Friday, May 29, 2009

Boys Will Be Boys

This week I have twice been a victim of this title axiom crossing the line into criminal mischief. Honestly it could be girls as well because I have not caught the perpetrators. It could even be aliens or devilish spirits, but who else would egg your car other than mischievous teenage boys.

We live on a circle at the end of a dead end road. It is not a cul-de-sac but a circular drive lined with houses on either side. Since we have the imposing diamond shape No Outlet sign at the last intersection entering our neighborhood we don't have much traffic through our little slice of suburbia. Our drive way is at a 45 degree angle and our garage only holds one car. Add all that up to equal Daddy parks on the road.

This has never been a big deal. There is no traffic. My truck is 9 years old so it has reached that ripe old age when you put a vehicle out to pasture. The old gray Chevy is at home on the uncovered pavement.

That was until these hoodlums started ambushing the neighborhood with a couple of cartons of grade A's each night. It is a ritual that many young boys seem to fall into. For some reason property destruction is part of the passage into manhood. There are eggings, mail box destruction, and even outright theft of property.

I guess boys think this shows their fearless rejection of societies rules. Maybe it makes them look tough and cool because the scoff in the face of the consequences. I don't really know what psychological theory describes this behavior.

I do know that a certain amount of mischief is expected when raising boys. I myself was mischievous once upon a time, but I hope I can teach Braden the difference between a fun prank and destruction of property. I think the best way for kids to learn a respect for other people's property is for them to work for some of their own things. Braden will have a summer job as soon as it's appropriate. Then he can earn his own money. He can use his own money to buy something that he really wants. Then he will know the value of money. He will know the value of hard work. He will feel the pride that comes from earning something yourself.

Kids that know those things are far less likely to throw eggs at other peoples vehicles. Kids that learn these lessons at an early age are better adjusted to life as an adult. Don't get me wrong, I am not going to sell Braden into slave labor in South America. I have no intention of shortening his childhood. Even when he gets his first job he will be doing so only in the summer. He can have the other nine months to be an out of work kid.

Braden can have fun, and he certainly will get into trouble. No one is perfect, but being taught the right values certainly helps. Hopefully with the right parenting our response to Braden's pranks will only be reciting the old favorite. Boys will be boys.

Fatherhood Friday at Dad Blogs

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Braden is a Carnivore

I didn't post Monday because it was a holiday. When I am on holiday my brain goes with me. Nothing that requires thought is attempted. Doing such thought provoking things would be met with disastrous results.

Yesterday I didn't post because I took some potential customers to visit one of our installations on the other side of the state. This is not normally my job, but the boss/tour guide was unavailable. I stepped in and shared my knowledge and driving skills.

Today I have free time to write a post, yet no truly creative or inspiring ideas are present. Posts don't typically come to me as I sit at the computer. Things happen throughout each day that give me ideas. Ideas can come from anywhere as you are all certainly aware. This week I have been so wrapped up in less fun things that my creative mind has been turned off. I have been dealing with personal and work matters that in no way inspire sharing, creativity, or independent thought.

If you are still reading I am impressed. Now I will try to reward your persistence with something of substance. The biggest part of every day for me is spent engineering and being with Braden. Since this is not an engineering blog that pretty much eliminates that as a topic of conversation. The fact that engineering talk would bore all of you into a coma makes it official. This post is going to be a Braden update in a very engineering like numbered list format. I hope you enjoy.
  1. Braden is currently marching through the world of pureed meats. He has so far tackled chicken, turkey, beef, and ham without missing a beat. The little guy eats an entire jar of meat along with a jar of vegetables every night. He has eaten the entire jar of both every day since the second day of this culinary experiment. He is a big eater much like me.
  2. Last night Braden slept from midnight to 8 am. I actually woke him up at 8 this morning to feed him. I was late for work because he didn't wake up for the first time ever. Of course I am not complaining that my human alarm clock let me down. I will be more than happy to go back to using my big numbered GE model with the mutilated snooze button.
  3. Braden can crawl around a little bit. He scoots more than anything. He is pretty slow unless he sees the remote or some food and beverage. He can have the remote in the blink of an eye. He also goes straight for any food and drink that Arica and I might have.
  4. Adding to the last note, Braden is obsessed with plastic water bottles. He can't get enough of them. I don't know why.
  5. Braden actually tries to grab everything. He gets this big smile on his face and then he makes a lunge. I already mentioned his penchant for water bottles and the remote. He also has tried to grab forks, potato chip bags, ink pens, PS3 controllers, computers, napkins, books, blankets, necklaces, dogs, cats, and neighbors. Nothing is off limits in his mind.

