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Thursday, October 28th, 2010. The boys had good days at school, Ben scored a 96 on this week's spelling test.  Amy is baby-sitting again this year, a very sweet little baby, three days a week.  The weather is fantastic, perfect for our last soccer practice.   We continue to enjoy our neighborhood.  Ben is outside now playing with neighborhood friends.  Last night the water pump broke on the van.  On our way to the mechanic's shop, it ran out of water.  In a torrential downpour, I had to find a place quickly to fill it back up. We stopped on our old street at our ex-next door neighbor's house.  While I stood in the rain putting water in the radiator, Jackson took about 20 photos of the old house.  He still misses it.  Me, not so much.  Six months after moving, here are my top ten things I like about the new house. 

1.  Two bathrooms (the old house had one)  This one is self-explanatory.
2.  The basement.  I love having room to store everything, to be able to get to it easily and to still have room left over. 
3.  The garage.  LOVE stepping directly into the car when it is raining outside and not having to defrost the windows on frosty mornings.
4.  Doors.  Specifically, the one on the bedroom.  Our old master bedroom was accessed directly from the stairs, no door.
5.  The finished side of the basement.  For the first time I can play guitar after everyone has gone to bed without waking them up.
6.  The neighbors.  It is a great neighborhood because we have great neighbors.  The kids spend so much time outside playing with the kids on the street.
7.  Closets.  Tons more closet space than the last house.
8.  Breakers instead of fuses.
9.  Far fewer leaves to rake.  In fact, I don't know that I will need to rake them at all.
10. The 'great room', we spend a lot of time together as a family and having one big kitchen/dining/living room works well for us.  

Wednesday, October 27th, 2010.  Today's photo is from a trip we took Friday evening to my Dad's farm in Claudville with our neighbors.  We took care of a few farm tasks while Dad was in Tennessee with my Mom and sisters.  We collected eggs, fed the cows, walked up to the cabin and visited my grandmother.  Today Amy and I met with Ben's 1st Grade teacher, then had lunch together at Chili Rojo.  Ben is having a superb academic year and we are very proud of him.  Jackson, along with all the other 5th graders, received iTouch devices earlier in the week.  So far he has been pretty excited about it.  It is one of the things on his early Christmas wish list, so this works as a nice trial run. 

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010.   Last year I helped my friend Shane coach soccer.  We had fun, but did not have a very competitive team. Well, we both made up for it this year and will meet in the championship game on Saturday.  Super proud of Ben and all his teammates on a well played season.  They won their tournament game last night 1-0.  Really happy for Shane and his team as well.  We practice on the same field and at the same time so that we can scrimmage against each other.  We have lots of friends on their team as well, so we have definitely been rooting for them to make it to the finals.  Win or loose, it should be a fun day and everyone gets to go home with some hardware.  Our team's pre and post game chant all season has been "HAVE FUN!!!" and we have, lots of it.  Great group of kids, super group of parents.  It has been a very easy team to coach. 

Today's photos are from a ride Jackson and I took, along with other members of his CAP class, on the Virginia Creeper trail in Damascus, Virginia this past Sunday.

Monday, October 25th, 2010.  Today's photos are from Ben's 1st grade field trip to Lazy 5 ranch in Mooresville. It was a big weekend for field trips.  Amy joined Ben on his trip on Friday, then Jackson and I rode 18 miles of the Virginia Creeper trail in Damascus, VA yesterday as part of a CAP class trip.  Today, Amy joined Jackson's CAP class on another field trip, this time to see a series of plays at Winston-Salem State University.

Saturday, October 23rd.  Ben started his day with a trip to the local fire department with his mother.  We then had a party for our soccer team, which was a lot of fun.  The kids played soccer and played tag at the playground.  Then tonight, we went to a chicken stew dinner club meeting hosted by the McMichaels and the Williams family. 

Friday, October 22nd, 2010. My sister Deana stopped by the house last week and took today's pics.  Today, Amy and Ben went on a field trip to Lazy 5 Ranch in Mooresville, Nc.  Ben is having a great school year and was excited about today's trip.  On Monday however, he sand bagged his pre-spelling test so that he would not have to study harder challenge words all week.  It stresses him out to take the challenge test, even though it is completely bonus extra credit.  So on Monday's test, he purposefully spelled many "maney", which meant that he only had to study words he already knew how to spell and he was able to get a 106 on his test at the end of the week.  I wondered how long it would take him to figure that trick out.

Thursday, October 21st, 2010. Ben wanted to go to the skate park Saturday evening to work on his manuals.  I enjoy the time the boys and I spend shooting basketball, throwing football and catching baseballs.  Now Ben and I get to skate together.  He has great balance and skates well, although he gets frustrated when he can't pull off the tricks he is trying to learn.  With the state my back stays in, personally, I am just happy whenever I can walk away from the park in one piece.  At 41, sadly, it is a fine line to skate between having fun and throwing your back out.   

Wednesday, October 20th, 2010. We had soccer games on Saturday, Monday and Tuesday.  On our one day off, we took advantage of the perfect 70 degree weather by making our first trip to the zoo in over three years.  I can't believe we went that long between visits.  Ben truly enjoyed the trip, he was only four the last time we went.  Both boys carried cameras and took almost 600 photos between them.  We ate a picnic outside the gates at 11:00, then took our time working through the zoo until it closed at 5:00.  Amy found an Asian Pacific buffet in Asheville that was wonderful.  Both boys love Chinese food.  It was their first Chinese buffet, which allowed them to try lots of new items.   More photos on the Zoo Page.

