Thursday, April 30, 2009

Times They Are a Changing

Learning to be a Dad is an ever changing journey. You start out with a shiny new baby that is an eating and pooping machine. That pooping machine sleeps a lot but not for long periods of time. That leads to your first great challenge in parenthood. I have written ad nauseam about that topic here, here, and here. Eventually you get a routine worked out that helps you sustain life.

Then you are on to new problems. The kid needs more clothes because he is growing like crazy. He needs new diapers because he is overfilling them. Those things are super absorbent, but at some point they are just full. Of course then the next closest absorbent material is clothing. This is not desirable so you get bigger diapers.

There are always changes. Just about the time you get one thing figured out you move on to another. I wrote Tuesday about our newest challenge of teething. We are managing that like anything else. You just jump right in and do your best.

Recently Arica and I have started sleeping in the same bed again. It is a welcome development. For the past several months one of us had slept on an air mattress in Braden's room every night. We still spend some time on the mattress most nights, but at least we are getting a partial nights rest in our own bed.

So our lives are being changed by the additions of teething and sleeping in our own bed. These are balancing forces of good and evil. There is another storm of change brewing on the horizon. We can see it coming ,but are not sure when it will arrive. That storm is crawling Braden. He is currently scooting around his blanket on his belly. He constantly turns over on his stomach to survey his surroundings. He then sets his sights on something and heads that direction. Braden is not overly mobile right now, but it is only a matter of time.

He has all the proper crawling motions. He already knows how to spot things that belong to Mommy and Daddy. Of course those are the things that interest him most. He loves water bottles. Any time we drink from a water bottle he is dead set on getting that bottle. To a lesser degree he likes any thing we use to take a drink.

From what I can imagine our lives in the crawling era will be very different. I fully suspect that one day I will leave the room for something only to return and find Braden gone. He will be off on a wild adventure. We will have to box him in and out of certain places. I will have to crawl around the house looking for things that might by perilous to a crawling baby. The pack and play might be used as a cage rather than just a changing table. I definitely expect it to be insane.

With that I want to say goodbye to stationary Braden. We had some fun but it will soon be over. Please don't forget your Daddy when you are out cruising the hallways.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Kissing Mommy

Everybody loves babies. They are cute and cuddly. Women like to dress them up in cute outfits and ferry them about the town. It is easy to watch them for hours enjoying every facial expression. They are the perfect entertainment.

While they may be the perfect entertainment it usually requires work on your part. Babies respond to certain types of stimulation in ways that are funny. Braden may laugh at a toy or scream after being tickled. The work won't always be necessary. One day he will be mobile. He is slightly mobile now. He rolls around and finds some toys on his own. I know this is only the beginning. Soon Braden will be able to "entertain" us by crawling into the entertainment center or finding old Cheetos under the couch.

For now it is still fun to watch him in his quasi stationary state. Seeing his mind work is amazing. He looks at toys and noise makers so seriously sometimes. You can practically see the wheels turning. A babies mind can work at humor too. I always thought a baby Braden's age could only be passive entertainment. In other words they are funny without knowing it. They can't get on stage and perform like Chris Rock.

Braden proved me wrong a few days ago. Arica and I were sitting together on our over sized chair watching TV. Arica was holding Braden. He was facing Mommy when he reached out, grabbed her by the cheeks with both hands, and planted a big kiss right on her mouth. It was a perfect kiss. It couldn't have been executed any better by a seasoned ladies man.

I started laughing uncontrollably. It was one of the funniest things I had ever seen Braden do. Arica was laughing pretty hard too. Braden raised up his head and looked over at his Dad the laughing hyena. He smiled and kissed his Mommy again. The second kiss was just as perfect as the first. He finished the lip lock and looked back to find me laughing even harder. Guess what happened next. Yes, he did it again.

Braden repeated the kiss four of five times looking at me after each one. By the time he was done I was in tears. It was absolutely amazing to see Braden recognize what was going on. He got a laugh and knew what to do with it. A true stage performer knows how to interact with his audience and work a joke. Braden seems to already be developing those skills.

I am a huge fan of stand up comedy. I have seen virtually every comedy special HBO has ever done. Many of those performances are comedic gold, but none of them past, present, or future will ever be able to compare with Braden's first stand up act.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Teething: Are Teeth Evil?

I have a love/hate relationship with my teeth. I am a devoted carnivore. Therefore I need my teeth to enjoy the red meat I crave. Actually I am a food lover of all kinds. I grew up eating only southern food, but I have since branched out. My travels introduced me to strange new cuisines, and I love them all. Teeth are needed to eat no matter what you enjoy. Italian food requires teeth. Mexican food requires teeth. So does Chinese, Thai, German, and everything else not being served from a blender. From this point of view teeth are my friend.

