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  • Jack and the Stalk-er

    March 4, 2009

    When I was pregnant and planning Sean’s nursery, I wanted to create a design that would be suitable for a baby, a boy and beyond so that I wouldn’t have to re-do it again three years later.   So that meant no bunnies or little ducks (or licensed characters which offend my delicate visual sensibilities) or anything too babyish which he would soon outgrow.


    I found this safari fabric and fell in love with it and decided to build my nursery design around it.  Five years later, Sean has outgrown the crib and mobile and we’ve turned his changing table into a little dresser, but for the most part, the room is still the same. And he still loves it and I still love it.  I have no plans to re-do his room any time soon.

    The thing that I didn’t foresee when I picked out that fabric is how it would shape him. Since he was a little guy, he has had a deep and abiding love for zoo animals and all I can attribute that to is the subliminal influence of the fabric.

    We got a zoo membership when he was two and we way more than get our money out of it.  We have books on every kind of animal, and thanks to my mom, we have every Jack Hanna video ever made.  Most 5-year-old boys love Power Rangers or Transformers. Sean loves Jack Hanna. And I am really more than okay with that.

    Consequently, Sean has become a miniature Jack Hanna stalker.  He talks about Jack all the time and wonders what Jack would think about this animal or that.

    The other day he asked me if I would write a letter to Jack Hanna so of course I said I would. I went to his website and sent off an email telling him that he had a very small big fan and that we surely do appreciate all he does for our animal friends.  When I told Sean that I had sent the email his eyes twinkled with delight.  He said he wanted to be just like Jack Hanna when he grows up. I said I thought that would be awesome.

    “Do you think he’ll write back?” he asked.

    “Jack’s a pretty busy guy,” I said. “We’ll just have to see.”

    “Well if he does, let’s invite him over.  I want to show him my room!”

    The very next day I got a response from one of Jack’s people – not just an automatic assembly line perfunctory “thanks for writing” response, but a gracious note from a real person who had obviously taken the time to read what we had written.  I was impressed.  I read it to Sean when he got home from school today and he was thrilled.

    If Sean does grow up to be like Jack Hanna – married to one woman for 40 years, a father and a grandfather, kind to animals and children, one who  responds promptly and graciously to letters, I will be okay with that. More than okay.


    1. Alice says:

      Very sweet. My son loves Bill Nye and for awhile was obsessed with the kids on Popular Mechanics for Kids. Took me awhile to realize those library videos were really old and the “pretty girl” Elisha is Elisha Cuthbert from 24. I’m kind of glad he’s moved on to Bill Nye.

      March 4th, 2009 at 6:15 pm

    2. vickie says:

      My daughter felt the same way about Mr. Rogers (she’s almost 22 now) and she wrote a letter to him when she was about the same age. About a week later she received a wonderful letter in return answering each of her questions and hand signed by Mr. Rogers. She kept it and brought it out to reread when he passed away and her tears were so genuine.

      My niece goes to school with Jack Hanna’s granddaughter and he comes and he came to read a story and narrate one of their plays. Not only was she impressed but so were lots of parents and other relatives!

      It’s so wonderful that there are still heroes and role models for our kids!

      March 4th, 2009 at 7:01 pm

    3. Sarah says:

      That rocks.

      March 4th, 2009 at 7:20 pm

    4. Abby says:

      I can only hope my little boy has the same aspirations as yours! My brother met Jack Hanna when he was in junior high, got a poster signed and framed.

      Growing up my brother wanted to be just like him and he did – for years he taught classes at a zoo and now is a jr high science teacher.

      He even got me to work a summer at the zoo, not my thing though!

      ps – I did the same thing with the nursery, went with a vintage cowboy theme that should be able to last for years!

      March 4th, 2009 at 7:43 pm

    5. Bee says:

      Beats the heck out of a Power Ranger any day as a role model!

      March 4th, 2009 at 7:49 pm

    6. Tonggu Momma says:

      When he is older, I believe Sean would enjoy the movie “Wild America.” It’s based on Marty Stouffer’s childhood.