All these small things plus a million others combine to make up the Life of a New Dad. To people without children the list looks like the obsessions of a very boring person. Conversely all the parents reading this will surely smile and fondly remember these times. After all, these milestones and learning experiences are what make being a Dad so fun.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

War Movie Marathon

The long weekend has definitely had an adverse affect on my work productivity. I have already set a new personal record for stammering and saying I can't remember this morning. I didn't do anything to hasten my memory loss this weekend, but three days of low brain function is apparently detrimental to intelligence.

While I try to get on track this morning I'm also thinking about the topic of war movies. I have developed a tradition over the past several years of watching a war movie on Memorial Day. It has become as much a part of mine and Arica's tradition as the annual barbecue. Yesterday we cooked a nice dinner and sat down to watch Saving Private Ryan. This is my favorite war movie of all time. I have seen seemingly hundreds of war movies from classic to modern, but I like this Spielberg directed masterpiece best. I like the new movies which strive for as much realism as possible. I think we have watched Saving Private Ryan the past several Memorial Day's so maybe I should change it up.

I have several others on DVD to choose from. Some of my favorites are We Were Soldiers, Platoon, and Full Metal Jacket. You don't even need a DVD player to enjoy war movies on this holiday weekend though. AMC plays a War Movie Marathon every Memorial Day. Yesterday the marathon was full of great classics like Tora! Tora! Tora! and Patton. I recorded the latter to watch one late night while I'm up with Braden.

I know these are just movies. They do not necessarily depict war as it occurs in real life. I know they are meant for entertainment purposes. These movies, however, cause me to ponder questions about the reality of war. They cause me to actually consider what it must have been like to charge the beaches at Normandy. They at least put into your mind that eighteen year old kids had to stare down Panzer Tanks. They had to fight in close combat for their lives. These thoughts help me always remember our veterans and what they must have endured even though I could never truly imagine what they experienced. One of my favorite war shows of all time is Band of Brothers. I usually get it out every summer to enjoy again when all my TV shows are over. The way this miniseries uses interviews with the actual soldiers portrayed in the show adds another element to the experience. It is very powerful to have actual faces that go with the events depicted on screen.

I have always loved war movies. I think my Dad has seen every war movie ever made. At least he has seen all the ones made before 1990. We shared a few of those when I was a kid. I remember watching The Dirty Dozen with him several times. I am sure there were many others that I don't remember. If there weren't it's certainly because I refused to watch preferring to play Nintendo instead.

Braden took his first turn at watching Saving Private Ryan yesterday. This will probably be his last turn for a while though. By next year he will be old enough to be scarred by the language and violence. I might need to start looking now for some GI Joe DVDs to serve as our Memorial Day cinema in the near future.

Hopefully when Braden is older he will enjoy watching war movies with his Dad. I would love to share all the movies above and many others. I would love to sit down for an entire movie marathon with Braden, several buckets of popcorn, a 12 pack of Mt. Dew, and AMC some day. This is just another one of my interests that I hope to share with my son. Surely he will love these movies just like me.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Memorial Day Is Not Just for BBQ

The big three day Memorial Day weekend is upon us. Living in a town with three big lakes, I am well aware of what this holiday has become. It is the unofficial start of summer. Beginning Friday the population of our little town will nearly double in size. Everyone in the state of Arkansas with any type of flotation device will pack up their belongings and head our direction. Traffic will be snarled. The lakes will be packed. Drunken idiots will be everywhere.

I wonder how many of these people stop to actually remember what this holiday is about. Memorial day commemorates all the men and women who have died while in military service. I love to go to the lake and barbecue just like the next guy. I understand the excitement that summer brings. I only wish more people would put down their cheeseburgers for just a moment to remember our fallen heroes.

I was raised to be very proud of my country. My father served in the Navy during Viet Nam. Both of my grandpa's served in the Navy during World War II. I don't know much about my paternal grandfather's service. I do know that my mom's Dad served on the USS Saratoga aircraft carrier in many of the major battles of the Pacific. I am proud to know that the two previous generations of men in my family bravely served our country.

As you might imagine patriotism was a very important thing in our family. I still get upset by people who don't remove their hats during the National Anthem. There are always plenty of people at the ball game who never even acknowledge what is going on. They are too busy ordering a hot dog or talking to their girl friend.

I worry Braden's generation will lose touch with the past. You see it is easy for me to remember World War II. All I have to do is go see my Grandpa and talk to him about it. Everyone my age and older knew someone who served in that war. Having a living link to the war puts a face on it. It allows those occurrences from long ago to have some personal meaning. Soon all of these living links to history will be gone. It is our duty as parents to make sure our children know that this war was a huge turning point in world history. The U.S. and our allies stopped some terrible men from spreading hatred and tyranny across the globe. We must share these stories with our children so they never forget what brave men and women did in the past to provide us with the freedoms we have today. I for one will tell Braden everything I know about all the wars and conflicts our country has endured. I certainly want him to know the things that his Great-Grandpas did in WWII and what his Grandpa did in Viet Nam.