Despite their helpfulness with food, my teeth have led to much pain in my life. The mere existence of teeth supports the need for a dentist. This person is paid great sums of money to execute a legal form of torture. I've had numerous bouts with the dentist. Most of my teeth have fillings. I have always brushed my teeth, but small cavities cropped up anyway. I haven't had one in around ten years, but I think that's because every tooth in my head is already filled. The removal of many of my baby teeth required professional help. I even had three permanent teeth pulled because my mouth was too small. Then there are the wisdom teeth. I had those removed too. Everyone is aware of the joys of wisdom teeth removal.

Throughout my life these two areas seemed to balance each other out. I would put up with my teeth's misbehavior in order to eat the foods I love. Not only that, but I once heard you had to eat in order to survive. Teeth are a necessary thing.

Fast forward to life with a 5 1/2 month old baby. Based on information I received from a stranger at Wal-Mart, Braden may be teething. He has always been a happy baby enjoying everyone and everything. In the past few days this normally cheerful baby has turned on us. He is only happy for very brief intervals. Those all too short times are followed up by crying and copious amounts of slobber. Nothing can keep him happy for very long.

Dealing with an unhappy baby is a trying thing. We are constantly trying to find new things that might make him happy. After all he can only eat and nap so much.

This new development has made up my mind. Teeth are evil. I can stand them hurting me in return for help with the food. Now they are hurting my son which in turn makes life unpleasant for everyone. Hopefully the culprit will show his face soon enough. Then we can return to a joyful existence until the next tooth tries to make its escape from the gum line.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Happy Birthday

I wanted to write a quick post today just to say Happy Birthday to my wife Arica. She keeps our family running. Without her Braden and I would both be lost.

So today I took off from work in order to give her a break. I am forgoing engineering to be a stay at home dad. Of course my run as a stay at home Dad will be pursued with a safety net. Arica will be here should I falter or should I need a helping hand. I only hope she can get some much needed rest today and enjoy her birthday.

The day is off to a good start. Arica was able to sleep in which is a rarity for anyone in this house. Later I plan to bake her a cake. I love cooking, but I am no baker. This will be my first cake ever. Arica is the normal baker, but she can't bake her own birthday cake.

Today I will certainly be reminded how much she does for us every day by attempting to do it myself. So once again Happy Birthday Arica and thanks for everything you do.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Free Parenting Advice

It's Fatherhood Friday again. Be sure and stop by Dad Blogs to check out all the posts.

Don't be fooled by the title. I am offering no advice today. Frankly I don't have any advice to offer. Apparently I'm the only person on earth that feels that way.

I am sure every parent has noticed the flooding of advice you get when you have a kid. The advice starts even before your child is born. When my wife was pregnant we got constant comments from everyone we met whether they knew us or not. That train kept right on rolling after Braden was born.

We were at the store recently when one of these incidents occurred. I am sure you regular readers can guess what store we were frequenting. We came around the end of an isle and were met by an "Ohhhh! He's so cute!" We enjoy compliments as much as the next person so we offered our appreciation. That would have been a good place for this conversation to end. Instead the complete stranger says "He's drooling. He is probably cutting teeth." It's hard to recreate this incident on paper. You readers can't see the air of superiority this lady was projecting. The "you should thank me for enlightening you" smirk is undetectable in this writing. I truly believe this woman thought she had done a great service to the world.

I am sure many of you think this is no big deal. You think I should take it easy. I guess it is OK for strange people that you just met to tell you things about your child. I, however, wanted to ask the lady if she had any feeding tips. Maybe she would like to instruct me on the proper way to change a diaper.

Instead I just smiled and walked away muttering under my breath. Children have many affects on people. They turn a lot of people into babbling idiots, myself included. I never understood before I had a child, but sometimes you can't help but make those silly noises. Anything that makes the baby smile or laugh is fun. The little creatures can certainly instill feelings of love, pride, and a million other emotions as well.

One of the craziest things a baby can do, in my opinion, is turn random strangers into experts. Everyone on the planet has an opinion on everything that relates to babies. They have no reservations about sharing said opinions with everyone they meet. People will tell you your baby is teething. They will tell you he has a tummy ache. They will tell you he is going to be short, tall, fat, skinny, smart, a ladies man, a football player, or virtually anything else imaginable. A family friend told us our son would be good at sports because he has a big head. This man is a very successful doctor by the way. What gets into these people to make them say such crazy things. I guess it's a good thing that babies eventually grow up. If they stayed infants forever they would probably control the world.

Next time someone suggests our son is teething I think I will disagree. I will look them straight in the eye and say, "No he's not. Our species doesn't even have teeth."

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Love What You Do

This morning I got a call from my cousin Eric. I haven't talked to him since our Grandpa died several years ago. I was a bit nervous when I saw the missed call. I knew his wife was pregnant, but it was not time for the baby yet. Was something wrong? Was there a death in the family? I called back and was relieved to find that everything was OK. He just wanted to say we should have called when we came to town last weekend. He wanted to see us and the baby. So I promised to call next time, and we said our good byes.

