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A couple days after your baby is born, you have to leave the hospital. I was certainly ready to get out of there. But, with your first child, going home with a screaming, mysterious pink infant is a bit of a scary notion. The shock of the hospital experience is overtaken by the anticipation of the future first-day-home experience.

I think I remember packing up our stuff in the hospital room, three days after Jackie was born. Everything was in order, or at least I thought it was. I had tightened the 5-point harness car seat, and was confident that we could drive the 4 miles from Rex Hospital to White Oak Road without endangering mother or child.

Katie was wheelchair-bound, holding a tiny (yet 10-plus pounds) Jacqueline Burns Jones, and I was pushing. I remember the general smell of the courtesy take-home lasagna (thanks, Rex) in the elevator, going down.

I’d noticed the car seat inspector before as I’d entered and exited the hospital. He’d always seemed unusually busy, hovering around the perimeter of whichever minivan or station wagon was parked near the automatic doors. On the second day of our 3-day stint with Jackie, I stood out by the fountain and watched him “work” for about 10 minutes. Was this guy really collecting a paycheck for this? How hard could it be to pull on a car seat and proclaim either “tight enough” or “a little tighter”?

Now, after fetching our Honda, I saw him again. This time, however, he had an unmistakable air of authority. I suddenly realized my true place in the situation — with eyes blurry from fatigue and head pounding, I was presuming to take an exhausted woman and a wriggling, screaming baby out of the hospital and drive them four long miles through curvy roads to a house across town.

The Chief Car Seat Inspector approached the Honda, and asked if he could take a look. “Of course”, I replied, in the most respectful tone I could utter.

He wiggled the car seat, and it gave. It moved about a centimeter from side to side, and I knew I had failed my first test. “Here’s how you get it really tight,” he said to me nicely as I prepared to make mental note.

Now I know the importance his job, and how he often deals with men and women who enter the hospital confident, but leave it humbled and frazzled.

We made it home safely on December 26, 2008. I bet Bax and Beebs are still wondering what hit them.

Here’s Jackie coming home in 2008:

What the...

What the…

 

If you’ll allow liberties so I can make a parallel, there’s a new gatekeeper in our world these days. Melissa drives the J. Y. Joyner Elementary School blue bus, which turns left from Oxford Road and stops at the corner of Alexander and White Oak at approximately 8:53 a.m. every weekday during the school year.

Every morning, Jackie, McLain, and I walk down to meet the bus. They and the other kids play tag or Mother May I (Mrs. Williams is the MC) until the bus makes its turn onto White Oak Road. The first one to spot it (usually a parent) yells, “BUS!”, and the kids are off.

Some days, Jackie rides it home as well.

Here’s Jackie coming home in 2014:

Getting off the blue bus after the first day

Getting off the blue bus after the first day

 

Katie and I, and Jackie too (mostly), have wonderful things to say about JYJ Elementary.

 

Hallowed kindergarten hall at J.Y. Joyner

Hallowed kindergarten hall at J.Y. Joyner

Orientation in Mr. Del's class

Orientation in Mr. Del’s class

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I’ll start by admitting that living in Raleigh has tested me over the past year. I’m a Carolina alum and sports fan, so there hasn’t been a lot of good news since Butch was (rightfully) kicked out of Chapel Hill. The college-sports enthusiasts with west-Raleigh ties are not making it easier for me, but I don’t resent them for finding our closets, and mostly, I’m trying not to resent their resentful poking and prodding of a rival school’s academic and athletic skeletons.

Also, I don’t hold it against the local media that they have to dissect every tweet, interview, rumor, blog post, or newspaper story about the scandal as it unfolds. I am glad that I don’t work in local media; I wish that I could tune it out a little better, but I find that to be really hard.

So, I’ll talk about what’s good, and why I’m proud to live in Raleigh. The Hopscotch Music Festival is at the top of the civic-pride list. How many earthlings can boast 175 bands in three nights, all within a mile radius of their civic core, for less than the price of a Sonos Play 3?

I have proof that I’m into this — see my spreadsheet below for a glimpse of how I spend my free time. But first, here’s a little personal history.

The inaugural Hopscotch was in 2010. Katie was 8.5 months pregnant with McLain, I had a one-year-old daughter at home, and I skipped it.

Last year, I put a toe in the Hopscotch water. There was no choice about attending at least one City Plaza show — Guided by Voices was playing two miles from my house (with The Dodos and Drive-by Truckers opening).

This year, I’m all in. I got a three-day wristband, and I’ve been thrilled about it  ever since the etix transaction back in June.

