Thursday, January 27, 2011

Parents of Jack

It's hard to believe we're only about a month away from hitting the completion of Year One.

The time that seemed to eek by in the form of sleepless nights and groggy days seems long ago. Now, Jack's changes seem more visible, vibrant, and rapid as he shows his personality more and more each day. Here are some tidbits of life with Jack:

I'm not a morning person, but it truly warms my heart to hear his jabbering in the morning. When I say 'good morning' and he turns to see me, he has a huge smile and lately, starts clapping. Usually, this good mood only surfaces after 7 am, and I'm ready to start clapping too that he's slept that long and is in good spirits. He is his happiest in the mornings.

Jack is leading his own boycott against baby spoons. Anything off of a baby spoon he will not eat, but instead turn his head and put his hand to his mouth to refuse it. In moments when I am more persistent, he'll give a little yell and complete the look with a grimace on his face. I usually eat my sorry excuse for a dinner sitting right beside him at the table. If I try to feel him whatever he's eating off of my fork, the morsel amazingly becomes appealing and he can't gobble it up fast enough.

Jack is starting to eat bits of food with his fingers and he does enjoy feeding himself. When he doesn't want to feed himself, he enjoys throwing it on the floor. When Jack's finished drinking or eating whatever, the sippy cup or whatever goes straight to the floor. If he doesn't want something, he does a roundhouse on his high chair and it all goes on the floor.

In a similar fashion, items on Jack's changing table seem to offend him. It's hard to get through one diaper change without at least the tub of wipes going to the floor. Usually the hand sanitizer and maybe the diaper I'm trying to put on him goes too. After he's accomplished squirming and making sure everything is off the table, I'm generally holding him down for a diaper change. Lately, he's enjoyed crawling to the edge to poke his head and shoulders off the table and gaze at whatever he's knocked off.

Our next challenge at our house is to install baby gates. He's a lot like a puppy in that he gnaws on table legs, our legs, and whatever might be within reach. He's discovered he can pull himself up on the staircase. Anything that's on a shelf within reaching distance offends him and must be knocked off. When it's in the floor, Jack does enjoy banging the objects together and chanting "la-la-ba-dah-la!" or some combination. He's making his own music.

And Music, he loves. When music comes on, he starts squirming or bobbing his head. Lately when I've tried working out at home to DVDs, he bops to the music before thoroughly taking in whatever I'm doing. He'll try to pull himself up on my leg, or crawl under my squats, anything to follow me around while I'm doing sets to the music. So far, I've only tripped on him once, and he let me know it.

My addiction to party blogs is being ratcheted up as I plan Jack's one year party. It will be simple, fun and offer plenty of opportunity to get crafty. I figure I only have a few chances to design a party for him before he gets old enough to want a sports or action figure themed party or party at a hockey rink or that becomes completely boring and uncreative.

I was going to post come cute pictures to this, but I figure I better post while I can.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


Why was I under the misconception life would slow down in January?

If anything, it's sped up.

I'm in the third week of a self-inflicted series that airs Tuesdays at 4pm. It's one of those great ideas that you think is awesome, and it is awesome, but it takes a boatload of work to get the end product there. I am working with a local nonprofit to showcase the struggles and issues that teens face today that are new or on the rise. I'm trying to go beyond the typical alcohol, drugs, and sex to talk about issues that parents might not understand or know how to deal with.

What I have found is enough to make me run home and hug my little boy every night.

The toughest part of telling a story like this is finding the person who personifies the issue. The nonprofit has been excellent in connecting the dots. They've found some great teenagers willing to be very candid with me. The good news is the teens are all on the other side of their problem--meaning they've found help and are on their way to becoming productive citizens.

My story from last week, on the changing nature of gangs, struck a nerve with a local City Council. A council person brought it up last week during the meeting and this week, my topic was on the agenda. The City Council called in the police to talk about the issue, all prompted by my story. As a journalist, instigating this type of feedback is an unspoken compliment. After all, it is what we seek to do.

Here's a few points that have surprised me so far:

--More troubled teens are from broken families and families are more broken that you might think. While poverty-stricken areas usually breed violence and always have, more single parents are becoming disengaged with children because they are too busy working to transport kids to activities and such. What happens to those kids? usually trouble.

