Friday, September 28th, 2007. On every trip to the zoo, I force everyone to stop at the same bench so that I can take a photo of them.
Mayberry Days started last night and on my way home from the grocery store I saw an awesome set of blow-up jungle gyms in the yard behind the Amphitheater. They had a giant slid, an obstacle course and a big room for bouncing. It didn't look like anyone was using them, but they had a ticket booth setup. Jackson had finished all his homework, so we said that if the boys were really good during dinner, we would take them out for some fun. Jackson was great, Ben was most decidedly not. He refused to eat a single green bean, then in typical Ben fashion, escalated things beyond the point of no return by getting really mad and throwing a fit. So by the time he realized that Jackson was going and he wasn't, it was too late to turn back. As it turned out, it was probably for the best, because Ben woke up sick this morning. Jackson on the other hand had an exceptionally good time. There was only one other family there and their son plays soccer with Jackson. He was the one that scored the big goal earlier in the week. Jackson was able to race his playmate through the obstacle course for an hour and half on just one ticket.
We had planned on going to the homecoming game at my old high school but cancelled due to Ben being under the weather. Instead Amy and Jackson went to the Fall Fling at Jackson's elementary school. They ran into our friends Jeff and Sam and had a great time with the cake walks and hay rides. Tonight the boys and I watched The Karate Kid. They'll be doing "The Crane" front kick for weeks.
Thursday, September 27th, 2007. Today I'm posting photos from our trip to the NC Zoo. You can see more of them here. I'd love to sneak one more trip in before the year is out. We only covered the Africa side on this trip, so next time we'll need to hit North America.
Friends of mine from high school have arranged a reunion this weekend. They are great friends and I know they mean well, but bless their hearts, there math skills are embarrassing. They are actually billing this as our 20th year reunion. Now, there is no way that it's been twenty years since I graduated high school. Do you know how old that would make me? Why, it seems like just yesterday that we were walking the halls in our Izods and jean jackets past the break dancing section, listening to Bon Jovi on our giant boom boxes while playing hacki sack next to the smoking area and talking about how cool it was that we had FOUR television channels to watch thanks to FOX starting up. Ha, like that could have been twenty years ago!
Wednesday, September 25th, 2007. Ben came home from his first day of school with two Cars tattoos, one on each arm. That was in August. They are still there. Amy and I have both scrubbed and scrubbed and they aren't going anywhere. We're starting to think he got inked at pre-school. Today's photo is from Landon and Ella's visit this past weekend.
Okay, so here's the big update to catch everyone up that knows us personally and to fill those in that don't. I've been meaning to do this for awhile and just haven't had time. Something I never write about on the website is work, so many of you may or may not know what an eventful, and stressful, year it's been behind the scenes here at Life In Mayberry. This is a one shot deal, then we'll hopefully go another ten years or so without mentioning work. This is the summary...
I had worked for the same family owned business for 16 years, since I was a kid in college really. It wasn't a small company, in fact it was the largest private employer here in town and in our county, but after 16 years, my fellow coworkers seemed like family. My office was less than two minutes from our house, so I was able to take Jackson to school in the mornings, spend lunch at home with Amy and Ben, then be home not long after five each evening. I didn't have to miss any practices or games. The kids would often stop by the office to see me and knew everyone I worked with. THEN, in the Spring of 2006 we heard that the company would be sold to a really, REALLY big company from Canada. <insert the theme song from when Darth Vadar enters the room> That's when the stress started. Over the course of a year, we watched office after office get closed down as all manufacturing was moved to South America. Saying goodbye became far to commonplace. My office was the last to go. In May 2007 they announced that August 31st would be our last day. You may remember that on the last post in May, we decided to spend some time outside and went to New River State Park for the afternoon. That was the day we got the news.
In one respect, I was lucky. I had worked a lot with the new company over the course of the year and soon had two separate offers from them in other towns. I accepted the position in Eden, NC, an hour and a half away. So for the three months of Summer, I left the house early in the morning before the kids woke up and got home late in the evening, not long before they had to go to bed. Basically I was home four hours less a day than I had been before. Amy almost does everything already, but over the Summer, she really had to do everything. All the running, all the errands, everything. So we quickly decided that to get our life back as close to the way it was as possible, we needed to move. So that was the plan. But the more we looked for a place to move to, the more we realized how much we liked it here in Mayberry. One pivotal morning, Amy received a letter from the librarian saying that she had missed Ben at the last few story times and included tickets to a baseball game for both Ben and his big brother Jackson. Amy said "in what other town would the librarian not only send that letter, but also remember that Ben's brother's name is Jackson?" It was hard to get excited about the move, but we stayed as positive as possible. Then, at the eleventh hour, literally as the For Sale sign was getting driven into the yard, a position in my field opened up only a mile and a half from home. And just like that, I'm back in town working for a fantastic company, strikingly similar to my old one ,with great people and in a great environment. So for those that were worried about us, things have worked out. We do miss our old friends from my old company and wish them all well, but feel lucky to have landed amongst other friends. So that's it, the one post summary of our stress filled year at Life in Mayberry.
