Wednesday, December 30, 2009

2009: Braden's Year in Review

We started out this year with something that looked like this.

Then we took him for a stroll.

We taught him to cheer for the Cardinals.

We taught him to use the computer.

There were some set backs this year. Braden went to jail for theft of property.

When he got out we introduced him to our pet giraffes.

After jail and giraffes we decided it was time for his yearly bath.

Of course we taught him to call the Hogs.

 We let him pick out some pumpkins to make a pie.

He did such a good job with the pumpkins we let him take a train ride.

After the ride it was back to work begging for change as a street monkey.

After work we figured rabbit stew would go pretty good with our pie so Braden picked out a tasty bunny.

Sure 2009 wasn't all work for the little man. He had a few drinks.

He went fishing a time or two.

He even took some wagon rides.

All this kept Braden so busy this year that he had neglected a hair cut for 12 months. He finally got one.

Now it is cold.

We have opened Christmas presents.

So it must be time for a New Year even though Braden is sad to see this one end.

But it is time to get some rest because 2010 will be even busier.

By the way, we ended up 2009 with this.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Christmas Is Gone Until 2010

I am sure there are a lot of people out there on blog reading and/or writing hiatus until the new year. So I don't want to get into any good stuff that will be ignored by the masses. That sounds like a good excuse for not having anything to say doesn't it?

Christmas is gone faster than I could blink an eye. We spent a lot of time shopping, wrapping, cooking, and otherwise preparing and now it is gone like a fart in the wind.

Braden is still not really old enough to understand the presents concept.  He  usually waits for them to be opened and then plays with the toys. He definitely likes the toys.

Now we move on to the chore of finding somewhere to put all of his new stuff. Arica and I are definitely going to have a toy purging party in the new year.  The rattles and other such newborn trinkets have to find their way into a storage bin. Then that storage bin will have to find a way out of our house.

The truth is we might need to have a storage bin purging party.  The house is just becoming a little too small for all of our stuff.  Anyway we had a great Christmas spending time together as a family. It was fun to see Braden enjoy all his new toys. Of course Arica likes to dress him up in his new clothes too. With his Christmas haul  Braden will continue to be a sharp dressed man.

With that I will leave you with a shot of Braden covered in the remnants of a very good Christmas.  I hope all of  you had a great Christmas as well.

Monday, December 28, 2009

One Year and 200 Posts

One year ago today I wrote this and my adventure into blogging began.  I never considered myself a social networker, and I am still not much of one.  Blogging, Facebook, and all the other things that were so popular were not for me.

I thought I was from the old school. I liked my friends within arms reach when talking. I preferred regular old email if they were far away.  Writing on different peoples wall and commenting on their daily activities was for other, mostly younger people.

I started this blog as a curious experiment. I only wanted to see if I could get enough people to read what I had to say to make a little extra cash.  I learned that was not possible in about 2 seconds.  In order to make any money at this whole internet thing you have to be a lot more talented and dedicated than myself. Still I found it enjoyable to have this new outlet for my thoughts. It allowed me to spew my individuality without offending everyone I know.

Then I finally got a comment on a post.  Then I got two comments.  Then I found Dad Blogs. That is when I did finally do some social networking and started meeting people. Now I am proud to say that I have literally dozens of imaginary friends out there in cyberspace. Amazingly many of them have stuck with me and listened to all I have to say for months on end. I get a crazy impression that some of them even enjoy my little web page.

To all of you who visit my site I want to say thank you for making this 200th post possible.  Without some feed back I would have been discouraged and quit writing long ago.  With Braden turning one and becoming more active by the minute I don't think there is any chance of me running out of material any time soon. So if you are willing to go with me I plan on shooting for 200 more posts and beyond.

Happy Birthday Life of a New Dad.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Random Thoughts and a Happy New Year

It's Random Tuesday again. Christmas is almost here and I will be on a blog hiatus as I am sure many of you will as well.  I hate to leave you with something so scattered as this post, but in case I can't come up with something on Wednesday have a Merry Christmas.

