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A couple of years ago, pregnant Katie and I went to see R.E.M., Modest Mouse, and The National at Walnut Creek (or whatever corporate name it has now); Jackie’s first prenatal concert experience showcased some of the best (R.E.M.), most innovative and raw (Modest Mouse), and worthwhile contemporary (The National) alt-rock.

A couple of weeks ago, pregnant Katie and I went to see My Morning Jacket with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band at Koka Booth Amphitheatre in Cary; McLain’s first prenatal concert featured the pre-eminent live experience of Jim James and company, preceded by the mostly-Dixieland style of a New Orleans jazz institution.

Pooch displays the set list from the Cary show

The show was also one of the biggest conventions of Triangle friends and family I’ve seen in years. My brother and his wife, Katie’s sister and her husband, as well as five college friends and other acquaintances. We really appreciate the baby sitting services of the Grandparents Jones.

Katie and Mindy

I’ve been waiting about six years to see MMJ, so my expectations were probably a bit inflated. As Katie and I walked to the car after the show, she asked me how I would grade it. I told her that I gave it a B for two reasons. First, the town of Cary has a noise ordinance that limits the volume (and therefore, limits the fun); there were four or five times when I was consciously irked that there wasn’t more output resulting from the band’s hard work. Second, they played too many songs from their most recent (and my least favorite) album. Even worse, the heart of the encore was the one MMJ song I detest: Highly Suspicious. So, count me among the curmudgeons who are old enough to complain about wanting to hear more of the “old stuff” from the “good old days.”

The end of Run Thru

Now that I have the negative out of the way, I want to say that the band was extremely tight considering that they didn’t really tour at all in 2009 or the beginning of 2010. The final song included the PHJB in a moving (literally for Rich and me) rendition of Curtis Mayfield’s Move on Up. What’s more, they played about six of the 15 or so songs that I really wanted to hear. That’s a pretty good batting average, and it included my Jim James favorite, The Way That He Sings. Why does my mind blow to bits every time they play that song? It’s just the way that he sings, not the words that he says or the band.

Dondante was one of several highlights

In one of my fantasies of the future, McLain will come to me one day and ask about the virtues of Southern Rock and who killed it (when it needed to die gracefully). Or maybe he’ll want to know how powerful a voice can be under the command of good songwriting. Perhaps he’ll just want to know what constitutes a great live rock and roll show. We’ll listen to It Still Moves or Z and I’ll remind him that he was in attendance, sort of, in Cary of all places.

For the first time since Katie’s been pregnant the second time, she predicted a boy, in a note she sent me this morning. Her prediction was validated with an image at 2:15 p.m. as Sarah, Katie, and I looked at the screen on the wall during an ultrasound. When we checked in with Katie’s OB today, the fetus was 15.2 cm with a 143 bpm heart rate. We’re thrilled of course, although Katie and I agreed last week that we would be every bit as excited for Jackie to have a little sister.

Jackie didn’t seem quite as giddy as we were today when we told her; she was much more interested in getting to the time after dinner when we allow her to give Baxter and Robah treats. If asked about the imminence of her brother, she replies, “No.”

Oh, and just as Jackie’s prenatal concert experience included R.E.M., Modest Mouse, and The National, McLain’s first live music in utero will be the My Morning Jacket show Friday night. The boys from Louisville will be joined for several songs by the Preservation Hall Jazz Band.

Here are a couple of ultrasound images of little McLain (Mamabea’s maiden name, and the little boy’s handle). He will go by the name McLain, but we still have to decide on his first name.

I’m thrilled to announce a new addition — Katie and I are eagerly expecting our second child on September 20.

Our first child has really taken the news in stride. When we ask whether she wants a brother or sister, Jackie seems indecisive. Sometimes she answers brahna. On other occasions, her response is sahsuh, or something similar. But, most of the time she says she prefers to have a cahkah, which is her word for cracker.

The little cahkah in the womb was measuring 1.3 cm at 7.5 weeks and the heart rate was 154. A week later, during our check up today, the cahkah was already at 2.1 cm. The doctor reminded us that second children are usually larger, and I noticed Katie cringe a little (bless her heart).

