Friday, July 31, 2009
You all know that I am not looking forward to this trip. Leaving Arica and Braden behind for three weeks is going to be the toughest thing in the world. On top of that I am going to get my first stab at driving on the wrong side of the road. I am sure the car will be a stick shift as well. So there I will be driving on the wrong side of the blacktop trying to shift with my useless left hand. If anyone reading this lives anywhere near Glasgow consider this your warning.
Hopefully I can manage well enough to avoid any Griswolds stuck on the roundabout type moments. If I am lucky I won't run over any of the cast from Monty Python either. All these difficulties will pay off handsomely in the end. There is one truly great thing about travel. It is a constant. No matter where you go or how long you stay. The best part about travel is always coming home.
Before coming home I will be able to see my family at least. Using Skype and the web cams will allow us to have video chats every day. Technology really is an amazing thing. I am so thankful for the Internet, computers, and all the other whizzing little thingamajigs that make it possible for a regular Joe like myself to own what is technically a video phone. I feel like George Jetson.
While I will endure pain that many of you would be perfectly happy to avoid, I will also enjoy one of life's truly great pleasures. There is no way I can describe the feeling if you have never experienced it yourself. To see Arica's smiling face after weeks away is a truly amazing moment. This time I will get to add Braden's little smiling face as well.
My return will go something like this:
The embracer regional jet comes in low and fast just skirting the edge of the muddy Arkansas River. We touch down with a slight bounce then make contact with the runway again. The flight attendant pipes in with her welcome to Little Rock spiel, but I am too excited to even listen. Soon my tired aching body will be bursting forth into the terminal to see my family. The plane eases to the gate as all the passengers begin to shift in their seats. The familiar ding of the seat belt sign going off is followed by the hurried bustle of passengers retrieving their luggage from the overhead bins. Nearly everyone stands with hunched backs in the small cabin as we await the signal to exit.
The door finally swings open and we file out like good little soldiers. I have a hard time walking in the single file line up the jetway. I want to elbow everyone out of the way and run. I resist and enter the terminal in an orderly manner. Those awaiting their planes always give you a smug look. I can't tell if they are angry with us for reaching our destination or if they are looking down on us because we live in Arkansas. Either way I don't care.
The walk through the airport is only a few hundred yards, but it feels like ten miles. I hurry past all the sparsely populated gates and a few restaurants. Then I make my way past the security checkpoint and head towards the escalator. This is the big moment. I step on the stairs for my ride down one level. As we start down I scan the crowd. Where are they?Frantically my eyes dart from side to side checking each bench. Just as I began to panic they come around the corner. There smiling and beautiful is Arica. Perched in her arms like a giant teddy bear is our son Braden. This is the greatest feeling in the world.
There is no place like home.
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
I wanted to stop in to make a quick note. Today is my wedding Anniversary. Arica and I have been married three years. As a man that was single and alone into his late 20's I can surely appreciate the comfort and love that come with spending my life with someone.
I don't just have someone. I have "the someone." There is no doubt that she was put here on this rock just for me. No other woman could put up with my difficult and frustrating personality. She doesn't just put up with me. She challenges me every day. I am so grateful for the amount of love, patience, and understanding that she has given me.
Our meeting was a bit different. You can read about it here. From those beginnings things moved fast. The ride has not always been smooth, but it has been the best ride of my life. I am so glad that this amazing ride will go on forever.
Arica, I can't wait to continue living out every breathtaking moment of this marriage with you. I love you and Happy Anniversary!
Saturday, July 25, 2009
Braden pulling up on things all the time is great. I am glad he likes standing up so much. I am glad he is trying to learn the skills needed for walking. What scares me is his cavalier attitude.
In the beginning he would just let go of his support whenever he was standing. That led to plenty of collisions between his head and the floor. Finally Braden learned to sit down gently. This type of trial and error learning is crazy. It must be how the X-games nuts learn. They try to flip their bike over and over until either they break their neck or learn the trick. Those are really the only two options.
Now that Braden can go from standing to sitting easily he is more into trying to walk along the furniture while holding on. He leans more than he walks, but he is able to move a little bit. The remote and our cell phones laying on the ottoman is his greatest motivation. The crazy thing is when he tries to go from the ottoman to the chair. He lets go and leans. It is the equivalent of jumping from one roof top to another. Any normal person would be scared to death to make this leap. Braden does it as if there are no consequences.