It goes on today with wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It doesn't matter how any of us feel about those operations. The soldiers are still there risking their lives every day. We should certainly remember them too. Please take time this Memorial Day weekend to share a story about someone you know who served in the military. If you yourself served share what you are comfortable sharing. Don't let any of our heroes be forgotten. Some of them gave the ultimate sacrifice for us. Let's show them the respect they deserve.

Happy Memorial Day.

Fatherhood Friday at Dad Blogs

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Killer Dogs

I learned a valuable lesson in parenting on Monday. Every action we take affects our children. We are completely responsible for how they turn out. If we take a different path we get a different result. So, as parents, we must think long and hard about the decisions we make regarding our children.

Of course any reasonable human should have already known that. I, in fact, did know that already, but sometimes something so vile happens that it makes things all the more clear. One of these things happened at our house Monday.

An innocent creature died. He was no doubt living his life high on the hog. He probably had just enjoyed a nice meal. His girlfriend was surely nearby as he strutted his stuff and showed off his rugged good looks. Then something happened. Perhaps a stranger came to close. Maybe a loud noise or a mean word.

Whatever startled the victim clearly was enough to cause him to lose his senses. And because he lost his sense he then lost his life. It must have been a terrifying ordeal in order to make this fellow commit such a crucial error.

My actions led us to this point by seriously affecting our forgotten furry children. No doubt my dogs have been hardened by life outside. They were once lovable creatures that slept at the foot of our bed. They were always nearby hoping for a pat on the head or trying to sneak a lick on the hand. How could these lovable creatures go so bad. Living in the wild and fending for yourself apparently sets off something in a dogs head. They become very territorial. They are ready to defend their turf with their lives.

The way of life in the wild is kill or be killed. This time my dogs killed.

And that turkey never had a chance.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

100th Post

Today is my 100th post. I can't believe that I have written about 100 different things. You can certainly chalk that up to the trials of fatherhood. Before Braden came on the scene I didn't have 100 different things happen to me in a year. I could have posted a daily schedule and left it up for 12 months. Now every day is a new adventure that I can share in this space.

I started blogging as a creative outlet. I enjoy writing, but have nowhere to do that, save for a few long winded emails. Add that to the fact that I was about to embark on the biggest life changing event of my being, and it seemed like a good time to try this whole blogging thing out.

I selfishly wrote only in hopes that others would read what I had to say. I desperately wanted people to read my blog and enjoy it. I wanted people to think I was funny and intelligent. What never occurred to me is that I would find people that I enjoy reading every day. It never occurred to me that I might learn something. It never occurred to me that I might actually get some type of social experience from this endeavor. It turns out a lot of things never occur to me, but that doesn't keep me from noticing those things now.

I have had a great time through these first 100 posts. I am amazed that I am actually gaining readers at this point rather than losing them. So today on this monumental occasion I want to thank everyone who has ever stopped by this site even one time. Thanks to those of you who read and comment regularly. Thanks to those of you who have linked to this site and have given me good reviews. This blogging is a lot of fun and I hope to keep it up for a long while.

Most of all thanks to Braden and Arica for letting me share our lives via the magic of the Internet. Braden, in case you read this years from now, I got your permission. You just don't remember.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Random Tuesday Thoughts: The Flood

This post should need no introduction. By now you know what the title means. So Sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride through my wandering mind.


  • On one hand I am so sick of the rain that I am contemplating buying some goats and camels and relocating to the Sahara desert.
  • On the other hand I hope it keeps raining. I live on a mountain, and if the town floods people will pay me handsome sums of money for room on my property.
  • Arica is watching one of her friends kids during the day for a few weeks. It is amazing how much more annoying other people's kids are than your own.
  • Is it possible that Snoopy started sleeping on top of his house to avoid a flood.
  • Engineering drawings often have pictures of people on them to show the scale. The one I am looking at right now has a man with a hard hat and safety goggles. OSHA must require those things on cartoon people now.
  • Why is it the incredible edible egg. I am more inclined to say the incredible edible cow.
  • Lost is over for the year. I am sad.
  • Lost has only one more season ever. I am beyond sad.
  • There is a small strip mall next to the lake on one of the main roads in town. It has a liquor store, next to a tobacco store, next to a tattoo parlor, next to a bar. I just thought that needed to be shared.
  • I saw my cousin Eric, whom I posted about here, over Mother's Day weekend. He reminded me that once when we were pretty young we disected a turtle. I always wondered how to do that and it turns out I already knew.
  • My boss asks me at least twice a week how I like the coffee. It is the same coffee made by the same person every day. Today I resorted to "It's keeping me awake."
  • My alma mater should be sad that I actually visited campus for the first time in nine years this weekend. With all the shiny new buildings they have it's obvious they don't need any donations from this alumnus.
  • According to Google I rank #20 in the search "baby shoots dad." I'm pretty sure that is not a good sign.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Trying New Things