Speaking of blessing her heart, the first couple of months of this second pregnancy have been rough for Katie. We’ll all be glad to reach that 12-week milestone when the some of the worst symptoms will probably start to dissipate.

Here are a couple of early ultrasound images from last week.

Jackie's little sibling, aka "cahkah"

Actually, she or he resembles an animal cahkah at this early stage

Well, the child’s birthday and Christmas will be combined for the rest of her life, so I might as well do the same with the blog post that documents year one.

The Jones family, minus Baxter (who doesn’t travel well), went west for the Christmas holiday. Since we’ve been married, and because our parents live pretty far away from each other, Katie and I alternate Thanksgiving and Christmas gatherings every year. In 2009, we spent the week of Christmas with the Burns crew in Waynesville.

It was a snowy, relaxing holiday week, and we even got to catch up with the some friends in Asheville one night. Most of the time though, we hung out with Katie’s family indoors, waiting for Jackie to do something funny/cute/interesting. Nana taught her a few tricks during the week, including the sliding-rear-end-stair-descent (featured in the video below). And, no one entertained her or intrigued her more than PopPop when he donned his mechanical Santa hat (also in the video).

We also celebrated Jackie’s first birthday (on the 23rd), which she shares with her Aunt Holly (who surprised us by arriving the night before). It was a blast, except for the fact that my parents and brother and sister-in-law couldn’t make the party due to the snow and ice that blanketed the western part of North Carolina. We were able to visit them to start the new year — I’ll post pictures from our trip to Boone as soon as I have time to go through them.

The small cake (for Jackie) and the big cake (for the rest of us) came from The Sisters McMullen Bakery in downtown Asheville. I can’t rave about them enough, and trust me, I’ve had my share of sweet treats in my 32 years.

Jackie was funny about eating her cake, as you can see for yourself in the video below. I like to think she’s a civilized child — it wasn’t until she was given a fork that she really started to dig in. This was her first taste of refined sugar and she didn’t seem too fond of it.

There are a slew of fantastic pictures from our holiday, but I’ll have to put them in a future post when I have more time.

A few weeks ago, Katie and Jackie went to Watkinsville, Georgia, to visit Nana and PopPop. Watkinsville, where Katie went to high school, is just outside of Athens. I could try to tie in Jackie’s first visit to her maternal grandparents and the fond music memories I have from the courtin’ phase of my relationship with my wife (Guided by Voices at the 40 Watt stands out for me), but that would be a disservice to Nana. I know she wants to see the video, so I’ll get right to the meat of the matter.

Note: Jackie-in-action highlights can be found at the 1:47 and 2:32 marks.

Halloween weekend was a lot of fun for us. Nana arrived fairly late last Friday night from Georgia. Saturday, the family across the street invited us to their son’s birthday party. The spread of food was bountiful — our neighbors are Montagnards, part of an ethnic group from Vietnam,
and they prepared a feast for their friends and family. We were lucky to be invited, and even though we arrived only a couple of hours after we ate lunch, I couldn’t turn down the pho-like bowl of soup they prepared for me. While Jackie played with two other babies on the floor of their living room, Katie and I sampled items from the buffet in the kitchen.

One of the older men there explained that Montagnard/Degar people supported U.S. forces in the Vietnam war, and that outside of Vietnam, Raleigh has one of the largest Montagnard communities in the world. I don’t know much else about their culture, but they definitely have food figured out — rich meat flavors, aromatic ingredients added ad hoc to suit personal taste (cilantro, basil, lime), and plenty of heat from raw or semi-cooked peppers. Our sinuses cleared, we crossed the street to get ready for some sugar-free trick-or-treating.

Quick background: Just after Katie and I moved into our current house last summer, I discovered that a friendly neighbor down the street was actually my second cousin once removed. He informed me that another mutual cousin lives on our street, between our house and his. So, I have a second cousin once removed and a third cousin (neither of whom had I met before) who live within one city block of me on the same street.