This is how all babies learn to walk. The method is crazy if you really think about it. Trial and error is always a great way to learn, but learning anything by taking repeated blows to the head is a bit wacky. Such is the life of a baby. If they ever want to learn to walk then they must risk life and limb.
I can't wait until Braden Kenievel's next stunt.
Friday, July 24, 2009
What will I do with this golden opportunity. Will I go travelling? No. I am leaving the country next weekend so home is where I want to be. Frankly, I have no plans other than spending time with my family. I want to soak up every minute that I can with them.
This week is as much a vacation for Arica as it is for me. She will have help with Braden every day this week. I will be able to give her some much needed rest. I hope I am a good assistant.
Being on vacation leads me to think about the future vacations I will take with our little family. We are already planning on going to the beach next year. If you are from Arkansas the beach means the gulf coast a.k.a. the redneck riviera. That seems to be the thing everyone around here does with their small children. I love the beach so I plan on keeping the tradition. Jimmy Buffet is one of my heroes. I have always dreamed of living the beach bum life much like the leader of the parrot heads. I could wear shorts and flip flops every day. I could drink fruity drinks at the tiki bars. Life would be relaxing. Since that is very unlikely a beach vacation seems like the next best thing.
Of course at some point we have to take Braden to Disney World. I need to start saving now to make that dream come true. Maybe I can forgo a few fishing lures this year to get the savings ball rolling. I went to Disney World when I was about seven years old. I don't have a lot of memories of the trip. I want to wait until Braden is at least that old before going. I might even wait until he is a little older to make sure he remembers some of the good times at the happiest place on earth.
When I was a kid we didn't take many vacations. I played baseball every year and it always lasted nearly the entire summer. Even with the busy schedule my Dad and I always tried to find a weekend to go to St. Louis and watch the Cardinals. I certainly plan on keeping this mini vacation tradition. I hope to take Braden and Arica to a Cardinals game next summer. While in St. Louis we will visit the zoo as well. They have a great zoo, and I look forward to seeing Braden's reaction to all the animals.
Those are a few of my vacation ideas. I don't plan on packing the family truckster every year to trek across the country. Some years we will take shorter trips or fly to maintain our sanity. I do plan on doing my best to vacation somewhere every year. Hopefully our family will be able to forge some wonderful memories that will last us a lifetime. Even the Griswold-esque disasters could give us fun stories to tell forever. I am excited already, but for now we will start with a vacation at home. After all, nothing can be better than spending a week of quality time with my two favorite people.
Monday, July 20, 2009
- What is the correct procedure for putting utensils in the dish washer? Do the business ends go up or down?
- American Express rejected one of my business purchases this week. They did so after calling to get my approval of the purchase twice and receiving my signature to OK the sales order. Afterward I thought maybe I should send them the card back since obviously I am not smart enough to decide what I can and can't buy.
- Braden thinks he can stand up on his own. He pulls up on different things and once standing lets go. Then predictably he falls on his butt or his head.
- Next time your husband or wife asks you to go to the store and get some milk look at them seriously and say, "Cow's Milk?"
- A lot of people seemed disgusted that I wanted to try haggis. I don't understand why anyone wouldn't want to eat this delicacy. You know haggis is ground up sheep innards, right?
- Having a crawling baby is a good way to gauge the dirtiness of your floors.
- Where do you think I can get some of those money bags with the dollar signs on the side of them?
- We have had at least some rain each day for the last three days. My grass has turned from brown to green. Now I have to mow again.
- I built a pillow fort last night and Braden spent most of the night trying to climb it. We had lots of fun. He is a miniature Sir Edmund Hilary.
- I am taking vacation for a week before I go to Scotland. Tomorrow is my last day of work for a while. Yahoo!
Friday, July 17, 2009
I wrote long ago about the first time Braden fell asleep on his own. It turns out that was just an anomaly. It was certainly not the start of something great. We have still been rocking him to sleep every night. This is harder than it seems with him being a 22 lb monster child. He has already outgrown his mother's lap. I am constantly begging him to learn to walk in order to save our backs.