  • I tried out this nugget last week at Otin's blog. I feel lit is ready for a wider audience so here it is. When I was a kid we learned the planets using the phrase My Very Energetic Mother Just Served Us Nine Pizzas. Now that Pluto has been demoted what happens to our beloved learning tool? I say we change it to Just Served Us Nachos. You could use nectarines or nuts if you prefer a healthier alternative.
  • My next post will be number 200. December 28th will be my one year anniversary of writing on this blog.  I am reaching blogging milestones. That seems odd to me.
  • When you search Braden does most anything on YouTube you get hundreds of videos of various Braden's doing varying degrees of stupid things. If you search Braden eats the first two videos are our son Braden. I think that is an accurate depiction of what Braden finds important.
  • I had someone find my blog by searching "does the dad stay with the mom otter". If you are still searching for the answer out there you little seeker of knowledge I want to tell you that this one certainly does. As for the furry ones, you need to call Jim Fowler.
  • I spent an hour today trying to fix my site map at google. Does that tell you anything about how much work I am doing this holiday season?
  • In fact we should just get it over with and close for the year. This pretending to have something important to do charade is just getting tiring.
  • I think I am addicted to Wii bowling. I hope there is a cure that doesn't involve costly therapy.
  • I put up a random picture last week for RTT and I think I will continue the trend today. This stuff is supposed to be random anyway. Every time Braden starts riding this train I start singing "Riding that train...." Then I stop. I need to find a replacement for that next line.

Monday, December 21, 2009

I Still Believe in Radio

We live in a digital music age. We have ipods filled with songs from itunes.  Anyone can get any song at anytime. There is virtually no more wishing you could hear a song or wishing you could buy a CD.  If you think of a song it can be at your fingertips in seconds.

At least this is what I have heard. I am stuck in the equivalent of a music time warp.  I have no ipod. I don't use itunes or any of its cousins. I have never even burned my own CD, although I have many in my possession.  I don't have satellite radio in my truck either. I am still listening to the FM radio.  I am one notch above Adam Sandler's goat who was tied to the truck with a three foot rope and listened to the AM radio.

While all the new technology is fine and good, I was reminded today of a musical joy that future generations will miss out on.  That is the joy found when the radio unexpectedly plays one of your favorite songs.  There is little that lifts my spirits like hearing one of my old favorites on the radio.  It feels like you won a prize.  This was certainly the thing of legends on road trips. Surely most people my age had some time when you were off to untold mischief and a great song added to your fun.

That happened to a bunch of my friends and I once on a road trip to various parts of the state. Right before this uplifting song came on the radio one of my friends had called his parents. They weren't home so he left a message.  We later found out that he did not hang up the phone because his sister heard our entire drunken rendition of "Sweet Child of Mine" on their parents answering machine.

So children of today you can have your instantaneous music.  I will stick to my prehistoric memories of excited youth belting out a little G 'n R just because we felt so blessed by the radio gods. Sometimes in life it is the smallest things that can bring a smile to my face.

Today it was the Eagles.

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Christmas Spirit

So here it is, my first ever Christmas post.  As you all know I am a Christian so the true meaning of Christmas in my life is quite obvious, but that is not what I decided to write about today.

Every year I am troubled by all the commercial aspects of Christmas.  On black Friday there are always stories of fights over a special toy or a place in line.  Some people have even lost their lives in stampedes when the stores open.  How can this happen at such a special time of year?

I know so many families that insist on buying presents for every living family member.  Some people spend more at Christmas than the GDP of Australia.  How can this be wrong because Christmas is about giving, right? I don't think these people do it for the true joy of giving. It seems like the pressure to give better and better presents is put on people by family members or society.  You must give as much as Aunt Susie or you will be ostracized from the family. In short too many people must have presents, and we don't want to disappoint them.

When such a wonderful holiday is completely driven by greed then something is wrong.  The greatest gift to give this time of year is love.  Spending time with family and friends and sharing that love is much greater and certainly more lasting than a PS3.  One day something will come along that will make your video game or other gadgets obsolete, but nothing can ever replace the love you give and receive.

I am certainly not down on giving gifts.  Giving just has to come from the right place. You must give for the sake of giving not as part of a social contract that allows you to get gifts in return.

I want to share a story that happened to our family a week or so ago.  Arica, Braden, and I were standing in line at Walmart.  A guy behind us started talking to Braden about Santa.  We told him of our failed attempt to take Braden to see Santa, and exchanged other pleasantries.

As I was checking out the man behind me said, "Will you do me a favor?"

I turned around to see him extending his hand with a folded $20 bill in it.