Early Halloween evening we met up with the Blairs (my third cousin, her husband, and their son, who is about the same age as Jackie), and hauled the little ones (a monkey and a spider) down to Fallon Park for the neighborhood Halloween Parade & Potluck. We got there just in time to see some interesting costumes, and even a few families that showed costume solidarity — dad, mom, and kids had coordinated outfits. And, some of these kids looked like they were in middle school. I’m pretty sure I was enough of a brat as a teenager that I would have sneered/jeered at anyone who suggested that my family dress up with a unified Halloween theme.

We left the park and headed back to our street, where we stopped by neighbors’ houses to show off the babies and turn down candy offers. Of course, Katie and I weren’t counting on 75 degrees and sun when we ordered Jackie’s monkey suit, so she seemed relieved when we finished our tour up and down our street.

Sarah and Eric Reilly celebrated their union in Asheville a couple of weeks ago, and the weekend was a blast. I won’t go into detail about hanging with the scores of Burnses, Jeffcoatses, and Katie and Sarah’s family friends who came from all over the country to western North Carolina. My parents and Rich and Mindy were there too. Even Robah made the trip (I’m truly sorry you missed it Bax). Suffice it to say that Ben and Janet threw a spectacular reception and hosted everyone who traveled for the event at some point during the weekend.

I do want to highlight the all-too-brief time we spent with Jason, Jen, and Marin Marks two weeks ago today. Here’s a video of Marin attempting to play catch with Jackie in the Marks’ backyard. We’re not pressing charges, mainly because Marin has a promising future in competitive Kong throwing. As for Jackie, she has a hard head like her old man, and she didn’t bat an eye.

Oh, and Robah later avenged the assault on Jackie by wiping his slobbery beard on the back of Marin’s head.

Katie, Jackie, Rich, Mindy, and I spent five days at Ocean Isle. It was a rescheduled vacation that Rich put together after my parents were unable to make the first trip we planned. My folks stayed in Boone to look after my grandmother during her fight against congestive heart failure. She hasn’t lived 95 years because she’s not committed to life, and I’m glad to report that she’s almost back to full strength. It was disappointing for us to be beach-bound without my parents (understatement of the year: they deserve a vacation), but they did what they had to do.

The rest of us enjoyed our time at OIB; no one soaked in more of the experience than little Jackie. I’ve included some pictures below. If I had the time to arrange them chronologically, the images would tell a cohesive story. I’ll leave it up to you to organize them from first to last (especially the pictures where Jackie is eating sand). As soon as I have time to edit the video from the trip there will be some live-action memories posted here too.

Our daughter is at a funny stage. She learns and forgets certain behavioral patterns almost daily, but she practices other, more important behaviors almost routinely.
For example, during a couple of weeks in June, she shook her head as if to say “no” with her body language. Regardless of what we said or did during this period, she would respond by shaking her head left and right, seemingly in dissent (and smiling the entire time). After repeating this gesture several times a day for those two weeks, she hasn’t done it again in the past month.
Whenever I hug anyone, I pat her or him gently on the back. This is a common practice in my mother’s extended family, which is probably where I learned it and why I do it still today. When I pick up Jackie, I pat her too when I first hold her. A few days ago, she patted my back in return. This surprising, yet familiar action blew me away because it was both affectionate and learned. I expect this patting to continue for another day or two before she forgets it.
Her forgetting of behaviors is similar with language, except that some of her language development is not learned by rote, in a mechanical, repetitive way; instead, she has started to attach meaning to her babytalk. The first words we heard her mimic were “uh-oh”. She only repeated it when Katie or I said it. After the first time, Katie and I said “uh-oh” just to hear her repeat it, so I don’t think she connected the word with any particular meaning. She said “uh-oh” several times over the span of a few days, but she didn’t say it for several weeks after. Then, a few days ago, she dropped a toy onto the floor and said “uh-oh”; it was almost like she was keeping the phonological memory of the word on a mental shelf until she made a meaningful association.
Her favorite, and perhaps first true spoken word, is the phonetic equivalent of “goh”. Of course, this isn’t a real English word, but it is obvious that she attaches meaning to the pronunciation of “goh”; the first few times she said it were when she saw Baxter or Robah walking by her. She started saying it more often, as if she was calling for the dogs when they weren’t in the room with her.
Lately, she doesn’t say it much at all.
Is it possible that her brain is starting to make retrieval connections between her short-term and long-term memory? I’m no epistemologist, but I wonder if her brain is dividing new knowledge into meaningless (shaking her head randomly) and meaningful (“goh”), and the meaningless eventually gets tossed into her cerebral trashcan. Like “uh-oh” before it, I predict that she will not forget or discard “goh”, because it’s relevant to her daily life in a house with dogs. Instead, I think “goh” will eventually transform into “dog.”