Last week Braden started a bad habit. We would work hard to get him to sleep every night. Sometimes it took longer than others. A few nights he never slept in his bed. On the nights that he did sleep it was not through the night. He woke up at 3:30 about four nights in a row. After this he refused to go back to sleep in his crib. Either Arica or myself would end up holding him the rest of the night. Since we are both adamant about keeping him out of our bed we would sleep the rest of the night on some piece of furniture in the living room.
In case you haven't tried it, this is no way to live your life. Working and parenting are hard enough with adequate sleep. Sleeping on the couch with a 22 lb weight on your chest is not relaxing. Cuddling with a baby is fun. Waking up on your couch covered in sweat while struggling to breathe is not fun. Seeing your son's smiling face in the crib each morning is fun. Seeing a red, teary eyed, screaming child in the crib at 3:30 am is not fun. Staying up past your bed time to sneak in the Cardinals game is fun. Staying up all night serenaded by crying is not fun. I think you get the point.
Arica and I knew what we had to do in order to stop this madness. We had to let Braden cry himself to sleep. We have done that a few times when we were at our wits end, but it is never any fun. Hearing your child scream is bad enough based solely on how bad you feel for them. It is extra difficult to sign off on the plan when you add the fact that it takes away from your own sleeping time. Wanting to avoid these issues we kept putting off our date with a night of crying.
Finally on Monday Arica and I decided that enough was enough. We were not getting up at 3:30 in the morning any more. Braden would have to cry himself to sleep. That night we put him to bed and he slept for about an hour. Then he woke up screaming. We left him in the crib despite all our parenting instincts to rescue him. After half an hour he was asleep. He slept all night. Since then every night has been silent. I have not been awakened by screaming one time. The last two nights we even put him to bed awake. It took less than five minutes for him to go to sleep on his own both nights.
I know that there are no guarantees that this will last, but it feels like a natural progression. It seems like something that might stick. Next we can start getting him to bed earlier. Maybe then we can dream of reclaiming some time for ourselves. Arica and I both love holding our son more than anything, but neither of us will cry about the absence of the nightly sleep deprived wrestling matches with our baby boy.
Thursday, July 16, 2009
- Drink a beer in a local pub. You could call this a dream of mine.
- Eat Haggis.
- Get a picture of that damn Loch Ness Monster.
- See a castle.
- Laugh at a guy wearing a kilt.
- Find the perfect place and time to recite the line, "They may take our lives, but they'll never take our freedom!!!!"
- Find out why it is called Scotch tape rather than Scottish tape.
- Listen in on some live bagpipe music.
- Use the term lassie properly in a sentence not referring to a television collie.
- Talk up a local about his feelings on William Wallace.
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Grab your favorite adult beverage and salty snack. Place your rear end in a comfy chair. It's time again for Random Tuesday Thoughts.
- I got the business card and personal cell phone number of a retired 4-star general last week. Don't mess with me.
- While he was at the office I noticed I said "sir" a lot. As far as I know I did not answer any questions with "sir, yes sir!"
- I knew a guy in college that could recite the license plate of everyone he knew. It was a bit disturbing. He was like the license plate rain man.
- Speaking of license plates, does anyone else notice every plate with the same letter combos as their own? Arica's last car had LSD for the letters. As an extremely mature adult I found that very funny. Now I am spotting LSD plates all over the state.
- At the lake this weekend Arica and I found the perfect cove for relaxing. That was until we were joined by the idiot triplets riding laps around us on their Sea Doo's. I gave serious consideration to swimming out there and strangling them. Instead I did my best Rodney Dangerfield from Caddyshack. "What is this? Hell's Angels?"
- The coffee pot at work broke Monday. As far as I can tell the order of importance in the office is electricity then coffee pot. The only reason electricity is number one is because the coffee pot won't work without it.
- I got a new laptop at work yesterday. After about six years it is the equivalent of upgrading from a Volkswagon Rabbit to a Ferrari.
- The good thing about computer upgrades is you can get a new Ferrari for the same price you paid for the Rabbit.
- The bad thing is the Ferrari unceremoniously morphs into a Chevy Nova in a few short years.
- The upgrade is causing me plenty of headaches. My old computer is so crappy that it crashes every time I try to transfer all my files. I guess I am going to transfer them via the USB flash drive. I have to go now and start the transfer because it will take me all day.
Monday, July 13, 2009
I am willing to visit a lot of crazy places to get first hand knowledge of things. I am not willing to get tossed into the slammer to see if all those rumors are true. I will leave it up to TV to fill in the blanks.
