Wednesday, December 30, 2009

2009: Braden's Year in Review

We started out this year with something that looked like this.

Then we took him for a stroll.

We taught him to cheer for the Cardinals.

We taught him to use the computer.

There were some set backs this year. Braden went to jail for theft of property.

When he got out we introduced him to our pet giraffes.

After jail and giraffes we decided it was time for his yearly bath.

Of course we taught him to call the Hogs.

 We let him pick out some pumpkins to make a pie.

He did such a good job with the pumpkins we let him take a train ride.

After the ride it was back to work begging for change as a street monkey.

After work we figured rabbit stew would go pretty good with our pie so Braden picked out a tasty bunny.

Sure 2009 wasn't all work for the little man. He had a few drinks.

He went fishing a time or two.

He even took some wagon rides.

All this kept Braden so busy this year that he had neglected a hair cut for 12 months. He finally got one.

Now it is cold.

We have opened Christmas presents.

So it must be time for a New Year even though Braden is sad to see this one end.

But it is time to get some rest because 2010 will be even busier.

By the way, we ended up 2009 with this.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Christmas Is Gone Until 2010

I am sure there are a lot of people out there on blog reading and/or writing hiatus until the new year. So I don't want to get into any good stuff that will be ignored by the masses. That sounds like a good excuse for not having anything to say doesn't it?

Christmas is gone faster than I could blink an eye. We spent a lot of time shopping, wrapping, cooking, and otherwise preparing and now it is gone like a fart in the wind.

Braden is still not really old enough to understand the presents concept.  He  usually waits for them to be opened and then plays with the toys. He definitely likes the toys.

Now we move on to the chore of finding somewhere to put all of his new stuff. Arica and I are definitely going to have a toy purging party in the new year.  The rattles and other such newborn trinkets have to find their way into a storage bin. Then that storage bin will have to find a way out of our house.

The truth is we might need to have a storage bin purging party.  The house is just becoming a little too small for all of our stuff.  Anyway we had a great Christmas spending time together as a family. It was fun to see Braden enjoy all his new toys. Of course Arica likes to dress him up in his new clothes too. With his Christmas haul  Braden will continue to be a sharp dressed man.

With that I will leave you with a shot of Braden covered in the remnants of a very good Christmas.  I hope all of  you had a great Christmas as well.

Monday, December 28, 2009

One Year and 200 Posts

One year ago today I wrote this and my adventure into blogging began.  I never considered myself a social networker, and I am still not much of one.  Blogging, Facebook, and all the other things that were so popular were not for me.

I thought I was from the old school. I liked my friends within arms reach when talking. I preferred regular old email if they were far away.  Writing on different peoples wall and commenting on their daily activities was for other, mostly younger people.

I started this blog as a curious experiment. I only wanted to see if I could get enough people to read what I had to say to make a little extra cash.  I learned that was not possible in about 2 seconds.  In order to make any money at this whole internet thing you have to be a lot more talented and dedicated than myself. Still I found it enjoyable to have this new outlet for my thoughts. It allowed me to spew my individuality without offending everyone I know.

Then I finally got a comment on a post.  Then I got two comments.  Then I found Dad Blogs. That is when I did finally do some social networking and started meeting people. Now I am proud to say that I have literally dozens of imaginary friends out there in cyberspace. Amazingly many of them have stuck with me and listened to all I have to say for months on end. I get a crazy impression that some of them even enjoy my little web page.

To all of you who visit my site I want to say thank you for making this 200th post possible.  Without some feed back I would have been discouraged and quit writing long ago.  With Braden turning one and becoming more active by the minute I don't think there is any chance of me running out of material any time soon. So if you are willing to go with me I plan on shooting for 200 more posts and beyond.

Happy Birthday Life of a New Dad.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Random Thoughts and a Happy New Year

It's Random Tuesday again. Christmas is almost here and I will be on a blog hiatus as I am sure many of you will as well.  I hate to leave you with something so scattered as this post, but in case I can't come up with something on Wednesday have a Merry Christmas.

  • I tried out this nugget last week at Otin's blog. I feel lit is ready for a wider audience so here it is. When I was a kid we learned the planets using the phrase My Very Energetic Mother Just Served Us Nine Pizzas. Now that Pluto has been demoted what happens to our beloved learning tool? I say we change it to Just Served Us Nachos. You could use nectarines or nuts if you prefer a healthier alternative.
  • My next post will be number 200. December 28th will be my one year anniversary of writing on this blog.  I am reaching blogging milestones. That seems odd to me.
  • When you search Braden does most anything on YouTube you get hundreds of videos of various Braden's doing varying degrees of stupid things. If you search Braden eats the first two videos are our son Braden. I think that is an accurate depiction of what Braden finds important.
  • I had someone find my blog by searching "does the dad stay with the mom otter". If you are still searching for the answer out there you little seeker of knowledge I want to tell you that this one certainly does. As for the furry ones, you need to call Jim Fowler.
  • I spent an hour today trying to fix my site map at google. Does that tell you anything about how much work I am doing this holiday season?
  • In fact we should just get it over with and close for the year. This pretending to have something important to do charade is just getting tiring.
  • I think I am addicted to Wii bowling. I hope there is a cure that doesn't involve costly therapy.
  • I put up a random picture last week for RTT and I think I will continue the trend today. This stuff is supposed to be random anyway. Every time Braden starts riding this train I start singing "Riding that train...." Then I stop. I need to find a replacement for that next line.

