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Sunday, November 29th, 2009.  I'm not sure when I'll have photos from Thanksgiving.  They are stuck on my camera after I accidentally left the memory card in my laptop.  But we, as usual, had a nice time at Hama's house and again played a big game of football after diner.  My sister Deana has lots of photos here however, if you are interested.  We ate with our friends the Eads on Friday night following Ben's karate class, then ate again at our house on Saturday.  Ben asked Amy to make the exact same traditional Thanksgiving meal that his class read about in a book.  Being the amazing mom that she is, she made it happen for him.  Then today, we had wonderful Thanksgiving dinner number four at my mom's house, with just tons of great food.  Afterwards, Seth and Isabelle rode with us to Hama's house so that we could decorate her tree for Christmas.  Then on the way home, we hit a side road to climb the mistletoe tree for the 5th year in a row.  With our own tree now completely decorated, it definitely is starting to feel like Christmas. 

November 27th, 2009.  For the third year in a row, we picked a VERY cold day to go shopping for our Christmas tree, but as the guy cutting the tree pointed out, at least it wasn't raining.  The wind was blowing hard and Ben agreed with every pick we made.  Jackson was more selective, but we still all managed to find one that we were all happy about.  In fact, it might be just perfect.  Click here to go to our Tree Farm page.

 

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009.  Amy joined Ben and his kindergarten class last Friday on a field trip to the Winston-Salem Children's Museum.  Both said that they had a fantastic time.  Ben told me his favorite part was making the donuts roll off the conveyor belt.  I found a photo of him doing that same thing when he was three.  For even more photos from the museum, click here.  Yesterday, Amy shot this video of sweet little Anne Rachel walking and talking on a cell phone.

Monday, November 23rd, 2009.  It's brag on your kids Monday.  Jackson and one other fourth grade student won awards last week for their performances in a recent school play.  Jackson played a King and was very involved in the play's direction.  Yesterday afternoon, following two hours of shooting ball and eating pizza, the members of his football team received trophies at an awards banquet.  Being part of a football team requires a lot of work, time and determination.  We are very proud of Jackson for meeting those demands while also handling everything his academically gifted classes required.  A lot of his days consisted of nothing more than school, homework, practice, homework and bed.  We are very proud of him for making straight As under that workload.  Basketball season is now underway.  There are some good kids on his team and he likes his coach, so hopefully he will have a fun season. 

Ben entered a coloring contest at East Coast Wings a few weeks ago and received a five dollar gift certificate in the mail as a prize.  He was very excited about it.  The boys have resurrected their old hobby of building scenes around digital photos of themselves.  Click here for Jackson's latest project.  He used a 2007 photo of himself dressed as Spiderman.   Click here for Ben's project.  He chose to use a photo I took after karate class Friday night (his kicks were really looking good!)  Once I have their image lifted from the original background, they use Google image search to find the backgrounds and other characters.  They really have a lot of fun putting the scenes together.

Sunday, November 22nd, 2009.  Ben has turned into quite the little helper.  He has his own rake and twice used it to help me rake leaves in our backyard.  He also helped Amy when she spent an afternoon working  in the yard.  On Saturday, he helped get the leaves out of my grandmother's lawn.  With all that time spent around leaf piles, he's gotten pretty good at jumping into them.

Tuesday, November 17th, 2009.  Ben is really enjoying both kindergarten and karate.  He is such a smart, healthy little kid.  My wingman.  And his jokes have been cracking us up lately.  I call his one-liners "zingers".  Tonight Jackson yelled from the bathroom "Mom, this new toilet paper is SO soft!"  Without missing a beat, from across the dining room table, Ben said "So, you going to put THAT on Facebook?"  On our way out the door to karate class, I sang the line "Apple Bottom jeans..." Before I could sing the next line, Ben, in the tune of the song, said "You're so em-barr-a-SING!"   Can't argue with that.  Amy had a fun day with him, volunteering with his class early this morning, then returning to eat lunch with him after helping out at Jackson's school.

Monday, November 16th, 2009.  Prior to our amazing blue sky weekend, it rained.  all.  week.  long.  As a paddler, I spend much of the year waiting for weeks like that.  They don't happen often.  And when they do, the window of opportunity is often short.  Stream levels shoot up, then drop much faster than you would expect as the run-off quickly slows to a trickle.  This weekend was one of those even more rare occasions, when it rained enough to fill the creeks AND the air temps were equally as high.  So on Saturday, I took advantage of the water and weather by paddling through Wilson Creek Gorge in the Pisgah National Forest, only two hours away, just on the other side of Lenoir, NC, with two great paddlers, Justin and Patrick.  This beautiful stretch of river, which contains five Class IV rapids, has been designated one of the country's Wild and Scenic Rivers.  Click here for more photos.  It truly is a beautiful part of North Carolina.

Sunday, November 15th, 2009.  What an amazing weekend.  We walked on our new trail twice today, played basketball, grilled burgers and dogs.  Phenomenal weather for November.

Friday, November 13th, 2009.  Jackson is at his cousin Caleb's birthday sleepover at the cabin.  Ben came home from karate class, ate dinner and went right to sleep on the couch.  His dinner was a free  personal pan Pizza Hut pizza he received as a reward in his school's reading program.  On his way to karate, Ben spelled the following sentence for us; "I s-e-e t-h-e b-i-g c-a-t.

Wednesday, November 11th, 2009.  We visited my grandmother Sunday morning, then returned to the farm later after picking Jackson up at Deana's studio in Stuart.  Amy, Ben and I all napped in Hama's living room while Jackson rode the fence line with my dad.  Then, after my sister Melanie's family arrived, we all played outside on just a beautiful November afternoon.

 

photo by DeanaTuesday, November 10th, 2009.   Ben lost tooth number two last night!  It only started wiggling yesterday and by just a few minutes after bedtime, he had it out.  Jackson's football season ended with a 33-0 victory on Saturday at West Stokes High School.  He will now segue right into basketball, which started last night with a screening for the 9-10 year old boys' league.  Ben will get his exercise this winter kicking it up in karate class.              

Monday, November 9th, 2009.  Today's photos are from the new Ararat Greenway that runs behind our house.  Only one small section remains incomplete.  I think that many in Mayberry will be surprised by the trail's secluded and scenic feel.  I was even surprised by some of the scenery we found and I've passed through this part of town multiple times in my kayak.  Ben rode his scooter and had fun coasting through the trail's many dips and turns.   We met lots of others, including a few friends, as we walked along the river.  We brought Emma with us this time, but will return one day with a wagon so that Zorro can check it out.              

Thursday, November 5th, 2009.  We heard so many wonderful things about both boys from their teachers this week.  And they both had perfect report cards.  Jackson had straight As again, even in his academically gifted classes.  Both his CAP teacher and his homeroom teacher seem to really like him.  He is quiet at school, but performing superbly on all fronts, and is reading at an eighth grade level.  Ben, since the summer, has just been a different kid.  He likes school so much.  His new hobby is spelling, he sounds out words, the writes them down.  He writes sentences.  Tonight he and I played charades using words that he wrote on pieces of paper and put in a bowl.  It's just been a fantastic school year so far.              

Sunday, November 1st, 2009.  Today we walked, because they walk.  CROP Hunger Walk 2009.  Followed by a nice evening at East Coast Wings with the Lindsley family.  We also saw Deana and Martin briefly, but while Amy, Ben and I brought up the rear of the walk, they were in the front with Jackson.    We were lucky that they were there to keep up with him, because Amy ended up carrying Ben for much of the time.