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Forgive me for these two transgressions:

  1. In a lazy attempt to summarize all of the late-summer events for our family, I’ve crammed two months worth of highlights into one video.
  2. This post has nothing to do with dogs. Don’t worry, I still love my boys.

My family has been busy in July and August. My amazing, pregnant wife and my amazing, pre-toddler daughter have been traveling — Katie (for work and pleasure), and Jackie (for pleasure). I have been renovating a girl nursery for a baby boy and a guest bedroom for a growing little girl. Katie and Jackie spent some time in Simsboro, Louisiana, with the Jeffcoats and Gordonsville, Virginia, with the maternal grandparents. All three of us have made a couple of trips to Boone to hang with my folks. We also hosted Katie’s college girlfriends and their kids, and attended a wonderful Dubberly wedding.

All the while, we are prepping for the arrival of McLain Moore Jones; this boy will expand our family no later than September 14 (and possibly earlier). We are ready for the little guy, save for finding some indie-rock (or dad rock?) onesies that will help me project my tastes onto my new son. At 14, he’ll probably go through an Eagles phase just to get back at me (other than vengeance, why would anyone go through an Eagles phase?).

I hope to document the room changes in a near-future post. Jackie has handled the transition from a crib to a real bed in a new room like a 12-year-old. At the risk of bragging, I will tell you that Jackie has made parenting easy for Katie and me so far.

Here’s the video:


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.

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.

My mother’s side of the family, the Watsons, came to our house for Thanksgiving dinner. We were thrilled to host the Watsons. My parents attended, as did the Watsons  (Danny and Janice, from Burlington), the Hudsons (Nancy, Gary, Chris, Angie, Lindsay, and Darren Austin, all of whom drove here from Charlotte), the Prices (Carolyn, Will, Ashley, Ryan, from Burlington), and Katie’s cousin Lee (from Chapel Hill). Lee was the outsider who everyone enjoyed having, especially me (he washed a lot of dishes).

The meal was headlined by Katie’s 25-pound turkey, which was the most robust, delicious bird I’ve ever eaten. I could kick myself for not taking a picture of that beast.

All the sides and desserts were equally delectable. Jackie, Baxter, and Robah also enjoyed our company. My father had everyone singing along to his new party game. The working title is What’s Next, and he tailored the clues to the personal interests of the family members in attendance.

We appreciate y’all for spending the holiday in Five Points, and it was darn good to catch up with everyone. Also, thanks to my parents for looking after the baby while we prepped.

The latest, greatest parlor game: What's Next

Goofin' off before company arrives

Baby time with Aunt Carolyn, Cousin Will, and two of her top-notch grandparents

Strolling with Gramps and Great Uncle Danny

Good boys get turkey cracklin'

Strolling some out for the many sidewalk cracks JBJ

JBJ poses atop her old man

There are many musical associations lurking in our heads. In my experience, a connection between a certain song and a stimulus happens often, and some even happen and repeat on a regular basis. For example, “Summertime Rolls” by Jane’s Addiction is triggered every year during the month of August, and I think I’ve experienced this — the song evoked by the late summer heat, set to repeat in my head  — since I was 14 or 15 years old.

I thought about personalizing and re-hashing the lyrics for this post, but that seemed a little too contrived (although the line “there is so much space…I cut me a piece” is a perfect fit for beachgoing). I also didn’t use the song as a soundtrack to the beach footage below, but for me, it’s playing in my head when I see my daughter barefoot, fingernails of mother’s pearl playing in sand, gumming cantaloupe, and dancing with her Uncle Rich.

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.

As a lot of other folks headed east to the beach for July 4th, Katie, Jackie, Baxter, Robah, and I headed west to the mountains. It was our first official nuclear-family vacation, which is notable because we consider our dogs to be just as nuclear to us as Lassie was to Timmy. Plus, going to Boone without the dogs is akin to me winning a skybox seat at Wrigley Field and not inviting my brother to come along. My folks were gone to visit extended family in Indiana, but graciously granted us the run of their property.

The highlights of our weekend included Robah being ambushed by a large buck, Jackie going on her first hike, Katie and me watching scattered mountain fireworks from my parents’ deck, and Baxter making it through the weekend without injuring himself like he has before when running wild in the mountains. Katie also cooked a sublime steak dinner, and we visited my grandmother twice, including lunch at her retirement center on Sunday. Seeing your 95-year-old grandmother hold your 6-month-old daughter is a little surreal and humbling (in a time-keeps-marching-on kind of way).

Here are a video and various pictures from the weekend. The video covers tickle time, play time with the dogs, and bouncing time.





Every year, in mid-June, Vogel State Park in north Georgia is taken over for an entire week by 50 or 60 Burnses from all over the country. It’s the Burns Family Reunion, and this was Jackie’s first experience with Katie’s great uncles and aunts, second cousins, third cousins, sixth cousins twice removed, and so on. She had a blast.

Before we left for Georgia, I didn’t think the week with Katie’s extended family would matter much to a six-month old baby. Boy, was I wrong. Jackie clung to her parents and grandparents the first couple of days, but after being passed around, cuddled, talked to, doted on, and welcomed by every member of Katie’s family for the first forty-eight hours, the child really started to get into it. A child psychologist or developmental expert could have written a qualitative research paper on Jackie’s transformation. She metamorphosed from shy to soaking-it-all-in. By the end of the week, she didn’t care who held her as long as they gave her full attention and praise.

Thanks to Ben and Janet for paying for the Jones family cabin and to Janet for looking after Jackie every night! Thanks to the entire Burns clan for welcoming its newest member!

Here is a slew of pictures from the week:

Since our last update, Jackie has mastered bouncing and parent-assisted swimming. She’s also cut one bona fide tooth and another is about to erupt from her lower gum line. If she inherits her father’s dental genetic traits, one of these teeth will probably need a root canal in a month or so. Here’s a list of the other foods she’s added to her core diet of breast milk:

  • Sweet potatoes (old trusty — if you could only eat one food, you couldn’t choose much more wisely)
  • Bananas (her new favorite — also rhymes with “Nana”)
  • Apples
  • Green beans (not the first thing she would order off a menu)
  • Peas (see Green beans)
  • Peaches (second favorite, behind bananas)
  • Carrots
  • Corn + zucchini (one of the few foods her mother and I don’t steam and puree ourselves)
  • Salt & vinegar pork rinds (only when we feel like spoiling her)

Jackie isn’t quite ready to crawl, so here’s a video medley of her burning calories the only two ways she knows how — by bouncing and swimming:

This post is a special long-distance hug to Nana, whose sickness this week has prevented her from coming to Raleigh this week like she planned. I realize how difficult life can be for grandparents when illness gets in the way of time with a grandbaby.

Katie and understand that Nana must be really ill; it probably took a lot of self-control and a CDC injunction to keep her off of I-85 North. Maybe the pictures below can be some sort of consolation in lieu of quality Jackie time.

Get well soon Nana

Get well soon Nana!


Jackie loves the song "French Navy" by Camera Obscura

Jackie loves the song "French Navy" by Camera Obscura.

Green beans? Yecch.

Green beans? Yecch.

Green bean are nasty

Green beans = nasty

Strawberry mustache?

Strawberry mustache? I's kinda weird.

Jackie, doing her best Dick Jones imitation

Jackie with Mom in the pool -- the baby is doing her best Dick Jones imitation.

Jackie and Dad tasting pool toys

Jackie and Dad tasting pool toys

Jackie and Dad lounging

Jackie and Dad lounging

Image from Raleigh

Urban dirt-biking

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