"Put something under the tree for him from a stranger. That way he will know that Santa came."

I was speechless.  My mind could in no way grasp what just happened.  I tried to gather myself and muttered thank you very much and Merry Christmas. I probably should have refused the money, but I was so stunned that I couldn't function.

Now THAT is the Christmas spirit.  THAT is the true spirit of giving.  I will remember that nice man for the rest of my life.  Can you imagine how wonderful Christmas would be if everyone had that kind of generosity in their heart? I hope you all experience that type of love this year.

Merry Christmas!
Fatherhood Friday at Dad Blogs

Thursday, December 17, 2009

An Afternoon in the Underworld

There is a public perception of hell as a fiery place filled with demons or maybe just the one red guy with a trident and horns.  Much is gleaned from the bible, and then embellished by our vivid imaginations.  Hollywood helps fabricate some of these visions as well.

This is all well and good. What I am here to contend today is that there are many versions of a person's own personal hell here on earth.  I experienced one such difficulty recently.

When we approached the place it looked nice enough. It was well lit. It was not particularly hot, and the people inside looked like regular humans. There were no cloven hooves.

Then we ventured into the back room.  It also looked OK. In no way did it resemble the netherworld.  There were all sorts of toys and other decorations on the shelves.

Then we asked Braden to sit still and have his picture taken.  That is when all "hell" broke loose. He cried. Then he decide to get up and check out the camera. You could see him thinking no I don't want to see your stupid Elmo doll. I want to play with this wonderful contraption with lights and buttons that costs more than daddy's truck.

Then he tripped and did a face plant into the camera. He cried louder.

And so it went. We danced the dance.  We gave him cookies.  We gave him toys. We chased him down again and again. Finally we all left and let Arica work her magic with him.  Eventually we got some first birthday and Christmas pics.

Braden wins. I think these will do for a while.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Developing Sports Related Skills

Braden is old enough now that he has basketball goals, a tee ball set, and about 43 other balls of various shapes, sizes, and colors.  All boys that I know like balls.  Many of them choose to make it their first word. That is one of several words that Braden currently spews forth from his toothy grin.

He constantly pics up a ball, or says ball, or points at a ball, or does all of these at once.  Usually when I say throw it to Daddy he winds up and gives his ball of choice a toss.  Sometimes it comes to me.  Sometimes it just trickles in front of Braden's feet. Other times it goes backwards.  But this is just the beginning.

It will take a while before Braden develops his pitching and/or quarterbacking skills.  In the meantime he is working on developing other talents.  Basketball was his first love.  He has had a small goal for nearly a year now.  When he was big enough to sit up we started working on the dunk.  Eventually he would get the ball and dunk it home when asked.

Now we have a little Winnie the Pooh basket ball hoop in the tub.  When I say give me a dunk, Braden searches out a floating ball and turns to throw it down.  He can go either left or right.  Sometimes he can dunk without even looking.

More exciting for me as a huge baseball fan is his new love of his plastic baseball bat. Granted he uses it most often to hit things other than his baseball, as I detailed in yesterday's post.  He hits people, which is bad.  He hits toys.  He hits balls on the ground ala a little Tiger Woods. Once he even whacked a ball right off the Christmas tree. Sometimes though he puts the ball on the tee and takes his cuts.  Braden does not have the technique of an Albert Pujols, but he is able to make contact with the ball.  Eye hand coordination....Check.

I certainly don't want to be a stage dad if that is the right term. I won't be putting videos of his baby sporting prowess on You Tube (at least not yet). Braden can take up whatever interests he chooses. But as a die hard sports fan it sure is comforting to know that he is developing the skills necessary should he choose any athletic pursuits.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Random Tuesday Thoughts: Bob and Doug and Robert the Bruce

Today is another Random Thursday.  Click on the button to see all the other randomness out there.  But please read my thoughts first. I have nothing to offer like seemingly ever other blog out there. Please just read out of the goodness of your heart. It is the Christmas season after all.

  • I have seen a few posts talking about favorite Christmas songs. It tempted me to find my two favorites because I haven't heard them on the radio in a couple years. Then I was tempted to share with you so here they are.