--Gangs are much different than they were in the 1980s and 1990s. They are no longer big names who are territorial, but instead "cliques" who are not organized and change leadership and allegiance frequently. One person can be a part of several gangs. They commit crimes of opportunity--stealing identities and committing mortgage fraud are new ones. The most common age to join a gang? 12, 13, or 14.

--Self harm or "cutting" is on the rise. It's not something that is done to commit suicide or attract attention (as most cutters hide their habit) but instead something that is a coping mechanism. Girls do this more than boys. But the age to start? 12.

I'm only halfway through it. The series should be finished up and in a special by president's day. You can catch a look at the series here.

Break a leg, Bobby!

I still remember Bobby Bones as the class clown.

But tomorrow he'll be on national TV hosting the Regis & Kelly show!

Since my college alma mater in southern Arkansas was small and the mass media department even smaller, Bobby and I shared many classes. I remember him most as a class clown who really, really knew what was funny. He would inevitably crack a joke that everyone in the class would roar over, but the teacher would just stare and try not to smile until we returned to topic. In my first broadcast journalism class, our assignment was to write out and correctly time a short radio broadcast. Then, deliver it. Bobby did his reporter portions as a helicopter reporter, beating on his chest the entire he actually sounded like he was in a helicopter. Our teacher didn't really think that was funny, but we did...and that was what was really important.

Bobby started out on our very small campus radio station and later moved to the popular central Arkansas station, KLAZ, hosting the evening show. It was always interesting to see what pranks he would pull. He'd get a code and call and change an answering machine at a on air. I can't remember many of them, but it was always personal favorite was when he sent another classmate to a humane society adopt-a-dog event, and had him release a stuffed dog tied to a balloon into the air. The balloon floated right over the event and over the interstate where people flooded the police with calls. He got in a bit of trouble over that one.

I sometimes was his unofficial news reporter. He'd called me to get updates on numbers in the presidential election, and I did a few phoners with him from my dorm room. He introduced me with something like "my classmate Shannon who is smart" so you can understand how 'official' it really was! I called and reported campus news like who finaled in the homecoming court. I remember most of our conversations centering around me setting him up with a certain sorority sister. I don't think that ever happened.

Bobby graduated and left Arkansas. He's now got a syndicated show that is out of Austin, Texas and is carried on five stations. And now, he will get to fill in for Regis. Somewhere along the way he grew quite a mop of hair.

Good luck Bobby. We're "reddie" to root for you!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Good Minnesota's possible!

I have found good BBQ and it is in Champlin.

Word got around among fellow work foodies that a BBQ place in Champlin was really tasty that it was going to be featured on Food Network's Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives.

We knew we had to get there before the episode aired, because after DDD hits a place, it usually gets way too busy.

So, we set out to meet up with the crew in the far, far North Metro. The food did not disappoint. There was a line at the counter from the time we got there to right before we left. The owner smokes the meat out back and claims to have inspiration and experience from Memphis and Kansas City. You can pick different kinds of sauces which range from Espresso to very Vinegar-y. I would have this BBQ pegged for more of the North Carolina/Tennessee type than KC... but it was definitely worth coming back for more.

My only complaint is they hid the tea in the back of the joint. So if you wanted a refill, you had to ask, they took your cup, and they had this long process of bringing it back out to you. I like tea and I generally like a lot of it... so I thought this was rather bizarre....the episode on DDD was rather short, but I'm sure they've got all the biz they can handle.

Some like it not-so-hot

I'm a sucker. And people know it.

Last fall, a fellow foodie and I talked up a chili contest at work. I was a cheerleader. I thought it would be a fun idea.

Somewhere in the middle of the cheerleading, I wound up spray-painting a ladle gold for the trophy over the weekend. I became the leader of the whole she-bang even though I don't really even like chili. I mean, it's just a bowl of meat. I layer fritos and cheese on it before I can even stand it.

That said, Fellow foodie and I organized the event and we had 11 entrants here at the station who concocted a wide variety of chilis. We had chili with beer. Chili with turkey, red peppers, and mushrooms. Chili with brown sugar. Lots of chili everywhere. Mostly everyone got into the chili excitement. We set up the studio for the contest. We had our bosses judge. We had scorecards and samples for a people's choice.