Unlike last year, one of my favorite bands of all time will not be playing in 2012. But, I think the following shows are worth seeing, regardless of where they are playing:

  • The Roots
  • Built to Spill
  • Yo La Tengo
  • Liars
  • Sunn O)))
  • Thee Oh Sees
  • Danny Brown
  • Deerhoof
  • Baroness
  • Lambchop
  • Killer Mike
  • The Spits
  • Oneida
  • Holograms
  • Sister Crayon
  • Doldrums
  • Whatever Brains
  • Guardian Alien

It’s not necessarily about the music you or I know and already love; it’s about the potential for discovery. For the record, I believe that this year’s Hopscotch line up is bigger and better than the Moogfest line up in Asheville, which I would not have claimed last year.

Here’s my homework, or at least my personal effort to educate myself about the bands at the festival this year (google docs): Hopscotch 2012 Line Up Analysis

Here’s what the first tab looks like:

A look at my subjective analysis of the Hopscotch 2012 line up

Some notes about the spreadsheet:

Priorities worksheet

  • Shows are marked and organized by column according to how interested I am in seeing them — it’s an effort to prioritize and make tough decisions about shows to seek out, shows to happen upon, and a few shows I might want to disregard. If you don’t like my priorities, or even if you do, you should come up with your own.
  • I forced all of the bands/artists into 9 genres (one of which is “other”). This is certainly not an effort to label all of them precisely, but it helps to classify the types of acts at a given venue on a given night. It also yields a surprising snapshot; for example, there are 15 metal bands this year, and not nearly as much 80’s-influenced dance rock (considering how that sound seems so common these days).
  • There are links to live performances for most of the artists. This should at least give you a feel for the band’s stage show. Note that some of the smaller, local artists (generally found at the bottom of the list) don’t have much live performance video online.
  • Prioritization is a work in progress, and maybe it can be used for planning purposes.
The Venue, ThuFri, and Sat worksheets are self-explanatory.

Tonight I looked back at what I tweeted during Jackie’s birth in December of ’08. Here’s a screenshot of the twitter archive; the entries are listed chronologically from oldest at the bottom, to newest at the top.

Tweets from Jackie’s birth

This is the image linked to the post-birth tweet shown above, “Love”.

I speak for Katie, probably not Jackie, and certainly not Baxter and Robah, when I say we are giddy with excitement about meeting McLain.

In less than six days, Katie will give birth to McLain Moore Jones. Unlike Jackie’s birth, this one will be a scheduled c-section. We know that McLain will be extracted at 7:15 a.m. on Tuesday, September 14.

Here’s the PR plan for McLain’s birth. Friends and family, if you want to know how things are going on Tuesday, choose one of these info-dissemination options:

  • Go to http://twitter.com/senojydna to follow live-tweets of McLain’s birth, including pics and video (depending on the REX wifi).
  • Most of the same updates to my twitter account will be posted to facebook, but only FB friends can access my profile.
  • I will probably post something to the blog, http://www.dogfoodmoney.com, from my phone soon after McLain is born. I’ll update the blog with a comprehensive post sometime on Tuesday night or Wednesday.
  • Of course, you can call, text, or email me directly whenever you want.
  • Every year, in mid-June, Vogel State Park in north Georgia is taken over for an entire week by Burnses from all over the country. It’s the Burns Family Reunion, and this was Jackie’s second experience with Katie’s great uncles and aunts, second cousins, third cousins, sixth cousins twice removed, and so on. Jackie shared the spotlight with a few other children this year (including Henry, Audrey, Emilyn, and Emory), but she somehow managed to get plenty of attention and/or ice cream whenever she wanted either or both.

    This was the first year of the BFR (of 44 years total) that Katie served as co-organizer and chief cabin coordinator. With her Uncle Robert’s tutelage, she did an outstanding job making sure that everyone had comfortable accommodations.

    I brought a special non-Burns friend along to the BFR this year. Robah made the trip southwest, and I really appreciated him coming. He’s always been a true friend, but I was surprised to learn what a good hiking partner he is. You could say that Robah is a dog’s dog, except that he doesn’t really like other dogs. He does love people though.

    Here’s a generalized schedule of the typical day during our week at Vogel State Park:

    6:30 — Katie, Robah, and I wake up. Robah goes out to relieve himself, sees a deer in the woods, and takes off for about two minutes (the amount of time it takes for the deer to lose him)

    7:15 — Katie heads up to her parents’ cabin, where Jackie is sleeping

    7:15 – 8:00 — Robah and I listen to Tame Impala, Ariel Pink, The Arcade Fire, Tennis, and others as we get ready for the day

    8:00 – 11:00 — Robah and I hike one of trails that head at VSP. Katie and Janet cook for the family members hanging around Janet and Ben’s cabin (at least 5 guest eaters total, maximum of 15). Jackie entertains, or is entertained, and then naps.