Monday, December 21, 2009

I Still Believe in Radio

We live in a digital music age. We have ipods filled with songs from itunes.  Anyone can get any song at anytime. There is virtually no more wishing you could hear a song or wishing you could buy a CD.  If you think of a song it can be at your fingertips in seconds.

At least this is what I have heard. I am stuck in the equivalent of a music time warp.  I have no ipod. I don't use itunes or any of its cousins. I have never even burned my own CD, although I have many in my possession.  I don't have satellite radio in my truck either. I am still listening to the FM radio.  I am one notch above Adam Sandler's goat who was tied to the truck with a three foot rope and listened to the AM radio.

While all the new technology is fine and good, I was reminded today of a musical joy that future generations will miss out on.  That is the joy found when the radio unexpectedly plays one of your favorite songs.  There is little that lifts my spirits like hearing one of my old favorites on the radio.  It feels like you won a prize.  This was certainly the thing of legends on road trips. Surely most people my age had some time when you were off to untold mischief and a great song added to your fun.

That happened to a bunch of my friends and I once on a road trip to various parts of the state. Right before this uplifting song came on the radio one of my friends had called his parents. They weren't home so he left a message.  We later found out that he did not hang up the phone because his sister heard our entire drunken rendition of "Sweet Child of Mine" on their parents answering machine.

So children of today you can have your instantaneous music.  I will stick to my prehistoric memories of excited youth belting out a little G 'n R just because we felt so blessed by the radio gods. Sometimes in life it is the smallest things that can bring a smile to my face.

Today it was the Eagles.

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Christmas Spirit

So here it is, my first ever Christmas post.  As you all know I am a Christian so the true meaning of Christmas in my life is quite obvious, but that is not what I decided to write about today.

Every year I am troubled by all the commercial aspects of Christmas.  On black Friday there are always stories of fights over a special toy or a place in line.  Some people have even lost their lives in stampedes when the stores open.  How can this happen at such a special time of year?

I know so many families that insist on buying presents for every living family member.  Some people spend more at Christmas than the GDP of Australia.  How can this be wrong because Christmas is about giving, right? I don't think these people do it for the true joy of giving. It seems like the pressure to give better and better presents is put on people by family members or society.  You must give as much as Aunt Susie or you will be ostracized from the family. In short too many people must have presents, and we don't want to disappoint them.

When such a wonderful holiday is completely driven by greed then something is wrong.  The greatest gift to give this time of year is love.  Spending time with family and friends and sharing that love is much greater and certainly more lasting than a PS3.  One day something will come along that will make your video game or other gadgets obsolete, but nothing can ever replace the love you give and receive.

I am certainly not down on giving gifts.  Giving just has to come from the right place. You must give for the sake of giving not as part of a social contract that allows you to get gifts in return.

I want to share a story that happened to our family a week or so ago.  Arica, Braden, and I were standing in line at Walmart.  A guy behind us started talking to Braden about Santa.  We told him of our failed attempt to take Braden to see Santa, and exchanged other pleasantries.

As I was checking out the man behind me said, "Will you do me a favor?"

I turned around to see him extending his hand with a folded $20 bill in it.

"Put something under the tree for him from a stranger. That way he will know that Santa came."

I was speechless.  My mind could in no way grasp what just happened.  I tried to gather myself and muttered thank you very much and Merry Christmas. I probably should have refused the money, but I was so stunned that I couldn't function.

Now THAT is the Christmas spirit.  THAT is the true spirit of giving.  I will remember that nice man for the rest of my life.  Can you imagine how wonderful Christmas would be if everyone had that kind of generosity in their heart? I hope you all experience that type of love this year.

Merry Christmas!
Fatherhood Friday at Dad Blogs

Thursday, December 17, 2009

An Afternoon in the Underworld

There is a public perception of hell as a fiery place filled with demons or maybe just the one red guy with a trident and horns.  Much is gleaned from the bible, and then embellished by our vivid imaginations.  Hollywood helps fabricate some of these visions as well.

This is all well and good. What I am here to contend today is that there are many versions of a person's own personal hell here on earth.  I experienced one such difficulty recently.

When we approached the place it looked nice enough. It was well lit. It was not particularly hot, and the people inside looked like regular humans. There were no cloven hooves.

Then we ventured into the back room.  It also looked OK. In no way did it resemble the netherworld.  There were all sorts of toys and other decorations on the shelves.

Then we asked Braden to sit still and have his picture taken.  That is when all "hell" broke loose. He cried. Then he decide to get up and check out the camera. You could see him thinking no I don't want to see your stupid Elmo doll. I want to play with this wonderful contraption with lights and buttons that costs more than daddy's truck.

Then he tripped and did a face plant into the camera. He cried louder.

And so it went. We danced the dance.  We gave him cookies.  We gave him toys. We chased him down again and again. Finally we all left and let Arica work her magic with him.  Eventually we got some first birthday and Christmas pics.

Braden wins. I think these will do for a while.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Developing Sports Related Skills

Braden is old enough now that he has basketball goals, a tee ball set, and about 43 other balls of various shapes, sizes, and colors.  All boys that I know like balls.  Many of them choose to make it their first word. That is one of several words that Braden currently spews forth from his toothy grin.

