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The home office at our house has that new computer smell. In fact, I’m wafting it toward my nose and inhaling deeply as I type this. All I can really say is that our 27-inch iMac is resplendent in every way.

More importantly to those who read this blog, the new computer has liberated hours of video and more than 1,100 pictures that have been stuck on our cameras (neither Katie nor I wanted to use our work laptops for 50+ GB of personal files).

It’s my 3rd Mac, and believe it or not, I’m not an Apple fanboy…just a desktop Apple fanboy. Before I get to the real subject matter of this blog (also known as JaM), please tolerate this graphic:

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Now that you’ve read this far, I promise I’ve saved the best for last. The documentation of McLain’s early childhood has been somewhat neglected on this blog. He’s quite a kid, and deserves some catch-up coverage.

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I spliced together some McLain video highlights from most of the last two years:

His older sister loves him as much as anyone, and the little guy is a complete ham…

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And, he’s photogenic enough to run for an elected toddler political office…

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He’s always been a singer, but now he’s a talker too. Like any second child, he finds his spots to shine. Like any kid anywhere, he’s growing up in a rapid flurry of sound and a bright flash of light…

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Oh, and he’s a mama’s boy in all the best ways, which I’ll have to detail some other time.

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Some two-year-olds are capable of providing for their younger siblings. At least, that’s how the following video begins. Around the two-minute mark, Jackie is eager to escape the awful racket that our mini food processor makes. In fact, Jackie says she wants to get far away from the food processor, “so it doesn’t kill me.” Dramatic? Maybe a bit. But in her defense, that food processor makes a harsh and ghastly noise.

McLain just started eating food other than breast milk last week, and there’s no better place to start than with what I believe to be the perfect food: the North Carolina sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas). He’s since tried banana and avocado, but if he shares his sister’s tastes, a large part of his diet during the next year will consist of sweet potato.

 

Oh, and it’s March 8, 2011, which marks the sixth birthday of Baxter Burns Jones. Goodness knows we thought our reckless and crazy dog might kill himself long before now, so we have much to celebrate. Baxter is the eldest (and certainly weirdest) of our four dependents. He’s been with us during some drastic changes to our family unit. He usually listens better to the voices in his head than he does Katie and me, but we love him.

Textbook pointing form -- probably hunting a tennis ball

About a month ago, we packed up the Ellie and drove south on I-85. The trip to Watkinsville, Georgia, was overdue anyway, but we were carrying out an important mission — Katie, Judy Hall, and Ben organized a surprise birthday shindig for Janet’s 60th birthday.

Everything went according to plan. The Halls hosted the surprise party, and friends of the Burns family brought delicious food, party mentalities, and a lot of interesting/comical birthday gifts for the guest of honor. Even more surprising than the party itself was the fact that everyone kept the secret so that the birthday girl was caught totally off-guard.

The video below shows Janet’s moment of shock, Jackie playing with beads her way, and Jackie riding on Papa’s back. McLain gets the short shrift yet again, but I promise to make it up to him in the next few weeks.

Here are pictures and video of a white Christmas with the Joneses in Boone:

Pictures and video of our Thanksgiving holiday with the Burnses in Maggie Valley:

This year we appreciated Halloween for what it really is — one of the best holidays on the calendar. Several qualities of Halloween make it special, and even virtuous: 1) no gifts are necessary other than treats, 2) it fosters and rewards imagination, 3) Butterfingers and Skittles, and 4) celebrating Halloween, for us at least, means celebrating with your neighbors.

Jackie was into Halloween this year, and consequently, Katie and I were really into it. We decorated the house and carved a total of five pumpkins. Jackie wore different costumes on the 23rd and 31st (lamb and ladybug), as did her buddy Drew (dragon and giraffe). Five Points businesses sponsored a breakfast and trick-or-treating on the 23rd, and the annual parade was held at Fallon Park prior to the main event on the 31st.

Grandaddy and Mama JJ were on hand for Halloween night, and pushed monkey McLain around as he participated in his first parade. We loved having my parents involved in the festivities. McLain might have loved it too, but he slept the entire afternoon and evening.

Here’s a video recap of Halloween day/night.

The following pictures span the last few weeks of October. And, yes, that is a Lil HalloWayne pumpkin (sans dreads).

Allow me to show appreciation for the nursing mother — particularly the one at my house. Katie is the absolute best. Throughout every day and night, she makes sure McLain is happy and sated. She balances many delicate variables, and she invariably adapts as McLain’s needs change. When McLain isn’t happy, she takes it personally. Then she finds the solution.

