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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.


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:

A few weeks ago, Katie and Jackie went to Watkinsville, Georgia, to visit Nana and PopPop. Watkinsville, where Katie went to high school, is just outside of Athens. I could try to tie in Jackie’s first visit to her maternal grandparents and the fond music memories I have from the courtin’ phase of my relationship with my wife (Guided by Voices at the 40 Watt stands out for me), but that would be a disservice to Nana. I know she wants to see the video, so I’ll get right to the meat of the matter.

Note: Jackie-in-action highlights can be found at the 1:47 and 2:32 marks.

Sarah and Eric Reilly celebrated their union in Asheville a couple of weeks ago, and the weekend was a blast. I won’t go into detail about hanging with the scores of Burnses, Jeffcoatses, and Katie and Sarah’s family friends who came from all over the country to western North Carolina. My parents and Rich and Mindy were there too. Even Robah made the trip (I’m truly sorry you missed it Bax). Suffice it to say that Ben and Janet threw a spectacular reception and hosted everyone who traveled for the event at some point during the weekend.

I do want to highlight the all-too-brief time we spent with Jason, Jen, and Marin Marks two weeks ago today. Here’s a video of Marin attempting to play catch with Jackie in the Marks’ backyard. We’re not pressing charges, mainly because Marin has a promising future in competitive Kong throwing. As for Jackie, she has a hard head like her old man, and she didn’t bat an eye.

Oh, and Robah later avenged the assault on Jackie by wiping his slobbery beard on the back of Marin’s head.

Thanks to Sarah Shanahan for flying down from NYC to visit us the weekend before last. We thoroughly enjoyed catching up with her, and it took very little time for Sarah to endear herself to Jackie (see the pictures below).

Sarah, a nutritionist, also tolerated a lot of food and health-related questions during her stay. You would think that having a health-wise visitor might inspire us to put our most wholesome foot forward, but this was not the case. Instead, Katie and I introduced her to some of the most decadent cuisine Raleigh has to offer (pizza at Lilly’s and BBQ at The Pit). At least we didn’t offer some ridiculous flavor of Vitamin Water, like Essential or Rescue, to go with her English muffin at breakfast.

Standing practice can be fun

Standing practice can be fun


Jackie, doing her best innocent expression

Jackie, doing her best innocent expression

Katie with Sarah, Sarah, and Sara

Katie with Sarah, Sarah, and Sara

I’ve added some pictures we took while Katie’s grandmother, mother, and sister were in Raleigh.

Katie’s grandmother, mother, and sister visited us in April, and I think the baby was held and adored continuously, every hour of every day, until they left Raleigh. This kind of doting is not uncommon when Nana Burns is on premises, but to see the four generations of Burns/Jeffcoats women oohing and aahing in unison was something to behold.

At one point, Katie, Mawmaw, Holly and Janet had a conversation that lasted several minutes, but they never once made eye contact with each other. Each woman’s gaze converged at the same focal point — their eyes were fixated on Jackie the entire time they were talking.

Holly and Mawmaw drove all the way from Louisiana to spend time with us. Judging by her interaction with Jackie, it’s obvious that Holly will make a great mother herself one of these days. As for Mawmaw, we knew she would be able to make the long trip from Simsboro, but we didn’t expect her to be so spry when climbing up and down the 18 steps in our staircase.

She didn’t come out and say it (or anything else for that matter), but I know that Jackie loved meeting her great grandmother and her aunt. Thanks for making the trip!

Katie’s father also drove to Raleigh, and we enjoyed our time with him. He earned a gold star and a steak dinner for removing ivy from the sides of our house on the day after his birthday. Thanks Ben!

Last Thursday, Alison Saville flew all the way from Denver to visit Jackie and the rest of our household for the weekend (she also attended a wedding in Durham on Saturday). We always enjoy having Aunt Ali around. She didn’t bring Steve, but she did bring kool gifts for the baby and a desire to help out with whatever needed to be done around here.


We really appreciated the meals she cooked, dishes she washed, groceries she bought, and everything else. She even changed some diapers, fed Jackie the bottle, and accompanied Katie and Jackie on their visit to the pediatrician last Friday. On top of that, she coined the phrase “Beanie Katie” to describe Jackie’s resemblance to her mom. We’ll wait until Jackie is a little older to tell her about her Aunt Ali’s behavior in high school (hehehe). Thanks for coming Alison!


Image from Raleigh

Urban dirt-biking

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