As you grow older you often drift apart from friends and family. Eric and I were best friends as children. Our Dad's were brothers and often worked together on the farm. That led to plenty of adventure for me and Eric. There are plenty of ways for two boys to entertain themselves on a farm. Our Grandpa Bob was a huge pack rat. He was so bad that the term should be renamed for him. Pack Rat should be replaced by Bob Rat or Pack Bob. I personally like Bob Rat. Anyway, Eric and I spent many a day digging through his junk. We found all sorts of "toys". When we didn't find anything interesting we would use the junk to make our own toys. I remember one time we made a barge out of some wood and metal cans so we could float it on the duck pond.

This post is not all about reminiscing. Eric has a lesson to teach us today. He was a smart guy. He was attending Arkansas State University on a scholarship. Then one day he decided to come home. He was plenty smart to graduate from college and do whatever he wanted, but what he wanted did not require a college education.

All Eric ever wanted to do was farm. It's funny how two kids from the same background can go such opposite directions. We had the exact same beginnings on the farm. Circumstances in our life led us opposite directions. I only wanted to leave home and do something else. All he wanted was to stay home with what he knew.

When we were kids we both had extensive tractor collections. I am talking about the big metal replicas from John Deere and International. We both pretended to farm our homes with these miniature implements. I knew how to prepare the ground, plant the crop, and bring in the harvest. Eric, however, took this a bit farther. He knew the exact model of every tractor. He had a plan for crop rotation and set aside ground on his imaginary farm. He knew every detail of farming. This was his life's ambition.

So when he quit school to go home and farm no one should have been surprised. Actually he went home to be a farm hand which is a much lower position than farmer. He is back working on the family farm now, but there will be no riches in his future. I bet 99% of America would say Eric did a dumb thing. They would say that he'll never make any money on a small farm. He should have stayed in school.

I disagree. Eric was brave enough to choose what made him happy. He was smart enough to know that no amount of money in the world can bring about happiness. Happiness is found in doing something you love every single day. I hope that Braden can learn a lesson from his cousin. I want him to find the thing that makes him happy and go for it. I will definitely encourage him to follow whatever ambitions he has. Money doesn't matter. Fame doesn't matter. Position doesn't matter. Braden's happiness is all that matters.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Random Tuesday Thoughts: Computer Brain

After a very successful foray into Random Tuesday Thoughts last week I am back. Thanks again to the Un-Mom and all her friends.

  • I have now killed 2 laptops in 8 years on the job. I shouldn't say I've killed the 2nd one yet, but it has been diagnosed with a fatal disease. It will die. The only question is when. When you get a laptop it is a clean slate with tons of memory to story seemingly endless amounts of information. After a few years the thing is so full of junk that it is worthless. What if your brain worked like that. I assume there is a limited amount of storage in your brain. It can't be infinite even if it is impossible for us humans to fill. What if you learned so much stuff that simple tasks like walking caused your brain to freeze for five minutes. All the while your head is making whirring and clanging sounds. Finally you black out and reboot before you can go on. It makes me think twice about all that trivia I'm always memorizing. I think we should all binge drink once a month in order to delete some unnecessary files from our cranial hard drive. Think of it as drinking to help you brain function better.

  • Babies are apparently very fond of routines. This weekend Arica, Braden, and I went to visit my family. Braden did not sleep much for the two nights we were there. Arica did not sleep but a few hours each night either. I was lucky to get one good night sleep. As soon as we got home Sunday Braden was his laughing smiling self again. I guess he just prefers to be in a familiar environment. Arica and I on the other hand looked like the living dead.

  • I am gearing up for the softball season. I have not played in about five years. I went to my first practice sunday, and I was pleasantly surprised at my skill retention. My hitting was a little rusty, but I fielded the ball smoothly in the infield and outfield. It seemed like I never took a break. At least it felt that way until Monday morning. Now I may not feel like I had a break, but I think I could have a sprain or a pull.

  • Braden has a shirt that says Mr. Popular. That shirt was proven very true on Sunday morning. In church Braden was so popular that he distracted my Mom and Grandma from the entire service. They played with him throughout the sermon. My Mom's two cousins that sat behind us kept lunging over the seat throughout church to get his attention. The pastor was even distracted enough by Braden's interested stare that he gave Braden a big smile during some readings. Anyone that has the power to distract the entire family on two separate rows and a pastor during church is certainly Mr. Popular.

  • I remember last year when there was talk of a spin off from The Office. Hey NBC! Parks and Recreation is not a spin off! Taking a insignificant character from one show and casting her as a totally different character in another show does not make a spin off. It doesn't matter if the same person created both shows. J.J. Abrams created Lost and the new show Fringe. This guy has a role in both series, and it is still not a spin off. Frasier is a spin off.
  • Monday, April 20, 2009

    There is an Inch Worm in My House

    I last posted on Friday about my lifelong involvement with raising, shooting, and eating animals. Since that posting I have found myself the care taker of another interesting member of the animal kingdom. This animal is of course the inch worm.

    The inch worm moves by inching up the back half of his body toward the front making a big hump in the middle. Then he inches the front forward to even out his body horizontally. By doing this the worm can travel forward half a body length per effort.