He constantly pics up a ball, or says ball, or points at a ball, or does all of these at once.  Usually when I say throw it to Daddy he winds up and gives his ball of choice a toss.  Sometimes it comes to me.  Sometimes it just trickles in front of Braden's feet. Other times it goes backwards.  But this is just the beginning.

It will take a while before Braden develops his pitching and/or quarterbacking skills.  In the meantime he is working on developing other talents.  Basketball was his first love.  He has had a small goal for nearly a year now.  When he was big enough to sit up we started working on the dunk.  Eventually he would get the ball and dunk it home when asked.

Now we have a little Winnie the Pooh basket ball hoop in the tub.  When I say give me a dunk, Braden searches out a floating ball and turns to throw it down.  He can go either left or right.  Sometimes he can dunk without even looking.

More exciting for me as a huge baseball fan is his new love of his plastic baseball bat. Granted he uses it most often to hit things other than his baseball, as I detailed in yesterday's post.  He hits people, which is bad.  He hits toys.  He hits balls on the ground ala a little Tiger Woods. Once he even whacked a ball right off the Christmas tree. Sometimes though he puts the ball on the tee and takes his cuts.  Braden does not have the technique of an Albert Pujols, but he is able to make contact with the ball.  Eye hand coordination....Check.

I certainly don't want to be a stage dad if that is the right term. I won't be putting videos of his baby sporting prowess on You Tube (at least not yet). Braden can take up whatever interests he chooses. But as a die hard sports fan it sure is comforting to know that he is developing the skills necessary should he choose any athletic pursuits.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Random Tuesday Thoughts: Bob and Doug and Robert the Bruce

Today is another Random Thursday.  Click on the button to see all the other randomness out there.  But please read my thoughts first. I have nothing to offer like seemingly ever other blog out there. Please just read out of the goodness of your heart. It is the Christmas season after all.

  • I have seen a few posts talking about favorite Christmas songs. It tempted me to find my two favorites because I haven't heard them on the radio in a couple years. Then I was tempted to share with you so here they are.

  •  I wish something as simple as a balloon could make me as happy as it does Braden.
  • I find it funny that during the beginning of last weeks world climate conference that half of the US was covered in snow, and it was in the twenties here in Arkansas.
  • Braden hasn't slept well lately because of the joys of teething again. Obviously Arica and I haven't slept well either. Being an engineer I have almost finished my design to install an IV drip from the coffee pot to my office.  Next time I will be ready.
  • We took Braden to see Santa again last weekend. The first trip he cried. This time he sat there and got his picture made although he looked less than pleased.
  • Random Scotland Pic. This is me hanging out with Robert the Bruce. Yes I forgave him for turning on William Wallace. I think you should too.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Things Braden Has Hit with His Bat Other Than His Baseball

Christmas tree ornaments
Door knob
Rubber balls
Smaller Baseball Bat
Storm Door
and Himself

Friday, December 11, 2009

How I Measure Family Growth

Having a baby starts each parent on a long journey of accomplishments.  Birth in itself is one of life's greatest accomplishments for sure, especially for the mother and child.  The accomplishment for Dad is more along the lines of getting a smiley face in kindergarten for being a good helper.

I have used this blog to dutifully document all of Braden's accomplishments.  I have noted rolling over, crawling, walking, sleeping through the night, solid foods, first haircut and probably several others that I am forgetting.  You can find them all if you want by using the search box or by clicking on the huge BRADEN in the label cloud and sorting through them. I will do you the favor of not inserting 15 different links into this post in a desperate attempt to make you read my older posts.

There are also many other accomplishments that Braden has reached that for some reason or other have not made it to the pages of this blog.  There was the day he first found his pee pee.  There was also the first time he started rummaging through our cabinets.  Who could forget the first time he hit someone or the first time he peed on me.  I guess the point is that with a new life everything is a first.  You have to keep your eyes peeled to make sure you don't miss anything. Believe me, you don't want to miss the first time he tries to learn about Ohm's Law.

In my sometimes obscure mind there are other stages in the development of a child and a family that others may miss. Certain things help transform you from two scared adults with a screaming baby to a complete loving family.  One of those things might be the first Christmas, or the first family photo.  It could be the first time you go out to eat and actually share food. One of my favorites was Braden's first ride in a shopping cart at Wal-Mart.  How can any Arkansas family be complete without a fully capable Wal-Mart shopping child.

I better get to the point of what brought about this ridiculous discussion.  Yesterday before a trip to the aforementioned mecca of Arkansas shopping Arica and I made a decision.  It took some deep thought and serious consideration, but we were ready.  We have now become a gallon of milk family.

To me that signifies a growing family as well as anything. Our little guy is drinking so much milk that a half gallon will no longer sour alone in the back of the fridge.  Move over lower grocery bills. It's time to make room for the new gallon of milk family. Next we might graduate to the two loaf of bread or 18 egg family. Stay tuned.

Fatherhood Friday at Dad Blogs

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Being a Dad Is Like....

Coaching the Chinese national baseball team while speaking only English.

Sky diving with a parachute that is too small.

Riding your bicycle blindfolded.

Getting up from your seat in coach, going to the cockpit, and flying the plane just for fun.

Trying to send a man to the moon using simple addition and subtraction.

Conoeing down a raging river using a rope as a paddle.

