Monday, November 30, 2009

That Baby Stole My 4-Wheeler

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

Braden got a 4-wheeler.

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

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

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

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

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Let's Eat Turkey in a Big Brown Shoe

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

25 Odds and Ends About Me

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Random Tuesday Thoughts

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


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

Monday, November 23, 2009

Please Go to Sleep

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, November 20, 2009

I Must Be Thankful for Something

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

Fatherhood Friday at Dad Blogs

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Birthday Party Madness

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Greatest Duo Ever

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, November 16, 2009

Braden's First Year Rewind

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

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



Eating Solid Foods and video

Easter Video and Easter Suit

Hold Me

First Father's Day

Crying to Sleep

First Oatmeal

Standing Up

Braden Likes...

Throwing Things on the Floor

Walking and video

Halloween and the Pumpkin Patch

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Dear Braden, Happy Birthday

Dear Braden,

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

So was I.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy First Birthday!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Sickness Never Comes at a Good Time

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, November 5, 2009

I Missed Halloween

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

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

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

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