Growing up in a small town in southeast Arkansas life was pretty simple. There were no malls, no fancy restaurants, or any restaurants for that matter. We didn't even have a McDonalds or Sonic. There was a theater for a brief time, twice, but it never lasted long. There were no water parks, city parks, dog parks, or even Cherokee Parks. As kids we played outside and used our imagination. As older kids we still played outside, but we used Chevy's and Fords instead. There were no places to party other than maybe a muddy bean field. On Friday nights we drove in circles around the town square. What I am trying to say is I led a sheltered life.

Going to college changes a few things. I went to school in a town much larger than my home town, but it was still relatively small. There were some fun things to do. Our world revolved around the fraternity house. Of course any discussion of trying new things in college is destined for out of bounds. That is not where I am heading with this post.

I am talking about experiencing the world and what it has to offer. In 2001 I started my current job. My first assignment was to go and help with the start up of a power plant in Rossano, Italy. On my first visit I stayed there for six weeks straight. This little village on the Mediterranean was far from the tourist centers of Italy. Maybe five people in the entire town spoke English. I only met two that I can remember. One was a police officer who greeted us with "Why are you here?" The other was a bank employee that spoke English well enough to say "We don't take travellers checks."

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Imagine a small town farm boy out of the United States for the first time. I had never been farther than Florida. Otherwise my travels usually were to either Dallas or St. Louis. I didn't know much about anything. I truly believe that this trip changed my life.

Before going to Italy I thought the way I did things was the only way. Any other way must be wrong. The people of Italy did things so differently that it was a complete culture shock. In a daring manner I decided to jump right in especially in the cuisine department. If my little book of translations didn't cover a menu item, then I just ordered it to find out what it was. This led me to eating an entire dinner of only mussels, grilled cuttlefish, and other delights. Eventually I made friends with the restaurant owner and he served me a special of his choosing every night. It was the best food I have ever eaten.

From this I learned that I love mussels, clams, calamari, any type of fish in general, and so many other things. I absolutely loved the assortments of antipasta. This trying new things should not be all about food. It should be about life in general.

I started travelling more to see the U.S. Since then I have been to New York, Chicago, and Boston on personal vacations. Seeing the big cities and how you city folk live is quite a thrill. Of course on business trips I have seen many other countries as well. The true joy of travelling on business, other than it being free, is seeing how the locals live on a day to day basis. If you get away from the tourist traps you can really get a picture of what life is like for regular people in the places you visit. It can be such a learning experience.

This is where my son comes in to the picture. I want Braden to be able to enjoy as many different things as possible. His life will be much different than mine right from the beginning. We live in a town with hundreds of restaurants. We have several parks. We even have a two Wal-Marts which you know I love. The opportunities for him here are abundant.

I don't want him to think the rest of the world is like our little home. He should learn about other places and other cultures. I hope he has the opportunity to see the world. I hope he will experience life with open eyes and an open mind. There is so much to experience and learn if you are ready and willing to try.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Walkers: Good or Evil

When Arica was pregnant we visited every store within miles that was even rumored to have baby gear. We studied and learned all we could about what we needed. As we shopped around we noticed a glaring omission. Where were all the walkers? I always thought baby walkers were a great thing. Every baby I ever knew had one, but now they are harder to spot than a polar bear in a snow storm. I have since been able to determine that walkers are considered evil death traps by seemingly everyone on the planet.

I am not one to blindly agree with the consensus. I would prefer to have my own independent thought about these things. I think that walkers are not inherently dangerous. They will not spontaneously combust. They will not take control of your children and drive them into traffic. They will not explode. They don't even have moving parts. They are simply plastic chairs with wheels.

Yes the use of walkers can lead to injuries. Children could fall down stairs. They could fall into the pool or roll into the street. They could even knock over things or pull them down on top of themselves. The thing is that the environment is what can be dangerous. Parents that don't pay attention to their kids in walkers are what causes injuries. Knowing that both Arica and I are attentive parents we bought a walker for Braden to enjoy. He is not quite big enough to walk around in one yet, but since they are impossible to find we jumped at the opportunity to get one when the chance arose.

If you don't think walkers are good for your child or your home then don't get one. I don't think that makes you a bad parent. I don't think it makes you a great enlightened mind either. I understand if you think the walker is dangerous for your child. I don't understand why it is practically impossible to buy a walker because some people are bad parents. If I am going to watch my child and play with him in the walker then I should be able to buy one. Bad parents screw up plenty of lives without getting involved in mine too.

