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In every orderly house, the members follow a set of conduct guidelines. We try to be good people, and Katie and I practice and enforce the moral standards that we inherited from our parents. But, the golden rule and other tenets don’t always apply directly to certain situations (especially if you are three-and-a-half or almost two years old).

How does a family deal with these situations, that often occur daily, on White Oak Road?

We’ve come up with the following set of principles and accepted truths to help keep our household happy and productive:

  1. Be sweet to Robah… he never done nothin’ to nobody¬†(and when you recite this rule, use Robah voice). All the rest of us have been mean or rude one time or another, but Robah never done nothin’ to nobody. Here’s McLain, mouth full of eggs, proving why this rule is necessary as he comes close to crossing the line.

    McLain tests the limits of rule #1

  2. At any time, in any place, JAMS will be played on request. For example, let’s say Cokie Roberts’ Monday segment is on NPR when we get in the car to go to Ms. Rose’s house, and Jackie says, “Play some JAMS, Dada.” Then, it’s goodbye Cokie, hello Bear in Heaven, Guided by Voices, J Dilla, etc.
    Note: “Dada” is the keeper of the JAMS, and this is the only situation in which a “please” is not required (see rule #4).
  3. Always thank Katie/Mama for dinner; we’ve got it really, really good. On the rare occasion that Dad cooks, try washing it down with your milk.
  4. Manners matter; good manners is an easy way to show respect to your co-eaters. Exception: good manners are postponed if McLain is practicing for his future in competitive eating.
  5. If Baxter brings you something, and you throw it he will fetch it and return it to you. If you continue to throw it for him, the result will eventually be Baxter passing out or maybe even perpetual motion.
  6. Every story told to Jackie at bed time must feature at least two of the following characters: a mean witch, a nice witch, a family, mean or nice animals, and girls with pretty dresses (including, but not limited to princesses). The more of these characters you work into the narrative, the more positive her post-story review is likely to be.
  7. Try not to show off at the playground, even though Jackie might swing better by herself than an older boy being pushed by his mom.
  8. Any statement that begins with, “I want…” automatically gets the following response: “Oh, you want something? Okay, well, I want a new custom-built home computer and compatible wireless music system.” Please ask nicely for something that you want, and understand that you might not get it.
  9. If McLain takes off his shirt and runs around the house or yard, don’t be alarmed. He has been possessed with his alter ego, Party Boy. In extreme situations, you can change Party Boy back to McLain by putting him in a bubble bath.
  10. As you go through life, assist other people (the Kendall Marshall rule). When you’re the recipient of an assist, be grateful and give credit to anyone who assists you (the Dean Smith corollary).

Jackie is no longer a baby now that she is walking here, there, and everywhere. Before Christmas she had a breakthrough — 12 or 14 consecutive steps. A few days after Christmas, with burgeoning confidence, she was walking anytime she had the chance. Nowadays, it’s not unusual to see her do a lap around our foursquare house with a sippy cup in one hand and a maraca shaking in the other. Here’s some video from December 29, 2009.

This post is really going to disappoint the grandparents, but sometimes a man has to give some credit to the lowest-on-the-totem-pole members of his family. The dogs have earned the recognition — especially Robah.

One drizzly day last week, the three of us were strolling down White Oak Road when a lab-like dog that was about Robah’s size sprinted toward us. I had my ear buds in and my rain jacket hood on, so I didn’t realize the dog was approaching so quickly until he was ten feet from us. Robah, who always walks on my right side (Baxter always holds down our left flank), was ready and waiting. I looked to my right just in time to see Robah lunge, teeth showing and spine hair raised, and attack the dog that seemed to be attacking us. The aggressive assailant pooch was instantly reduced to a defeated, whimpering stray.

Moments after Robah came down on his head and snapped at his neck, the stray dog ran back from whence he came. Before we continued down the street, I looked at Baxter. He seemed just as surprised as me that sweet, easy-going Robah had earned a badge of honor in such intimidating fashion.

About a week ago, I recorded and edited a frisbee session. I know the grandparents (except possibly my Dad) will find this dull, but worry not — I’ll get back to baby footage soon.


1. The video looks much better if you press play and then click the HQ button in the YouTube control bar. This action displays the high quality version.

