Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas Blard 2010

From Life of a New Dad to You

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas via my first ever Blog Christmas Card (Blard). And yes Arica and I are at the real live Christmas Story House in Cleveland.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Random Christmas Thoughts

I haven't done a random Tuesday post since December 22, 2009. That is exactly one year from tomorrow. This is Tuesday and this is a random thoughts post so I suppose technically it could be a Random Tuesday. Instead though I am calling it a Christmas random post because it's my blog and I can do what I want. Read on for this version of Random Christmas Thoughts on Tuesday.
  • If you are new around here click over and read the post I wrote about the true Christmas Spirit that our family experienced last year because of a stranger at Wal Mart. I read it again recently and I am still amazed.
  • The top of our Christmas tree was bent when we put it up this year. In all my infinite wisdom I tried to bend the metal post back straight while it was in its place at the top of the tree. This genius move snapped one of the plastic supports that holds the post in place. For a day or two we had a leaning tree. I eventually fixed it by snipping up a clothes hanger and duct taping enough pieces together to wedge them into place and provide the support missing because of the broken plastic rib. They don't teach you that in engineering school.
  • Our Church study group, for lack of a better term, is delivering food to needy families tonight. I am really excited. What better time of year is there to spread the love of Jesus by "Loving your neighbor".
  • Christmas shopping for Braden is fun. Apparently I am just a larger than normal kid with facial hair.
  • I'm ready to see Christmas Story again. This will be my first viewing since actually visiting the house. Don't believe me? Here it is.
  • While visiting the house we got a leg lamp night light and a leg light ornament complete with Fra-GEE-Lay box. And stay tuned for a leg lamp picture of yours truly and my better half in the days to come.
  • Finally it's time for some Christmas music. Last year I shared some Bob and Doug and Cheech and Chong. These are two of my favorite Christmas songs, but they are more reminiscent of a Canadian Christmas and a Christmas spent on hallucinogens than Christmas as I know it. This year I thought a little Charlie Daniels Christmas Time Down South would be more fitting. Warning: May pertain reference to redneck activity.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Pregnant with Twins - How Does It Feel?

Anyone out there ever wonder what it feels like to be pregnant with twins? Ladies? Guys? Bueller?

Well I may not be the perfect person to tell you, but I live with someone who is an expert. I see her every day. After observing her for a few weeks I have been able to piece together a few things about the early portion of pregnancy with twins.

If I may use a technical term, the first trimester can be a tough time for a woman. Sidebar: If the term for one third of a mester is trimester, why is half the school year not called a bimester. These are the things that keep me up at night, but I digress. Arica has been extra sick, extra tired, and just plain feeling extra bad.

When she told her doctor that she was feeling a lot more sick this time than she did with Braden, he laughed and said, "There's a reason for that."

It would follow logically that with two babies a woman's body produces twice the hormones. These hormones are the ones that make a woman feel nauseous and get sick. So it's true. With twins you get twice as sick.

Consider this message a public service announcement, and don't ever say that this is not an educational blog. We strive to inform here at Life of a New Dad.

Please say a prayer for Arica too while your at it. We'd love for her to have more energy and feel a bit better while we are celebrating Christmas.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Curing the Christmas Blues

Christmas can be a difficult time. I hear so many people say that they can't wait for Christmas to be over. It is too stressful. It is too much work. It costs too much money.

While I understand that this is the true reality we have here in this country, it still makes me sad. Some of you may call me a sentimental fool or something even worse, but Christmas still gives me a warm feeling in my heart. I can't help but be overwhelmed with joy because of the true nature of the holiday.

I have never used this blog to talk about my faith. But earlier this week I saw a tweet from my Pastor that said the number one time people will talk about faith is during the Christmas season. He followed that by saying we have a great opportunity. I would like to take advantage of that opportunity today. If I am honest I have to say that I have always been uncomfortable sharing this part of my life here. But I know from reading The Bible that being afraid to acknowledge my faith is dangerous business.

Jesus tells us, "Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven. " (Mathew 10:32-33)

This combination of things has compelled me to really talk about Christmas as I know it this year. I need to share why Christmas makes me truly happy and excited. How can I not be excited knowing the following truth.

I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord (Luke 2:10-11)

I want to take this opportunity to encourage everyone out there who is feeling down this Christmas to do something about it. I have a three pronged solution. Any one of the three will help lift your spirits. All three should do even better. Don't be down during this wonderful time of year. Take time to reflect on what Christmas means and then share that love with someone else. Without further ado here is my cure for the Christmas blues.
  1. Pick up your bible and read the story of Jesus' birth. It is found in both Mathew Chapter 1 and Luke Chapter 2. If you don't have a bible visit Bible Gateway for an online version. God's word will comfort you while reminding you what this holiday is really about. It will also probably take you back to the happy times of your youth when you heard these words every year as part of some Christmas program. The story hasn't changed. We just neglect it.
  2. Go to church and take in a Christmas service. One of my favorite services of the year has always been on Christmas Eve. That service is always filled with beautiful Christmas songs. Forget about the stresses of the season. Just sing and be happy.
  3. Give. I don't mean give your nephew more toys or give your aunt a fruit cake. Give to the poor. Give to the needy. It's great to drop a few coins in the Salvation Army bucket, but to experience the true joy of giving it is better to get involved in a more personal way. Our church runs an organization in our town called Stomp Out Hunger where we feed local families in need. Our family is participating not only by giving food but by organizing bags and hopefully even delivering food. We all have heard that it is better to give than to receive. Well this year try it out. Be a cheerful giver to those less fortunate.
I am not here to judge how you spend your Christmas. I only want to share the things that make Christmas so special to me in the hope that it will make your holiday a little more enjoyable.

Most of you probably know by now that I am big on prayer. Odds are that if I have ever left a comment on your site then I have said a sincere prayer for you. My prayer right now is for everyone out there to have the best Christmas possible and to share it with all your family and friends. I pray your holiday season is filled with overwhelming love.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Philippians 4:13 and My Life

Now for the post you have all been waiting for. What is it really like for us now that we know we are having twins? I'm glad you asked. Today I offer you some of the top things we are dealing with along with a new motto. After all, if anybody needs a new motto it's me.

Arica, Braden, and I currently live in a 2 bedroom home. That is 0.67 bedrooms per resident, which is a decidedly bad ratio when one is considering expanding their family. Knowing this Arica and I put our house on the market with the optimistic hope that our homes distinct charm and location in one of the cities best neighborhoods would be enough to garner interest even in a terrible economy. Our optimism was rewarded with a harsh slap in the face.