I once heard Jeff Foxworthy telling a story about his child hood. He said they had a 300 pound TV teetering on a regular size TV tray. The kids would play around it. In response to worries that the kids could hurt themselves, the dad would say let him knock over that TV. He'll learn.

While I don't think the "He'll learn" philosophy is the best way to deal with this walker dilemma, I will channel my inner Foxworthy in another way. In honor of all the inattentive parents who have made it easier to buy a sub machine gun than a walker, I give you the "You might be a bad parent" jokes.

  • If you let your kid ride the walker down the stairs like Bode Miller in the winter Olympics......You might be a bad parent.

  • If your child uses his walker to chase cars with the dog......You might be a bad parent.

  • If you let your kid use his walker to sit in while he fishes in the pool.......You might be a bad parent.

  • If your child's walker has a briggs and stratton engine......You might be a bad parent.

  • If a leisurely afternoon involves napping while junior runs the Daytona 500 around the house......You might be a bad parent.

  • If your kids favorite room for walker exploration is decorated with ninja stars and samurai swords......You might be a bad parent.

  • If you use the tray on your sons walker to hold your beer......You might be a bad parent.

That's enough with the bad Foxworthy impression. You get my point. Feel free to add your own "You might be a bad parent" jokes. If we don't limit ourselves to the walker the possibilities are endless. Happy Fatherhood Friday.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Fisher Price Mail Man

Braden's new favorite toy is the Fisher Price Laugh & Learn Learning Letters Mailbox. Fisher Price really should try to get some longer names for their toys. These are just too easy to remember. Anyway the mailbox is the third in our lineup of laugh and learn toys. I wrote about the Puppy here. We also have the Laugh and Learn Storybook Rhymes. This Fisher Price bunch is a monster.

I know many bloggers out there review products for free samples and other compensation. That is fine with me. After all the only thing better than free stuff is free beer. And the only thing better than free beer is free cold beer. So review to the tune of free stuff if you want. This post is netting me nothing. I just wanted to share a little bit about Braden's favorite new toy.

No matter where we place the mail box Braden finds it. He will roll over onto his tummy and seek it out. Once he finds the toy he makes his way too it by a series of rolling and scooting maneuvers. Using these methods he can reach most places in the living room. When he gets the mail box in his mitts he turns it over, opens it up, and gets the mail. Once he gets the mail he starts trying to eat it. He may be on to something here. Eating bills sounds a lot more pleasurable than paying them. I don't know if Fisher Price meant for the plastic letters to serve as teethers, but they do a good job. Braden loves to chew on them.

The box sings and is brightly colored. I'm sure that the bright colors help draw Braden to the postal receptacle. The songs certainly make him happy too. I still think there might be something more powerful drawing him towards the postal arena. This something is his DNA.

My Dad has been a mail man all my life. It's a part of my family tradition. I once told my parents that I wasn't going to college. I was going to stay home and join the family business. The business was of course delivering the mail. My mother, perhaps worried I was serious, demanded I go to college. So my dreams of following in my Dad's footsteps ended.

My interest in the post office didn't end there though. My two favorite sitcoms of all time are "Seinfeld" and "Cheers". Yes, both shows have mail men as prominent characters. Coincidence? I think not. Cliff Clavin is one of my favorite Cheers characters. He is funny in a helpless loser kind of way.

Seinfeld sports the dark rantings of Newman. He has spouted many great lines on the show. He also has some funny descriptions of the postal service that I always tried to share with my Dad. I don't think he was amused, but I shared anyway. Dad never was stressed too much by the mail, but it happens. Here's Newman's take on that.

My Dad was a mail man. I am drawn to sitcoms with funny mail men. Braden is drawn to toy mail boxes. Our dog likes to raise his leg and mark mail boxes. All these things are too much to overlook. The men in this family must have letter carrying DNA.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Work From Home Dad

Last Thursday morning Arica was sick. I didn't find out until I had been at work most of the morning. After hearing she was sick I took the afternoon off to watch Braden so she could rest. I have always known that her job as a stay at home mom was very difficult. I always knew that I could not handle that job every day. Thursday I learned another thing I could not do. I could never be a stay at home working dad. There is just no way I could ever get any work done.

Theoretically I could work from home every day. Virtually everything I need to do my job is located in my laptop. From time to time I will actually need to refer to books and old paper files. If I could relocate those things then I could certainly work from home. I work in a small office where we perform mostly sales and engineering duties for clients overseas. Our entire business works on email. That can be easily done at home, in the car, at the beach, or anywhere else you have a computer.

