Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Random Tuesday Thoughts: Braden

Today for Random Tuesday I thought I might just fill in a few little things about Braden. He has developed so many new habits that I haven't been able to keep up in proper blog form so today I will lay them out there randomly.


  • While I have been away Arica has somehow coached the little man into going to bed between 8:30 and 9 pm. He sleeps through the night too. This is a huge step in mine and Arica's life. It frees up more time for us than the DVR.
  • Braden has now walked on many occasions. He is very good at it, but for some reason he still prefers to crawl. I guess crawling is still easier and faster.
  • Braden loves all food. The kid eats everything you put in front of him. He loves green beans, carrots, peas, applesauce, yogurt, bananas, spaghettios, cheerios, mac and cheese, bread, pancakes, and everything else he can get in his mouth. He is just like his old man.
  • Braden has started clapping a lot lately. It is so funny to watch a baby clap and to see the joy on their face as they try out this new skill.
  • Lately Braden has found a new game. There is a corner in the living room that we don't let him into. It has our modem and some other wires. He has started crawling in there and climbing the mountain of blankets stacked by the couch. As I go to get him he crawls faster and laughs the whole way. It is a game to him. A game that is going to necessitate the moving of our furniture.
  • Yesterday we took Braden to the park. He got to swing for the first time. I think he liked it based on the sly grin he had the whole time.
  • Random Braden picture:

Friday, September 25, 2009

Throwing Things on the Floor

There is a new activity taking place in our home on an almost constant basis. This activity started about the time Braden became mobile. When he started pulling up on things the activity heightened. As time goes by it keeps us busier and busier.

The new chore is picking up after the Tasmanian devil that is Braden. He can now reach the dining room table so the only surfaces out of his reach are the very high counter tops. Apparently every baby is interested in getting their paws on everything that doesn't belong to them. Braden is no different. The part that makes cleanup constant is the fact that he likes to throw everything on the floor.

Braden loves to go in the kitchen and get into the drawer with the potholders and throw them on the floor.

His favorite thing is probably getting into his dresser and tossing the bibs all over the floor. Sometimes he even carries them around the house with him.

He gets on the end table in the living room and throws coasters, sunglasses, and decorations on the floor.

He throws whatever happens to be on the coffee table on any particular day on the floor.

Yesterday he removed all 26 magnetic alphabet letters on the refrigerator and threw them on the floor.

Of course he strings toys out from his toy box in the living room all over the house.

He also takes the toys from his bedroom into the hallway or even to other rooms.

He goes in our bedroom and removes the door stoppers from the wall and carries them off.

He takes things out of his diaper bag and throws them on the floor.

Basically Braden feels that if everything were in the floor our world would be a better place.

I have served on roadside cleanup crews a few times in my life. I have done it both as charity and as punishment. While picking up after Braden is not as bad as sharing a day with the inmates, it certainly has some of the same feel as cleaning the highway.

Fatherhood Friday at Dad Blogs

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Family vs. Fraternity: Morning Chores

I was watching an episode of Seinfeld recently in which Jerry had to dog sit for a guy he meets on an airplane. The guy got sick and was taken to the hospital leaving Jerry with the dog. A conversation between Jerry and Elaine about picking up dog poo reminded me of some dog watching I had to do in college.

I shared a two room suite with three other guys. One of these guys was my big brother J. Murray. He stayed at his girlfriend's house nearly every night while his Boston Terrier Lynx stayed behind. Since he was never around to watch his own dog the chores fell to us. My little brother Shakey was a pledge and naturally we made him take care of the dog. Remembering his morning ritual has spawned a new, possibly recurring feature here at Life of a New Dad called Family vs. Fraternity. Today we examine the morning chores.

Fraternity: About 7:30 am every day Lynx starts barking at the door. After it gets loud enough to arouse us from our alcohol induced slumber B.A. and I yell at Shakey. Take Lynx outside! Shakey dressed in only his boxers and Doc Martens takes him outside. Shaky weighs about 135 and is white as snow. Imagine everyone going to class in the morning as he stands outside the fraternity house in the aforementioned dress smoking a cigarette and letting the dog relieve itself. Ahhhhh College.

Family: I set my alarm clock every night although I actually hear it go off about once a month. Every day Braden rouses both Arica and I from our slumber. Someone has to get up anywhere from 6 to 7 (we are late sleepers) and feed the poor boy. First we change his diaper. After the bottle we try to get him back to sleep. My how things change.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Walk Like a Man

I got a birthday present that I didn’t expect on Sunday. It was a type of bittersweet present. It was bitter because I wasn’t there to see it. Still it was a sweet milestone achieved. On my birthday in the year of our Lord two thousand and nine Braden took his first steps.