2. The soundtrack consists of songs by The Field and Guided by Voices.

Baxter, Robah, and I had an epic frisbee session today. No records were broken, but that’s primarily because I didn’t push them too hard. Their individual and combined records are detailed below:

Consecutive catches by Baxter: 11
September 25, 2007
Avon Drive, Raleigh, NC

Consecutive catches by Robah: 6
December 6, 2008
White Oak Road, Raleigh, NC

Consecutive alternating catches by Robah and Baxter: 10
October 10, 2008
White Oak Road, Raleigh, NC

If you’re not impressed with these numbers, keep in mind that a single frisbee route is in the range between 70 and 90 feet. In a single session, Baxter will run around 50 routes, and Robah around 30 routes. That’s the equivalent of Baxter sprinting a mile-and-a-half. Robah runs close to a mile during a session. Our poor grass.

Here’s a diagram that illustrates our playing field:


I did, however, have to pull Robah aside today and talk to him about never taking a play (or throw) off. It’s not that he has a bad attitude or the kind of prima donna approach to the game that seems so common among today’s elite receivers. But, there are times when he doesn’t finish a route and he’s been known to take his disc to his favorite patch of grass and rest for awhile in the middle of a session. His brother Baxter, aka Psycho B, is a frisbee-chasing machine; his motor never stops. I wonder how Roy Williams handles it when Hansbrough is running circles around a teammate in practice.

I haven’t set up the camera to record Bax and Robah snagging frisbees, but Katie did capture Baxter’s weird sleeping position a couple of weeks ago:

Our baby is changing in front of (and away from) our eyes. Today is her one-month birthday and it took five inches of snow, which is essentially a debilitating blizzard here in Raleigh, to prevent Katie and me from going to the Cupcake Shoppe Bakery to score celebratory cupcakes. Instead of birthday sweet treats, we sustained ourselves at home with inauguration coverage and my return to the working-from-home world.

This past weekend our family, minus the four-legged members, visited the grandparents, uncle, aunt, and great grandmother in Boone. We thoroughly enjoyed our visit and my parents were gracious, loving hosts despite their hectic move back home a couple of weeks ago. The Watauga Literary Society, also known as my Mom’s book club, threw a wonderful shower for Jackie. Our daughter was able to attend one of her own baby showers ex utero and Trimella Chaney, Susan Dubberly, Jeannie Caviness, and the rest of the Pearl Girls were extremely generous. Little Jackie was even initiated as an honorary Mini-Pearl Girl. Thanks to the entire group for the food, fun, and gifts!

We also appreciated our time with Uncle Rich and Aunt Mindy. Little Jackie has been showing emotion for a couple of weeks now, but it took some quality time with Uncle Rich to bring out a bona fide smile. Some of our daughter’s amusement at her uncle’s silliness was captured in this video:

Great Grandmother Jones met Jackie, and the highlight of our visit to the retirement home was seeing my daughter’s tiny hand in the hand of a woman three generations older. Here are a few pictures of that visit and some other fun had over the Dr. King weekend:









Finally, Katie and I took the baby out to brave the elements in Boone. It was her first snow:

Little did we know that her second snow would come today in the eastern North Carolina piedmont…

I accompanied Katie today to her appointment at the obstetrician’s office, and the ultrasound was about what I expected (including complete amazement and wonder at the tiny little girl inside my wife). The baby was flailing her arms and legs throughout her time on screen. Her heart rate was right at the normal rate of 150 beats per minute. Katie’s fundal height is 24 centimeters, which is at the higher end of the normal range for a pregnancy at week 22. So, everything is copacetic.

We’ve narrowed down the child’s name to either Jacqueline (Katie’s choice) or Jacquelyn (my preference). Regardless of which formal name we choose, her name will be Jackie. If you’re wondering why we chose to name her after my mom, click on the link to the Perseverance page on this blog. Katie and I aren’t parents yet, but we already know we want to give our children the means, values, and mindset they need to be a positive part of the world around them. With the name Jackie, we can also give our first girl a legacy of kindness, strength, and love.

Please don’t get the wrong idea. Naming our child Jackie is not just a tribute to my mother and her struggle. It is not a memorial. It is part of the expectation that our little Jackie will soon be able to look up, literally and figuratively, to her grandmother Jackie. Here’s my definition of hope: I look out the window on a sunny day and see them walking down the sidewalk, hand-in-hand.

Here’s a picture of little Jackie at 22 weeks:

I have one other brief domestic update. Here’s a picture I took of 320 Avon Drive when Bax, Robah and I jogged past last Friday…at least they spared the old dogwood tree:

Image from Raleigh

Urban dirt-biking

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