Now that we have found out our family will be growing at twice the expected rate our bedroom per resident ratio is even more troubling. So instead of staying above the fray Arica and I now have to consider jumping into the fight for scraps in this buyers market. We have to fight for buyers with the pit bulls known as repossessed homes. They win out over the people who actually were able to afford their mortgages. Such a wonderful mess we have here.

Basically the choices we have are to severely discount our house in hopes of selling it, build on to our house or somehow transform it, or live in squalor.

In a positive development our Real Estate agent is quitting real estate altogether. Yes, this is a positive development. He has been terrible. I am already excited about the new guy after only talking to him once.

No matter the agent, trying to sell the house leads to the most complicated of financial calculations. I am of course an engineer not an accountant. I do have impressive spread sheet skills, however, that I have been putting to good use trying to figure out where we fit into this whole mess financially.  It goes something like this: My salary minus debt plus anything that is not nailed down and thus available to sell minus diapers for two more kids plus hopefully no more diapers for Braden plus various associated fees that will go away minus increases in insurance and property taxes minus baby gear minus baby food and so on.

Then there is the sleeping situation no matter what house we are in. Braden needs to learn how to sleep in a toddler bed as soon as possible. By doing this Braden will allow us to use his crib for the babies thus avoiding the costly purchase of another crib or two. This money stuff figures into that calculation above some how but my head is still spinning so we'll come back to that. 

The problem with the sleeping thing is that Braden wakes up in the middle of the night and wants to watch cartoons 4 or 5 nights a week. Without a cage keeping him in place there is no way that he will ever go to sleep. He'll be roaming the house all night like a zombie bent on destruction. Yet the situation has to be dealt with soon.

There is also the potty training situation that I have been writing about lately. Getting Braden out of diapers before the babies arrive would be a great help. So we have that going as well.

These are just some highlight points. There are plenty of other areas that need addressing as well. In closing I have to say that I am going to need God on my side for this one. I am so thankful that He has promised to watch after me. I know He will. With that, here is my new motto.

Philippians 4:13: I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

And that includes raising Braden and twins.

Monday, December 13, 2010


Since we are already on the potty training subject I have a story to share.

Braden pretty much only goes to the bathroom when asked. Sometimes he tells us, but not often. And he is  apparently still savoring the taste of victory on that one poop in the toilet. He hasn't done it since, and doesn't really seem interested.

On Sunday my Dad and I were watching football on TV when my Dad noticed Braden lying very still on the floor. This is Braden's pooping position. Normally he goes to a corner as well, but this time he did it right at our feet. Of course he told us he didn't need to go to the bathroom.

By the time I got him there the dirty deed was done. Braden did pee in the toilet so I guess it was a partial victory. We talked again about how he needs to tell me when he needs to poop. We'll keep at it.

Before going to the bathroom I had gathered my supplies. I had a clean pull-up and a box of wipes by my side. After wiping I reached down and picked up the diaper off the floor and began to put it on Braden.

As his leg went through the appropriate leg hole Braden stared screaming TOES! TOES!

It was at about this time that I felt something mushy in my hand. I looked down and noticed that I had grabbed the wrong diaper. I was dressing my son in his old poop filled pull-up.

So there we were. Braden was standing on one foot and shoving his poop smeared toes into my face while I tried to balance him and clean his toes with my one still unsoiled hand. It was a proud parenting moment for me. Life with small children is never dull.

And we're having two more.

Friday, December 10, 2010

The Potty Training Race Against Time

One of the many challenges of raising twins will be continuing to raise Braden. We will have to be sure that we make time to spend with him. It seems almost cruel that he will go from the focal point of our world for nearly 3 years to a mere third child all at once.

Arica and I have already talked about how we must make it a priority to continue spending time with Braden. We will have to take special Braden only outings so that he can receive our full attention. I need to start practicing that today on this blog as well.

With all the excitement that has turned our world upside down in the past week I have neglected to share some of Braden's accomplishments. Specifically I haven't told any tales about beginning the potty training adventure.

While Braden is at home with Arica these days we have been keeping him in pull ups. Arica will ask him many times a day if he needs to use the bathroom. He will pee almost every time you take him. That is a good thing. He gets excited about the process. Most of his excitement comes from the awarding of M&Ms, but that is exactly why he gets them.

Braden sometimes will even tell Arica or myself that he needs to use the bathroom. Braden will tell you by saying, "Mama. I pee pee." To me that is a huge deal. The fact that once in a while he knows he needs to go to the bathroom is a big success.

We experienced another success when earlier this week Braden told his Mom, "Mama. I poop." Arica took him to the bathroom and Braden did his business. It was his first poop in the toilet. I didn't expect that for months. We were all VERY excited. Pooping in the toilet is a big step in the right direction.

I am aware that it will be a slow process, but we have extra motivation now. The thought of having 3 kids in diapers at the same time is enough to make any parent potty train with the intensity of an Israeli security force. Two new babies will push the first kid right on out of babyhood, whether we are ready for that or not.
I once said I wanted to replace boxes of diapers with boxes of beer. Well now I just want to replace them with boxes of smaller diapers. Things change.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Top Ten Thoughts On Twins

I promise that I will have a serious take on this matter coming soon. Then in the months to follow I will have every different kind of update and philosophical pondering. Of course those will be blended well with OH %!@# moments. The truth of the matter is that every thought I have is consumed by this situation. But for now I just want to laugh. So here is a light hearted list of the top ten things I thought when informed we were having twins.
  1. I picked the wrong day to stop sniffing glue.
  2. Holy #$%!#
  3. Are you drunk lady?
  4. How many is twins?
  5. I wonder if Wal Mart is hiring.
  6. Do they give "father of twins" discounts at the nut house?
  7. This lady is about as funny as George Lopez.
  8. One fish. Two fish. Red fish. Blue fish.
  9. Two more and we've got a basketball team.
  10. Breathe.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Are You Sitting Down?

Friday morning I got the most shocking news of my life. I felt like Clark Griswold in Christmas Vacation when he tells Cousin Eddie, "If I woke up tomorrow morning with my head sewn to the carpet, I wouldn't be more surprised than I am now."

You see this news has changed my entire outlook on life. All of my expectations and plans have changed. These plans haven't been rendered useless, but they do need tweaking. Before today I was confident that I had a good grasp on how our lives would unfold. Just when you start thinking that, God steps in and says not so fast my friend.

I was waiting for the right time to share some news with all of you. Well the time is now. Arica is pregnant. We have known for a little while, but tried to keep it secret. We finally gave up on that and told our families last week. Now I am sharing it with you so I can tell this story.