Katie has only a couple more weeks at home before she goes back to work, and I know she is already preparing for her return to environmental engineering. Getting back into the world of DAF units, activated sludge, and flocculation will be easy for her. The hard part will be leaving that little guy at Ms. Rose’s house for his first day away from home.

McLain isn’t the only one eating well around here. We’ve all benefited from Katie’s time at home. During those scarce quiet hours of the day, when she isn’t nursing or otherwise engaged with McLain, she cooks. The kitchen here has been putting out five-star fare while Katie has been home.

I already covered Katie’s reasons for dreading her return to work, so now let me explain one of mine. I worry that the high culinary bar might be compromised when she is working 50+ hours a week, traveling on occasion, and spending all her other available time with her family.

 

Katie doing work with her deluxe shrimp and grits

 

Our family has had it really good lately. Here are some of the highlights from last week:

  • Grilled ribeyes, finished with truffle butter
  • Phanaeng curry chicken and potatoes (fresh cilantro and lime on the side)
  • Shrimp, pancetta, scallops and creamy grits
  • Roasted garlicky brussel sprouts and tomatoes
  • Grilled mushrooms, tossed in sherry vinegar
  • Spicy okra (one of Jackie’s favorites)
  • Banana-walnut-chocolate muffins
  • Cream cheese pound cake
  • Sweet potato pie

McLain is now two weeks old and doing just great. Two weeks might not be quite enough time to really get to know someone who doesn’t talk or even open his eyes very often, but I will attempt to describe what I know about him so far in the form of a bulleted list:

  • I don’t know if there’s such a thing as a “Tar Heel born,” but McLain definitely shares one characteristic with Rameses. He bleats. What I mean is that he makes a staccato sound similar to that of a baby sheep. You know, something like baa-aa-aa-aa-aa-ha-aa. So, his first nickname is hereby McLamb.
  • His newborn temperament is relaxed, and he’s fairly quiet when he isn’t bleating or crying for a nursing session.
  • His eyes are bluish and greenish, although that is subject to change in the next several months.
  • The little guy has George Gershwin/Jelly Roll Morton-type fingers. His phalanges seem to be more mature than the rest of him. I remember Jackie having similar fingers.
  • Just as Jackie seemed to favor a particular electronic album, The Field’s From Here We Go Sublime, McLain is fond of Black Noise by Pantha du Prince. I only have two data points, but my theory is that infants enjoy contemporary minimalist European techno.

Overall, Katie and I feel like the addition of McLain to the family has gone very well. Katie continues to manage McLain’s nursing schedule, and he continues to gain weight. Jackie has been completely accepting of her new brother; I haven’t yet seen her show any sign of jealousy toward him. She amazes me with her ability to accept dramatic changes and put her best Ked forward (she gets this from her mother).

The only really rough patch was when I contracted a stomach bug on an outing with Jackie to the Museum of Natural Sciences downtown. I was incapacitated and quarantined in the guest bedroom for about 30 hours. Katie could have handled everything on her own, but we were lucky to get a visit from Steve Saville the second night of my illness. He was finishing a project in Fayetteville and made the drive to Raleigh last Thursday evening. Steve bought dinner, helped with the kids, and made us all feel better about things when we needed it most — just the kind of thing a good friend does when you really need the assistance.

Last and also least, Robah and Baxter are looking to each to each other for entertainment now more than ever before. But, with all the time they’ve spent hanging around with a newborn and a toddler, there hasn’t been the slightest problem. I expect this kind of cooperation from Robah. With Baxter, you just can’t know what to expect, but he’s been really good as well.

Here’s a video with footage from the first hour after McLain’s birth, his first real meeting with his mother, and the introduction of his big sister.

We had a photo session with Jessica Lobdell the Sunday before last. She and Simon are good people, and they were really patient with us. If you live in the Triangle, and need a professional with an excellent eye, call Jessica. She posted several pics of our family on her blog: http://jmbentonphoto.blogspot.com/2010/09/new-baby-boy.html. The next-to-last image on her blog speaks volumes (from Baxter’s perspective, at least). More on that later.

Finally, here are a slew of pictures that Katie and I took, mostly from McLain’s first several days.

Thanks again to my parents and Katie’s parents. My mom and dad held down the fort during those first couple of hectic days. Katie’s mom has made a couple of trips from Georgia to help for extended periods, and her dad entertained Jackie during her second trip to Kenan Stadium the weekend before last.

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.
  • Image from Raleigh

    Urban dirt-biking

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

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