Prison movies have always been out there. Probably my favorite movie of all time is "The Shawshank Redemption." While I am here lets get some wisdom from Andy Dufresne. He says, "Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies."
I also like "Cool Hand Luke" and "Escaping Alcatraz." How can you go wrong with Paul Newman and Clint Eastwood. There are tons of other prison movies and TV shows like "OZ" and "Prison Break." All these successful efforts must mean people really want a glimpse of life in prison.
Before I lose everyone I should tell you what got me off on this crazy topic. This picture led me down the path to a blog post about prison.
Maybe a baby is the best reference we have outside of hardened criminals to what life in prison must be like. As you can see Braden has spent some time behind bars. Both babies and prisoners eat slop. Sure baby slop is in a jar with a cute little baby on the label, but that doesn't fool me. Liquefied chicken and beef is probably in the same culinary category as jail house grub. Both babies and prisoners have designated fenced in places to play. Prisoners have the yard. Babies have the play yard. Babies don't face the danger of being shanked, but that's only because they've been sentenced to solitary confinement.
While being a baby might be humorously compared to prison life there is one big difference. As a baby the warden loves you more than anything in the world, and you can manipulate them with some whimpers and big sad eyes. Try that at the big house and see what you get.
Friday, July 10, 2009
Knowing that kids are always watching is all the more reason for us as parents to watch our every move. Our children will imitate everything we do whether good or bad. I have a couple simple example from my own life of ways I imitated my Dad.
I drink my coffee with cream and sugar. Why? That is how my Dad drinks his.
I smoked for about 7 years. I am glad to say that I quit about 6 years ago. It is one of my proudest achievements. When I did smoke I insisted on smoking soft packs rather than the hard packs that all my friends smoked. At the time it was because I was used to them, but why did I start smoking those soft packs? My Dad's smokes were always in a soft pack.
These are just two small examples. Every kid imitates their parents in millions of ways. Everything from making the choice between mustard and mayonnaise to college and career choices. You never know which of your habits they will follow so it is best to watch everything you do.
To use another cliche, "Actions speak louder than words." This is not only true of parenting. At work you don't get paid by the sales you plan to make. You get paid by the ones you actually make. Football players don't get credit for the touchdowns they intend to score. They only get credit once they actually cross the goal line. This is the way the world works. As parents we are in the same boat. We are judged by our actions not our well meaning intentions.
I got off on the do as I say terminology because I myself have not been doing what I say. On this site I am always writing about my philosophies of raising a child. I write about how I love being a father, and I never miss anything from my life before child. I suppose what I am saying is that what I write here is all in theory and sometimes I fall miserably short.
I have struggled with the reality of being husband, father, and engineer in the past few weeks. I have not always been there 100% for my family when I get home from work. My body is there, but my mind is elsewhere, and my actions have shown it.
I guess this is an online confession that I have not lived up to the words on this blog. Most of you only know the theoretical me, which of course is the best I can possibly be. In the real world I find myself floating somewhere below that high standard. Arica and Braden don't get the theoretical me. They get the real guy with all his flaws and shortcomings.
Sorry Arica and Braden. I promise that I will improve that reality until it at least brushes up against the things I preach here.
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
- We spent July 4th at the lake with friends. It was a great time even though it was cloudy all day. It rained a little too. There was no lightning so it was still safe. Why does everyone run for cover when it rains at the lake? Are they afraid of getting wet?
- People's fascination with fireworks is amazing. We watched them twice this weekend. I enjoyed them, but it never ceases to amaze me how many people come out to see the show. The one show in town has thousands of people inside the our horse racing stadium. Outside every parking lot and street is lined with cars. This just in, Americans like fireworks.
- While we were watching fireworks we noticed a dog tied to the bumper of the car in front of us. Arica and I watched that dog like a couple hawks. We didn't want to have a replay of what Clark W. Griswold did to Dinky.
- After the fireworks show a local cop came into the parking lot we were in and announced over his loud speaker that the show was over and everyone needed to go home. I guess he was worried about some family related mini van violence. Or maybe he was worried about that 6 year old street gang that has been tearing up the town.
- Braden has been testing the structural integrity of our home with his head. I hope he gets over that habit soon.
- Cold pizza on the lake is one of life's truly great pleasures.