Tuesday, October 19th, 2010.  Ben's first 1st Place trophy will soon be on his shelf thanks to a win in tonight's last regular season soccer game.  Our team finished with a 5-1-2 record, good enough for a tie for 1st place!  Our mantra all season has been "HAVE FUN!!" and they certainly seem to be doing just that.  I know I am. 

Saturday, October 16th, 2010. We are all about tradition here at Life In Mayberry and one longstanding tradition is making candles at the Autumn Leaves Festival.  It is always the same guy working the booth, the only thing that changes is the price.  Below are a few photos from years past.

Friday, October 15th, 2010.  One year ago, Jackson ran his first 5 kilometer race with Amy.  One year later, they ran their 4th race together.  Jackson finished 132 out of 302 runners in the Mount Airy 5K On The Greenway, with a time of 28:34, a full minute and a half faster than last year's time.  He was the 3rd runner 10 or under.  So proud of both he and Amy for running another race.  Ben ran the 1/2 mile fun run this year and seemed to enjoy it more than last year when he, according to him, broke his leg around the halfway point.  The 5K On The Greenway is always a fun event to watch as many friends and their families are either racing or milling about at the finish line.  And this year, the weather was just perfect.

Monday, October 11th, 2010.  A lot of great things happened over the weekend, but none bigger than Jackson's  moment in the sun Saturday afternoon.  Playing in the wingback position (think wide receiver), Jackson runs the ball once a game, on a reverse play.  It is a fun play and he has done well with it.  But as we started approaching the end of the season, Jackson began counting down his chances of scoring a touchdown.  He would say, I have 3 more chances to score.  Then the next week it would be "I have 2 more chances."  His team typically runs his play early in the 1st quarter, which means that a lot of ground would need to be covered to get to the end zone.  Saturday was the last game of the season.  On Friday, he told me "I am going to score a touchdown."  His coaches said that when they asked him how he was doing on Saturday before the game, he said "I am going to score a touchdown today."  Jackson lined up on the far side of the field, on the 40 yard line, 60 yards from the endzone, on the first play of the game.  As soon as I saw him break to his right toward the center of the backfield, rather than forward to block the cornerback, I knew that it was his play.  He took the ball on a clean handoff, continued running, by design, toward the right sideline where he typically would turn and continue up field.  This time however, when he saw defenders waiting down field, he made a cut back toward the middle, right into a hornest's nest of linebackers and safeties.  He said that he knew he could get 15, maybe 20 yards by running straight down the sideline, but he wanted a bigger prize.  I snapped photos, although I lost him for a moment as he cut and wove through the defense and kept waiting to see him get tackled.  But it never happened, he kept stroking through the crowd and suddenly popped out near the other side of the field, in full stride.  It appeared that a few kids from the other team were gaining ground on him and because he had ran a 5K race earlier in the day, I was not sure he had the legs to stay out front.  But once Jackson saw daylight and all that open field, he kicked in the afterburners, ran the remaining 30 yards and sailed into the endzone.  Literally, he sailed into it.  He dove into the left corner, flying high for effect, much to the chagrin of the ref and his coach.  I told Jackson all season that if he ever scored a touchdown, he should enjoy that first one to the fullest.  He could act like he had been there before on the 2nd one, but on that first one, he should just let it all hang out, dance, celebrate, whatever he wanted.  You only get to score that first touchdown one time.  He later said "The ref was pretty mad at me for diving, so I decided that dancing might be a bad idea."  Probably a wise move.  He continued to play a fantastic game, staying home at corner, making great open field tackles, recovering a fumble, sticking with his blocks.  Great way to end the season.  The whole team ended on a high note, all the tackles were solid, the blocked great, scored 3 touchdowns and won the game.  We went out to Chili's that night to celebrate.  I don't think Jackson stopped smiling all weekend.  What a great memory. 


Friday, October 8th, 2010.  If you go to my kayaking website, you will find about sixty photos from last weekend's camping trip on the Virginia/Kentucky border that included two days of paddling the Russell Fork, relaxing and laughing around the campfire with good friends and simply the best baby back ribs ever.

Liz running 20 Stitches We had two rafts and two shredders along for day 1 Donna and Ann navigating by Mercer's Splat rock Mick taking photos Joe working his way through Railroad. Tommy and I definitely had the two biggest tents.

Tuesday, October 5th, 2010.  For the third week in a row, Ben has scored 100 on his Monday vocabulary pre-test.  That means that he is able to spell all that week's words without studying them.  As a reward, he gets to work on more difficult challenge words.  He also continues to play well on his soccer team, which currently has a 3-1-1 record.  He spends three quarters in the goalie box, then on quarter at mid-field.  On Friday he went to the skatepark with his friend Luke, then came home after dinner to visit with his aunt Sherri.  Sherri arrived on Thursday and stayed through Sunday, attending Ben's soccer game and Jackson's football game.  They were extremely happy to have her with them for the weekend.