Tuesday, October 31st, 2006.
Monday, October 30th, 2006. On Saturday night, at our friend Salem's birthday party, I discovered that at nine years old, girls stop being princesses for Halloween and start being witches. I've never seen so many little witches running around. Ben isn't happy about the spooky side of Halloween and I'm not sure what he thought about walking into a room full of little witches doing a conga line. Saturday morning was spent in Stuart, Virginia watching my nephew Caleb's soccer team win their semi-final game in route to becoming both the regular season and tournament champions. Jackson enjoyed running along the sidelines with his cousin Isabelle cheering for Caleb and his team. This afternoon the boys went to a Halloween party thrown by Jackson's best friend in his class. They both had a marvelous time and went to bed tired, but ready for more fun tomorrow.
We picked out our Jack-O-Lanterns this weekend on the way to a delicious fried chicken and sweet potato zonker lunch at my grandmother's house in Virginia. Click here to go to our Pumpkin Patch page dedicated to pumpkins past and present.
Friday, October 27, 2006. Two weeks ago Ben had his first Pee Wee Karate class for students ages 3-5. He has a different instructor, but takes his class in the same dojo as Jackson. I've only witnessed about two minutes of the Pee Wee class because it starts at 4 in the afternoon, but what I saw was extremely cute. Amy and Jackson have done a great job documenting, so we have lots of photos and videos for the karate page.
This past Tuesday, Ben went to Pee Wee Karate at 4, Jackson went to his Advanced Karate class at 5, then Amy attended a Self Defense Class for Women at 7. My little sister Melanie took the self defense class too. Amy came home and tried to show me some of the things she learned, but she was too tough for me, so I made her stop. After 6+ months of hitting the gym every morning, she's in too good of shape for me to stand a chance.
Our boys dress up year round, which is why they like Halloween so much. It gives them a chance to go out in public dressed as super heroes, knights and lions. Jackson already has three different costumes planned for two parties and Halloween night. If we let him, he would take a bag full of costumes to the parties and change more times that Cher in concert. The reason they have so many costumes to choose from is that Amy shops for them each year after Halloween. Stores will almost give them away after Halloween. Last year Amy got a ton of great costumes for $1. She got the entire Fantastic Four set, minus the Invisible Woman for four bucks. We looked for the Invisible Woman's costume but couldn't find it. Because they get so much use out of their outfits, we don't mind getting them special ones each year too. This year both boys picked Red Power Ranger costumes at the Disney store. Ben looks really cute in his. At his story time party earlier in the week, which was full of princesses, Ben dressed as a knight.
Tuesday, October 24, 2006. I'm really far behind in posting to the website, but we've been really busy. I've got all sorts of ideas for posts, but no time to actually do them. On Sunday we went to Meadows of Dan, Virginia to look at the leaves on the parkway, eat lunch at the Mountain House, buy candy at Nancy's Fudge, which Amy calls a little piece of heaven, and walk through the corn maze that Sammy Shelor from The Lonesome River Band created. Sammy is playing banjo in the photo Jackson took below. Jackson took photos, Amy took photos, and even strangers took photos for us. I'll post more of our pics on another day, we've got tons. Jackson has turned into quite the little photographer. He says he's saving money to buy his own digital camera.
Saturday, October 21 2006. This afternoon the boys and I joined our friends Jeff and Samuel for a trip to The Great Train Expo in Winston-Salem. Trains, trains and more trains. And after three hours of trains, the boys still cried when we had to leave.
Jackson's soccer team finished the regular season with the second best record in the league and received their trophies this morning. They played the third seeded team in the tournament semi-final game and lost, although they played great. It was the same team that beat them in the season closer. They went down two goals early, but scored in the third quarter and were closing fast when the game ended. Jackson played forward and played well. I was very proud of him and his whole team. He was lucky to play with a great group of kids this year.
Friday, October 20, 2006. Those of you that read about Nitro in yesterday's extended post will undoubtedly be happy to hear that he is still alive. For those that haven't read that post, Nitro is an Australian Sheppard with a broken leg that was thrown into the Ararat River from a bridge, presumably from a moving car. My friend Jeff and I found him while paddling on Wednesday. Amy called the vet this morning and one of our readers called later in the day. He is still alive and doing pretty good. Rather than just letting this cute little guy die, after all that he had been through, they transferred him to Surry County Animal Rescue. If anyone is interested in helping the little guy out or in adopting him, you can contact Animal Rescue via their website or by sending them an email. The photo of Nitro was taken just after I pulled him out of the river and mud.
Thursday, October 19, 2006. I paddled the Ararat River on an absolutely beautiful 85F/29C evening under Autumn skies and changing leaves. However the trip didn't end as well as it started. If you don't mind a really sad story, then you can read the rest here. Personally, I would skip it. Just look at the photos and move on. It's pretty stinking sad.