The only other requirement for a work place is it must be a place where you can get work done. I could never get work done on the beach. I would be too busy swimming and drinking fruity drinks. I could never get work done in the car because I would either be getting car sick or having a wreck. Likewise I could never get work done at home. There are too many distractions. I would spend my days watching TV and eating Doritos. The first week could be dedicated to Star Wars. The second week could be Lord of the Rings. The third week would be reserved for the Godfather. On second thought I might rewatch the 2006 World Series with the first week. See how easily I just got off topic. That would be my life working at home.

Staying at home and watching Braden would add a whole new element to this game. Thursday I had some work that needed to be finished. I took my laptop home to do the work while I watched Braden. It would have normally took me about an hour. With Braden in tow it took 4 1/2 hours. That type of time management is not conducive to good business.

To start off this afternoon at home I fed Braden which always makes him happy for a while. I let him play as I diligently worked on my calculations and other duties at the nerdery. After a while Braden got grumpy. Now it was time for his nap. We settled down in my favorite chair and Braden went to sleep. Then, like many a father before me, I fell victim to nap time as well. An hour passed before we both woke up. Then it was back to work for me as Braden played on his blanket by the sliding door. From his spot he could partake in the ever popular pastime of dog watching as well. I was about finish my work when he got upset again. This time my remedy was to let him sit on my lap as I worked. I eventually finished by banging out my calculations and emails with one hand. I was done at 5:30.

How anyone can get work done with an infant around I will never know. How my wife gets the laundry done I will never know. How does she keep the house clean? How does she find time to shower and eat? None of these questions have a clear answer to me. On top of all the chores required to care for a baby, how could anyone work when they have this face staring at them.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Babies and Dogs

This Mother's Day weekend Braden had his first meeting with a dog somewhere near his size. Our forgotten furry children are quite large. Otter last checked in at 98 pounds while his side kick Abbey tipped the scales at 55 pounds.

Their size doesn't bother Braden. He loves to go outside and watch them play. I regularly sit with Braden on a bench in our back yard. Otter and Abbey will get as close as I allow. Braden likes to reach out and pet their noses, and he seems to enjoy the finger licking that comes as a result.

Even though the size doesn't seem to bother Braden it presents obstacles. The combination of dogs is just too much mass to deal with in the house. They are forever shedding and tracking in mud and dirt. It was just not possible for us to continue cleaning up after these beasts. Therefore they stay outside out of Braden's reach. He absolutely loves them, but the sliding glass door presents a barrier to him.

The other drawback of size is potential injury. Otter like many labs is extremely hyper. He jumps and runs and bounds around everywhere. He is constantly nudging, licking, or doing something else to get your attention. He wants to play all the time. In our confined area that does not mix well with a baby. Due to all these things Braden has had no extended play time with the dogs.

This past weekend Braden met my brother and sister-in-law's dog Buster. He is a unique dog to say the least, but he is fun. Buster loved Braden, and Braden loved him back. Buster was continually coming up to Braden for attention. Buster won't come to me, but I guess he likes little people. I am sure one of Braden's new sidekick's missions was to sneak a baby toy. You can see him eyeing them in the picture. To Buster's credit he never tried to get one. He was well behaved.

Braden wanted to feel him and "pet" him. Whenever Buster would leave the room Braden would look all around on the floor for his new friend. Braden probably had a side mission too. Maybe he wanted to eat Buster. Maybe he wanted to pull out his hair. Secret agendas or not the two got along great.

While little dogs are not exactly my cup of tea, I certainly learned one of their strong points over the weekend. They are great children's toys.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Does Being a Dad Make Me Different?

Hank Jr. once sang about how corn bread and iced tea took the place of pills and 90 proof. That type of drastic change was not necessary for me. Then again I was never a famous country music singer. You can also find plenty of blog posts about how becoming a Dad had the same effect on many guys. Those posts are full of comments like "I used to be up until 6 am Saturday morning chasing babes. Now I get up at 6 am on Saturday morning to change a babe's diaper."

Those are all fine and good but this will not be that kind of post. Settling down for me was more a function of finding the right woman and getting married than becoming a father. This post will be more of a philosophical look at whether I am a different person now that I have a child. After all if you can't get philosophical with a bunch of people you have never met then what good is this Internet thing anyway.

Upon thinking about this subject I decided looking at my interests would be a good place to start. I still love watching Cardinals baseball, Razorback Football, and Razorback Basketball. No change there. I still think that stupid movies like Caddyshack, The Jerk, Anchorman, and Blazing Saddles are hilarious. Obviously there is no growth in that area. What about non TV hobbies. Fishing and Hunting are still my favorites. So far I seem like the same guy.