According to Arica he took four or five steps. They had just got home and were bringing some bags into the house. All of a sudden Braden just took off walking for them. I think the only reason he stopped was that Mommy and Grandma’s screaming scared him half to death. If I was there I would be screaming too. Way to go little buddy.

Since then I have been thinking about how a baby’s mind comes to the decision it is time to try walking. This is a huge step for them. It must me petrifying. So what can we as adults compare to this in our lives? What have we ever done that took the same nerve that it would take to try walking for the first time?

The only thing I could think of from my life was the first time I tried to water ski. I was thinking this is great. I am great. Soon I will be super cool. All of a sudden reality strikes. I think wait a minute. I am holding on to this rope. The other end is tied to a super fast ski boat. I have these two wooden planks under my feet. What part of this is a good idea?

In TV land I have another comparison. TV land often times intersects with reality in my head. I find myself telling stories sometimes about things that happened in TV shows like I was there. That is a story for another time. Actually that is a story for my therapist. Back to how Braden walking relates to TV land. I think the decision he made to try, and the courage he must have mustered up inside his little baby gut compares to Frodo’s quest to destroy the ring. Little hairy footed Frodo had to travel to Mordor and cast the ring into the fires of Mount Doom. That even sounds intimidating. Along the way all sorts of evil things were after him. Yet he decided to do it for the good of Middle Earth. Frodo took on the perils for the better good. (Thank you for tolerating my inner Tolkien dork.)

I would think that in a babies mind walking probably seems about as perilous as Mount Doom, Sauron, and the Uruk-hai. Letting go for the first time and trying to balance yourself while moving forward is no small feat. However, since the beginning of time babies have always made that scary choice. So why do they do it? It must be the quest for freedom that drives them to take such chances.

They crawl. They walk. They drive. They go to college and so on.

Congrats Braden on reaching the second step on your journey to freedom.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Random Tuesday Thoughts: Pizza

I haven't done a Random Tuesday Thoughts post in a while, and shame on me. I love the random format. The problem has been that my life has been so randomly scattered from here to yonder that I haven't been able to capture any of my thoughts. Here is my effort to regain form.


  • I think the greatest tribute a man could ever receive is having a type of pizza named after him worldwide.
  • I haven't smoked in about 7 years, but I did once smoke. I always thought menthols tasted like smoking a Christmas tree.
  • I saw a couple at Wal-Mart that had a 30 pack of beer and a basketball in their shopping cart and nothing else. I think it is obvious they were going to get drunk and work on their free throw shooting.
  • I don't think there is any better way on earth to stick it to the man than spending company money on beer.
  • Arica and I went to a karaoke night recently. All you hear at those things is wannabe singing stars. Haven't these people heard of American Idol? Go see Simon and give karaoke night back to the drunks.
  • Arica and I saw a show in Branson recently that featured the Blues Brothers. Seeing a pretend John Belushi talk about how his good friend Ray Charles had passed away was just odd.
  • Arica and I were at a drive thru where the person in front of us was taking forever. She said people ordering that much should have to go inside. I agreed and added that I wouldn't expect a guy with a bike attached to his car to be too lazy to go in to order.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

A Less Than Happy Birthday

Today is my 32nd birthday. It is without question one of my worst two birthdays ever and probably the worst. The top two bad birthdays on my list were both spent alone in another country. This one is harder from that perspective because I have a wife and child. This is my first birthday as a father, and I won't get to spend it with Braden. Since I have been married Arica has been more excited about my birthdays than me. I will miss her a lot on this birthday as well.

The other bad birthday in case you were wondering was September 13, 2001. Yes I had a birthday 2 days after the darkest day in American history. On top of all the bad feelings permeating my world those days, I was also by myself in Bangkok, Thailand. Far from home was not where anyone wanted to be at that time. It was a time to be close to friends and loved ones. That birthday was terrible too, but at least I wasn't missing out on time with my wife and son. I hadn't met Arica yet, and before Arica there was certainly no Braden.

I found a picture in my archives that pretty much sums up my feelings on the matter. Too bad that picture was taken in the Virgin Islands, and I am currently in Scotland. On the plus side the sun shines in Scotland an unbelievable 27 days a year.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Braden Likes...

Daddy likes Pearl Jam
Mommy likes The Black Crowes
Braden likes any music as long as it is noise

Mommy likes baseball
Daddy likes baseball, basketball, and football
Braden likes any ball he can roll on the floor or throw around the room

Daddy likes steak medium rare
Mommy likes steak medium
Braden would love to have some steak or any other kind of meat. He is sick of mushy food.