Discovering the worlds largest, most valueable treasure in your very own home.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

No Mop Tops Please

It seems that there is typically so much dread about a babies first haircut.  Mom's don't want to part with the curls, or more appropriately the mop top.  Often times the babies don't want to part with the hair either.  After all what part of their developing mind is supposed to understand why a strange person with a sharp object is hovering around their head. 

At our house we were excited for the first haircut.  We think little boy haircuts are cute.  We tormented Arica's brother and his wife for months about getting their son's hair cut, and we are not hypocrites.  In our defense our nephew was regularly referred to as she by strangers.

Braden didn't have any problem with the hair cut either.  We should have known that he would like the barber sharp because of his social nature. After all it is the only place on earth where it is acceptable for men to gossip.  There is plenty of talk about sports. In my particularly barber shop, decorated with no less than 5 deer heads and one bear, hunting is a very popular topic of conversation as well.  So I look forward to many years of manly talk at the barber shop with my little buddy Braden.

Like Walt Kowalski does in "Gran Torino" I may even take him there one day to teach him how men talk.  I would be a little less vulgar than my hero Mr. Eastwood was in the movie though.

For now I will just be happy to have the memory and of course the pictures of Braden's first haircut.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Random Tuesday Thoughts

Today is another Random Tuesday. I hope I can cobble together enough thoughts to make an entire post. Click on the button below to go see Keely and the other randomness.
  • I am now a twit. That is what I am calling myself for joining Twitter. I don't know why I did it, but I felt it was part of my duty as a blogger. Click here to come find me over there with the blue bird and become a follower. You can also find the link in the sidebar to the left.
  • I took last week off from work. Added together with Thanksgiving that gave me 11 straight days off. Needless to say I am not enjoying this week.
  • Braden has been doing so many things lately that I can't keep up with the posts. Come back this week to get more news on the first haircut and other Braden stories.
  • I went back and read some of my other random thoughts posts yesterday. I used to be funny. I have no idea what happened.
  • I recently mentioned that I was nominated for the board of directors at church. Actually it is called the Governing board, and I am now an officially elected board member. One of the old board members offered his congratulations and said "may God grant you patience." Oh crap. Patience is not my strong suit.
  • I played Tiger Woods golf (insert joke here) on the computer with actual golf clubs, balls, a net, and some sort of swing reader this weekend. I love the net. I can knock the crap out of the ball and never know how bad I slice. Good times.
  • We took Braden to the Christmas parade last night. I haven't ever been to the parade in our home town.  I had fun. This is just another example of how Braden has made life more fun.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Ring the Dinner Bell

Since becoming a new dad I find myself constantly comparing my childhood to Braden's. Obviously in 30 years there have been some major changes. As Brad Paisley sings in "Welcome to the Future" we now have things like TVs in our cars and Pac Man on our cell phones. Those things seemed as futuristic as the Jetsons when I was a kid. The changes brought about by the computer revolution and digital age have been covered ad nauseum. I have even written about life before computers and the internet.

What about the things that just seemingly pass away. There are no more VCRs. We no longer need typewriters. There are so many other things that my kids will never know about from machinery to toys to even words.

Today I was wondering if children of this generation are familiar with the dinner bell. Do they think it is a bell that rings when the oven timer goes off? Do they think it has something to do with feeding the dogs? Maybe they think it is the latest hip hop lingo introduced by the rapper du jour.

When I was a kid we played outside every day. My best friend and I played until we were forced to come home. We played in the strip of woods by our house constantly. It was really just a large grouping of trees, but it might as well have been the hundred acre wood to us. We killed hundreds of birds and even one very unlucky rabbit with our BB guns. We built clubs, climbed trees, and did anything else that fell under boys will be boys. The only thing that could bring us home was our mother's yell.

Every day one of our mom's would come to the porch and yell when dinner was ready. Granted this is not the traditional dinner bell, but it worked for us. We were at times a quarter mile away, but somehow our parents would always get the message to us via a loud shout.

There are many reasons why this type of dinner bell doesn't work today. The first most obvious reason is that kids are inside more often. They love video games. They love their virtual friends on facebook or whatever other social networking they are using these days. We all know that kids are just less active today.

Another reason is that the world seems scarier now. Not many parents let their kids roam free like we did back then. You just can't trust anyone anymore. My friend and I once got chased by a lady with a broom. Today that might have turned out much worse.

Finally there is the almighty cell phone. From what I can tell most kids get their own cell phone right after kindergarten graduation. So if by some chance a kid wanted to go outside a call is all that would be needed to bring them back.

For all those reasons today there is no need for a dinner bell just like there is no need for a record player. Let's hope though that we can find a safer, better place in this world so that we can at least use our over complicated computer phones to call our kids back to dinner from a day of exercise more often. I think this new type of dinner bell could benefit us all.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Hey Arica, Remember When...

As the father of a recently turned one year old son I can safely say that 2009 was the most life changing year of my life. I feel like Austin Powers after that last sentence. Allow myself to introduce...myself. Bad writing aside I have decided to write a post to Arica about things we may have forgotten about life without a child. Of course life with Braden is far better than life before Braden, but I thought it would be fun to reminisce.

