Friday, February 26, 2010

Stealing A Line From Classic Winnie the Pooh

I wrote a post a long time ago about the presence of Winnie the Pooh in our home.  While Pooh has become less visible lately he still lurks in some unsuspecting places.  Braden has a little Pooh basketball goal in the bath tub.  Last night during bath time I felt compelled by Pooh's plastic mug to start singing the Winnie the Pooh song.

Everybody sing with me.

Winnie the Pooh. Winnie the Pooh. Tubby little Cubby all stuffed with fluff. He's Winnie the Pooh. Winnie the Pooh. Willy nilly silly ole bear.

Now that we have that out of the way back to the meat of this little post.  After singing the song I was reminded of the classic Pooh cartoons.  That is one of the reasons I like Pooh. He is older than me.

It's funny what things were said and done in old cartoons or books. We have the original Curious George book. In that story George smokes a pipe.  An author would be drawn and quartered for such an offense in today's society.

As for Pooh it was the matter of poking fun at the less intelligent. Many of Pooh's classic cartoons started with this line, "Being a bear of very little brain..." For example they might say "Being a bear of very little brain Pooh got lost while he was out looking for honey."

I thought it would be fun to apply that line to many of our other cartoon favorites on this Friday afternoon.  I hope you enjoy.
  • Being a dinosaur of very little brain when Barney came to life he wasted his time singing nonsensical songs with the neighborhood children rather than living it up.
  • Being a girl of very little brain Dora was always lost and asking her viewers for help reading her map.
  • Being a tiger of very little brain Tigger spelled his name T-I-double guh-er when everyone knows there is only one "guh" in Tiger.
  • Being a sloth of very little brain Snook was always asking an old turtle named Madge stupid questions.
  • Being a sponge of very little brain Spongebob lived in a pineapple under the sea rather than seeking out more luxurious accommodations.
  • Being a mouse of very little brain...Scratch that. Mickey must have been pretty smart to take over the world like he has.
Being a blogger of very little brain, this is the best I could come up with today. I will try to do better next week.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Telling Your Toddler No

I have been struggling with an area of parenting lately. It has really come to the forefront since Braden started walking in September.  As you can see it has taken me a while to get a grip on the situation.

As parents we always have to make disciplinary decisions. This is not the most important thing in the life of a toddler, but the discipline scale  grows exponentially over the years. A newborn needs zero discipline. A high school student needs a lot.  So where does a 15 month old toddler fit on this scale.

Since Braden started walking he has been into everything.  I was constantly following him around saying no, no, no, no.  At first this seemed like the right thing to do.  He is a smart kid. He will learn what no means and stop doing these things.


Yes he is still clearly smart. Yes he knows what no means. It is actually one of is favorite words. He is constantly telling me no while vigorously shaking his head. Still my word is not the absolute law of the house in his mind like I expected it to be.

As time went by it was lovingly pointed out to me by my wife that I was saying no a lot.  I was determined for Braden to mind so I just kept on with the nightly parade of negatives even after the warning. When I said no he would learn that it meant no.  He would stay out of our things and be a good boy.

Braden continued to ignore my suggestions fairly regularly. I found myself burdened by the worry about his behavior.  Would he mind in the future? Am I raising him right? If I give in will I be spoiling him?

Then I noticed that Braden listened to Arica better than he did me.  She says no too, but she has a different way about it.  She also spends a lot of time each day encouraging the little man rather than constantly hounding him. Braden probably feels more comfortable with her rather than his ever annoying No No Daddy.

As I watched Braden play Saturday night something that Arica had been trying to get through to me finally clicked.  I am spending way too much time trying to boss Braden around, and not nearly enough time having fun with my son.

Braden is just a toddler, and he is always a good boy. He doesn't need to have a drill sergeant to keep him in line. He is still exploring the world and learning at an incredible rate.  If he kept his hands off everything like I wanted he wouldn't ever learn much.  After all what does it hurt if he plays with a few things as long as they aren't dangerous.

