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Tuesday, November 30th, 2010.  On Sunday, after enjoying a Thanksgiving meal at my mother's house, we visited my grandmother and helped her decorate for Christmas.  This was the 6th straight year that we have decorated Hama's tree with her, which is a tradition the boys are very proud of.  (click here to see photos from each of those years) Our niece Izzy and nephew Seth rode with us and joined in on the fun.  

 

On our way to Grandma's house, we stopped by our favorite spot for collecting mistletoe.  We have to go higher and higher each year to get it, so this year the boys came armed with their slingshots.  Isabelle was actually the first one to knock a branch out of the tree.  (Click here to see photos from 7 years of collecting mistletoe)

Monday, November 29th, 2010. Another cold trip to Slaughter's Cut and Pick Tree Farm in Fancy Gap, Virginia to pick out our Christmas tree.  We quickly narrowed it down to four trees.  One was huge, it would by far be the biggest tree we had ever had.  Not knowing whether or not it would even fit in the house, we decided to buy it, just to see how it would work out.  It is the perfect Christmas tree.  We had to cut the entire top off, but we finally have a tree that will hold all of our special ornaments (we have somewhere close to a kazillion).  We also have a 2nd tree this year, which allowed us to spread the ornaments out even more.  The boys wanted the live tree downstairs next to the fireplace and I wanted one upstairs in the living room.  Adding the tree downstairs has made the game room the most comfortable spot in the house, especially when the gas logs are burning.  So the season is officially here and we are enjoying it so far.  (photos from past trips to the tree farm can be found here)

 

Sunday, November 28th, 2010.  Amy's brother Alan and his family joined us this year for Thanksgiving as they did back in 2003.  We see them far too infrequently these days and it was a wonderful visit.  We had a great lunch at Hama's house with the rest of my immediate family, plus my uncle Mike and his family, followed by the big third annual two-hand touch football game.  Later that evening we relaxed, watched the Cowboys game and enjoyed a 2nd traditional Thanksgiving meal at our house. (more photos on the Thanksgiving page)

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010. Today's awesome leaf pile photos are courtesy of our next-door-neighbor Mark.  The kids have a blast in his giant leaf pile.

Monday, November 23rd, 2010. Today I am posting a few photos from Ben's weekend, which included a walk to the Mount Airy Historical Museum on Saturday with Amy.  Jackson and I were in King, where our nephew Caleb celebrated his 13th birthday by playing paintball with friends.  Ben also built a treasure chest, helped me rake leaves and played with friends next door.  Jackson had an issue with his contacts after wearing them all night at the cabin, then all day Saturday and that night.  He spent Sunday inside, barely able to open his eyes.  Today he won his classroom spelling bee, which means that he will compete again in the school spelling bee.

Tuesday, November 16th, 2010.  Today's video is of Ben swinging on a grapevine at the base of Pilot Mountain.  And today's photos are from the championship soccer game at the end of last month, courtesy of Jackson and Deana.  Many more here at Ben's soccer page.  Tonight, after Ben went with his Papa to his Tiger Cub den meeting, he and I finally made it to the end of The Black Stallion.  He loved it, even if it did take us 5 nights to see it all.  After scoring 106 last week on his spelling test, he once again aced his Monday morning spelling pre-test.   Really proud of the little guy.  After Ben and Amy turned in for the night, Jackson and I watched the first half of the Monday Night Football game together.  Most of the time, I hate how fast the boys are growing up, but I do enjoy getting to hang out with Jackson during the night games.  I also enjoy throwing ball with him.  I bet we throw ten thousand passes a month.  He is super looking forward to our annual Thanksgiving family football game.

 

Monday, November 15th, 2010. Click here to watch a video of the neighborhood kids playing on our next-door neighbor's leaf pile.

Today's photos are from our hike at the base of Pilot Mountain Saturday afternoon.  Ben, Will and Charlotte Ann led the way, using downed trees as bridges over the small streams.  Dave and I simply followed behind, allowing them to blaze the trail.  It was a great afternoon for being outside.  The highlight was thirty minutes spent swinging on a grapevine.  In the end, they were competing to see who could hold on the longest. 
 

Sunday, November 14th, 2010.  Today's photos are from last weekend's hike down to the river.  Ben and I hiked again this weekend.  We also had mega leaf pile jumping, a Tiger Cub outing, a birthday party for our friend Christie, a visit to my grandmother's, the boys spent the night with my parents and a clean-up day at the park with the MAJWC.  A busy, fun weekend.

 

Friday, November 12th, 2010. The kids were out of school yesterday for Veterans Day.  Ben went to the parade on Main Street with our neighbors while Jackson enjoyed some needed downtime at the house.  Ben later joined our next-door neighbors at Olympia for lunch.  All the kids played basketball outside during the afternoon, then split up into teams for an afternoon bake-off.  When I arrived home I found a kitchen full of family, friends, neighbors and food that included Ruby Smoothies, Chocolate Stuff, Dog Pears, and Surprise frozen chocolate/pudding drops.  All the desserts were actually really good too.  Ben and I later watched another installment of The Black Stallion.  Jackson and I watched it multiple times when he was younger.  Ben is really enjoying it, but he falls asleep after watching it for fifteen minutes, so it might take a few days for us to make it to the end.

Below are photos that I pulled from my Blackberry yesterday.  They cover a wide range of events from the past five months. 

 

Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010.  Photos of our friends Anne Rachel and SKV trick or treating at our house and a photo for our Pumpkin Patch page.

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010. Today I am posting our pumpkin carving photos (more photos here) We carved our jack-o-lanterns  Saturday afternoon following Ben's championship soccer game.  We had another great game, but were held scoreless for the first time all year.  We lost 0-1.  That meant that both teams received trophies.  We received our 1st place trophies for the regular season.  The other team received their trophy for winning the tournament.  I sincerely think that all the players, on both, teams had fun and left the field happy.  Going with the Halloween theme, our team spray painted our hair green before the game.  We stuck heavily with the "have fun" theme all year, right through the last game, and I think it made for a competitive, yet enjoyable, stress-free season.  I told all the kids before the game that they will be on a lot of teams through the years, but every once in a while, a team just seems special.  I think the 2010 Pee Wee Soccer Green Team was a very special one. 

Monday, November 1st, 2010.  We had a wonderful Halloween weekend, with trick or treating in Claudville on Saturday night, on Main Street Sunday afternoon and in our neighborhood, via a community wagon ride, on Sunday night.  Jackson and I stayed home Sunday night to hand out candy this year, leaving all the trick or treating to Ben and Amy.