Mommy likes Diet Pepsi
Daddy likes Mt. Dew
Braden likes Enfamil

Daddy likes flip flops
Mommy likes all shoes
Braden doesn't like any shoes. His feet are too wide.

Mommy likes shopping
Daddy likes fishing
Braden likes exploring everything in the house. He also like banging on things to make noise.

Daddy likes t-shirts
Mommy likes dresses
Braden hates putting on any clothes

Mommy likes Goodfellas
Daddy likes The Godfather
Braden prefers cartoons over gangster movies, but he really can't sit still long enough for TV

Daddy likes showers
Mommy likes showers and baths
Braden LOVES baths

Mommy likes dogs
Daddy likes dogs
Braden likes dogs from a distance

Daddy loves Braden
Mommy loves Braden
Braden loves us too

Thursday, September 10, 2009

People Watching in Amsterdam

I found out on Friday that I had to leave again for Scotland on Tuesday. Giving me only four days notice was pretty crappy on my boss’s part. Unfortunately as the only non family member of this family owned business this is my lot in life. I had no choice but to go.

So here I am typing this post from the Amsterdam international Airport. The official name of this place s is Schi-something, but I can’t remember. Give me a break on that one. I am working on about two hours sleep.

As I am sitting here drinking an espresso and watching the unbelievably diverse mass of humanity pass me by, I am reminded of a Cheers episode. Yes I am reminded of TV at all times, even in Amsterdam, the Netherlands...er…Holland…er…the Dutch. These people need to make up their mind.

In this particular episode Woody leaves the bar for a week’s vacation. When he returns everyone in the bar asks him about his exotic destination. Woody replies that he didn’t go. He missed his flight. Of course everyone then asked where he had been for the past week. Woody spent the week at the airport and had the greatest vacation of his life. He met people from all around the world. It was amazing.

Of course nobody I have ever met is quite as simple as Woody. I don’t think anyone would actually do what Woody did in this instance anymore than they would repeat any of his other shenanigans. There is, however, some truth to Woody’s view of the airport. There is really no other place that you can see people from so many walks of life all in one place.

While Woody’s adventure took place at Boston Logan I am going to advise a few other places that might be better for people watching. I think a two of the best might be Paris Charles de Gaulle and where I am sitting right now. I am not sure I have ever seen such diversity as I am seeing here in Holland. This airport in Amsterdam is the gateway to Europe, Asia, and Africa. There are people from all corners of the globe.

I am not typically a people watcher, but when you have two hours to kill without a book to read you resort to other tactics. If you add in the sleep deprivation this becomes quite a fun game. You can imagine all sorts of adventures for your fellow travelers when your mind isn’t functioning properly.

I guess my point is that if you are ever really bored and broke, go down to your local airport and meet some interesting people. Otherwise try not to ever get stuck in a sleep deprived layover in some foreign land. If you do then you might post something as insane as this.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Proud of Our Southern Heritage

Being in Europe is always interesting for anyone who enjoys history. My recent trip to Scotland was no different. You can find buildings and castles that have been around longer than the United States at every corner. It is fascinating to learn about the history that these people share as countries or ethnicities. In Scotland I visited Stirling Castle shown below. The Scots have been fighting the English on this very site for centuries.

The Scottish people are proud of their heritage. They fought very hard to keep their way of life in tact against constant onslaught. After hearing about much of their history and seeing the pride in my new Scottish friends eyes, I began to think about my heritage. I, like many Americans, am a blend of many different backgrounds. Much of our family history has been lost along the way. I don't really know my roots other than the southern ones.

I found many similarities among the Scottish people and us folks from the Southern United States. The English look down on the Scottish because of the way they talk. They are considered less educated because of their accents. It may surprise many of my readers from up north, but we Arkansans along with many other southerners experience the same thing. Our accents while sometimes considered entertaining are almost always considered a sign of low intelligence. When Arica moved to Missouri in high school she was constantly ridiculed for the way she talked. She eventually changed her dialect because of the constant pestering. She is of course proud of her Southern heritage, but what teenager wants to be ridiculed every day. That is what it can be like for Arkansans sometimes. For all those that look down upon us I want to let you know that we don't all marry our cousins, and some of us even have shoes.

There are plenty of Arkansas that speak a neutral dialect that could blend in easily in most regions of our country. I am not one of those people. I have a fairly thick southern drawl. I like it that way. I am proud of my roots. I have lived every day of my life in Arkansas, and I hope to always stay. I am proud that I fit most of the country stereotypes like owning guns and driving a four wheel drive. I hope Braden will always be proud of his home state and rural upbringing as well.