    The inch worm at my house doesn't move nearly that much, but he is trying. For those of you still wondering, yes the inch worm is my son Braden. We were sitting in the floor playing last night when he decided to show Mom and Dad his new skill. Braden has never liked being on his stomach. He gets upset easily when placed there. Sometimes he just rolls back onto his backside immediately. We place him on his stomach fairly often so he can work on his baby fundamentals. His fundamentals are more advanced than the last time I posted about them. Now he can easily raise his head so all of his work is toward the ever freeing skill of crawling.

    Until last night Braden moved about his blanket on the floor by rolling or rotating around on his rear end. He could reach the 4 corners of his colorful blanket world by doing those things. Last night he added a new move to his repertoire. Without provocation he rolled onto his stomach and started inching around. He put forth maximum effort to move very little, but of course I was still proud.

    I have no idea what the normal development pattern is for a baby. Before Braden I had exactly zero experience with that sort of thing. Now I consider myself well versed on baby development and parenting up to 5 months of age. Anything beyond that can be filed under "wait and see." I am pretty certain that imitating that ever so interesting inch worm is a step in the right direction towards crawling. Maybe I should say it is a step in the direction of a having a wild baby roaming the house at all times. That in turn is a step towards adding border control agent and bounty hunter to the list of jobs Arica and I perform every day.

    Friday, April 17, 2009

    The Horse Says What?

    It is Fatherhood Friday again so stop by Dad Blogs and check out all the posts.

    I grew up in an animal loving house. I don't mean a PETA type animal loving house. We hunted deer, duck, squirrel, and rabbit. We consumed our kill. Yes, I have eaten many a squirrel just like Cousin Eddie. Our relationship with animals was more of an appreciation and a knowledge of their habits and environment. I didn't grow up on a farm in the sense that our house was on a farm. I did however spend much of my youth on the family rice farm in southeast Arkansas. My Dad quit farming when I was very young. After that he still helped out around the farm some, but he found other things to do with his time and resources.

    My Dad raised ducks and geese for a long time. He also raised rabbits for quite a while and dabbled in turkeys and quail. Some of these animals were sold for pets or food, but the whole operation was mainly a hobby. The farm was filled with hunting dogs. There was even a killer tomcat named Dingbat for a while. Basically I grew up on Old MacDonald's farm. I helped dad gather duck eggs and gather ducks. You haven't lived until you have been in a cage trying to catch flying mallards. Snagging them out of the air is quite a thrill. We fed the ducks and raised them. I saw them hatch and grow. Eventually we started a flock of Canada Geese. When our first two eggs hatched the goslings thought my Dad was their mom. They followed him everywhere and even got to take a trip to our house much to my mother's dismay. Dad named them Mutt and Jeff.

    All of this led me to love animals. I had volumes of books on the subject. Dad and I watched nature shows on TV a lot. We could name every animal on the planet by sight and many by sound. I hope Braden and I can share that type of interest in animals. I hope we'll spend many hours in the woods together enjoying nature. Of course I hope we can hunt together, but it's also fun just spending time outdoors. Hopefully he will get the same joy I do from watching the squirrels and birds go about their day. Maybe we can share the thrill of seeing a bald eagle soaring over the lake. Braden might not grow up on a farm, but he will grow up in a small town in The Natural State. Wildlife will always be there to enjoy.

    This Easter we took the first small step towards learning about animals. Braden got a The Farmer Says See 'n Say. These things have been around forever. I had one when I was a kid. They have changed a little, but the message remains the same. The (insert animal name) says (insert animal sound). I know this alone is not going to make Braden like animals. At least it will introduce him to some barnyard critters. Hopefully he'll get to meet some of these creatures in real life in order to test some of that knowledge for himself. Take a look at this video where he hears a few animal sounds.

    That was Braden's first effort at opening a gift. I think he did a good job. He seems intrigued by the see n' say until he hears the horse. Both times that crazy noise seems to confuse him. He looks to mommy for some help. It looks like a trip to the track is in order so Braden can meet some real life horses and straighten this out.

    Thursday, April 16, 2009

    Favorite Movie Characters

    I was tagged with a meme by my friend Super Mega Dad yesterday. I had never heard of a meme. As far as I knew meme was a fat lady on the Drew Carey Show or what you might hear if you ask a group of kids for volunteers. Upon further review I found that this meme is a challenge to write a post about my favorite 10 movie characters of all time. Asking a man who owns over 100 DVDs to pick his favorite 10 characters is like asking a parent to choose their favorite child. I only have one kid so it's not like that for me, but you get my point. My favorites would probably change daily but as of right now here is my list in no particular order.

    Jimmy Conway - Goodfellas
    My friends and I in college had many discussions about the aura of Jimmy Conway. The fact that we were usually inebriated should have no bearing on the validity of our conversation. Jimmy Conway was super cool. The minute he walked into the room every one turned their head. He commanded the room. Everyone wanted to be near him. He was the coolest guy alive.