Remember when

...Braden's room was an extra bedroom

...There were no rubber ducks nesting in our bathroom

...You could see the corners in the living room

...You had a pregnancy pillow

...The dogs actually lived inside the house

...You craved beef jerky, Cheetos, and coke icies

...We were fighting about baby names

...We had a pool table

...There were no monkeys in our house

...You told me you were pregnant

Monday, November 30, 2009

That Baby Stole My 4-Wheeler

Braden has taken over control of every aspect of my life, and now he has fully claimed my throne as man of the house. The position has unofficially been his since birth. I am now ready to fully authenticate his title. What happened to make me so sure he is now untouchable?

Braden got a 4-wheeler.

I have wanted one for years. I have been walking to the deer stand this year. In previous years I have borrowed 4-wheelers from my dad and from Arica's dad. I have bummed rides and asked to be dropped off and picked up, but I still haven't got my own 4-wheeler.

When a guy is single he tries to get all the toys he can. Shortly before I met Arica I just went out and bought a fishing boat. Why? I wanted one. That was the only reason I needed. After marriage those type purchases just don't happen, and rightfully so. Everything is a family decision now. After a child new toys seem further in the past. Now Braden has made my dream his own.

He got his very own ATV for his birthday, and he has loved riding it from day one. We put him on the seat and showed him how to push the pedal down to accelerate. Since then Arica and I have spent plenty of time turning him around at each end of the house. As you can see in the video below he enjoys the ride. You can also see that he has no interest whatsoever in watching where he is going as he slaloms through the landmines that are all his other birthday gifts. Braden just pushes the gas and rides with wreckless abandonment.

I can only hope when he gets older he will let me borrow his next 4-wheeler, because I don't have any delusions of being able to regain the throne in the next 18 years.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Let's Eat Turkey in a Big Brown Shoe

Thanksgiving is probably my favorite holiday. It is a great time spent with family doing one of my favorite things, eating. The day is also complete with football and sometimes deer hunting. It is a very manly holiday. There are limited decorations. It requires no gift shopping. It only requires that you bring an appetite and a loose fitting pair of pants.

Of course the true sentiment behind the holiday is great as well. I have so much to be thankful for, and I never take the proper time to appreciate all my blessings. All of us should take time every day to say thanks even though we so often forget. So as you gather around the table today I hope you are giving thanks for the blessings in your life.

This has been a particularly tough year for me. There have been problems in many different areas of my life. Even with the struggles I am eternally thankful for my blessings today. I am so thankful to have a beautiful healthy son. I am so thankful to have a wife that puts up with my stubborn selfish ways. I am thankful to live in this great country and in the beautiful town of Hot Springs, AR. I am thankful that I have been blessed with abilities that allow me to provide a comfortable life for my family. The list of things I have to be thankful for could go on forever.

I have been given much in life that I don't deserve. I hope that beginning with this day of thanks I can start giving more back. I hope that by this time next year I have given other people reason to give thanks rather than just hogging the blessings for myself.

Thanks to everyone who has continued to support my little blog here. It has been fun this year getting to know you all as well.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

25 Odds and Ends About Me

PJ over at Real Men Drive Minivans tagged me with a meme yesterday. I am always open to a decent meme because it is free blog fodder. So I switched off the part of my brain that is constantly searching for blog material for a little while and answered a few questions. I am not too interesting so I hope you don't fall asleep.

  1. Name someone with the same birthday as you. Mel Torme. I don't care anything about him other than this awesome appearance on Seinfeld. Skip to the 5:50 mark to see the velvet fog sing a song to Kramer.

  2. Where was your first kiss? On the mouth.
  3. Have you ever seriously vandalized someone else’s property? Yes, and I have the prison tats to prove it
  4. Have you ever hit someone of the opposite sex? No.
  5. Have you ever sung in front of a large number of people? Only if drunken karaoke counts. I have retired from that circuit but I used to do an awesome rendition of "You Never Even Called Me By My Name" by David Allen Coe.
  6. What’s the first thing you notice about your preferred sex? I noticed my wife's eyes.
  7. What really turns you off? Idiots
  8. What do you order at Starbucks? I don't order much because $5 coffee is just insane. I usually get a latte. I am very adventurous.
  9. What is your biggest mistake? Not backing my wife during some past family conflicts
  10. Have you ever hurt yourself on purpose? I have slapped myself in the face to keep me awake when driving. Does that count?
  11. Say something totally random about yourself. I hate Cheez-its.
  12. Has anyone ever said you looked like a celebrity? Tim McGraw about a thousand times. I take that as a compliment.
  13. Do you still watch kiddie movies or TV shows? Yes, TV with Braden and cartoon movies with or without him
  14. Did you have braces? Yes, and like my Friend PJ headgear as well.
  15. Are you comfortable with your height? No. I would prefer to be tall enough to spit on other people and tell them it's raining.
  16. What is the most romantic thing someone of the preferred sex has done for you? Married me
  17. When do you know it’s love? When you are willing to do anything just to be with them (including skipping ballgames or willfully watching reality TV)
  18. Do you speak any other languages? I studied french in high school and still know a few words of that. Spending time in Italy taught me how to read almost any fully Italian menu. You have to have priorities when learning a language.
  19. Have you ever been to tanning salon? My wife worked in one so I visited her. Never have I or never will I tan in a salon.
  20. Have you ever ridden in a limo? After our wedding
  21. What’s something that really annoys you? Right now? There are too many things to list. Right now I am annoyed by society's requirement for me to work for a living.
  22. What’s something you really like? Sausage
  23. Can you dance? Not even a little bit
  24. Have you ever been rushed by an ambulance into the emergency room? No
  25. Tag 5 people. I am not going to tag anyone because no one ever responds to my tags. So if you want to do this meme do it and have some fun. I am giving an open tag to all.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Random Tuesday Thoughts

It is the Random Tuesday before Thanksgiving. I think this should be a special random Tuesday. We have to purge our system properly before the big eating festival on the horizon. Stop over and see Keely for more randomness.