Monday, September 24th, 2007. I don't have any photos from tonight's game, but it was awesome. After three wins, Jackson's team was undefeated and going up against the only other undefeated team in the league. We knew it would be a good game and it didn't disappoint. Jackson played defense, then midfielder and at the half the score was still 0-0. He hustled a lot and attacked the ball when it crossed midfield. He sat out the third quarter before going in as goalie in the fourth with his team down 0-1. The offensive players looked exhausted and I wasn't sure Jackson's team would be able to get in scoring position. With less than a minute to play, no one had scored. The biggest scorer on Jackson's team drove the ball down the field and with the entire defense collapsing on him, passed the ball to a wide open teammate in the middle of the field who scored his first goal of the year to loud cheers from the sidelines. Very, very exciting and fitting that it ended in a tie. Both teams played wonderful. Best game of the year so far. There are a lot of games left, but if those two teams continue to go undefeated, the next meeting will be for the regular season championship. Now that would make for an exciting rematch. Below are photos from the boy's soccer season.
Sunday, September 23rd, 2007. The past week marked two years without Grandma Sue. Amy and Ben remembered Sue by visiting the produce stands in Cana. Ben came home with circus peanuts, maple nut goodies and candy corn. Later in the day, Amy and the boys released balloons with messages for Nana Sue. We also remembered Amy's father, Grand Jimmy, this week by spending Friday evening at the local Relay For Life event.
Last weekend we enjoyed a nice dinner club meeting in Winston-Salem at our friend the Joyce's house. It was the first one I've been able to attend all Summer, so it was nice to get to see everyone. The Joyce's stopped by yesterday on their way to and from Hillsville, so we were able to visit two weekend in a row. Landon showed Jackson and I that he really is as good as he says he is at UNO. He won five straight games before a Heath finally won a game. And Ben showed Mike how to play Star Wars Legos II on the PS2.
Jackson's soccer team won again yesterday, making them 3-0 for the season. Ben's really enjoying his instructional league practices and was happy to get his shirt yesterday. At the end of practice, the new cheer is "Go ROOSTERS!!!"
Tuesday, September 17th, 2007. Today's photos are from the weekend before last. We had a wonderful, beautiful weekend in Kibler Valley, Virginia. We did all the normal things, tubing, kayaking, roasting marshmallows, plus a lot of good old fashioned relaxing.
This past weekend we spent possibly the nicest day of the year at the Zoo. Hopefully I'll have those photos posted soon.
The other news from the past week is that Jackson is exhausting every possible combination of the "Hey, if I had a trillion dollars, do you know what I'd do?" game. Sometimes that game is replaced by the "Hey, if I could pick a super power, do you know what I would do?". And sometimes, he can combine those two games.
Wednesday, September 12th, 2007. Soccer season is in full swing. Jackson had his first game of the season on Monday and scored his first goal ever in a real game. He played the first half on defense, then the second half on offense. In the third quarter he found himself in the open field with the ball. Only one defender stood between him and the goalie. He made it past the defender with a strong kick, then followed the ball toward the goal. Jackson later said that his eye twitched when he looked at the goalie, like a cowboy in a western. His kick made it past the goalie and he jumped high in the air with both hands over his head. His team won 5-0. More photos from Jackson's soccer season can be found here.
That same night, Ben had his first ever soccer practice. He loved it. All of it. Especially the end where all the players put their hands together in the middle of a circle, then threw them in the air with a cheer. Ben was about the cutest thing to ever wear a pair of cleats.
Both boys got hair cuts today. Ben at our favorite local barber. Jackson at our favorite non-local hair stylist. The top photo shows Jackson's new do. He's going for a Disney kid/rock star vibe.
Thursday, September 6th, 2007. Our nephew Jimmy stayed with us from last Tuesday till Sunday, so my evenings were spent getting beat up on Madden 07 instead of updating the website. During the last week we played basketball on Main Street, visited Opie's Candy Store, saw Mr Bean's Holiday, played miniature golf, ate out with friends, cooked out with friends, went to a birthday party, spent our last day at the pool for this year and probably more things that I can't remember right now.
2nd grade is going well for Jackson. Ben's second year of pre-school is going well too. I posted photos from his first day. Apparently his mood changed many times that morning. When Amy arrived a few hours later to pick him up, he ran up to her and said "I'm having SO much fun!".
I'm out of town this week, so Amy is running both boys to school, working, shuttling to karate and soccer, getting Jackson to do his homework, taking the boys with her to appointments and on and on all by herself. This morning she walked Jackson to school with Ben sleeping on his pillow on her shoulder. For the remainder of soccer season, we'll have games, practice or karate on Mon, Tue, Wed, Thu and Sat. Ben and Jackson's games are at the same time on Saturday mornings. It should be an interesting month. This weekend our family has a short get-away with friends that should be fun.