    Michael Corleone - The Godfather Part II
    I love Michael. He was ruthless. He moved on Vegas and took down Moe Green. He outwitted Hyman Roth. No one could stand in his way. Not even Fredo.

    Indiana Jones - Indiana Jones other than the Crystal Skull
    The ending of the last movie was terrible but otherwise I am a big fan of the Indiana Jones movies. Indy took on the Nazis time and again. He battled the crazy satan worshippers in the Temple of Doom. He used a whip. How many other heroes are cool enough to use a whip? I would love to have been along on some of his adventures except for the life threatening parts of course. He did all this while being cool enough to never loose his fedora.

    William Wallace - Braveheart
    My old friend Shakey would say that the movie Braveheart was hard core. Those battle scenes certainly were. I am going to watch this movie a lot before I go to Scotland this summer. I am sure the locals will love to hear my William Wallace impersonation. If you don't like him then I will consume you with fire from my eyes and bolts of lightening from my arse.

    R.P. McMurphy - One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
    McMurphy loved to party. He snuck women into the hospital and his friends out of the hospital. He loved baseball. He played basketball and poker. What a guy. All the while he refused to be controlled. He was the ultimate rebel and a crazy one at that.

    Doc Holliday - Tombstone
    Val Kilmer stole the whole movie with this performance. Doc was the fastest gun in the west. He was always drunk and sick but still fast enough to take down Johnny Ringo. Not only was Doc cool and deadly he was funny. His one liners are great.

    Trent - Swingers
    He was the ultimate party guy. Everyone wanted to hang out with Trent. He was the guy that has too much to drink and goes to waffle house in the wee hours to eat. While there he makes a scene maybe even singing the Waffle House song. I heard that people do that.

    Navin Johnson - The Jerk
    This movie absolutely cracks me up every time I watch it. It was made of course back when Steve Martin was still alive. The amount of his lines stored up in my brain would crash a super computer.

    Carl Spackler - Caddyshack
    One of the great comedic characters of all time. The scene in Carl's "home" with Chevy Chase is pure comedic gold. I can never play golf without at least once yelling "It's in the hole!"

    Clark W. Griswold - Vacation and Christmas Vacation
    Clark is the ultimate family man. All of us dad bloggers should strive to give the same type of attention to our families that he does. We should never strive to do it in the same manner though because it would be very dangerous. I laugh at my buddy Clark over and over. It never gets old.

    The final part of this challenge is to tag 5 more freinds on which to bestow this honor. I tried to pick some guys that I have seen talk about movies. Below are my victims. Go visit their sites and pressure them to take part. Have fun if you are among the chosen.

    Daddy Files
    Mike @ Unraveling Life's Mysteries
    Fatherhood: The Final Frontier
    Rob @ PB and Smelly's Dad

    Wednesday, April 15, 2009

    The Bed Bugs Are Back

    After reading the morning news yesterday I am a little concerned. Where in the world can anyone feel safe? There are constant threats on the news every day. There are pirates, terrorists, Kim Jong-Il's, and the like sharing our planet with us. Mostly those scourges on society spin their madness far away from home. No I am not writing about those creeps today but rather creepy crawlies. According to an article on Yahoo the bed bug is enjoying a resurgence. Read the article for yourself here.

    Apparently in all our efforts to save the planet we have saved the bed bug instead. According to the article pulling many insecticides off the shelf has helped the bed bug make a comeback. The absence of DDT may help with our health, but it helps the little critters too. Maybe we should rethink this environmentally conscious approach. What if the preservation of forest land only serves to help establish a large pack of Bigfoots (or is it Bigfeet?) in the pacific northwest. Maybe keeping the oceans cleaner will actually allow for a real killer shark that eats boats like the phony replica in the movie Jaws. What if all this clean air helps free the skies for terrible raptor attacks from above.

    We have to be very careful with this situation. When the safety of your bed comes into question then what is next? Will I soon be telling Braden to watch out for the boogie man under the bed. Maybe I will be using a pump spray gun to try and ward off the closet monsters. I feel surrounded. Hopefully the good people at the EPA can help us out with this. Until then sleep tight and don't let the bed bugs bite.

    Tuesday, April 14, 2009

    Random Tuesday Thoughts: American Idol and Easter


    I have seen these Random Tuesday Thoughts posts around the mom and dad blog community. I finally stumbled upon the origin at The Un-Mom. Since pretty much everything that emanates from my mind is random I thought I would join the fun this Tuesday.

    • American Idol is about one step away from becoming their own television network. They already preempt and move around almost every show on Fox. I don't think they interrupt the Sunday schedule, but Simon has been a character on the Simpsons. Nothing is out of their reach. Before long Fox will air Idol every day and Paula Abdul will replace Bill O'Reilly. In case it isn't clear I hate American Idol.