  • My lawyer friend emailed me last week and told me that one of his client's just told him that he felt like he was in a catch-69. There are just no words to express my feelings about that.
  • I learned about a contest at Parenting Magazine from Katherine at Another Day, Another Moment. Stop by and meet her and her son Ethan if you haven't already. I told Arica about this contest, and she entered a picture of Braden. Check it out here, and vote if you like. We are not trying to force Braden into child modeling to support our three pack a day Oreo habit. We are just having fun, and trying to dominate the other children.
  • I have just been nominated to be on our church's board of directors. I am not sure if I am more scared for the church or society in general. You people know me. This can't end well, right?
  • I am signing up to take the Professional Engineering exam in the state of Arkansas in the spring. It will take a lot of hard work and studying to pass. But if I do pass then I will fulfill a lifelong dream of mine and be able to put a couple initials after my name. I would then be Otter Thomas, P.E.
  • I really wanted to have another wonderfully random bullet point, but I have nothing. Happy Random Tuesday and Happy Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Please Go to Sleep

We are undergoing some changes in the Life of a New Dad household. Braden had his one year doctor's visit recently and changes were ordered. The doctor says he should be off formula and drinking regular cow's milk now. He also said that he should be getting off the bottle.

We have now finished with all our formula. Of course we weren't going to throw away any of that powdered gold just because someone with a few letters after his name told us to. We went ahead and got our money's worth. Now it is all gone and we shall never buy it again, at least for Braden.

With the end of formula we have stopped giving Braden a bottle as well. He was weaning himself off the bottle anyway. He would only take a few ounces before he went to bed. I think the end of bottle feeding is a significant milestone. It seems like an official end to having a baby in the house. No more bottle must mean no more baby. Now we have a miniature human running about. He eats what we eat. He drinks what we drink. He is growing up fast.

The biggest change we are experiencing was not doctor mandated. Braden has stopped sleeping through he night. He goes to bed just fine at first. Then he sleeps for several hours. After that he wakes up and cries. Several nights Arica and I took turns sleeping with him. The main reason for that was to get some sleep ourselves. Neither of us was happy to revisit the sleepless life we thought we had left behind months ago. Finally last night we toughed one out until 2 am. We went in and reassured him a few times, and put his pacifier back in his mouth. Other than that we just waited him out. Finally he went to sleep.

I hope that our effort was not in vain. Hopefully it puts an end to Braden's crying for Mommy and Daddy during the night. We are taking several steps forward, but the loss of sleep would be an enormous step back. As the old country song says, nobody gets to far like that.

Friday, November 20, 2009

I Must Be Thankful for Something

I am finally back for a Fatherhood Friday post. Be sure to go to Dad Blogs and check out all the other great posts for yourself.

Fatherhood Friday at Dad Blogs

I know everyone will be posting what they are thankful for in the coming days so this is by no means an original idea. Still yet I have so much to be thankful for this year that I need to make a list. Often times I get caught up in my problems and forget how good my life really is. Of course I am most thankful for my wife and son. I am thankful that they are healthy and that they love me.

Other than that I am not going to list all the typical things that I am thankful for like job, house, etc. I want to list all the obscure things that I am thankful for this year. I won't add lifetime achievement award winners like toilet paper to the list. Some things just go without saying.

I Am Thankful For:
  1. The disposable diaper. I don't care if they are filling up a million landfills a day. I can't imagine life without them.
  2. Skype. I don't think I could have lived through this year without it. Do I need to thank Al Gore for inventing the internet thus making Skype possible?
  3. On Demand in seat programming on international flights. They have about 40 movies to choose from now. Only a few years ago we were watching the one or two movies provided on the over head screens. The new setup makes 8-10 hour flights almost tolerable.
  4. Sausage. Breakfast sausage, Anduille sausage, Italian sausage, sausage biscuit, sausage and peppers, pigs in a blanket, sausage balls, polish sausage, smoked sausage, bratwurst, sausage gumbo. I feel like Bubba and his shrimp.
  5. Sunshine. After spending a couple months in Scotland I will never take sunshine for granted again.
  6. Individually packaged food. You can get almost anything in a single serving these days. That is great when you have a kid.
  7. J.J. Abrams. The new Star Trek movie, Lost, and Fringe. He brings me more gifts than Santa Claus.
  8. DVR. It makes watching TV with a small child possible.
  9. China. Without them Braden wouldn't have any toys to play with.
  10. Chewbacca. He was always ready when the Millennium Falcon needed to make the jump to light speed.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Birthday Party Madness

There are so many different angles that I could take in posting about Braden's birthday party this past weekend. First I will start it off with a video and picture of Braden tearing into his cake.

Next I want to take a little time to write about how much work it was to put on a party. My always ambitious wife put on a great party. As a result she was busier than that proverbial one legged man. Arica spent Saturday cooking. Then she went up to the church late Saturday night to set up as much as she could. It started all again on Sunday morning. She was there ready to pounce with the remainder of decorations as soon as Sunday school was over. She spent the final few hours finishing the food preparations. The spread at this party was one of the best I have ever tasted and I have tried them all. Thanks so much Arica for putting on an amazing party. You are the best.