- Hearing a familiar song on a movie or TV show can change how you listen to that song forever. The king of this phenomenon is definitely "Don't Fear the Reaper" by Blue Oyster Cult. Every time I hear that song I picture a shaggy, bearded Will Ferrell rocking the cow bell with his gut hanging out of a skin tight shirt. It cracks me up every time.
- We have a retired 4-star general coming to our office today for a business meeting. I am a bit nervous. I hope he doesn't expect any push ups.
- You haven't seen a look of disdain until you show up at a metal fabrication shop in front of all the hourly workers on a daily basis wearing shorts and flip flops.
- Now a random Braden picture.
Monday, July 6, 2009
Braden has been battling his own teeth demons. According to our pediatrician he has been teething now for months. Every day he allegedly teethes and teethes. All this hard work and no results. When the teething action ramps up Braden goes through bouts of grumpiness. He is not his normal happy self even though there are no teeth to be found.
Finally last week we had a tooth show itself. There is now a tiny white protuberance in Braden's lower gum. You can barely see it, but it is there. A quick feel with a finger can prove that our eyes are not deceiving us. After months of work Braden finally has his first tooth.
Along with the tooth has come another brief period of less than a joyous mood. Over the weekend Braden did not sleep well. Two straight nights he cried and cried rather than sleeping like normal. Every time I went into his room one of those nights he was standing up holding the rail on his crib and crying. He was giving me a look as if to say, "I'll jump if you don't get me out of this wooden prison."
Last night things returned to normal, at least for a while. The little man slept through the night. Arica and I are both very excited for the first tooth. That is one step closer to meat and taters for our little boy. Until he has that full mouth of precision eating instruments we will keep the pain killers handy, for us and him.
Friday, July 3, 2009
It's Fatherhood Friday again so stop by Dad Blogs and check out all the great posts before you head off for the holiday weekend. Happy Independence Day to everyone!
I have never been a music crazy kind of guy. I don't even own an iPod. I like to listen to music in the car. I love hearing some good tunes when I'm having a beer with my buddies. Music certainly is a part of my life even if I have never been a music freak.
Growing up I listened to country music with my Dad on the way to the farm. I still love the old country crooners like Merle, Waylon, Willie, and Johnny Cash. Dad also listened to the oldies station which was not my favorite. Some day Braden and I will have to share the airwaves. I wonder what we will listen to while going places in the car. Of course with satellite radio and TVs in many vehicles the experience won't be the same. I will probably be forced to adapt to Disney tunes.
Until that day comes my music enjoyment will involve listening to classic rock on the FM radio in my truck. I don't have satellite radio so I am still doing the FM thing. Recently I was thinking about the definitions of classic rock and oldies. When do my favorite classic rock tunes become oldies? Is there some sort of constitution on music classification? Is there an instruction manual? Do songs just become oldies after a set amount of years like cars becoming antiques?
When Braden gets older will the things I like to listen to be on the oldies station? One day will I turn to easy listening and find Jimmy Page rocking the guitar solo in Heartbreaker? Will Eddie Vedder become an oldie in a few decades? Maybe one day Braden will beg me to change the station from the Doors or Guns n' Roses after referring to it as oldies garbage.
I once went digging through my Dad's records as a teenager. I found Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix albums among others. This was probably the first time I ever realized that my parents might have been cool once. I still listen to those groups on classic rock stations today. I don't think they will ever become oldies. It seems like "pop" music goes the way of oldies channels. As ACDC once sang, "Rock and Roll will never die." I hope they are right. I hope some day Braden will enjoy the classics like Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix just like my dad and myself.
I am aware that through his teenage years he will like whatever is popular at the time. He might even like pop music or rap. I haven't admitted this in a while, but I used to love rap music when I was in high school. So I certainly won't judge. Whatever music he likes is fine with me.
I do think it would be cool, however, if one day he found an old Pearl Jam CD of mine and decided to listen. Then upon hearing the band he would me amazed. He would come to me saying, "Dad, who is this Pearl Jam? They are awesome! Do you have any of their other CD's?" He might even come to the same realization I did years ago that his Dad could have possibly been cool once. That could lead to us talking about all my old favorites.
Good music is timeless. Classics never die, and being able to share them with Braden would be just another great connection between father and son. And to borrow from Bruce Springsteen, it would give me another chance to remember the "Glory Days."