Today I went with Arica for her first OB visit. We went a week earlier than scheduled because Arica was having some pains that we wanted to have checked out. After listening to the doctor I was a bit concerned. He thought everything was OK, but it was clear from his mannerisms that he wasn't completely sure. He requested that Arica get an ultrasound to make sure everything looked good.

As we went across the hall with the tiny little ultrasound lady, my heart was in my throat. Butterflies were flying around in my stomach. What if something was wrong?

The ultrasound lady played a little picture pages and then had an opening question. From those words I could tell that she had some news to share with us. We knew Arica was pregnant already so I didn't really expect good news. I certainly didn't expect in my wildest dreams what was coming next.


Thursday, December 2, 2010

Stitch Me Up Scotty

Today Braden goes to have his stitches removed. What? You didn't know he had stitches?

That's life at our house. Things happen so fast that I can't get them recorded. Without being recorded precious moments like baby's first stitches could be forgotten. Recording them here ensures the memory will last at least until computers rise up and take over the world.

So as I make this digital journal entry about Braden's accident I am reminded to be thankful for this blog.  Without it I certainly wouldn't be able to remember every exciting detail of these early years.

So back to my story. Braden took a flying leap last Wednesday November 30, 2010. He didn't reach his intended target and fell backwards smashing his head into the corner of a door. Screaming and blood flowed from the poor little man or so I heard. All this ended with 4 stitches.

I've tried unsuccessfully in recent days to put into words what life with this little dude is like. Remember Avatar?

I tease his Mom that she is going to be a nervous wreck for the next 20 years. I still believe that. I just didn't know it was going to start so soon.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Braden Says

Let's talk about talking. Braden talks all the time. Sometimes it is complete gibberish, but most of the time it is understandable. He has been constructing sentences for quite a while. His vocabulary knows little bounds. Since he talks all the time I thought maybe I should share a few of his gems with you. Here is just a sampling of the conversational fun we have with Braden on a daily basis.
  • For some reason he has started to interject the word me into a lot of his sentences. He says stuff like, "I me play," or "I me TeeTee," which is Braden for I want to watch TV. My favorite use of me goes like this. Arica or I will say I love you to Braden and he responds, "I ove you me too."
  • Last week when Arica, Braden and I were all sitting, or more correctly wallowing around, on the couch we had another funny moment with Braden. I said to Braden isn't Mama pretty. Braden answered, "I petty too."
  • Braden spends much of his day impersonating the Tasmanian devil. He is a whirling dervish of destruction. Anyone in the room is constantly in danger of getting hit or tackled or being used in another less than pleasant way. Despite his rough ways he is a sweet boy too. He gives plenty of hugs and kisses. On top of that he has great manners. Lately when he wants more of anything he has started saying, "Mo pease." He does it without any prompting from anyone. It is just his polite way of saying he wants more snacks or milk or TV.
  • Arica wrapped up some clothes for Braden to open at his second birthday party. Arica like many women loves clothes and that includes for herself as well as Braden. She thought he would at least enjoy unwrapping the presents. Well once he opened the first one and saw clothes he said, "NO CLOTHES!" Very funny stuff.
  • Another phrase common to the New Dad household is "I did it!" Braden is quite proud of all his accomplishments. Since he is always doing something we hear this one a lot.
  • I'll close with one of the more frustrating things Braden says. "I don't want it." The most common version of this right now is "I don't want bed" or "I don't want sleep". And he means it. That is why several nights a week for the past month either Arica or myself is up with a little boy at 3 AM because he doesn't want sleep, but instead he'll say "I me Tee Tee."

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

Writing a serious post about Thanksgiving is difficult. I have been so blessed in my life that there is no way I could ever be thankful enough. If I were to give a speech about my life reminiscent of an awards show acceptance speech I would be giving thanks long after they started playing the music and cut to commercial.

To borrow something I heard in church recently I was blessed by simply being born in this country. So for starters I would have to climb up a few branches on my family tree and thank some people for making the voyage to America. The day they made that decision blessed me and my family forever. Something as simple as my place of birth is truly a blessing.

Sometimes though life gets out of sorts. Instead of simply being thankful for something like that we all want more. We need better toys, a bigger house, or a newer car. We need designer clothes and expensive furniture. I guess that is fine, but sometimes in a world where so many people go without it seems out of balance.

This Thanksgiving I want to take time to remember the simple things. Hopefully the act of thanking God for the things that really matter will help spur me towards a life where I can readjust my mindset. Hopefully I can learn to focus on the important stuff in my life.

I am going to be thankful I have a house rather than wishing it was bigger. I am going to be thankful for this country rather than complaining about its politics. I am going to be thankful for my job rather than complaining about the work. I am going to be thankful for the time I have rather than complaining about the lack thereof. I am going to be thankful that I have more than one place to go for Thanksgiving rather than bemoaning the choices we have to make.

If I came home today to find nothing left but Arica and Braden I would still consider myself lucky. A man with a family like mine is truly blessed no matter what. That is what I have always liked so much about Thanksgiving. It is about food and family rather than gifts and decorations.

It is our one day as Americans to put an emphasis on a family meal time celebration. For one Thursday in November our priorities appear more Italian than American. We get to gather around a table with family and share stories, a few laughs, a 15 pound turkey, and most importantly love. I hope everyone has  a great holiday weekend spending time with the people they truly love.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Random Thanksgiving Eve

I have some odds and ends to share before taking a Thanksgiving break. So read on for some important information that could very well make your life better. If it makes your life worse there will be no refund.
  • First some business my friend Surprised Mom, or should I say City Mom Chicago, is now the happy owner of a toilet wand and a football thanks to the folks at Clorox. Feel free to use the toilet wand in an attempt to magically change the football into a better prize.
  • Dressing or stuffing, if you prefer, is my favorite Thanksgiving food. I make my all time favorite dressing. I also get to make the dressing for Arica's family Thanksgiving. Let this be a lesson to all the kids out there. If you love a certain food then learn to cook it yourself. Never let your appetite go unrequited.
  • Braden had his second nurse maid's elbow incident Monday. The doctor sent us for an x-ray but we didn't go. That's right. I decided I knew more than the doctor. And I was right. The doctor's office called later and was less than pleased. They said, "we have been waiting to hear something all day." Now they know how their patients feel.
  • I am getting more and more blog traffic but fewer and fewer comments. What gives? I blame Twitter. Everyone is over there talking all the time. If you are here today leave a comment. If you are shy just say Hello.
  • Braden is going through a three week spell where he wakes up between three and four every night. He will not go back to sleep. Sometimes I try to take him to the couch and sleep with him. He will just sit up and stare off into the darkness. The only way to make him happy is to turn on the TV. Eventually he will get tired and go to sleep if you just leave him alone. So for the last several nights I have watched cartoons in the wee hours of the morning. The Disney lineup goes something like this Little Einsteins, Timmy Time, Chuggington, Handy Manny, and eventually you get to Mickey Mouse. This is not information that I care to know.
  • Sometimes it is impossible to get a picture of Braden. Arica will take 20 pictures and every single one will be of the side of Braden's head. He has an uncanny ability to avoid the camera without even breaking stride. He just carries on with a turned head. Then sometimes he gets right up in your face and says CHEESE!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Avatar Describes My Child

