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Our baby turned into a little girl. I know it’s not exactly a revelation that a child grows up, but when it’s your child, and it happens before (and away from) your eyes, it is startling in a very gradual way.

Jackie at the Underwood Elementary playground down the street (photo credit: Andy Blair)

Believe me, Spring in North Carolina is magical when you experience it with Jackie. I will no longer take the combination of ideal weather, my family, and my neighborhood for granted; every minute spent outdoors, downtown, at the farmers market, in the backyard is precious. Anytime we stroll down White Oak Road, we get to know the people living around us.

One neighbor in particular is special. Drew lives down the street, and he already seems to have a bond with Jackie.

Jackie and Drew, Easter snacking at Fallon Park

Jackie and Drew, tandem sliding

April and May have bestowed halcyon days on our family. Jackie is developing in so many ways. Her vocabulary is expanding, she’s confident on her feet, and her personality is revealed a little more all the time. I love my girls more than anything. I am so grateful for my boys (Bax and Robah). And, come September, another boy will join us, even though when we ask Jackie if she wants a little brother, she responds with an emphatic NO.

Jackie at the playground, looking for McLain?


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:

Last Saturday, Katie, Jackie, and I went to the mall. For the record, I dislike the mall. It’s actually worse than dislike — I’m not comfortable in the mall. When you combine Sbarro, Hot Topic, Cheesecake Factory, Brooks Brothers, Cinnabon, and kiosks peddling airbrushed hats with a lot of people walking around inside a huge building, it spurs anxiety for me. I feel this discomfort in every mall store except for Sears. Sears, I can deal with.

But, since JBJ came along, the mall has become a more enjoyable place. There’s something truly fun about seeing her reaction to all the different people and wall after wall lined with stuff.

On Saturday, we were browsing shoes and I found some fly pink Vans in a size 5. We secured Jackie’s little feet with the velcro straps and helped her to the floor so she could try them out. She walked directly to a handbag display, deliberately plucked a lavender purse from the rack, and proceeded to the floor-to-ceiling mirror. Katie and I watched on as she admired her couture for several minutes; we finally had to coax her away from her newly-accessorized reflection. Here are a couple of pictures.

Katie and I are baffled about the source of these designer genes. Neither of us care much about fashion. Granted, Katie is beautiful, as is Jackie, but that’s much different than being fashionable. My father (from whom I stole the title of this post) confirmed that my Granddaddy Buck liked tailored suits, but no other Jones would belong anywhere near a Milan runway unless an Alitalia 747 was involved. There isn’t an obvious high-fashion influence in Jackie’s daily life.

If she asks for a credit card for her second birthday, the answer will be “no.”

One of Jackie’s parlor tricks…

The few inches of snow that fell in the Triangle were enough to keep us in the neighborhood over the past few days. Actually, that’s one of the best things about being snowed in; everyone is forced to think and act locally. We hung out with distant cousins who live really close. We also caught up with other neighbors we haven’t seen in awhile.

Oh, and I need to give credit for a family record that was set over the weekend. Baxter broke his own record: 15 consecutive long-range frisbee receptions. “Long-range” in this case means more than 50 feet. His previous best was 12, in September of 2007. Whatta good boy.

Here’s some sledding video that Katie shot over the weekend.

Jackie and her cohort Drew had their first real taste of snow after several inches fell in Raleigh last night and this morning. Of course, 20 minutes of getting the little ones ready led to only 15 minutes of good sledding before the youngsters got cold and ornery, but we really had a blast. I’m proud to say that Jackie and I held our own in head-to-head racing with the Blair duo from down the street.

Big thanks to Sarah B. for scoring sleds and snow boots for us to use — it wasn’t easy for new parents to find these high-demand items in the Triangle yesterday, but she came through for us.

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.

Image from Raleigh

Urban dirt-biking

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