Monday, October 16, 2006. On Saturday, following Jackson's soccer game, we drove to Colonial Heights, Virginia for our niece Nicole's birthday party. We stayed at Amy's brother's house and had a very nice visit. Before leaving town on Sunday we stopped by Amy's sister's house. While there, my nephew Jesse and I pulled out one of their old mini-bikes. If you look closely, you'll see the tear my t-shirt got when I crashed into the shrubs. We found the mini-bike while looking through their garage for the soccer goal they let Jackson bring home.
Friday, October 13, 2006. It may look sunny, but the air was a chilly 50F/10C when I took these photos. And why in the heck I decided it was be a good day to ride my motorcycle to Martinsville, Virginia, which is 55 miles away, I'll never know. It took an hour for my hands to thaw out after this mornings 40F/4C ride. I haven't been that cold in a looong time. The ride back this afternoon was more enjoyable, but still a little on the cool side. When I got home the family was ready to hit downtown for some street food at our Autumn Leaves Festival. Besides enjoying corn dogs and making candles, Ben and Jackson were happy to see Miss Jackie, their teacher from music time, on stage with her band playing some bluegrass and old time. Ben likes to dance, he dances all the time, but only in private. Jackson likes an audience when he lays his moves down and tonight's crowd was just right for him. It wasn't long before I was ready to get home and out of the cold though, brrrrrr. I thought I was ready for Fall, but now I'm not so sure.
Tonight's post reminded me of Ben's favorite and only joke.
How do you get a tissue to dance?
You put a little boogie in it.
Thursday, October 12, 2006. Both of today's photos were taken on Claudville Highway in Virginia. One was taken in Claudville next to my parent's house early in the morning, while the other was taken late in the afternoon in Dry Pond next to the old gas station where my Papa Welbert stopped daily to visit his good friend Herman Blackard. Neither Herman nor my grandfather are with us anymore. I stopped in Dry Pond to take the photo of the old red roofed barn with the red tipped maple behind it, but then shifted the cameras focus to a single ragweed/goldenrod standing much closer to me. It wasn't until I had the photo on my PC that I saw all the honeybees on it, much like in yesterday's photo. I'll let you guys determine whether it's ragweed or goldenrod. Personally I like to say goldenrod, just because it has a nicer ring to it.
Jackson woke at 5:58AM yesterday morning. He sets his alarm clock each night so that he will wake in time to watch his favorite cartoons before school. After his shows, he dressed, ate breakfast, then went to school. Once home, he read 20 pages of homework, ate supper, then went to karate class, then came home and studied for his spelling test with his mom right up until his 8PM bedtime. He started today at 5:58AM as well, just like every other day. Before going to the gym each morning, Amy sets a bowl of cereal out for him on his little table in the living room. She also leaves a note reminding him that a glass of orange juice is waiting in the fridge. Jackson's appetite has recently matched his level of exercise, so Amy cooks him a bigger breakfast after she gets home, typically sausage and either a biscuit or pancakes (the boys call them pannycakes). I get ready at the same time Jackson does, then take him to school. At school, following his spelling test, he took a field trip that was awarded to the Students Of The Month. Regular readers might recall how bad he wanted to be student of the month last year, but never got his turn. Amy is waiting each day for Jackson when he gets off the bus. Today, after eating a snack, he went to his dojo an hour and fifteen minutes early to work on kata with his sensei. Amy shopped at the mall with Ben for our niece's birthday present, then met me back at karate class where Ben and I stayed while she went to work. We left halfway through Jackson's advanced karate class for soccer practice, but obviously got our schedule mixed up somewhere along the way, because we were the only ones at the soccer field. It was then home, supper (Amy made baked spaghetti with a sauce made from scratch earlier in the day and left it in the fridge), a sh_wer, some coloring and drawing, then bed (no homework, tomorrow's a teach workday). Amy got home just in time to tuck him in before he fell asleep. Jackson says that his mom is the only one that can tuck him in the right way. When I tuck him in, he waits until I leave the room, then pulls the covers back off and waits for Amy.
That's it, a day in the life of our six year old. I'll have to break down how Ben spends his days sometime next week.
Wednesday, October 11, 2006. Yesterday, while Amy sat in a dentist chair, Ben visited with my dad and Jackson sat in school, I ate a granola bar lunch from the seat of my motorcycle while cruising through the foothills, farms and orchards of neighboring Patrick County in search of autumn on roads named Blossom View, Sky View, Orchard View, Riverside, Old School House, and The Hollow. What I found at the foot of the Blue Ridge, under the Carolina Blue sky of a beautiful 80F/27C October day, was golden. First there were the golden delicious apples hanging from the trees, then the fields of goldenrod lining the roads. While you can't hear the bees buzzing in this field of goldenrod and foxtail grass, you might spot two or three of them in this photo.
Tuesday, October 10, 2006. I like today's photo for two reasons. One is that Jackson is grappling a very good friend of his from kindergarten. His buddy Eduardo is hands down the happiest kid I've ever met. He has the biggest heart and is always smiling. The second reason is that you can see Amy looking on in the background. She doesn't get to see many of the classes, but really likes watching the beginner class with all the little kids. Jackson went to karate class four times last week. Twice to his advanced class and twice to the beginner's class. He is working really hard to get back into the swing of things after taking a month off for soccer. He said that he wanted to go to karate every day that he didn't have soccer.