      March 4th, 2009 at 7:56 pm

    7. boomama says:

      So, so sweet – made me smile real big. 🙂

      March 4th, 2009 at 7:56 pm

    8. Blog Antagonist says:

      We had the same experience with Diminutive One and Steve Irwin. We never got a reply to our email and Diminutive One was devastated. When he was killed, Diminutive One said “Well, I guess I’ll never get an email from him now.” I didn’t realize he had been waiting all that time.

      * * *
      Oh man. That kind of breaks my heart. ~AM

      March 4th, 2009 at 9:01 pm

    9. HarryJacksMom says:

      Beautiful – we’re guarding the innocence and kindness as long as we can, as well. Awesome letter response – is he a big writer? My Jack just pushed to write a letter to my friend’s father, who just passed away, telling him how lucky he was to be with baby Jesus and not hurting any more. Their kindness wows me – can’t wait to see how Sean shapes his (and our) world!

      March 4th, 2009 at 9:01 pm

    10. JULIE PRICE says:

      Very cool! Love his room design too!

      March 4th, 2009 at 9:14 pm

    11. Judi says:

      His appreciation of God’s creation will keep wonder and delight in Sean’s life for a long time – just like Jack Hanna. The beauty and marvels keep unfolding!

      March 4th, 2009 at 10:08 pm

    12. Jenny-Jenny says:

      I never cease to be impressed when adults treat children with respect. How awesome for Sean.

      March 4th, 2009 at 10:45 pm

    13. hodgesgal says:

      well great, my son is obsessed about Mickey. His room is not decorated in it, but he is obsessed with him.
      He can’t commit… he has been stringing Minnie along for 50 years…
      Goofy is his “best friend” (my son’s, not just Mickey’s) and he’s a single Dad.

      EEEK! I am worried now!

      March 4th, 2009 at 10:57 pm

    14. Sue says:

      Have you seen the Zoobooks magazine? The pictures are beautiful. You can go to and click thru a sample magazine. I see they also have Zooties for 3 – 6 yr-olds. I don’t think much of that name, and I’m sure Sean is much advanced for his age, so with your and AD’s help, I think he would enjoy Zoobooks. Maybe you already take it for him. I don’t know if there is a Christian-based one or not. That would be even better.

      Thanks for letting us know more about Jack Hanna, too. My great-niece loves animals, and I’ll tell her to take a look at that website.

      Sounds like Sean’s on track to be a fine man.

      March 4th, 2009 at 11:34 pm

    15. Roxanne says:

      Bravo to Jack. . .and bravo to you.

      March 4th, 2009 at 11:37 pm

    16. Sabrina says:

      Yikes my son’s a Spongebob fan…what does that do for him??? LOL!!! Maybe he’ll be a deep sea diver!

      March 4th, 2009 at 11:37 pm

    17. mythoughtsonthat says:

      Now THAT is a lovely story!

      March 4th, 2009 at 11:59 pm

    18. Chris says:

      I recovered a chair with that same fabric. 🙂

      March 5th, 2009 at 12:38 am

    19. Jenny says:

      That is great that Sean got an answer. He is a sweet,smart boy who knows how to pick his role models! 🙂

      March 5th, 2009 at 12:50 am

    20. Smockity Frocks says:

      How sweet!

      I’m taking all seven kidlets to the zoo (probably “your” zoo) tomorrow. Can’t wait!

      March 5th, 2009 at 12:51 am

    21. Gretchen says:

      I’d be more than okay with that, too. You can tell a lot about a person by how he treats animals and children.

      March 5th, 2009 at 1:18 am

    22. Tom says:

      That’s really cool. How neat to have nailed an inspiration for him so early on.

      Michael has a beach themed room, and like Sabrina’s child mentioned above, he’s a SpongeBob fan. I guess it worked.

      March 5th, 2009 at 3:56 am

    23. Brigitte says:

      I am happy (and even touched) to find that there ARE still some good role models out there. And glad for you that Sean has found one of them!

      Judging from my daughter’s tastes, I can only fear for her . . .

      March 5th, 2009 at 6:12 am

    24. Grace says:

      You’ve just placed Jack Hanna on my radar screen in a new way. Our oldest son experienced something similar from the late Oceanographer, Jacques Cousteau. To this day, the letter and autographed photo are treasures. Sounds like Sean has a worthy role model. Praise God!