There are a few constants in my life. Greatest among them are Arica, Braden, and probably the TV. Since this is a blog about being a Dad it only makes sense that I would eventually compare Braden to TV. Well that day has come.

People never seem to understand why Arica and I have so little free time. They never understand why we say it is so tiring watching Braden. They don't understand why we need to have two parents around as often as possible. These people either raised or have only been around calm kids. They haven't been exposed to kids like Braden. That is the only answer. Because if they watched Braden for a few hours they would not only understand, but they would add us to their daily prayer list as well.

Thinking about this recently I came up with a comparison between watching different types of kids and watching TV. The first and oldest way to watch TV these days is what we now call standard definition TV. It is grainy. It's not to clear. SDTV is just there. SDTV kids are much the same. They are just there. They don't jump into your face. They aren't exceedingly vibrant or colorful. Maybe they are thinkers, and behave much like the statue of the same name. Regardless of the reason it is even possible to forget these kids are in the room at times.

The next type of TV viewing is high definition TV. This TV format has become so common that it is becoming the standard for TV watching. HDTV is made up of much more vivid colors and a clearer picture. It draws your attention and often times simply demands to be watched.  It is much harder to ignore HDTV. HDTV kids are just the same.

The newer type of TV entering the market is 3D TV. Watching TV or a movie in 3D is a much more interactive experience. The show leaps off the screen and right into your face. A 3D kid will do the same. You can't ignore them. They will just climb up in your lap and poke you in the face if you try.

Well Braden is even beyond 3D. I have decided watching him is like watching Avatar 3D in the movie theater. If you went to the theater to see James Cameron's creation then this analogy probably makes a lot more sense. I have never been more immersed in a movie before. It was colorful. It was full of action. And all of it seemed to happen right in my lap.

So there you have it. Watching Braden is like being attacked by flying multicolored dragon birds while giant blue people with magical ponytails try to pierce your heart with an arrow. Any questions?

Friday, November 19, 2010

Football on Thanksgiving

I am participating in a giveaway for the first time ever. I am no Bob Barker so you're not getting....A NEW CAR!!!! It's a fairly modest giveaway, but it involves football. How could I resist the opportunity to get a few free things while talking about football. I am going to talk about it anyway so why not get the free stuff too.

This post is in conjunction with the Clorox Toilet Bowl Contest. Click on over and learn how to win a trip to New Orleans to play in the first ever Clorox Toilet Bowl flag football game.  The celebrity QB will be former Florida Gator QB, NFL bench warmer, and current ESPN analyst Jesse Palmer. For all the ladies out there I believe he was once the bachelor too. Feel free to make any tight end jokes now.

Now that we have done that let's talk a little about Thanksgiving and football. Thanksgiving is probably my favorite holiday. There is nothing like family and food. My favorite tradition it to eat so much that it makes me miserable. I think that is why someone decided long ago to put football on TV on Thanksgiving Day. While you are laying on the couch with a swollen stomach listening to your older male relatives snore off the tryptophan nothing can lift your spirits like watching the Cowboys. Unfortunately this year the Cowboys can only amplify any feelings of queasiness.

While our family has never played our own flag football game the sport has always been a part of Thanksgiving for me. In 1996 a new football tradition was added to our Thanksgiving repertoire, The Battle for the Golden Boot seen below.
Starting that year Arkansas and LSU began playing the Friday after Thanksgiving for that huge golden trophy. On alternating years I would either spend that Friday off watching the game on TV or in the stands in Little Rock. Recently the game has been moved back to Saturday, but it still always occurs on the week of Thanksgiving. And this year on the Saturday after Thanksgiving Arica and I will join my parents in the stands for what could possibly be a meeting of two top ten teams. I am excited already.

So there you have it. I eat as much turkey and dressing as humanly possible. I watch a little of the Cowboys. I try and do a little deer hunting. Then I cheer on my beloved Razorbacks sometimes even in person. That is my Thanksgiving tradition and it always involves football.

So here is where you get the chance to win a football and a Clorox Toilet wand. I know it sounds glamorous, but that it is just life as usual here at Life of a New Dad. Think of it this way. You will be receiving two Christmas gifts. A football is great for a little boy on your list. And you can give the toilet wand to your wife.

Just kidding. Don't do that. Don't even think of doing that. In fact let's pretend I didn't even say that.

All you have to do is leave me a comment preferably about football. If not about football then just say something funny. Whether it is funny or not will be left up to our judges (me). I don't want any followers just for the giveaway so only a comment is needed. I have gained all my followers without any giveaways and I want to keep it that way. The giveaway will be done next Wednesday November 24th so I don't forget about it over the holidays.

In case I don't see you again Have a Happy Thanksgiving everybody.

I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour campaign by Dad Central Consulting on behalf of Clorox and received a gift code, toilet wand and football to thank me for taking the time to participate.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Birthday Week Is Over

I have to post about Braden's Birthday one last time this year. We had two parties and the second one has not received its own post yet.The main purpose of this blog is to record our experiences because our memories are sure to fail some day. I don't want to forget Braden's second second birthday party so I am wrapping up Birthday Week with a post about it now.

If you would rather have the reflective birthday post click HERE. If you missed Braden's Mickey Mouse party then try HERE. After catching up with all our celebrations read on to see about the Cars party.

Braden's party was on the day after his birthday. On his actual birthday Arica and I took him to our favorite Mexican restaurant for the sombrero and song treatment. The only guy that can play the guitar was taking a siesta so we had to settle for the sombrero only. And of course the adults ate good Mexican food while Braden explored the area immediately surrounding our back corner table.

Then we went to Chik-fil-a to play at the play ground. Braden likes the slide.

He went down in every conceivable position including heat first with two other kids in tow.

