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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

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He’s two weeks shy of six total months, and the little guy is on the cusp of a new phase. He rolls over now, but only if he begins tummy side down. He now grabs whatever is in arm’s reach, and if he can’t grab it, he’ll be satisfied to swat it with an open hand. He eats a little solid food now, even though he treats sweet potatoes as you might treat complimentary bread from the basket at a restaurant — you eat it for the sole reason that you need to suppress your appetite until the main course (breast milk) is served.

He’s a happy baby; I’d come up with something less clich├ęd, but I don’t know of a more succinct way to describe him. It’s easy to get a smile out of the kid, but only his mother can elicit his trademark ear-to-ear grin.

The video features McLain playing with his mother. The pictures are a few of the better shots from the past month.

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).

Content from Halloween is still in post-production and not yet bloggable, so I thought I would post a comparative video study of McLain.

The first video features footage from mid-October, a phase of McLain’s development that I classify as the end of being a newborn. His eyes are usually closed and eyelids swollen, his range of movement is limited to the space he was used to in the womb, and the only sounds he can make are frail cries. The video shows one of his first horse baths (and a large wet spot on my shirt), lunch with his mother, floor time with his sister and canine brothers, and his first real bath (no one was peed on during that one).

Note: The large wet spot on my shirt in the beginning clip is not water. Katie wouldn’t be laughing so hard if it were.

The second video shows him about a week ago, as an infant. He spends a few hours a day alert, soaking in the sights and sounds of home life with his family. I used to think that new humans developed so slowly compared to other animals, but now I know that what’s going on in the human brain is complex beyond comparison to, for example, Robah’s cognitive growth during his puppyhood.

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.

McLain Moore Jones was born early this morning at Rex Hospital in Raleigh. He’s quite lovable.

Birth stats:

  • 7 lbs., 10 oz.
  • 20.5 in. long
  • born at 7:45 a.m.

Katie’s initial assessment of his appearance is that he, like Jackie when she was an infant, looks like my father. He’s been sleeping pretty hard during his first few hours. Of course, I think he’s amazing in every way. I also think the same of my wife. By the way, Katie is already scheming about how to get out of the hospital as soon as possible.

Dr. Littleton was wearing a Tar Heel-themed surgical hat when he delivered McLain, which Katie allowed. The planned aspect of Katie’s admittance and McLain’s birth made it seem like a very controlled and predictable process. Jackie’s two-week-late arrival surprised us, but McLain arrived according to the schedule laid out for us yesterday.

My only disappointment this morning was the Steve Miller Band playing in the operating room during the McLain extraction. When will hospitals defer to parents for a child’s first ex-utero music? Seriously though, I couldn’t have been happier with the treatment we received this time and last time from Rex Hospital. Everyone has gone out of their way to welcome us and make us comfortable.

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:

Image from Raleigh

Urban dirt-biking

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

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