While I still enjoy the same things I certainly spend my time differently now. I spend less time doing all the above things. I spend more time taking care of Braden via the arts of diaper changing, feeding, entertaining, and fighting him to sleep. Some people might say I have changed because now I am more responsible. That is not entirely true. Yes, I have more responsibilities now for sure, but I was always responsible. I made good grades, got a college scholarship and kept it until graduation. Then I got a job. I have kept my job, bought a house, paid all my bills, and fulfilled all other obligations. I think my actions are different now because my circumstances have changed, not because I have changed.

Something happened in my mind this week that brought up this whole thought process. I was holding Braden when he started making the "poop face". Some pooping noises and a pungent odor followed. I assumed he had done the deed. I went to change him and found that I was mistaken. We went back to playing in the living room. Braden continued to try and expel the foulness that was plaguing him. He was working very hard. I felt bad for him. More sounds and smells followed. I checked and he had broken free a small nugget. I decided to wait a few minutes and let him finish his grunting and groaning. When I went to change his nugget filled diaper I got a surprise. The dam had broken. The diaper was full. Instead of being totally revolted by this colorful, stinking, disaster in my son's diaper I found a great example for children everywhere. There is definitely a moral to this story.

If at first you don't succeed. Try. Try again.

I can go on and on about how I am the same person, but my thoughts seem to show that there has at least been a little brain damage.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Mother's Day 2009

I don't post on the weekends so I need to cover this Mother's Day topic. I don't want to post it Friday like all the other non weekenders so I am tackling it early.

Mother's Day takes on a whole new meaning for our family this year. This is Arica's first Mother's Day. We acknowledged it last year because she was carrying little Braden around with her, but this is the first one with a diaper clad little person in our lives. As a young married couple you are constantly learning about one another. For instance I am learning that Arica is a phenomenal baker. She keeps me constantly stocked with sweets. She is probably learning about how great a hunter and gatherer I am. I have stocked the freezer with fish fillets and deer meet. Seriously she is probably learning something not flattering, but I am not one to speculate on such things.

The best thing that I have learned lately is how great a mother she is to Braden. I am not surprised by this at all. I always knew she would be a great mother. Her desire to have a family and to be a mother is something that I always found attractive about her. Seeing that in action though is quite a different thing. She is wonderful with Braden. Both Braden and I are lucky to have her in our lives. Happy Mother's Day Arica!

Also I want to say that I had a wonderful mother as well. She has always been there to support me and love me my entire life. Happy Mother's Day Mom!

I know that many of my readers are mothers so Happy Mother's Day to all you mom's out there. I especially want to wish a Happy Mother's Day to Arica's mom Judy as well. I hope you all have a special day with your families. Maybe you can even have one free of all the annoying things us husbands do. Don't expect it, but I for one promise to try my best.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Random Tuesday Thoughts: The WHO


Today I am back to the Random thoughts. My brain was especially mossy this past week. I was bouncing from one random thought to another all week. I did my best to remember these thoughts and record them here for the world to see. This is my favorite type of random post. It is just short snippets with no explanations, no rhyme, no reason, and often no point.
  • I saw a kid in his karate garb walking to class. He obviously didn't have any fear about walking alone through a tough neighborhood because he knows karate.

  • My dog Abbey is shedding so much that if dog hair had any nutritional value we could end world hunger for good.
  • I was dissapointed when I found out the WHO was the World Health Organization. The thought of Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey fighting a global epidemic, for some reason, made me feel much better.
  • I am not a fan of the person that planted hedges along the front of my house. While they may be great at repelling the Huns they require too much trimming.

  • Apparently I have digusting teeth. After my post outlining some of my dental problems Google strategically placed an ad for cleaning yellow teeth on my blog. Thanks all you computer nerds at Google. Very subtle.

  • Braden was crying the other day. I looked right at him and said "stop being a baby." I guess I expected him to look at me and reply "OK, I will be an adult now."

  • I saw a bird land in my back yard and pick up a tuft of Abbey's hair. Short of finding some monetary value in dogs hair I am glad that we can at least keep the neighborhood birds warm and comfy.

  • I recently saw something new at Wal-Mart. The greeter at the lawn and garden entrance was less than 90 years old. Wal-Mart I don't even know who you are anymore.

  • Honeysuckle grows wild behind my house. I am sick of trying to tame the vines so I have come up with a new plan. I'll let them take over my fence until it is completely covered. Then we will call our back yard The Friendly Confines.

Monday, May 4, 2009

I Was Awarded Award

I received my first blog award last week thanks to WeaselMomma. Without further ado here, proudly displayed, is the award followed by its description.