    • One more Idol thought. That show has spawned many competition type shows. Dancing seems to be one of the favorites. Why not have instrument playing competitions. The obvious ones are trumpet or maybe the saxophone judged by Kenny G. I personally would like to see "So You Think You Can Play the Oboe." Who wouldn't want to see band geeks lined around the block to show their talents to some angry oboe loving Brit. Someone get Simon on the phone. I want a producer credit.

    • The Easter egg hunt we were invited to got cancelled due to heavy rains. I don't think it is too big a deal since Braden can't walk or crawl. The lack of a way to move around would limit his egg gathering abilities. Next year when he can walk we will have to enforce a strict no cancellation policy. We can get scuba gear and swim from puddle to puddle if we must. Eggs float anyway don't they?

    • I already miss Mark and Olly: Living with the Machigenga. I think we should trump up some bogus charges and get them kicked out of their countries of residence. Maybe if they lost their home they would be more inclined to live in the jungle forever. After all my entertainment is more important than their normal civilized lives.

    • I found another one of the great things about being a Dad. On a child's first Easter some people still give them candy. After all stuffing candy in plastic eggs is one of the biggest Easter traditions. When your child has no teeth you get the candy.

    Monday, April 13, 2009

    I Am Not a Pretty Boy

    Once upon a time a long time ago Arica and I were dating. Of course this was before our marriage and long before we added Braden to our numbers. During courtship there are many conversations and questions posed that help you understand your prospective mate better. It may seem like a job interview in the early going. Each person is trying to determine if the other has the skills and characteristics necessary to meet their needs.

    This post, however, is about something that Arica helped me learn about myself. I am not talking about any deep self revelations. Those of you who know me or follow this blog regularly know that I am not one to talk about those things. I am not here to do a Daily Affirmation although someone might need to step in for Stewart Smalley since he has embarked on a political career.

    I am reminiscing about the first time Arica called me a pretty boy. I was offended. I thought that since my normal attire was T-shirt, shorts, flip flops, and a dirty hat that I couldn't be a pretty boy. After that discussion I started to notice my grooming habits a little more. There were quite a few starched and pressed button up dress shirts hanging in my closet. Those shirts were my go to items for nice attire. My hair had to be just right before I would leave the house. I spent a little more time choosing what I might wear on a particular night than a man probably should. The kicker was the fact that I actually liked wearing a suit and tie every once in a while. Finally I came to the realization that I had to be perfect when I went out. I was a pretty boy.

    This topic crossed my mind as I was looking at our pictures from Easter Sunday. Braden will have plenty of time to determine his own personal style. He can determine how important little things like ironing, shaving, and hair style are on his own, but for now, as you can see, he is definitely a pretty boy in training.

    Friday, April 10, 2009

    The Stroller is My Friend

    According to an old saying necessity is the mother of all invention. I suppose that is true, but there is another factor that is nearly as powerful a motivator. That motivator and mother to most inventions is laziness. Think about it for a minute. Someone too lazy to write by hand invented the typewriter. Someone too lazy to cook invented microwave dinners. A person perhaps too lazy to go shopping came up with the idea of online shopping. Probably a guy too lazy to change his oil figured out how to capitalize on this type of laziness and introduced us to the quickie lube joint. The list could go on forever.

    The stroller is the laziness induced creation that I am thinking of today. Somewhere along the line us lazy humans grew weary of carrying our babies everywhere. There are several inventions to help with this, but my favorite is the stroller. I will never wear one of those papoose sling type things. I will not judge any other guy for using them. Whatever you want to do is fine with me. I, however, am a country boy and there are just some lines we don't cross. I drive a four wheel drive. I own a high powered rifle. Like old Hank said I can skin a buck and run a trotline, but I will not have a baby sling draped around my shoulder no matter how convenient they are.

    In the house I carry Braden like a good pack mule. Outside of the house he goes in the stroller. This makes shopping and any kind of outdoor adventure possible. Now that spring is here we will be putting plenty of miles on the stroller. We went to the park last weekend and plan to take plenty of laps around the walking trails with our baby buggy in the future. I plan on using it so much that I have to rotate the tires by mid June.

    Braden loves to be outside. I'm happy about that because little boys ought to be outside. They should be out eating dirt, scraping their arms, tormenting the dogs, climbing trees, and all sorts of other fun things. Braden is a long way off from everything but eating dirt. I figure he would do that now if we let him. Until he is able to master all the other outdoor joys of childhood the stroller will be his window to the outside world. From its lofty seat he will enjoy the Arkansas summer. Thank you o lazy parent of the past for creating this modern baby transport wonder.

    Wednesday, April 8, 2009

    Have You Seen My Keys?

    Every person responsible enough to be trusted with some type of key has uttered this post's title phrase at one time or another. I have actually lost one set of truck keys in the past year that never turned up again. I imagine they are hitch hiking their way west towards the Pacific and freedom. When you can't find your keys you have that rush of panic. Did I lock the keys in my car? Did I lose them for good? Where can they be? You get all worked up only to find them in the fridge a few hours later. Those things can turn up anywhere.