Our daughter is at a funny stage. She learns and forgets certain behavioral patterns almost daily, but she practices other, more important behaviors almost routinely.

For example, during a couple of weeks in June, she shook her head as if to say “no” with her body language. Regardless of what we said or did during this period, she would respond by shaking her head left and right, seemingly in dissent (and smiling the entire time). After repeating this gesture several times a day for those two weeks, she hasn’t done it again in the past month.

Whenever I hug anyone, I pat her or him gently on the back. This is a common practice in my mother’s extended family, which is probably where I learned it and why I do it still today. When I pick up Jackie, I pat her too when I first hold her. A few days ago, she patted my back in return. This surprising, yet familiar action blew me away because it was both affectionate and learned. I expect this patting to continue for another day or two before she forgets it.

Her forgetting of behaviors is similar with language, except that some of her language development is not learned by rote, in a mechanical, repetitive way; instead, she has started to attach meaning to her babytalk. The first words we heard her mimic were “uh-oh”. She only repeated it when Katie or I said it. After the first time, Katie and I said “uh-oh” just to hear her repeat it, so I don’t think she connected the word with any particular meaning. She said “uh-oh” several times over the span of a few days, but she didn’t say it for several weeks after. Then, a few days ago, she dropped a toy onto the floor and said “uh-oh”; it was almost like she was keeping the phonological memory of the word on a mental shelf until she made a meaningful association.

pointing

Her favorite, and perhaps first true spoken word, is the phonetic equivalent of “goh”. Of course, this isn’t a real English word, but it is obvious that she attaches meaning to the pronunciation of “goh”; the first few times she said it were when she saw Baxter or Robah walking by her. She started saying it more often, as if she was calling for the dogs when they weren’t in the room with her. Lately, she doesn’t say it much at all.

Is it possible that her brain is starting to make retrieval connections between her short-term and long-term memory? I’m no epistemologist, but I wonder if her brain is dividing new knowledge into meaningless (shaking her head randomly) and meaningful (“goh”), and the meaningless eventually gets tossed into her cerebral trashcan. Like “uh-oh” before it, I predict that she will not forget or discard “goh”, because it’s relevant to her daily life in a house with dogs. Instead, I think “goh” will eventually transform into “dog.”

Thanks to Sarah Shanahan for flying down from NYC to visit us the weekend before last. We thoroughly enjoyed catching up with her, and it took very little time for Sarah to endear herself to Jackie (see the pictures below).

Sarah, a nutritionist, also tolerated a lot of food and health-related questions during her stay. You would think that having a health-wise visitor might inspire us to put our most wholesome foot forward, but this was not the case. Instead, Katie and I introduced her to some of the most decadent cuisine Raleigh has to offer (pizza at Lilly’s and BBQ at The Pit). At least we didn’t offer some ridiculous flavor of Vitamin Water, like Essential or Rescue, to go with her English muffin at breakfast.

Standing practice can be fun

Standing practice can be fun

18_Jackie_Sarah_S_2

Jackie, doing her best innocent expression

Jackie, doing her best innocent expression

Katie with Sarah, Sarah, and Sara

Katie with Sarah, Sarah, and Sara

Image from Raleigh

Urban dirt-biking

I took this post-apocalyptic picture outside Jones Barber Shop in Raleigh last year.

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