I could follow with the angle about how annoying other peoples kids can be. They ran around screaming and yelling. They get in the birthday boys face and try to be the center of attention at all times. They can drive you crazy.

Another topic could be how the ability to use tools separates us from the animals. I probably lost you on that one. Well look at my ingenious son in the video below improvising by using his candle to eat his cake. He gets an A+ in the field of creative destruction.

Instead I think I will take the remainder of this space to write about how amazing it feels to see all the love flow from so many other people for your child. Yes much of it is because they love the parents, but they wouldn't all show up for our birthday party.

We were overwhelmed with the generosity of all our family and friends. People gave until it hurt as the old saying goes. As a result Braden is now prancing through a playground dream right in his own home. It is impossible to walk through our house without twisting an ankle on a randomly located toy. You might also take an inadvertent ride on tiny truck placed just perfectly to take you down. Our home looks like Santa's workshop exploded.

All this gives both Arica and I a special feeling. I know Braden won't remember his party. He didn't even know a lot of the people there. Nonetheless I know that our work paid off by giving Braden a special day. The look on his face as he happily plowed through his personal birthday cake was priceless. That joy will go on in his life for some time. Every time he plays with some of his new toys it will take flight again.

Throwing a party for Braden was a wonderful thing. It was a wonderful day that Arica and I didn't want to end. We laid in bed well past our normal bedtime laughing and talking about the day. There is nothing like a party and a little love from your friends and family to make everything seem right with the world.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Greatest Duo Ever

Now that Braden has turned one he is reaping the rewards of his advanced age via new big boy toys. The truth is that I am reaping the rewards too. Big trucks are a lot more fun than keys with lights on them. I have my own keys and they are no fun.

This development is also strengthening the bond between Braden and I. We are developing a much stronger partnership. We are becoming a great duo. In the future as a great duo I am sure that there are no bounds to the amount of help we can do in the world. There is also probably no bounds on the amount of aggravation we can cause with our rambunctious boyhood ways.

Now we work together to play basketball. I carry Braden flying through the air towards the hoop. He dunks it home with two hands. Then I hoist him onto my shoulders like a hero as he shrieks with joy. He rides the 4-wheeler down the hall with all the skill of a seasoned motorcross racer. I turn him around when he hits the wall. Braden brings me the books. I read them. He brings me the toys. I show him how to work them. We work together constantly.

There is no doubt in my mind that we are on our way to being the greatest duo of all time. Before we take the throne I think I will take time to honor some of my favorite duos. Leave your favorites in the comments section too. We must honor them all before they fall victim to the new top duo in town, Braden and Daddy.

Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David: These two form the greatest comedy writing tag team of all time. They are total opposites that blend perfectly to produce comedy gold. It's gold Jerry....Gold!

Bo and Luke Duke: I am a redneck. What do you want from me?

Batman and Robin: Truthfully, I am not much on Robin. Batman doesn't really need his help, but there needs to be a superhero duo on this list so Batman is cool enough to carry the red-breasted wonder.

Luke Skywalker and Han Solo: Much like the redneck thing I am a bit of a sci-fi nerd as well. I love Star Wars.

Jack Bauer and Tony Almeda: They were my favorite crime fighting duo ever. I am still mad at the idiot writers for killing Tony. Bringing him back to be a bad guy didn't help either.

Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen: Of course Michael Jordan is like Batman in this grouping, but Scottie was great too. He is also from Arkansas so I have to give him love. It is a rule in Arkansas that we must support all 15 people from our state that make it big in our lifetime. Far be it from me to break the rule.

Corliss Williamson and Scottie Thurman: They brought what will probably be the only national championship of my lifetime to the University of Arkansas. I could never forget them. When I met Thurman at a bar nearly a decade later I thanked him for his shot. I love him.

I could do this all day. It's fun. Please leave me some of your favorites. Lets have a real discussion in this space even if it is not about anything important.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Braden's First Year Rewind

Since Braden has now been with us for a year I have been taking a trip down memory lane. It is a good thing I decided to write this blog because my brain is too clogged with hops and pork fat to make the first corner on memory lane. Going back and reading some of the old posts has reminded me of some amazing times.

I have composed a sort of first year memories cheat sheet. For those of you who were not with me from the beginning I am offering here today via the links below the condensed version of Braden's first year of life as reported through this blog. I hope you enjoy reading some of the old posts commemorating Braden's first year as much as I did.



Eating Solid Foods and video

Easter Video and Easter Suit

Hold Me

First Father's Day

Crying to Sleep

First Oatmeal

Standing Up

Braden Likes...

Throwing Things on the Floor

Walking and video

Halloween and the Pumpkin Patch

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Dear Braden, Happy Birthday

Dear Braden,

When we first met one year ago today you were gasping for breath and trying to warm your body in a freezing hospital room. You were wide eyed with fear and amazement at this strange new world that had just opened up to you.

So was I.

As a matter of fact I was so wide eyed that I nearly had the first fainting spell of my 31 years of life. Luckily there were plenty of nurses present to advise me to sit down. So this is how our first year began. Both of us were scared to death, but only one of us had to sit down for a breather.