    The frantic search for keys has taken on a whole new meaning at our house. Braden seems to enjoy his keys more than anything else, other than eating. They are Baby Einstein Activity Keys so they must make him smart too. I don't know how that works, but I do know they make Braden happy. He has liked the keys since he was barely able to hang on to them. The small keyring was one of the first things he could grasp. The geniuses at Baby Einstein also added a button you can push to light up green and red lights. The lights are housed in what looks like an old fashioned yellow stop light. Blinking those things could stop even the most violent fits.

    Now Braden pretty much works the keys on his own. Tuesday night I watched him turn the lights on and off as he studied them. He has no doubt made a connection in his mind between the button and the lights. He likes to hold one key and chew on another. Sometimes he even eats the lights. Having something that can soothe your baby when he is upset is as good as gold. I think I would rather lose my truck keys and walk to work than lose those little wonders.

    Watching the Cardinals with Dad or Not

    I posted briefly about opening day on Monday. I didn't really do a big baseball post, and that feels wrong. So today I want to visit another area of my baseball conscious. Will Braden be a Cardinals fan like his Dad or not? I am almost certain that he will but let's examine the topic anyway.

    For true fanatics sports loyalties are passed along like any other genes. You acquire your team from your Dad or Mom just like you acquire their last name. It comes with the territory. It doesn't work for casual fans. In those cases the child is left to find a team or even a different sport to follow. I became a Cardinal fan because my Dad was a Cardinal fan. My grandparents are also Cardinal fans. You may recall that I live in Arkansas. Why is a guy from Arkansas such a big Cardinal fan? It is the MLB team of choice for a majority of Arkansans. We don't have a team of our own, and St. Louis is one of the closest options. The Rangers are closer for some but they have no history which brings me to my next point.

    Before the Dodgers and Giants moved to California the Cardinals were further west than any other team. Teamed up with the powerful KMOX radio station the Cardinals were broadcast all over the midwest and beyond. Our grandparents generation growing up anywhere west of the Mississippi had a great opportunity to become Cardinals fans. Many of them did. Several western states have their own teams now, but throughout the midwest the Cardinals are still king. They are regularly in the top 5 in attendance in a relatively small market like St. Louis. They can accomplish that because people come from Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and elsewhere to watch the Redbirds. I am proud to be a part of that large following.

    Back to the subject of Braden joining our throng. He is off to a good start in Cardinals fandom. My brother gave him an Ozzie Smith autographed baseball that he had signed at a local Wal-Mart. Ozzie was my favorite player growing up. I remember my Dad telling me about "The Wizard" when we first watched games together. I played short stop and wanted to be just like Ozzie. Now Braden has this Hall of Famer's autograph. It will be a great time when I get to explain to him who signed his ball.

    I know there is no guarantee that Braden will like the Cardinals. There's not even a guarantee that he will like sports in general. My Grandpa watches Cardinals baseball every day. He never misses a game and his son hates sports. I mean he hates them with a passion. So I don't have to look far for an example of what could happen. Still I am certain that Braden and I will share many summer nights watching the Cardinals play on TV. I plan on taking him to games in St. Louis as soon as possible. Doing those things should create memories that will last a lifetime. That is the truly great thing about sharing this interest. The time spent with Braden will be priceless.

    Tuesday, April 7, 2009

    The First Supper

    It's Holy Week and the celebration of the Last Supper is only 2 days away. It seems like a good time to talk about eating. Add to that the fact that I am struggling for blog fodder today and you get this wonderfully insightful post. I dug deep into the archives of my home videos and found a clip to share. The clip shows the very first time Braden tasted the gooey goodness of baby food. That is what I call it even though I think the technical term is "solids". The genius that came up with this term obviously has a different interpretation of the various states of matter than I do.

    This feeding was about a month ago. You will remember how excited I was to move on to solid food in this earlier post. The food in question in the video was green beans. Braden has moved on to peas, squash, carrots, and sweet potatoes now. At first we were feeding him twice a day. For whatever reason this interrupted his sleeping patterns. As all new parents know this is the worst thing that can happen. You work so hard to get them into a regular sleeping routine that also allows you enough sleep to sustain life. Any backpedaling in this area is an absolute nightmare. Arica figured out that Braden slept better the few times we only fed him once a day. That was enough to permanently change the plan. So we are comfortably settled into a once a day vegetable sludge feeding. Everyone seems happy especially since proper sleep has been restored.

    Monday, April 6, 2009

    Sports in a Marriage

    I am a bonified sports junkie. I love the big three baseball, basketball, and football. I have followed a team in each of these sports ever since I was a kid. I still do that today, but some other things have changed. I once heard Colin Cowherd on ESPN Radio say that as you get older you have to trim your sports tree. I don't always agree with him but he definitely has this one right on. When you are younger and single you can follow every sport you want. You have no real responsibilities so you can spend every night watching TV. As you get older and have other duties with family and work you have to cut back on following some sports. For instance there might not be time to watch the random Saturday afternoon badminton match any more.