My chili? On my first chili making attempt, I came in second place on the people's choice category. I made chili and simply added a spice packet that I picked up at a roadside BBQ stand somewhere in East Texas last month. It turned out good, but I still ate it with fritos and cheese.

There's already talk of the next cooking contest. Chocolate chip cookies. Salsa at the end of Summer. Pies. Mac and Cheese. Hotdish. (that's casserole in southern-speak) It will be hard to top the excitement here.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The sugar is sour!

Jack watches the Razorbacks throw away the Sugar Bowl.

The action must have completely worn him out. He slept through the night for only the fifth or sixth time in his life.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Jack's First Christmas (Arkansas version)

Dave, Jack, and I literally flew out of the snow to family and and warmer weather in Dallas. We had lunch with a cousin before driving into Arkansas, straight to a Christmas celebration. My Aunt and Uncle met us at the airport, and immediately Jack had plenty of attention.

I got random pictures over Christmas, and missed shots of several family members. Since I have a family with lots of steps and branches and such, Christmases at home were always spread out over several days and several households. It wasn't unusual to start somewhere on December 23 and finish up on New Year's. So, here's a quick montage of a very busy four days at home.

Here we are in T-shirts from Dad and T. This year will be the final year of Delight Schools, so we got commemorative T-shirts. There are a lot of Bulldogs in this family.

My grandmother had a full house. Jess, Craig, and baby Cam stayed, as well as Luke and Brianne, who drove in from New York. Four cousins and their others and families joined us for most of the fanfare on most days. That's not counting Aunts, Uncles, and various other like-family members who passed through.

Pop oversaw everything from his easy chair.

Jack got a Razorback jersey from one cousin. It happens to be number 15, which is not only quarterback Ryan Mallett's number but the jersey number also belonging to several family members, including me.

Jack got to spend time with cousin Cam, who lives in Louisiana and is always dressed to the nines. Jack made it his mission to grab her bow every time she was near.

Jack spending time with Grandmother at the organ.

Jack opened presents Christmas morning at his Grandy Peg and Uncle Jim's house. He started to get more of the hang of opening gifts.

Jack wound up getting every noisemaker known to mankind. If it makes a noise, he got it. I mailed a big package of toys back to Minnesota, and I just know somewhere along the route a UPS carrier bumped the box and heard the rocking horse sound off: "I'm a pretty pony, clippety-clop, clippety-clop, such a pretty pony...."

This was a slight issue was going through security at the airport. Jack got a little steering wheel which can sound off the siren of an ambulance, fire truck, or police car with the touch of a button....the security people set it off going through security. I'm not sure which alarm it was, but it did cause a minor moment of alarm during the checkpoint. When we were going to our seat on the plane, Jack hit another button and it made the sound of a car crashing over and over again. I put the toy up for the remainder of the flight, and I'm sure the passengers appreciated that.

Christmas Eve we went to Gurdon to see Nannie and the family. Here's a picture of Nannie with her Grands. And then a much funnier picture of Nannie with her Great-Grandchildren. This is quite a crew and after spending an evening with this batch of children, there's no doubt in my mind these Greats are going to be very tough kids if they survive each other to grow up. Watching them in action was like watching an episode of Pre-K pro wrestling.

Here's Pappy Matt and Cam.

And here's Aunt B, fresh after two 12 hour days of traveling, helping Jack unwrap another noisemaker, which has now lost its batteries.

Jack's First Christmas (Minnesota version)

Before Santa came to visit Jack in Arkansas, he came to visit him in Minnesota. Because this is Jack's first Christmas, we could get by with things like this.

Santa brought Jack an activity table that has all sorts of bells and whistles.

Jack also opened presents from family members in Florida. He got quite a spread of gifts, although opening and pulling the paper still seemed a bit odd to him. Jack got a great turtle night light that shines the stars on his bedroom ceiling. Dave got Florida State gear, and Shannon got some nice jewelry. We got some very nice gloves. Thank you to our Florida family members for sending such nice stuff. We hope to see you this year! We are in severe need of some beach time!