    11:00 – 12:00 — Robah and I eat leftovers and snacks for lunch while we catch up with Jackie and Katie on the morning events

    12:00 – 4:00 — The Joneses change into swim gear and enjoy the lake, except for Robah, who naps

    4:00 – 7:00 — Jackie naps, and Katie, Robah, and I read and relax

    7:00 – 9:00 — BFR dinner gathering (everyone), socializing or planned event (e.g. talent show) afterward

    9:00 – After reading books with Nana and Papa, Jackie goes to bed in cabin #25

    9:00 – 11:00 – Before bed Katie reads, Robah snoozes, and I play with my new phone

    The schedule listed above shouldn’t leave you with the impression that every day at VSP is the same. Every day brings nuanced surprises, or in the case of our next-to-last day there, a fairly major event. Robah and I had a scary and exhilarating hike to wrap up our week, but I won’t go into details here.

    Katie is lucky to have an amazing extended family (both paternal and maternal), and I’m lucky to be accepted by them (Robah was also accepted, except for the few isolated instances when he slobbered on someone).

    Here are pictures from the week. Video will follow when I get around to editing and polishing.

    Spring has been an adventure this year. Katie has been performing her demanding job (including travel), being pregnant, being a mother, and taking a graduate class remotely from Georgia Tech. I’ve been struggling with some home improvement projects during my hours away from work and away from my dogs. I’m even starting to think about installing a beehive instead of a chicken coop, primarily because it seems like a little less hassle.

    But, no matter how busy we think we are, the whole family has enjoyed the turn in the weather at every opportunity. My daughter deserves credit for reintroducing Katie and me to the simple pleasures of being outdoors in April in North Carolina. I’ll never complain of allergies again; Jackie can hardly breathe due to congestion from spending most of her day inhaling pollen, but when she’s inside, she’s standing at the front door and pleading “ahsah” until we open door.

    When my Dad called on Friday and told me that they would have to leave Durham immediately for Boone, we almost scrapped our plans to attend the Carolina spring game this past weekend. My grandmother turned 96 last month, and her physical condition worsens by the day as her mind (and will to live) remains as strong as ever. She fell early Friday morning, and my parents went home to attend to her.

    So, my Mom would have miss her birthday celebration with Rich, Mindy, Katie, Jackie, and me, and my Dad would have to miss his first glimpse of the BCS-bowl-bound 2010 Tar Heels (after the basketball season we had, I’m shooting for the moon). We debated not going, but eventually decided to enjoy the gorgeous day and head to Chapel Hill. The spring game wasn’t that interesting for any of us, even though the defense met everyone’s expectations. Jackie sat in her seat for maybe two minutes before she dragged me, then Katie, out and around Kenan Stadium.

    What was interesting, and what Jackie enjoyed the most, was tailgating with Uncle Rich and Aunt Mindy in the Bowles Lot before the game. I classify the event as her first major outdoor party. I hope we can do it again in September. Here’s some video:

    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.

    Last Sunday was momentous. A person I love was introduced to a thing I love, and I was lucky enough to watch the interaction.

    Thanks to great tickets and a parking pass from a kind neighbor, Katie and I took Jackie to her first live sporting event — UNC vs. Nevada at the Smith Center.

    I grew up with Carolina basketball, and I can’t help but think that Jackie will also find comfort and inspiration from the same source. Maybe it’s a player who scored pointing to a teammate to credit him for the assist after a fast break conversion. Maybe it’s blood, shed in sacrifice to victory, splattered on the floor of H.I.S. (Hansbrough Indoor Stadium, in Durham).  Or, maybe it’s the way Woody pronounces pistachio (pi-stash-see-oh).

    On Sunday, we got to our seats about 15 minutes before tip-off. Jackie’s jaw dropped as soon as we started descending the steps in our section. The lights, the other fans, the band, and the sheer size of the building kept her mouth agape until about the 15:00 mark of the first half. After the initial shock waned, she seemed to be paying attention to the action on the floor. Katie put her in her very own seat early in the second half. Cracker in hand, Jackie’s behavior could have passed for any adult spectator in the arena, snacking and watching Larry Drew II dish out assists to Ed Davis. She was taking in the game (which was a little closer than I expected) like any other fan.

    It was truly one of the best experiences during my short time as a father. On that night, happiness was sitting with my wife and daughter as Ol’ Roy got his 600th win.

    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.

    According to our pediatrician, we’ve got a healthy baby on our hands:

    • Weight, 20 lbs. 11 oz.
    • Height, 30 in.
    • Head circumference, an inch bigger than last time

    All three of those stats are greater than the 99th percentile. Of course, I know that doesn’t mean anything except that the child is outgrowing her clothes faster than people are giving her new ones (which is pretty fast).

    Image from Raleigh

    Urban dirt-biking

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

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