  •  I wish something as simple as a balloon could make me as happy as it does Braden.
  • I find it funny that during the beginning of last weeks world climate conference that half of the US was covered in snow, and it was in the twenties here in Arkansas.
  • Braden hasn't slept well lately because of the joys of teething again. Obviously Arica and I haven't slept well either. Being an engineer I have almost finished my design to install an IV drip from the coffee pot to my office.  Next time I will be ready.
  • We took Braden to see Santa again last weekend. The first trip he cried. This time he sat there and got his picture made although he looked less than pleased.
  • Random Scotland Pic. This is me hanging out with Robert the Bruce. Yes I forgave him for turning on William Wallace. I think you should too.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Things Braden Has Hit with His Bat Other Than His Baseball

Christmas tree ornaments
Door knob
Rubber balls
Smaller Baseball Bat
Storm Door
and Himself

Friday, December 11, 2009

How I Measure Family Growth

Having a baby starts each parent on a long journey of accomplishments.  Birth in itself is one of life's greatest accomplishments for sure, especially for the mother and child.  The accomplishment for Dad is more along the lines of getting a smiley face in kindergarten for being a good helper.

I have used this blog to dutifully document all of Braden's accomplishments.  I have noted rolling over, crawling, walking, sleeping through the night, solid foods, first haircut and probably several others that I am forgetting.  You can find them all if you want by using the search box or by clicking on the huge BRADEN in the label cloud and sorting through them. I will do you the favor of not inserting 15 different links into this post in a desperate attempt to make you read my older posts.

There are also many other accomplishments that Braden has reached that for some reason or other have not made it to the pages of this blog.  There was the day he first found his pee pee.  There was also the first time he started rummaging through our cabinets.  Who could forget the first time he hit someone or the first time he peed on me.  I guess the point is that with a new life everything is a first.  You have to keep your eyes peeled to make sure you don't miss anything. Believe me, you don't want to miss the first time he tries to learn about Ohm's Law.

In my sometimes obscure mind there are other stages in the development of a child and a family that others may miss. Certain things help transform you from two scared adults with a screaming baby to a complete loving family.  One of those things might be the first Christmas, or the first family photo.  It could be the first time you go out to eat and actually share food. One of my favorites was Braden's first ride in a shopping cart at Wal-Mart.  How can any Arkansas family be complete without a fully capable Wal-Mart shopping child.

I better get to the point of what brought about this ridiculous discussion.  Yesterday before a trip to the aforementioned mecca of Arkansas shopping Arica and I made a decision.  It took some deep thought and serious consideration, but we were ready.  We have now become a gallon of milk family.

To me that signifies a growing family as well as anything. Our little guy is drinking so much milk that a half gallon will no longer sour alone in the back of the fridge.  Move over lower grocery bills. It's time to make room for the new gallon of milk family. Next we might graduate to the two loaf of bread or 18 egg family. Stay tuned.

Fatherhood Friday at Dad Blogs

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Being a Dad Is Like....

Coaching the Chinese national baseball team while speaking only English.

Sky diving with a parachute that is too small.

Riding your bicycle blindfolded.

Getting up from your seat in coach, going to the cockpit, and flying the plane just for fun.

Trying to send a man to the moon using simple addition and subtraction.

Conoeing down a raging river using a rope as a paddle.

Discovering the worlds largest, most valueable treasure in your very own home.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

No Mop Tops Please

It seems that there is typically so much dread about a babies first haircut.  Mom's don't want to part with the curls, or more appropriately the mop top.  Often times the babies don't want to part with the hair either.  After all what part of their developing mind is supposed to understand why a strange person with a sharp object is hovering around their head. 

At our house we were excited for the first haircut.  We think little boy haircuts are cute.  We tormented Arica's brother and his wife for months about getting their son's hair cut, and we are not hypocrites.  In our defense our nephew was regularly referred to as she by strangers.

Braden didn't have any problem with the hair cut either.  We should have known that he would like the barber sharp because of his social nature. After all it is the only place on earth where it is acceptable for men to gossip.  There is plenty of talk about sports. In my particularly barber shop, decorated with no less than 5 deer heads and one bear, hunting is a very popular topic of conversation as well.  So I look forward to many years of manly talk at the barber shop with my little buddy Braden.

Like Walt Kowalski does in "Gran Torino" I may even take him there one day to teach him how men talk.  I would be a little less vulgar than my hero Mr. Eastwood was in the movie though.