      March 5th, 2009 at 6:44 am

    25. Lil says:

      Beware AM. We had the same kind of room idea, one that wouldn’t be outgrown ever. Then came the sleepovers. In the last few weeks, we have been re-doing his room. I have been removing the wallpaper border, bit by bit, that was so carefully picked out. Painting over the wonderful, carefully selected blue walls, shopping for cooler drapes, and bedspreads. All because ‘somebody’ else thought it wasn’t cool and that ruined the perfect room for us.

      I didn’t say wouldn’t be outgrown “ever” I said in three years. Of course we’ll re-do it eventually. We’ve made it five years and I expect a few more at least. Already this idea of what’s cool and what’s not has come home from school We try to teach Sean that what is good and right for our family may not jive with what the world thinks is cool. It’s a challenge. ~AM

      March 5th, 2009 at 10:15 am

    26. zoom says:

      Wonderful post. I loved this.

      March 5th, 2009 at 10:45 am

    27. rrmama says:

      That’s awesome! I love it when people take the time to acknowledge one another. My oldest loves baseball, can’t get enough of it. So one year he asked me to send an invite for his birthday party to a Astro baseball player. I told him the player would probably to busy to come and he was fine with that but a response declining would have been nice.

      March 5th, 2009 at 11:26 am

    28. Sarah says:

      That is soooo sweet!

      I am sure he will!!

      March 5th, 2009 at 11:42 am

    29. Shoe says:

      Wonderful! Son’s was Oscar the Grouche,dinasours, and yes, power rangers. I tried Care Bares but he didn’t bite.

      Great decorating!

      March 5th, 2009 at 11:58 am

    30. Allison says:

      This brought tears to my eyes. I’m such a sap. We are animal lovers. Well, let me clarify that…my girls and I are. My husband will tell you that he has one dog and his wife and kids have 4 dogs, 3 cats, 3 cows and 3 horses. My daughter tells folks that her daddy picks up litter and her mommy picks up dogs. Sean should come and visit us, even though we don’t have any zoo critters. Yet.

      March 5th, 2009 at 1:00 pm

    31. Amy says:

      My prayers exactly for my little ones. Well-said.

      March 5th, 2009 at 3:16 pm

    32. Sarah @ says:

      I think you should be okay with that. He may not be every kid’s role model, but there is something incredible about a child aspiring to live well.

      March 5th, 2009 at 3:45 pm

    33. Melanie says:

      I used to work for the Children’s Miracle Network. Each year we had a party for the sick children and they got tons of gifts and we celebrated the kids being kids and all they had been through. One year we were lucky enough to have Jack Hannah as our entertainment. That man is just as nice in person as he is on tv. Shawn has great taste in role models. It doesn’t surprise me at all that you received a warm response from Jack’s company. They are that genuine.

      March 5th, 2009 at 4:34 pm

    34. Sally says:

      Jack Hanna is great.

      March 6th, 2009 at 9:42 am

    35. Jill says:

      How very sweet. And I am so with you on the “licensed characters” decorating. I’ve tried for a neutral “theme” just like you that will stand the test of time. I’d say it’s American Nautical. Maybe my son will race yachts when he grows up. Hopefully he won’t grow up to be a pirate. Arrrrrggggg!

      March 6th, 2009 at 12:40 pm

    36. Minnesotamom says:

      I remember watching Jack Hanna when I was a kid, and he really is cool. (Do people say “cool” anymore?)

      I had a Holly Hobbie bedspread when I was little, but I don’t think I even knew who Holly Hobbie was. After that I never had any characters in my decor. And Anja never has. However, she seems drawn to the secret universal appeal that is Elmo, even though she doesn’t watch Sesame Street. Dark pumpkin walls with sky blue accents in her room, not typical for anyone, much less a female toddler. Oh well! I can hold out hope that her tastes will be shaped by her experiences, her family’s values, and encounters with those who have real character (rather than being a character), like Jack Hanna.

      March 8th, 2009 at 6:03 pm

    37. Chris says:

      My middle daughter at UT in Austin works in the office where they plan campus events and has met Mr. Jack Hanna and proclaimed him to be the tannest, nicest man you could ever imagine, so I am not a bit surprised. I think it is terribly charming that your boy is a Jack Hanna fan. When my boy was itty bitty, he loved Emeril. BAM.

      March 9th, 2009 at 10:06 am

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