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Wednesday, September 30th, 2014. Following Ben's soccer game on Saturday and Jackson's cross country practice, we headed to Camp Raven Knob for an overnighter with our pack.  More photos and details here.

Tuesday, September 29th, 2014. Ben scored his first goal of the season and his team got their first victory Saturday morning.  More photos and info on the soccer page.

Wednesday, September 24th, 2014. Beautiful sunsets every evening this week.  The temps have dipped and Fall is in the air. Ben returned to school today after two days at home, hopefully he is back to %100. 

 

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2014. Amy wanted to go on a hike on Sunday, so we went to Devil's Den in Fancy Gap, VA.  We had great weather for a hike and I think the family enjoyed exploring the caves. 

Monday, September 22nd, 2014.  Ben came home from school an hour after he got there because he was sick.  He has spent the day on the couch and appears to have a stomach bug. 

Sunday, September 21st, 2014. Third straight 5000 meter XC PR for Jackson with a time of 22:39.  His time also now bumps him up, at least for now, to 5th on his team.  The Freedom Invitational was a fun meet to watch with 40 teams competing.    Jackson was only home for a few minutes before he headed back out to play disc golf in Siloam with friends.
  
And a few hours after Jackson finished running in Morganton, Ben kicked off his soccer season in Mount Airy.  It was a 0-5 loss, but the game was much more competitive than the score reflects.  I was proud of Ben and thought he played a great game.

Monday, September 15th, 2014. We had three consecutive 5 egg days, not bad for 5 egg laying chickens (Mary probably will not be able to lay). 

 
I transplanted the stalks growing under our birdfeeder to our garden and we now have our own, home-grown birdfeed to give the hens.  They are crazy about it. 

Sunday, September 14th, 2014. It has been a tough few day, we all miss Hama terribly.  It was nice to see the family though.  We have a BIG family.  It's been tough on the boys, they really loved their great-grandmother.  On Saturday, before the funeral, Jackson ran 10 miles.  That is the longest he has ran to date.  I think he might start looking for a half-marathon to run this off-season.  He has a cross-country meet in Morgantown this weekend.  Ben has his first soccer game on the same day.  The chickens have been very productive lately, allowing us to give another dozen eggs away this weekend.  We didn't do a lot yesterday, other than go to church.  And Jackson went to Beacons.  In between we played cornhole for the first time on the boards I painted last weekend. 

Tuesday, September 9th, 2014.  For at least the last decade and a half I have held onto every moment with my grandmother, like each minute was a treasure, because I knew that we would not always have her with us.  At every Thanksgiving, I worked hard to soak in every second of the day, knowing that I would not always be able to stand in Hama's kitchen, surrounded by family and the wonderful food she cooked.  There were many, many Sunday afternoons of playing with the kids in her yard.  There were trips to get apples and pumpkins in the fall, there were Christmas Eves and Easters.  We have celebrated Hama's 83rd through 95th birthdays with her. There were visits that ended with naps in her living room.  But as much as I tried to soak in the last several years with Hama, it will not make missing her any easier.  She passed away this afternoon, in her living room, during a visit with my dad.  Hama's health had started to fade this summer, but I still felt that she would live to be 100.  But as much as I wanted to extend our time with her, I know that she was blessed to have such a peaceful exit from this world.  My other grandparents had much sadder routes toward the end of their lives, with hospital and nursing home stays.  Hama deserved to pass away as gracefully as she did.  And I am glad that she was at home and not alone.  It is hard to imagine that we will no longer get to hug her, to sit in her living room or kitchen listening to stories.  My memories with Hama are long and rich, going back to our time setting tobacco plants together, the years working on her farm, when she would bring Little Debbie cookies and peanut-butter crackers to me out in the field, to the time Amy and I spent visiting during Papa James' last years, to all the time spent at her house with the boys.  Man did they love her.  Jackson loved his Hama in a way that I don't think he has loved anyone else, save for maybe his Grandma Sue when she was alive.  The list of people he will hug or kiss is extremely short, but he was always liberal with both when it came to his great-grandmother.  Ben lover her deeply as well and was devastated when he heard that she died.  I had not seen him cry so hard before.  They have great memories of pickles, the cookie jar, decorating her tree each year, sitting on her steps at Christmas and many, many more.  God bless you Hama, you were simply the most caring, unselfish, faithful, loving person I have ever met.  Many more photos here.
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Sunday, September 7th, 2014. Perfect day.  Amy ran at 7, Jackson ran at 8, I went to the gym at 9 and Ben had soccer practice at 10. Following those morning workouts, I started painting the corn-hole boards that Amy gave us for Christmas.  We decided to go with Hokie colors.  That afternoon Jackson and I went tubing in Kibler Valley.  Jackson and I took several leaps off the rock face at the Public Enemy rapid and had a lot of fun cooling off.  3 inches of rain fell later that afternoon, giving us a chance for some quiet naptime.  Then the Hokies played a fantastic game against 8th ranked Ohio State and won 35-21.  Just a perfect day from start to finish.

Friday, September 5th, 2014. Fall typically means an up-tick in the amount of time the neighborhood kids spend outside playing.  Ben got his Green Machine for Christmas, but has only recently really started to enjoy riding it.  He has been sliding around on it for a few weeks now. 

We spent part of Labor Day weekend swimming at Deana and Martin's pond. 

Things have been going well with the chicks.  We thought we would have multiple hens laying blue eggs, but only Petunia seems to have the gift.  They are all laying now, with the exception of Mary who probably will not ever lay.  And recently we had our first five egg day.  We cook omelets every Sunday morning, I cook eggs for breakfast at least once during the week and we were even able to give away a half dozen.

 

Thursday, September 4th, 2014. We got to watch Jackson and his Mt Airy Bears Cross Country team run for the first time.  This was their second meet of the season.  I was very proud of how well Jackson ran.  More info on his XC page.