At the party Saturday Braden was impatient. We opened presents first. Here he is in his first car.

He blew out his candle by himself again. At the rate of 2 parties a year he is already a pro.

Of course he did his normal icing taste test.

After all the partying and present opening he looked like this.

It was a happy birthday indeed.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Happy Birthday Braden

Before you came along my favorite male companion was a dog.
Before you came along my favorite late night snack was beer.
Before you came along I didn't watch cartoons.
Before you came along I hadn't played with hot wheels in decades.
Before you came along I didn't ever sit in the floor.
Before you came along I didn't read aloud.
Before you came along I didn't change diapers or give baths.
Before you came along I always slept through the night.
Before you came along I had never been to a pumpkin patch.
Before you came along our house was generally quiet.
Before you came along I had never folded tiny clothes.
Before you came along I had never fed another person.
Before you came along I had a pool table.

Now I am in the floor every night in the area where a pool table once stood playing with cars and putting together puzzles. I read. I watch cartoons. I eat cereal. Our house is loud all the time and toys are scattered across the floor. I am now educated on many things about raising a baby and I am almost always tired.

For people without kids that last paragraph probably reads like a Stephen King novel. For those of you with children it sounds all too familiar. I guess that is one of the biggest changes brought on by parenthood, the change in perception.

In two years with Braden I have learned that my perception of what my life with children would be like was about as accurate as the once strongly held belief that the Earth was flat. I had this misconstrued idea that Braden's life would fit nicely inside the molds that had been formed by my experiences and Arica's experiences.

Well parenting has taught me that the exact opposite is true. As parents our lives will be lived inside of the boundaries formed by Braden's experiences. It has already started to happen. You can see that by reading the list above. I am eating Honey Combs. I have learned the names of every character on Cars from Mater to Snot Rod. I am reading Dr. Seuss and singing along with Mickey Mouse. I am living in Braden's world.

I wrote a post not long ago that got some attention over at Reddit  titled You Haven't Lived. A couple commenters thought it was a bit insensitive for me to insinuate that people without children haven't lived a full life. Of course that was not my intention. I am certainly not conceited enough to think that I know what is the fullest way for other people to live their lives. Everyone has their own journey.

I should have said "I haven't lived" because that is the absolute truth. I had been to France, Italy, Hungary, Germany, Costa Rica, Malaysia, and Thailand. I had been to Fenway, Wrigley Field, and the old Yankee Stadium. I followed the Hogs to three bowl games, an SEC championship game, and both the SEC and SWC basketball tournaments. I had been to the beach on four continents. I partied for the better part of a decade. I had even conned the most beautiful girl in the world into marrying me. Anyone that has been around a while can plainly see that was my greatest achievement.

Yet, despite all that, I hadn't truly lived until Braden was born. I know Arica feels the same way. So, Braden, thanks for letting us live in your little world. It is an honor to be your parents.

Happy 2nd Birthday Braden! We love you!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Hunting Safely

I'm going to break up this Birthday week with a little talk about deer hunting. Modern gun season in Arkansas opens on Saturday, and I will join thousands of other hunters that morning in my quest to kill a deer. Time in the woods has always been a little like therapy for me. It helps me decompress. If the decompression gets interrupted by killing a deer all the better.

As I have mentioned before many of my greatest memories with my Dad involve hunting. I can't wait until Braden is old enough to hunt with me. Those times shared in the woods will be amazing. But just like any other father I will have the responsibility of teaching my son how to be safe in the woods.

Hunting probably scares a lot of parents. I know Arica is not crazy about guns herself. I try to comfort her by saying that I am extremely careful with guns and I will always teach Braden to be as well. "Unloaded" guns kill a lot of people. That is why it is imperative to treat any gun as loaded, and to never point a gun towards another person. NEVER.

When I first started hunting my dad showed me a demonstration of a guns destructive power. I'm not saying I will do this, but it has stuck with me all my life. My dad took his shotgun and shot a roughly 3-inch diameter tree. Of course the gun destroyed the tree toppling it to the ground. Dad said something to the effect of "just imagine what it could do to a person."  That may be a little too John Wayne for today's society, but it worked.

I don't think many of my readers hunt. Maybe there are some of you lurking out there that prefer to remain quiet. If so, please be careful as you hit the woods this year. Please teach your children gun safety. The anti gun nuts already want to take our guns from us. Don't give them a reason.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Birthday Week

Birthday week is upon us, and it feels a lot like what I imagine Super Bowl week feels like for the teams involved. There are many preparations to be made. We have to game plan and make sure we are ready. The only difference is at the end of Birthday week we are guaranteed a party. We don't have to fight for the right to party like the Beastie Boys or the two Super Bowl combatants.

Birthday week kicked off in full on Sunday with a party at my Mom and Dad's house. Braden got to celebrate his birthday early so all the family in that area which is 2.5 hours away could celebrate with him. It helps them celebrate more easily, and it also gives Braden the opportunity to have 2 parties. He deserves it.

So with Braden's 2nd birthday approaching on Friday we have already celebrated once. Look at all the fun we had and you will see why we are so excited to do it again this weekend.

The first party was a Hot Dog party. That's Mickey Mouse if you didn't know. Braden's friend Big Hot Dog even showed up.

Braden blew out all his candles by himself.

Then he fell into the cake.

Here's proof on his shirt.

And here's more proof.

Braden loves cake no matter if it is smashed or not.

Then we opened some presents.

And more presents. 

Finally we closed out the day with candy and a few smiles.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Halloween Is Different

We loaded Braden into his wagon Sunday night and took him on his first full fledged trick or treating adventure. It was also my first trip since I quit asking strangers for candy decades ago. And in that time things have changed dramatically.

In some ways a kid can really benefit. Every church we passed by in the past week had a sign outside advertising a fall festival or a trunk or treat. In our little community there were things scheduled Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. We made one of the festivals, but if a person were truly ambitious he could get enough candy to last the entire year.  All you need to do is go church hopping.

Much like a college kids efforts to find companionship and alcohol by going from bar to bar, a small child can seek out copious amounts of sugary goodness from various places of worship. By the end of the night, drunk on candy, the kids would have much the same blank stare and altered mind set as the aforementioned coeds. The day after Halloween hangover can be nasty as well.

With all these new techniques to make Halloween safer for the kids it seems like something has been lost. The feeling of community is gone just a bit. Yes you can go see your church family at the fall festival, but what about the little old lady on the corner or the guy three houses down that mows his yard three times a week? What about your neighbors?