    There was a time in my life, during college and shortly after I graduated, that I absolutely watched every single Cardinals game. This was before the advent of Tivo mind you. Every summer night during college you could find me sitting on the couch with a cold one tuned into the game. After I graduated I usually took my party to the bar at Applebee's. There I got control of the TV from the bartender and watched the Cards like it was my own personal viewing room. Everyone else had to watch or go somewhere else.

    Those aren't the only sports freedoms the younger man can enjoy. I also watched nearly every single college basketball game on TV. I love college hoops so I would watch Big Monday, Super Tuesday, Whatever Wednesday and so on. I was a little over the top with sports, but if I was home that is what I was watching. I didn't watch TV dramas. I either watched Sports, Seinfeld, or maybe a movie. Now with a wife and kid things are different.

    Arica is very understanding. She finds other ways to busy herself when I must watch sports. I have trimmed my tree back to the Cardinals and the Razorbacks. For some people that would still be a ton of sports but not for me. That is the bare minimum. I am not complaining. Spending time with my family is much more important than watching total strangers play games inside the television. I am writing about this today because it is one of the great sporting days of the year. Today is opening day of the baseball season. There was a game last night but it doesn't count as opening day in my mind. Today the St. Louis Cardinals will start the season in pursuit of another pennant. If you are unaware of my love for baseball you can read about it here. Being opening day I am sitting at my desk wearing my bright red Cardinals T-shirt today. I may be a grown man, but much like David Puddy, you gotta support the team. I don't know if many of my readers are baseball fans. I do know that my friend over at Daddy Files is a big Red Sox fan so he is probably excited today too.

    Later tonight the NCAA Men's Basketball Championship will be played. I haven't missed a championship game in forever. Now the trick for me tonight is to watch these events while still maintaining my duties as father and husband. It is a tricky thing to pull off but I can do it. I am thankful that I cut back on so many unnecessary sports events. Doing that makes nights like tonight possible.

    Friday, April 3, 2009

    The World Waits on No One

    I am happy to report that I am not in Kansas anymore. Unfortunately I have no more to write about fatherhood today than Toto. Unquestionably the worst thing about travelling, other than being away from home, is returning to work to find that the entire world kept on going without you. I have about 5 million things to do today. It would be nice if people were considerate enough to refrain from needing me when I am out of the office. I guess the plus side of being needed is job security.

    I came home yesterday to a very happy household. I think both Arica and Braden were happy to see me. I took my turn on night watch last night. Braden was pretty nice to his dad only waking me up around 4:30. I rocked him back to sleep pretty quick.

    He has a new fun way of waking us up in the morning. He calls out to us via karate kicks to the side of his crib. He kicks directly at the soother on the side of his crib. I think it is called a soother. It combines a series of lights, jungle sounds, and moving monkeys to help put Braden to sleep. He actually turns in on by kicking it with his feet. We may have a soccer player on our hands since he is operating toys with his feet already. I hope not. I don't like soccer. Soccer broke my nose.

    I turned on the baby projector that I posted about here to try and get him to stop kicking for 30 minutes or so. It was 6 in the morning which is way too early for karate. The next thing I knew I woke up and it was 8:30. Now I am late for work on a day that I have a million things to do. So that is my situation. Actually this post is a pretty good assessment of fatherhood for working dad. Happy Fatherhood Friday.

    Wednesday, April 1, 2009

    There's No Place Like Home

    Posting deep in the heart of Kansas I felt this was a perfect opportunity to slide in a Wizard of Oz reference. Even as a corny line it rings very true to me today. I am currently experiencing my longest time away from Arica and Braden since Braden entered our lives. There is so much about them that I miss. The Best Western Hotel in Wichita does their best to replace them, but they fall miserably short.

    Instead of the warmth of Arica's beautiful blue eyes I have the warmth of a microwave perched atop the college boy beer fridge in my room. Instead of the fuzzy feeling I get every time I look at Braden I have the slightly abrasive feeling of my legs against the sweet yard sale couch from which I watch the TV. Instead of the comfort of spending the evening holding Arica tight I am blessed to have the comfort of sleeping alone in a bed that has no doubt served more people than the local Wal-Mart. Instead of the sheer joy of seeing Braden's toothless grin I can hear the annoying joy of someone laughing down the hall.

    The hotel is not bad, but it is not home. At home I have a nice comfy chair where I wallow around. I sit in this chair and use the laptop via the wireless Internet. Here I am sitting at a poor excuse for a desk using the local network via a hub nailed to the side of my desk. At home I have a beautiful wife and a adorable son. At the hotel I have a school full of kids playing ping pong, playing pool, and playing in the pool.

    I tried clicking the heels of my brown Steve Madden shoes together today to no avail. Apparently you need shiny red shoes for this to work. Since I own no such shoes I will drive back to Kansas City tomorrow and travel home via traditional means. Before long I will be telling Arica and Braden that I am not in Kansas anymore. It will probably be the only time that I can actually get away with such a cheesy line. I am excited already.