For now I will just be happy to have the memory and of course the pictures of Braden's first haircut.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Random Tuesday Thoughts

Today is another Random Tuesday. I hope I can cobble together enough thoughts to make an entire post. Click on the button below to go see Keely and the other randomness.
  • I am now a twit. That is what I am calling myself for joining Twitter. I don't know why I did it, but I felt it was part of my duty as a blogger. Click here to come find me over there with the blue bird and become a follower. You can also find the link in the sidebar to the left.
  • I took last week off from work. Added together with Thanksgiving that gave me 11 straight days off. Needless to say I am not enjoying this week.
  • Braden has been doing so many things lately that I can't keep up with the posts. Come back this week to get more news on the first haircut and other Braden stories.
  • I went back and read some of my other random thoughts posts yesterday. I used to be funny. I have no idea what happened.
  • I recently mentioned that I was nominated for the board of directors at church. Actually it is called the Governing board, and I am now an officially elected board member. One of the old board members offered his congratulations and said "may God grant you patience." Oh crap. Patience is not my strong suit.
  • I played Tiger Woods golf (insert joke here) on the computer with actual golf clubs, balls, a net, and some sort of swing reader this weekend. I love the net. I can knock the crap out of the ball and never know how bad I slice. Good times.
  • We took Braden to the Christmas parade last night. I haven't ever been to the parade in our home town.  I had fun. This is just another example of how Braden has made life more fun.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Ring the Dinner Bell

Since becoming a new dad I find myself constantly comparing my childhood to Braden's. Obviously in 30 years there have been some major changes. As Brad Paisley sings in "Welcome to the Future" we now have things like TVs in our cars and Pac Man on our cell phones. Those things seemed as futuristic as the Jetsons when I was a kid. The changes brought about by the computer revolution and digital age have been covered ad nauseum. I have even written about life before computers and the internet.

What about the things that just seemingly pass away. There are no more VCRs. We no longer need typewriters. There are so many other things that my kids will never know about from machinery to toys to even words.

Today I was wondering if children of this generation are familiar with the dinner bell. Do they think it is a bell that rings when the oven timer goes off? Do they think it has something to do with feeding the dogs? Maybe they think it is the latest hip hop lingo introduced by the rapper du jour.

When I was a kid we played outside every day. My best friend and I played until we were forced to come home. We played in the strip of woods by our house constantly. It was really just a large grouping of trees, but it might as well have been the hundred acre wood to us. We killed hundreds of birds and even one very unlucky rabbit with our BB guns. We built clubs, climbed trees, and did anything else that fell under boys will be boys. The only thing that could bring us home was our mother's yell.

Every day one of our mom's would come to the porch and yell when dinner was ready. Granted this is not the traditional dinner bell, but it worked for us. We were at times a quarter mile away, but somehow our parents would always get the message to us via a loud shout.

There are many reasons why this type of dinner bell doesn't work today. The first most obvious reason is that kids are inside more often. They love video games. They love their virtual friends on facebook or whatever other social networking they are using these days. We all know that kids are just less active today.

Another reason is that the world seems scarier now. Not many parents let their kids roam free like we did back then. You just can't trust anyone anymore. My friend and I once got chased by a lady with a broom. Today that might have turned out much worse.

Finally there is the almighty cell phone. From what I can tell most kids get their own cell phone right after kindergarten graduation. So if by some chance a kid wanted to go outside a call is all that would be needed to bring them back.

For all those reasons today there is no need for a dinner bell just like there is no need for a record player. Let's hope though that we can find a safer, better place in this world so that we can at least use our over complicated computer phones to call our kids back to dinner from a day of exercise more often. I think this new type of dinner bell could benefit us all.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Hey Arica, Remember When...

As the father of a recently turned one year old son I can safely say that 2009 was the most life changing year of my life. I feel like Austin Powers after that last sentence. Allow myself to introduce...myself. Bad writing aside I have decided to write a post to Arica about things we may have forgotten about life without a child. Of course life with Braden is far better than life before Braden, but I thought it would be fun to reminisce.

Remember when

...Braden's room was an extra bedroom

...There were no rubber ducks nesting in our bathroom

...You could see the corners in the living room

...You had a pregnancy pillow

...The dogs actually lived inside the house

...You craved beef jerky, Cheetos, and coke icies

...We were fighting about baby names

...We had a pool table

...There were no monkeys in our house

...You told me you were pregnant