As we went out Sunday night towing Braden behind in his wagon we were met with apathy. Most of the houses on our street were completely dark. Not only did the owners turn off the porch light to keep away little kids, but most of them turned off every light in the house as well. It was like they were huddled in the closet with a flashlight praying that no one would knock on the door. Maybe they were truly scared of Halloween goblins, but more likely they were just being anti-social sticks in the mud.

Maybe I'm old fashioned, but this makes me sad. It's sad that we live in a world where people are more concerned about themselves than they are about small children. I have a son that is nearing two years old in a world where his neighbors would rather sit in darkness than give him candy. That is depressing.

Thankfully we found several houses that were open for business. And in this environment I appreciated those people all the more. You might even say they helped restore my faith in humanity. One little old lady was wearing a mask and a witches hat. She also passed out fake bugs in a failed attempt to scare the kids. We need more people like that.

I have never been a Halloween person. I would like to take this opportunity to apologize for that. Kids out there deserve a day when they can get all the candy they want. They deserve to roam the streets dressed as their heroes. They deserve a great Halloween, and it is up to us to make that happen.
To those of you who did. Thank you. The rest of you need to get your act together. After all look how happy it made Yoda.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


Time is eternal. Yet for each of us our time on earth is only temporary. The amount of time we have is finite, and even worse yet is the fact that we don't know when the end will come.

So why do I continue to worry about how much time I can spend deer hunting this year? Why do I worry about how to finagle the weekend schedule so I can watch the game? Why am I so concerned about getting to work when I have a sick kid at home?

Sure I need to work. It pays the bills. I even need to go deer hunting. It helps keep me refreshed and sane.

Still, why can't I spend just as much time worrying about how to make the weekend special for my son? Why can't I spend more time planning weekend activities for our family?

I think it comes down to the sinful desire to be in control of everything and the need to get what I want in life. Sometimes it's like being the driver of a bus that just went over a cliff. I can beat my chest and say look at me I am driving this bus. I am in control. But the reality is that I have lost control and the bus is going to crash. Often times the struggle for control ends up just like that. One party wrestles control from the other only to get a bird's eye view of the disaster they caused.

It would be much more enjoyable to be a passenger on a safe and happy bus than to be the driver of that bus headed for doom. Based on that poor analogy one can infer that I think the solution is to give up control. That is certainly easier said than done, but giving of myself is the best thing I can do as a Dad and husband.

I think I will always struggle with selfishness. I hope I can make steady improvements though. There is no time guaranteed to any of us, so there is no room for procrastination. I have to go out today and make the most of the time I have.

I plan to start by giving both my wife and son a big hug when I get home. Time is my greatest luxury. Giving it all to them would be my greatest gift.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Boy Parts

Arica and I have two friends and one sister-in-law that are currently pregnant. In the past month I have seen ultrasound pictures of both friend's babies. One was the first ultrasound. The other was that ever proud sex determining second ultrasound.

Our friends proudly showed us the picture so carefully labeled with the words "boy parts" (couldn't a medical professional come up with a better term?). They could barely contain their joy. Their little swimmer had boy parts. This little phrase and the sharing of black and white photos has long since surpassed the traditional declaration of "it's a boy" that used to follow right after birth.

I think it's a good thing. It gives everyone the opportunity to be ready with gender specific baby gear when the little one arrives. The pre-birth sexing has virtually done away with appalling gender neutral nursery designs. Maybe now we can do away with dessert colored walls altogether.

However, with this new way of doing business a strange tradition is being formed. All around America there is an army of pregnant women carrying around pictures of their unborn sons' private parts. This is clearly the only time in our society that it is OK to carry around a naked picture of your child and show it to everyone you meet.

It is perfectly acceptable to see your aunt in Wal Mart and say hey we're having a boy. Look right there. You can see his penis.

The advent of these ultrasound DVDs is no different. They are like little in-utero adult movies. There are long periods of grainy footage that looks nothing like a human life intermingled with proclamations of "There it is!" or "Look right there. No there. See it?"

More aptly these things could be narrated as such, "blah, blah, blah, penis, blah."

Now I love technology just like the next guy. It has brought me unspeakable happiness, but sometimes it makes us act just plain crazy.

Of course if we have another boy some day we are going to show the picture pages to everyone just like we did the first time. I would just like to note that if aliens are watching us from some planet in a distant solar system, they probably think we are a little strange.

Friday, October 29, 2010

The Great Pumpkin

This past weekend we made it back for year two at the pumpkin patch. Last year I learned Linus was not the only person who visited a pumpkin patch. Take note that Braden brought Linus with him this year via a super awesome shirt. I also learned that the pumpkin patch was a lot of fun. Arica and I agreed visiting the land of pumpkins would certainly become a family tradition. So this year we carried on the tradition.

There were animals to pet as usual. Here is Braden with the camels. I decided to name one camel Clyde. That is of course from the Ray Stephens classic Ahab the Arab. The other camel I called Joe. Just because the US Government killed Joe Camel doesn't mean I forgot him.

Here we are with Eeyore. I know that is a cliched donkey name but this dude was so sad looking he almost made me cry. He had to be Eeyore.

If you were around last year you might recall that Braden liked riding the John Deere train. Well things have changed a little this year. Braden doesn't like the train anymore. He now loves it more than his own father. He would happily trade me away for 3 minutes on that thing. He would ride it until the driver shut down the lawn mower locomotive. Then he would play somewhere else while keeping his ears tuned for that lawnmower sound. As soon as it started up Braden would go running as he yelled "Choo Choo Train!!!"

He loved the train so much that he even made one of the poor engineers drive him all by himself.

Braden also crashed the red shirt birthday party and rode with them in the caboose.

Even though Braden didn't care they had pumpkins there too. We even took a few home. If it were up to Braden we would have driven them all the way home in the John Deere choo choo train. He would have seen the 8 hour duration as a positive thing.

Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Bribery for Children

If you haven't raised a two year old in a while then you don't know what you are missing. It is all at once filled with fun and challenges. Life with Braden requires love, patience, wisdom, and many other traits. In fact caring for him requires an entire toolbox full of tools and techniques.

When raising a toddler there is no magic grouping of tools to solve all your problems. You can't fix everything with WD-40, duct tape, and vice grips like Walt Kowalski claims in Gran Torino. For Braden you need the entire Craftsman section of Sears.

One of my favorite tools is motivation. The proper motivation can turn any wild child into a perfect little angel. To many of us proper motivation as a child might have included the phrase "don't make me take off my belt!" Maybe your family had their own special version like "Don't make me hang you from the ceiling fan by your toes!"