“The blogger who receives this award believes in the Tao of the zombie chicken - excellence, grace and persistence in all situations, even in the midst of a zombie apocalypse. These amazing bloggers regularly produce content so remarkable that their readers would brave a raving pack of zombie chickens just to be able to read their inspiring words. As a recipient of this world-renowned award, you now have the task of passing it on to at least 5 other worthy bloggers. Do not risk the wrath of the zombie chickens by choosing unwisely or not choosing at all.”

I have had many things said about me in my life both good and bad. Some of the favorites seem to be "You are a jerk", "You talk funny", "Get off my property", and "Hey! Give me back my lawn gnome!" Needless to say having someone think that my absence is somehow worse than being attacked by zombie chickens is quite flattering. Thanks WeaselMomma for such a great honor.

I know everyone here knows her, but if any newbies are hanging around out there be sure and check out the World of Weasels for some good reading.

Now on to the part of the program where I give back to the community. This is the first time I have ever received an award that requires me to turn around and give it right back to someone else. Not only do I have to give it to someone else but five someones. I have decided to give it to two of my first blog friends. I don't know if that is the right term but that is what I will call them. They are always funny and fun to read. These friends are the first two sites listed below. The other three sites are others that I enjoy reading daily. All three sites are great reads and certainly worthy of a zombie chicken.

Daddy Files
New Dad Blog
Steely Dad
Real Men Drive Mini Vans
Bee's Musings

Thank you for coming and drive home safely.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Camping with Dad

Sitting on two old pine stumps we watched the campfire. Our island home is small and steep. It feels like a tiny volcanic isle jutting up from the south pacific. The setting sun is on our shoulders as Braden and I prepare our first hobo dinners. His is with hamburger, potatoes, and carrots. Mine is the same with the addition of onions. The onions are mounded high because Braden didn't take his share. Off to our left bathed in the glow of a Coleman lantern Arica sits quietly in a camping chair reading a magazine.....

This is the picture in my mind of the first camping trip our family will take. Now that warmer weather has fully arrived I can't help but think of camping. Arica and I like to take my fishing boat packed with camping gear out onto the lake. We find a nice secluded island and make it our home. We didn't camp last year because Arica was pregnant. The thought of making my pregnant wife sleep on the ground in our tent didn't radiate genius. I think we made the right choice.

I've been camping since I was a Boy Scout. I was big into the scouting thing for several years. In all my wisdom I quit one merit badge and a project short of being an eagle scout. I thought my Dad was going to disown me, but it has not caused me any problems later in life. I was not denied entry to college or turned down for any job offer because I was not an eagle scout. Surprisingly even my Fraternity let me gain admittance. The issue of Eagle Scout has never come up.

I quit scouting because it was too much meetings and not enough outdoors. I loved camping. That was the draw for me. When our troop went out for a weekend campout it was the best. I loved cooking on the fire. We made hobo dinners almost every time. Hobo dinners are hamburger, potatoes, onions, and maybe carrots wrapped in foil and cooked in the coals. Once a few years back I put a twist on the hobo dinner when Arica and I went camping. I made it into a meatloaf. It was the best meatloaf I've ever cooked. Arica agrees. There is just something about cooking on the campfire.

Camping helps a young guy learn about all sorts of other things as well. I still use knots that I learned from camping all the time. You learn about conservation and care for the environment. You can learn survival type skills as well. Hopefully none of us will ever need them, but it's a comfort to know certain things when you are out in the woods. I am no Les Stroud or Bear Grylls, but I can hold my own.

Now as a father I can't wait until Braden can go camping with me. My Dad was one of the scout leaders so we shared all our camping adventures together. Scouting doesn't seem to be so big anymore. I don't hear much about it. I don't care if Braden is a Boy Scout or not. We don't need an organization or any other type of structure to enjoy camping together.

I often wonder what things Braden will like to do with me. You readers have heard me wonder about baseball, Star Wars, fishing, and Seinfeld. Watching things on TV is up in the air. Braden might not share my sense of humor. He might not share my tastes in movies, but I am almost certain that he will share my interests when action is involved. He will surely want to spend time with his Dad. That will lead him into the wonderful outdoors where we can share a love of animals, fishing, hunting, and camping that will be with us forever. Maybe the night on our first camping trip will go something like this.

....After the sun set we continued sitting by the fire. The stump had started to make my backside sore so I moved to the ground. A cloudless sky shined with the brilliance of a million stars freed from the oppression of city lights. The night was silent except for the crackling of pine logs in the fire and an occasional hoot from an owl across the lake. It was a perfect night until out of nowhere our dogs Otter and Abbey stormed into the campsite panting and growling. They proudly displayed a dead possum as their trophy. They slung water and mud on everything as we all dodged the disease ridden prize. It was at this time that I realized reality is never quite as perfect as our dreams, but spending time with family is always better than you can imagine.