Braden will be growing up in a city rather than the country. Of course in Arkansas the country is never far away. I want him to learn about life in Arkansas. I want him to be a country boy like his grandpas and like me. I hope to teach him that you should always be proud of where you came from because that is part of who you are. While my heritage isn't as rich and lustrous as the Highlanders, it is still something to preserve. For that reason I will be handing down all my favorite country sayings to Braden. I will also be teaching him to hunt, fish, and clean his kills.

Of course I can't leave out what is probably the most important thing about being an Arkansan. As soon as Braden can talk I will start teaching him how to call the Hogs. Wooooooo Pig Sooie!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Stand Up Baby

Braden is so active that it only stands to reason that he will start walking as soon as possible. He walks around all the furniture while holding on. He walks along doors or walls or anything that he can use to keep himself upright.

Recently Arica and I have been holding his hands while he walks around the living room. He does this really well. At least he does well until he decides he would rather sit down. Sometimes we only hold on to one of his hands. He can walk that way too although it is a little tougher for him. He also lunges from the furniture to either Arica or me. He can take one or two steps during this move as well.

Today at lunch I was sitting on the floor with Braden. He crawled over to me and put his hands on my legs. He was propped up there looking at me. Then all of a sudden he just stood up. He was standing on his own two feet without holding on for several seconds. Arica and I looked at each other in disbelief as if Braden had just sprouted wings.

So now we know that he can stand if he wants too. Walking is the next step. Pun intended.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Bowling with Dad

"If horse racing is the sport of kings then surely bowling is....a very good sport also."
- Homer Simpson

I have to agree with Homer on this one. Bowling is a very good sport. It is unfortunate that it has achieved a reputation as the sport for fat beer swilling losers. I am thankful in some ways for the marketing genius that came up with glow bowling or disco bowling or whatever they call it in your town. You know how they turn the lights out, turn the black lights on, and pump up the music. Apparently these actions can turn a musty old bowling alley into teenage heaven. While this is terribly annoying if you are actually in the bowling alley, it has surely helped save the sport. Now at least it will be around long enough for me to take Braden out to the lanes.

Bowling has always been a part of my life. When I was a small child my Dad was a bowling machine. I remember sometimes going to the bowling lanes on league nights with him and my mom. The thing I remember most is getting Milky Way candy bars from the vending machine. I also remember one summer trip to St. Louis when my Dad and I spent the entire day at a bowling alley. We were killing time until the Cardinals game later that night, but I remember many details of the day bowling rather than the game. I can even tell you that I bowled a 156 one game and the name of the place was DuBowl Lanes. I think it is safe to say that I have always liked bowling.

Believe it or not bowling has played an even a bigger role than that in my life. After dinner on our very first date Arica and I went bowling. Obviously it went well. It was probably the view she had of me shuffling down the lane and hurling that big heavy ball that sealed the deal. After that we went on to marriage and a child. I wouldn't even be writing this blog about being a new dad without bowling.

Of course I can't wait to teach Braden how to roll a strike. I am sure at first he will use the bumpers, but just until he gets the hang of it. With such bowling genes in his blood he definitely won't need them for long.

Bowling is one of those beer drinking manly sports that I will always love. The list of bowlers who have inspired me is quite impressive. I hope to add mine and Braden's names to this list as well soon. It will be my Mt. Rushmore of Bowling...with an extra head.

My Dad, Al Bundy, Homer Simpson, Me, and Braden.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Depending on Dad

Monday night I gave Braden a bath. Bath time is always fun because it is one of his favorite times. I sat happily on the cold tile floor watching him play. It was one of those occasions when you are completely filled with amazement as you cherish time with your child. Braden's joyous smile lit up my world like a thousand suns at that very moment.

Then terror struck me like a punch to the gut. This beautiful little boy with the entire world in front of him is depending on me. One day he will grow up to be a functioning member of society. How well he is adjusted depends on his parents. Whether he is a good person, a nice person, a successful person, or the complete opposite of all those things is up to us.

I am barely capable of functioning on my own at the age of 31. Just last week I went to the airport to pick up my truck and forgot to bring the keys. Yes you read that correctly. I drove one hour, turned in my rental car, picked up my luggage, and went to get my truck without the keys to the vehicle I was planning to drive home. Then Arica and I had to wait another hour for someone to pick us up. Now does that sound like someone that has any business raising a child.

It's times like these that I am thankful for Arica.