Fear is always a good motivator, but what we initially found is that a more positive approach works better for Braden. You know the old you can catch more flies with honey than you can with vinegar theory.

Arica is the absolute master of this technique. For some time we couldn't get Braden to eat anything. He would fight you to the death over a meal. He would even fight to get out of eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

The only way to get him to eat was to offer him something of value. If you offered him a gummy for eating his meal then he would start chowing down. Proper Motivation.

We used gummies, cookies, stickers and other things to motivate the little man to eat. It was a breakthrough parenting moment for me. In my mind the official permission, even encouragement, to bribe my kid made so many goals seem a lot more achievable. All of a sudden parenting made a lot more sense.

Well as with anything in parenting as soon as you figure something out things change. Now Braden eats most of the time without any promise of reward, but there are still other areas where proper motivation is required. He might need motivation to quit running around the house so we can change his diaper. He might need motivation to pick up his toys or take his medicine. Motivation is necessary for kids of all ages and Braden is no different.

Unfortunately as his little rebellious streak grows and grows the sweet promise of candy is not always as enticing. It works sometimes, but it has to be balanced with the proper amount of discipline as well. Otherwise you just end up with a fit throwing kid with a mouth full of cavities.

So as times change so do our methods. The threat of a time out really does wonders for a kids behavior. I'll say it again. Proper Motivation.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

A Toddler Scorned

Braden's adenoid and tubes procedure was Monday, and for some reason I haven't found the time to write about it yet. I am slacking big time. Part of it is because I have been busy at work thus leaving me less time to goof off.

The procedure went great. The doctor's exact words were, "He did great, and everyone loved his monkey." My exact thoughts were, "Thanks for all the info doc. You were a great help. No wonder you made thousands of dollars for this 30 minute procedure. I love you."

My words were something more socially acceptable.

We were warned by practically everyone who had experienced a small child being on anesthesia, but I still wasn't fully prepared for the recovery room scene. What I witnessed made me think of throwing out the age old adage "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned." Even though this statement has its merit I am still considering replacing it with "Hell hath no fury like a toddler coming off anesthesia."

Braden hit two nurses, two parents, a few stuffed animals, and maybe even a few fellow patients. He refused to drink anything or eat a popsicle so they could remove his IV. Instead he struggled to remove it on his own to the point that the nurse finally gave in and just took it out.

Within 10 seconds of having it removed Braden already had taken off the bandage. Then he took off the bandage on his arm. Then he continued his angry tirade.

When we finally got him home he took a nap and woke up feeling better. Since then he has often had a fever so he is on a steady dosage of Tylenol.

Basically Braden is his normal self for the majority of the day. He just gets tired more often due to the fever and Tylenol. Hopefully that will all go away soon.

So there you have it. Everyone survived the procedure. We all hated it, but hopefully it will mean a healthier winter for the little man.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Anesthesia Is Not a Pop Singer



Those two words terrify me. I just can't help it. Call it negative connotation. Call it my own irrational fear. Call it what you like. I just don't like them.

Monday morning my fears will be magnified a million times.

Braden is being put under for surgery. I will be a bundle of nerves pacing the floor with sweaty palms. I will be trying my best to help comfort Arica while another part of my brain is engaging in a little self-help therapy.

Braden is getting tubes in his ears and his adenoids removed. It is a simple thing that only takes about 15 minutes, but I promise you they will be the longest 15 minutes of my life.

I can't help but be nervous. My little man will be undergoing his first real medical procedure since his first few days of life, and I won't be able to help out. I won't even be able to hold his hand.

So while you drink your coffee Monday morning or alternately partake in a caffeine free morning ritual of your choice, think about us. We will either be waiting in the surgery clinic or tending to a recovering toddler. Either way we could use a little extra support.

After clearing this hurdle we should be ready for a much more enjoyable winter season. Without this procedure the doctor assured us Braden would not get well for the rest of the winter.

We have had enough ear infections. We have spent enough time watching our son go through pain and discomfort. The pain all these colds and infections cause is enough to completely change our normally happy little man into an angry tyrant.

So we will take our nervous selves to the surgery clinic Monday morning and deal with the anxiety in order to help our son get better. That is all part of the parenting gig. You make decisions that you think are best for your child and then you have the courage to ride them out.

Monday morning Arica and I will be riding this one out from uncomfortable chairs situated along the wall in our own personal white tile prison. If we are lucky we can at least read some year old magazines while we wait.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Eating Like a Kid

Today I would like to write a small thank you note to my son. Please don't click away just yet. It won't be any deep emotional stuff this time. While I have millions of great things to thank him for this one is just a little thing that takes me back to yester year.

I have mentioned eating all kinds of things since Braden arrived. I may be licking some sort of sauce off my hand or eating crumbs off the floor.

Sometimes I can be found polishing off a left over fish stick. We can't afford to waste food, even frozen sticks made of various types of fish.

Another of my favorite eating hobbies is flat out eating right from Braden's bowl whether it be chips, pretzels, crackers, or the subject of today's post, Honeycombs.

Thank you Braden for reintroducing me to the yummy goodness that is Honeycombs. Oh how I have missed you little crunchy combs of sweetness.

Now 3 or 4 times a week the first thing I do when Braden goes to bed is pour a bowl of cereal. Honeycombs make the perfect late night snack. All those years I was being all grown up and having a night cap were just wasted.

I should have been eating cereal and drinking sugar milk.  (compliments to Mr. Ron Mattocks)

Friday, October 8, 2010

You Haven't Lived

...until you have thrown your son so high in the air that you lost him in the sun.

...until you have watched your kid fill his bath tub buckets with cold water and then dump them on his head.

...until you have rolled 50 cars across the room on the hardwood floor one after another just for fun.

...until you have been vomited on by a newborn enough times that you don't even flinch anymore.

...until you can decipher your child's mood by the color of his poop.

...until you have eaten cereal you found on the floor because you didn't feel like walking to the trash can.

...until your body has been used as a toilet, a tissue, a napkin, and a jungle gym.

...until your kid commandeers your dinner plate and then scolds you for eating "his" food.

...until you develop a strong desire to hear a small human recite animal sounds.

...until you have eaten leftover dishes made by Gerber.

...until you have watched cartoons at 4 am.

...until you realize that all the stuff listed above is really the "good stuff" in life.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Truth Shall Set You Free

The Bible says in John Chapter 8, "Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."

This comment made by Jesus refers to the monumental truths of his teachings that are the basis of all Christianity, but doesn't any truth no matter how great or small allow you to be free.