On Friday night the boys went to see Open Season with my sister and mom. That gave Amy and I the rare opportunity to eat, alone, at our favorite Mexican restaurant, Chile Verde, just around the corner. I think everyone enjoyed the movie and I know Amy and I enjoyed a couple of hours to ourselves.
We survived the yard sale on Saturday. It was cold, windy and raining, but... read more.
Thursday, October 5th, 2006. Both boys are excited that Ben will start Pee Wee Karate in a few weeks. It's a new class for 3, 4 and 5 year olds. I can't wait to see what a room full of 3 year olds doing karate will look like. I anticipate lots of fun photos for the website.
Wednesday, October 4th, 2006. After being promised during last year's checkup that he wouldn't get another shot until he was ten, Jackson received two shots in the arm, blood drawn from his fingertip and a flu shot sprayed into his nose at today's six year checkup. On a day of extreme highs and lows for Jackson, that counted as a low. Another low was getting disciplined at karate for rough housing in the dojo after class. That was a biggie that involved lots of tears, lectures and a lesson (hopefully) learned. Some of the high points were getting out of school early, eating ice cream at Sonic, shopping for school clothes and grappling his best friend from kindergarten during karate class.
Tomorrow night Jackson has both karate and soccer practice. We are going to try and squeeze in half of each since they overlap. We also have to start getting ready for a yard sale we are having Saturday morning. It's our first one, so we don't really know what we are doing. I didn't think that we would ever have one. We planned on keeping everything the boys ever touched. Then we learned that for some reason our house doesn't expand to hold the growing number of things we keep cramming into it. They should make a house that can do that. But since they don't, the high chairs, the old toys, the exer-saucers, the old toys, the snow skis and the old toys have just got to go. So if you are in the neighborhood, please come by and take some of this STUFF that we don't have room for. Both of my sisters are joining us. Jackson is really looking forward to it. He's been putting price tags on everything he doesn't play with anymore. And as long as people stop by that are willing to pay five dollars for Happy Meal toys that don't work anymore and one-armed beheaded action figures, he should do pretty good.
Today's photo was taken Tuesday evening on Main Street, Mayberry.
Tuesday, October 3rd, 2006. Sunday night after Amy got home from a very fun evening spent with old friends, I said "maybe we should think about trading the van in now, before something on it breaks." It's something that we've put off doing because there's a lot to be said for not having a car payment and it's been a long time since we've had one. But I was starting to get this gut feeling that it was time for something big to break on our Voyager, like the transmission. Amy said sure, that if I wanted to look at vans it was fine with her. Seventeen hours later I pull into our driveway in our new butane blue Dodge Grand Caravan. Seventeen hours later. How's that for patience and taking your time? Actually, I would normally have taken much longer, but we already knew that we liked the Grand Caravan and I found out Monday morning that Dodge had a 0% APR for 72 months promotion that ended that day.
We love stow and go seating. That rocks. You had to carry our old mini-van's seats in and out, which was NOT FUN and next to impossible to do on your own. Now you just pull this, pull that, and SHAZAM! the seats are gone. The boys will finally be able to stay cool with rear vents. We hated that it took so long to cool the back of the van during the summer. Those were the two must-haves on the new van; stow-n-go and rear vents. The Grand Caravan has a lot more room than our old van. Our old van didn't have a CD player, the new one does of course. So we are happy about it on all fronts. And for one day... for one magical day at least, we have a van with no cheerios, no lollipop sticks, no stickers, no crumbs, no lost french fries under the car seats. It's perfectly clean. We'll see how long we can keep it like that after releasing our two monkeys into it.
Sunday, October 1st, 2006. First the Steelers lost, then the Hokies. At least Jackson and his soccer team are still undefeated. They won a very exciting game this weekend 2 to 1. At halfway through the season, they are 4 and 0. My sister Deana came to Saturday morning's game and luckily took photos, because I didn't even get my camera out of the bag. Not long into the first quarter, while running forward, Jackson was hit so hard in the face with the ball that his glasses flew off and his entire body left the ground. You could hear the line of parents collectively gasp. The game stopped and his coach walked with him off the field. I knew that he would be okay when I saw him give another coach a high five. And within just a few minutes he was up practicing and re-entered the game before the quarter was out. After the game, he ran up to me and cheerfully said "I bet that is going to leave a bruise!"
Let's see, what else has happened... we spent Saturday afternoon playing at the Greensboro Science Center. Amy is gone now to her friend and ex-college roommate Monica's baby shower in Roanoke, Virginia. Yesterday was the nine year anniversary of mine and Amy's engagement. Monica was the first to find out about it since she was downstairs in Amy's apartment when I popped the question. On Friday, for the second week in a row, Jackson not only spelled every word correctly on his weekly spelling test, he has also correctly spelled the two bonus words. And on top of the 102 scores, he has brought home two perfectly clean tally sheets. A clean tally sheet means that you didn't break any rules at all all week. Jackson is very happy on the weeks he gets a perfect score.