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Saturday, October 31st, 2009.  Amy threw Ben a great Halloween party at school yesterday, then listened to a glowing report at Jackson's parent/teacher conference before we all attended a fantastic Halloween party at the Eads house.  We are all currently watching movies on a nice, slow rainy morning (The Twelve Dogs of Christmas and Snow Day).  Great Halloween so far.

Monday, October 26th, 2009.  Ben started feeling bad Saturday night and has felt progressively worse ever since.  He has a cough and high fever.  Fortunately, today was a teacher workday, so neither son had to go to school, giving Jackson a day to catch up on the school work he missed and Ben a day to rest.  This afternoon, Amy took Ben to see his pediatrician and learned that he has H1N1.  It's going to be a long week for him I'm afraid.  Jackson on the other hand is bouncing off the walls after being cooped up all day.

Sunday, October 25th, 2009.  Below are a few of the photos from our vacation with family and friends in Tennessee. Many more can be found here.  Go Karts, laser tag, pool, leaves, traffic, a comedy show, laughter, apple pies, the AppleBarn, Cades Cove, Hiking, wrong turns, more hiking, the Little River, a big cabin, movies, a theater room, flying monkeys, a magic show, MagiQuest, family game night, traffic, arcades, pancakes at Flapjacks, catfish, traffic, awesome weather, deer, turkeys, history, shopping, front porch picking, relaxing, sleeping late, rushing, a spam sandwich picnic in the woods, candy corn, lots of family, a close friend, shortcuts, photographs, more photographs, carnival rides, throw up, a fever, a trip to the grocery store for children's Motrin, a beautiful drive home and the last vacation of 2009 in the books.

  Papa and Jackson at the sinks rapid on the Little River

Wednesday, October 21st, 2009.  I had a great parent/teacher conference this afternoon with Ben's teacher.  He is at or above grade level in all areas, has lots of friends, behaves very well and seems to enjoy school very much.  Amy and I are very pleased with how well kindergarten is going so far.  We have also been very happy about Ben's behavior at home.  Things have improved dramatically from the way they were over the summer.  After coming to terms with the the fact that what had worked with Jackson simply was not working with Ben, we made some discipline adjustments that seem to have paid off.  Ben is a great kid and I am very proud of the boy he is growing into.  Tonight, after an eighteen month hiatus, Ben re-entered the dojo.  Actually, a new dojo, Sidekick Karate, has replaced the old dojo, Mount Airy Martial Arts.  The new sensei, Emad Ali, was a guest instructor for Jackson's class back in 2007, so we were familiar with him and, so far, are fans of the new Little Dragon's class.  It is a different style of karate, so Ben had to go from his yellow belt back down to white belt.  I thought it might hurt his feelings, but he understood the reason and handled it well.  Among the kids enjoying the new class was Ben's friend Cooper who didn't stop smiling the entire time.  Rushing to make the five o'clock class tonight really took me back to the hundreds of evenings we spent at the dojo with Jackson.  And speaking of Jackson, he is in Tennessee with my mom, dad, two sisters, Eric, Caleb, Izzy and Seth.  He called to tell me that he had already hit the hot tub, was getting ready to play a game of pool, then head out to MagicQuest.  I'm sure he's enjoying his time with his extended family, but we miss him.

Monday, October 19th, 2009. Amy and the boys had a wonderful visit with Alan, Charla, Jimmy and Nicole over the weekend.  They ate lunch with Sherry, Wesley and Jesse when they arrived in town, then went to Pump It Up in Richmond later that evening to celebrate Nicole turning nine years old.  The party was a lot of fun and Amy, Ben and Jacskon played for hours.  Ben had fun playing with Carson who was also in town for the weekend.  The trip, as usual, ended far too soon for Jackson.  He adores being in Colonial Heights and dreams of us one day moving there.  Thanks to Alan and Charla for once again hosting the Heaths.


Sunday, October 18th, 2009.  More photos from an afternoon spent in beautiful and exciting Wilson Creek Gorge here.  And click here for a video documenting our recent visits with Anne Rachel


Thursday, October 15th, 2009.  Photos from the past week, including Ben's crazy hair day, Brett's visit and music time with Anne Rachel.

Monday, October 12th, 2009.  Amy ran her fourth 5K on Saturday.  Jackson ran his first.  Ben ran a 1/2 mile fun run.  I took pictures.  Amy ran along side Jackson and said that he ran the entire way, no walking.  He finished in thirty minutes, averaging ten minute miles, finishing ahead of a hundred other runners.  Super proud of him.  Ben twisted his leg halfway through his race and came back crying.  He cried quite a bit, so I think it really did hurt.  Later that evening, while telling someone about the race, he said "I broke my leg.  And I don't mean the expression, I really broke my leg."  He also said that his race was sixty times harder than Jackson's.  Jackson disputed that claim and said that his race was the hardest.  Ben looked at him and said "So how come YOU weren't crying." 
 It was a fun morning on the Greenway with a great many friends completing the race.  We came home, watched Virginia Tech demolish Boston College, then drove to West Stokes for Jackson's Little League football game.  That night, we capped things off with popcorn and a movie.  Big day, nice weekend.


Sunday, October 11th, 2009.  Fun day picking out this year's pumpkins.  Hama joined us again this year for a jaunt up the mountain, down the parkway, through Orchard Gap to Cana, then back to Claudville.  No apples were found on the Civil War tree in Belspur, but plenty were at the fruit market.  Hama fed us both lunch and dinner and, as usual, we enjoyed her company very much  (click here  for the pumpkin patch page.)


Thursday, October 8th, 2009.  Amy, with help from Anne Rachel, made two delicious pumpkin cakes this week.  She made the first one for her Junior Women's Club meeting, but since the house smelled so wonderful afterwards, she decided that it wouldn't be fair to not let us eat it.  So we demolished that one while she made a second one for her meeting.

Wednesday, October 7th, 2009.  Today's photo, taken by my sister Deana, really sums up our soccer season.  We still haven't won, but during Monday night's game, you could see the team doing a lot of positive things that they were not doing when the season started.  That part has been fun, watching the kids learn more about the game.  And they've been playing really hard.  The last game of the season is next week.  I think we have a legitimate shot at finishing with a win.

Friday, October 2nd, 2009.  For those keeping score, Jackson finished the 6th novel from the Harry Potter series tonight.  I really didn't think he would be able to keep up the pace considering the amount of free time left over after football practice, school and homework, He wrapped it up tonight after the family watched Scooby Doo - The Mystery Begins.  Ben rented it for a dollar from a machine in the grocery store, which is how he wanted to spend his Tooth Fairy money.  Today's photo is from last Sunday's trip to Elk Creek in Grayson County, Virginia.  (more photos here). Thursday, October 1st, 2009. New Milestone!  Ben has been waiting for this day for soooooo long.  He is extremely over the top happy about his new smile.  He even pulled the tooth all by himself using our tried and true do-it-yourself wet washcloth trick.  He can't wait to show it off at school tomorrow.  I think he's as excited about that as he is the Tooth Fairy.