In being truthful you are free from worrying about being caught, free from covering up lie after lie, free from telling the wrong lie or forgetting the lie you already told. Yet so many people prefer to lie or cover up things rather than tell the truth.

The virtue of honesty has been on my mind a lot lately because of some things that have happened at Arica's work. Rules were broken. Serious rules. The powers that be tried to cover up the mistakes, keeping them from parents. When the truth got out, and it always does, workers quit, parents pulled their children, and all manner of hell broke loose.

In the end people were more upset about the cover up than the actual wrong doing. Being dishonest about the situation made the proverbial mountain out of a little mole hill. It seems some people will never understand that being honest and up front with others is the only way to live.

Not too long ago a Pastor remarked during a conversation we were having that, "When you live in the truth there is nowhere else to go."

After dissecting the comment for a moment I realized it was truly genius. If you live in the truth you don't have to hide. You don't have to change courses or stories to keep the peace. You don't have to think about what you said or will say next. In the light of the truth their are no dark shadows where things can hide. You don't have to worry about anything like that. You only have to live in the truth. It's a simple fool proof plan.

It's been a long time since I went off on one of my philosophical rants about how a certain trait or virtue is important for me to instill in Braden. It's way over due. Every day as I evaluate the failures in my life I think about how to keep Braden from following in my foot steps. Certainly that begins by changing my habits so that he has a good role model to follow.

In this instance it was actually the misdeeds of others that made me think. Even if it's another person's nightmare there is no reason I can't use it as a reminder for how to raise my son. I know Arica values honesty above almost anything as well. So between the two of us I am certain that we'll bring Braden up to know that when he walks in the truth everything else will take care of itself.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Good-bye Baseball

Today at Life of a New Dad we enter the confessional booth. It's time to get something off my chest, and with the MLB regular season ending yesterday it seems like the perfect time.

I haven't watched an entire baseball game in at least 6 weeks.

There I said it, and the truth of the matter is I didn't miss it one bit. I still love baseball. I still love the Cardinals. It just so happens that a mixture of circumstances came together this year to create the perfect storm of apathy in my baseball life.

This is definitely the least amount of baseball I have watched since I was in high school. Back then there wasn't a Fox Sports Net. Every baseball game was not televised around the country. The only time I could watch my favorite team is when they were on ESPN or another national network. I followed the Cardinals daily through the newspaper. I looked at box scores and followed the standings.

When I went to college I was able to watch every Cardinals game if I wanted to, and I tried my best to achieve that many seasons. That type of habitual baseball viewing has carried on to the present day.

Now I am going backwards in my Cardinal following. I may not use the prehistoric newspaper anymore, but I have been reduced to following the team through box scores on the internet. Why has this happened?

Part of it is the fact that the Cardinals stunk this year. Stunk is a relative term. They finished in second so they didn't stink like, say, the Pirates. But this team bored me to death for weeks on end despite having two of the best hitters and two of the best pitchers int he league. The worst part is that many nights the players seemed to care less than I did.
So that leads me to the main reason I just quit watching. With a toddler ruling your house TIME IS PRECIOUS! If the team didn't care enough to play hard I certainly didn't care enough to spend my scant free time watching them.

As a husband and father of a nearly 2 year old free time is worth more than gold. I can either spend that gold on my wife, doing something useful, or watching a losing baseball team. For once in my life I started choosing someone else instead of falling back into my old habits. Sure I would enjoy watching the Cardinals lose if only so I could yell at the TV, but that wasn't what I really wanted.

I wanted to spend time with Braden. I wanted to spend time with Arica. I wanted to do what I could to help around the house. Parenting has a funny way of helping you learn what is important in life. Hopefully this same type of realization will happen in other areas of my life. I need to be rid of things that take too much time from my family. I especially need to get rid of those things that are harmful to my family.

Anyone who knows me will attest that putting baseball on the back burner was a big step for me. Hopefully it is only the first step in my realization that the real people in my life matter far more than images of people on the TV or any other inanimate object that calls my name.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Singing with Hank...Check

We all have monumental moments in our life that we will never forget like the birth of a child and our wedding day. These are universally accepted as the biggest moments in one's life. That is certainly true for me too, but there are many other special moments in life as well. Things that you strive for because of some strange part of your being. You are driven to do these things so you can write them down in your memory as mission accomplished.

Maybe there is even a checklist of strange things that you would like to do. I refuse to use the term Bucket List to refer to these things. I don't like terms that just explode like that. I will not jump on bandwagons of any kind.

Whatever you call the list it might involve going to the Seinfeld diner in NYC. It could include meeting the Dalai lama, 12th son of the lama, flowing robes, grace, bald, striking. I don't have a list, but if I did then I would certainly be marking one thing off Saturday night.

Thanks to my always awesome wife, who got me tickets for my birthday, I will be going to see Hank Williams Jr. in concert Saturday night. He will be with Jamey Johnson who is also one of my favorites. The  checklist item is the opportunity to sing "A Country Boy Can Survive" with Hank. That is something that any good country boy should aspire to do. I will drink a beer and belt out the entire thing with Bocephus. Good times.

While we are on the subject of random things that I find overly important lets talk about some others. Here are a few of the less than Hallmark moments that I am proud to have marked off a list of things I decided were cool for some reason or another.

When I visited the Coloseum in Rome I recited my favorite line from the movie Gladiator while standing smack dab in the middle of the former showplace of ancient Rome. I said "My name is Maximus Decimus Meridius, Commander of the Armies of the North, General of the Felix Legions, loyal servant to the true emperor, Marcus Aurelius. Father to a murdered son, husband to a murdered wife. And I will have my vengeance, in this life or the next."

My secret is out. I am a tremendous dork. I'm sorry to let you all down. I just couldn't conceal it any longer, but if you're honest with yourselves I am sure there is at least one person out there feeling the pangs of jealousy right now.

I drank a beer or two in a real live Scottish Pub in Glasgow Scotland. The local beer is Tennants and my friend's brother who met us at the pub calls it Vitamin T. He ascribes many of his special powers and physical attributes to his faithful adherence to a Vitamin T regimen.

I got the kiss on both cheeks greeting from a real Italian in Rossano Italy. It was actually a goodbye after frequenting a certain restaurant every night for weeks on end. After seeing it done again and again over the months I spent there I made it my goal to be accepted into southern Italian society enough to gain that greeting. And I did it.

Next week hopefully I will have a funny yarn to spin about my time with 20,000 rednecks and how it will now be indelibly imprinted upon my memories just like these other unforgettable moments.