To a man without children parenting always seemed to be about what a parent had to give to their child. Parents give their time including free time, personal time, break time, and all other measures of time. Parents give away their sleep. They give away their personal life, wants, needs, and even their money. Parents give food, clothing, and toys. Parents even have to change diapers.

Now that I am your Dad I can confidently say that what you have given me in the first year of your life far exceeds anything and everything that I could ever give to you.

First of all you have given me joy. I was overwhelmed with joy when you were born. You gave me the joy of your first smile. You gave me the joy of the first time you rolled over and when you started crawling. You gave me the joy of watching you pull up on the furniture and eventually walk. You gave me the pure joy of watching you smile or laugh on a daily basis. There is nothing like the joy that is found in a proud parent’s heart.

You have also given me love. First you gave me a new type of love in my heart. Having a child has taught me the human hearts true capacity for love. There is no other love like the one a parent feels for their child.

You have also given me your unconditional love. When you reach out for me or when you smile at me I feel that love. When you clutch at me or play with me I feel that love. You love me no matter what. You showed up and just started loving both me and your Mom. That is an amazing gift.

Finally you gave me the hope of a future spent with a loving family. I got married at a fairly late age for people in the rural south. I spent most of my youth chasing selfish misguided ambitions. I wasted many of my years alone. When you were added to my treasure chest that already included your mother my hope for a family was realized. The realization of that hope in turn gives birth to a bigger hope for all the joy, love, and dreams of a lifetime spent together.

Thank you Braden for changing my life forever. Thank you for your love. Thank you for your infectious spirit. Thank you for the fun we have together. If this year is any indication I am in for a lifetime of happiness that I could have never imagined one year ago.

Happy First Birthday!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Sickness Never Comes at a Good Time

My return home this time has not been without its challenges. I fell ill about three hours before landing in the U.S. on Saturday. You have never lived until you have puked your guts up repeatedly in a tiny airplane bathroom. I also spent an entire layover sitting on the cold, disgusting, disease ridden, airport men's room floor. I was already sick so what did I care.

On the plus side I found out a way to cut to the front of the security line. Just tell them that if you don't get through in about 10 seconds they will be scanning the contents of your stomach.

After some medicine and a full day of sleep I came around. Then something much worse happened.

Last night we got a call from Grandma at 2 am saying Braden was sick and had vomited a few times. He came home and was sick all night long. There is nothing quite as heart wrenching as watching a baby get sick. We called the doctor and followed their orders. He has no fever and had been asleep for a while when I came to work. Hopefully a trip to the doctor today will fix him up good.

He has to get better fast. He has no choice. Tomorrow is the one year anniversary of the most significant event in the Life of a New Dad family's existence. You might even say this day is the reason all of you have made my acquaintance.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

I Missed Halloween

I have been absent from blogging circles again. That is because I am once more in Sunny Scotland. Since I have been here this time I have started a new charity. It is called "Let the Children See the Sky." I started this charity after asking 100 Scottish children what color is the sky. Ninety-nine responded gray while the other kid punched me in the groin and ran away.

Of course this is all a joke, but truly can we do something to get these kids some sunshine.

This trip is nearly over, but I do have one big regret from this time away. I missed Braden's first Halloween. Arica said he got into the spirit pretty quickly. He held out his pumpkin for everyone to fill.

Below is one picture from Braden's trip to our church's Trunk or Treat. Also included are a few pics that we took of Braden before I left so I could see him in his costume.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Pumpkin Patches Are Not Just for Charlie Brown

I was visiting my friend PJ Mullen’s blog a few weeks ago when he put the thought of pumpkin patches in my head. I commented that we didn’t have things like that in small town Arkansas. Then I thought to myself that statement didn’t make much sense. If you can’t grow fruits and vegetables in rural America then where can you grow them? So I went home and asked Arica if we had any pumpkin patches in our area.

She proceeded to do some research and found that we had two within about 20 miles. She did some more reading and told me which one was the best. We went and had an awesome time. The results of our visit are detailed below.

Here we are upon arrival.

After that we visited the petting zoo. Braden did not like the horse.

He did like the rabbits.

He didn’t really care about the baby ducks. He was too busy looking at the scary chickens to his right.

Then we went to the pumpkin patch. Braden picked out two pumpkins right away.
Then we visited the hay covered playground. Braden could not go on the slide, but he had fun anyway.
Then we moved on to my favorite part of the day. The pumpkin patch had a John Deere lawn mower pulled train. The cars were made from 55 gallon drums that were painted John Deere Green and turned into train cars. There were several kids on the train. Braden was the youngest by far, and he was the only kid riding all by himself. At first I thought maybe Arica and I would be voted parents of the year by our fellow pumpkin patchers. Then the ride started and it was all ok. Braden had so much fun. He rode around the entire premises with his arm resting on the side of the cart. He smiled and laughed the whole way. The only time he got mad was when we took him out of the car at the end of the ride. It was awesome.

Finally we closed out the day with a hay ride. Braden fell asleep for part of it. Of course after all this fun he was a very tired boy.

This was my first visit to a pumpkin patch. Before this my only knowledge of a pumpkin patch was Charlie Brown camping out all night looking for the Great Pumpkin. Needless to say I had an amazing time even though we didn’t see the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, or even a pumpkin pie. I am certain that this will become a family tradition for Braden, Arica, and I. When we have another rugrat we will bring them too.