time and I'm already know that it will be a trip we'll laugh about later.  All the pics of me are courtesy of my friend Bob.  More photos can be found here.

On Friday, Amy joined friends for dinner and a movie in Winston-Salem in celebration of our friend Christie's birthday.  The boys and I meanwhile were at the cabin in celebration of our nephew Caleb's birthday.  Ben and I left Jackson in the woods for the night with Papa, Eric, Caleb and his friends.  Jackson had a marvelous time.  Ben and I stopped by and visited Hama before driving back to Mayberry.  Ben was happy to know that he would be sleeping in his own bed instead of in a cabin in the woods.  On Saturday, we were back in Claudville, this time celebrating Caleb's birthday with a party at his house, complete with a huge Italian dinner.  Sunday night, we had a really nice time all watching Otis and Milo in bed.  Ben and I fell asleep somewhere in the middle, but Jackson and Amy made it to the end.  The night before, we all settled down in the boys' room to watch a little TV before bed.  Amy and Ben were in one bed, Jackson and I were in the other.  I couldn't figure out why Jackson slept so late on Sunday, because he NEVER sleeps late.  When he woke up he told us that everyone else fell asleep almost right away, so he set in bed watching TV by himself for another three hours before finally giving out.             


Wednesday, November 12th, 2008.  Tonight, Jackson, along with other student council members from his school and students from many other area schools, helped kick off this year's Friends Feeding Friends Food Drive at Lowe's Grocery Store.  Besides helping out with a much needed food drive, he loved getting to spend time with friends from school that are not in his classroom.  And as a special treat, we also ran into our little buddy that stays with Amy and his mom.             

Monday, November 10th, 2008.  Today's photos of me are courtesy of a paddling friend of mine.  They were taken on our last trip to the Russell Fork River.  In the first photo, I'm doing a fun little trick, called a stern squirt, that I worked really hard on over the Summer. 

I mentioned a few months ago that Amy is baby sitting three days a week for a friend of ours.  I don't think it would be appropriate to share any photos with you, so all I can say is, boy are you missing out, because he is cute, cute, cute.  He has a super fantastic family and the whole thing has worked out as well as you could imagine.  It's surprising how much we miss the little guy on the days he isn't here.   I enjoy getting to play with him at lunch and the boys are just crazy about him.  Jackson, who seems to adore babies and little kids almost as much as his mom, totally lights up when his little six month old buddy is around.  This morning Jackson seemed tired and a little grumpy as we prepared to leave for school, but after getting to see the baby on our way out the door, his mood completely turned around. leaving him with a smile on his face all the way to school.  And of course it goes without saying that Amy is totally nuts over the baby.                

Sunday, November 9th, 2008.  We had a wonderful time at the football game on Saturday.  Deacon Hill, which offers blanket seating on the berm behind the South-East end zone, was a great family environment that gave the boys much more flexibility than seats would have.  By half-time, the Deacs were up 28-3, the sun had set, the wind had picked up and the boys were freezing, so we left early, but both boys really enjoyed their first football game.  Before the game started, Jackson spent a lot of time standing around in front of a group of cheerleaders his age.  He says that he told one of them to call him.                

Friday, November 7th, 2008.  Jackson received his 1st third grade report card this week and had an A in every subject.  All his grades ranged from 96 to 99.  He also received top marks in every behavior category, so we were very proud of him and of his hard work.  He has yet to miss a single word on a spelling test all year.  Ben has been on bit of a roll too, with only one instance of getting his name on the board in the last few weeks.  And that day he behaved well enough to get it back off the board before he left. 

Tomorrow, following basketball screening for Jackson's league, we get to attend the Wake Forrest/UVA game, thanks to tickets given to us by friends.  Jackson is really excited since we get to root against the Cavaliers.  We are obviously thrilled with the results from Tuesday and, on top of that, the Steelers won on Monday night and the Hokies won last night.   Amy ran this morning with Timmesa following an early morning Spin class on just a beautiful November day.  Congrats go to Timmesa, our friend Jeff and other friends from the Pro Health Early Birds team.  They ran a fantastic team marathon last weekend here in town, winning by over forty minutes.

My mother, sister and aunt are all touring Europe this week.  You can see photos from their trip on Deana's blog.                


Monday, November 3rd, 2008.  Other than keeping the No W sign on the bottom of our homepage, which has been there for over four years now, I do a pretty good job of keeping politics, along with religion, work or ideas on discipline, off the website.  We are so polarized in America that you are either preaching to the choir or angering the other half who don't agree with you.  So it's best left off our little family website.  Tomorrow however is just too important of a day to go without note.   Amy and I hold very similar views when it comes to political and social issues.  When we first met, we spent countless hours talking about our views on topics like racism and poverty.  The fact that our views were so in sync was just one more sign that we were meant for each other.  Another thing we had in common was a love for the works of Maya Angelou.  I like this quote from her interview with CNN today.  "Politicians must set their aims for the high ground and according to our various leanings, Democratic, Republican, Independent, we will follow," she writes. "Politicians must be told if they continue to sink into the mud of obscenity, they will proceed alone."  After spotting this bumper sticker, Amy followed the driver until they parked, then asked if she could take a photo of it.  Very funny, especially in our house of little Jedis.  Amy and I both are very excited about tomorrow.  It was crushing when Kerry lost in 2004.  As happy as we were to trade vans in 2006, Amy was sad to loose her weathered worn-out Kerry/Edwards bumper sticker.   In 2008, our investment in the Democratic candidate is ten fold what it was four years ago.  We feel that Obama is a very special candidate and has the potential to represent us in a way that we truly want to be represented.  But no matter how things turn out tomorrow, I finally get to take down the No W sign and that's a good thing.  Let's just hope it doesn't get replaced by a No McW one.  

On Sunday, we visited Papa and spent hours playing in the yard.  Papa grilled hamburgers and steaks on the back patio, where the trees were full of wonderful November yellows and golds.  Jackson was dying to see his cousin Caleb since we missed him on Halloween and was ecstatic when Melanie and the kids stopped by to play.  Before returning home, we also made a visit to Hama's house.  Neither of our boys are big on showing affection outside of our immediate family, especially Jackson.  So it's always nice to see how he kisses and hugs his great-grandmother.  He really loves and respects her a lot.