Since then we have had as much fun as possible. I know Arica and I will both need our disciplinarian hats in the future. To tell the truth we still need them every day. There are certain things that are off limits.  Unsafe or irreplaceable things should be off limits, but Braden should not be denied his right to curiously explore the world just because his Dad wants to be boss.

Sorry Braden. I promise to lighten up and have more fun from now on. I don't want to miss any more of these amazing toddler times being the No No Guy. Love Daddy.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Dear Albert Pujols

I know that you are busy down in Jupiter Florida.  Full squad spring training workouts start tomorrow. I am sure you and your teammates have plenty to do preparing to defend your NL Central crown. Believe me, as a Cardinal fan for 25 years I would never do anything to derail your preparation for a new season. Much of my summer is spent following your glorious pursuits on the baseball diamond.

You are my favorite player. I remember when you entered the league in 2001.  Tony didn't want to bring you North with the team, but an injury to the ancient Bobby Bonilla gave you a spot on the roster.  You got a hit in that first game in Colorado and the rest, as they say, is history.

More to my point I saw a video on the web yesterday of you working with your oldest son AJ.  You were throwing batting practice, and he was hitting rockets around the cage.  I guess the normal Dad would now use this time to ask you for tips on teaching his son to hit like a big leaguer.

Well, as you can see, I am not the normal Dad. If I were I would not be so confidently penning this letter to my favorite baseball player.  I would not be posting this letter to the world where there is a possibility that you will read it and have a restraining order placed on me.

Because I am not normal I will not ask the standard question.  My question to you is, "Will you please fly me and my son to spring training this year so you can work with him on his swing." Yes I know he is only 15 months old and some people might think it is a little early to start serious instruction.  I disagree. Tiger Woods started at such an age and look how well it turned out for him.

Scratch that last thought.

Nevertheless, I would love an opportunity to work on my son's swing with you in Florida or anywhere else. I prefer Florida though because it is nice and warm. My son, Braden, has a great cut already.  He can swing full force at a ball on a tee and hit it every time.  He drive liners off furniture, walls, down the hall, and off me if I am not ready. Believe me, a lifelong baseball enthusiast, that he is ready to receive your instruction.

I appreciate your prompt response to this matter, and I look forward to working with you.

Your Friend,

P.S. I have enclosed a photo of Braden's swing for you to study prior to our arrival in Jupiter.

Friday, February 19, 2010

A New Reason to Love Being a Dad

There are so many obvious reasons that fatherhood is great. There are the mushy things like hearing Dada for the first time, or seeing your baby smile when you come home.

Other less sentimental perks are an excuse to play with toys or watch cartoons.  I probably spend an hour a day shooting hoops on Braden's 3 foot basketball goal while watching various animated fare.

The added exercise gained from chasing a wayward toddler could be counted as a plus. The huge mountains of candy the kid acquires from loving family and friends is a perk as well.

Some might even think that having a little guy you can train to feed the dogs and mow the yard is pretty cool.

Yesterday I experienced one of my personal favorite benefits of fatherhood.  Several times a week Braden gets eggs at lunch. This is usually his first meal of the day so he gets breakfast. Sometimes those eggs come with pancakes.  A batch of pancakes contains far too many cakes for the little guy. Have you figured out where I am going yet?

On those days that my lunch time magically coincides with Braden's first meal I get pancakes and eggs for lunch.  This glorious lunch is of course courtesy of my awesome wife. It is also helped by the fact that Braden is not yet able to eat more than 2 or 3 pancakes. Breakfast for lunch is one of the perks I hadn't expected, and I am enjoying it greatly.

Of course the unexpected perks come up every day. Like I said way back in this more serious post, "There is no way you can ever understand what it is like (fatherhood) until it happens to you." You never know what kind of joy your kids will bring into your life.

When that joy manifests itself as a scrumptious breakfast, I make sure to bring my appetite.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Evolution of a Dinosaur Named Barney

Much has been written about TV and its effects on children.  Should they watch? How much should they watch? The debate rages on.  I think there are plenty of educational TV shows out there that can benefit children. They shouldn't watch too much of course. I certainly hope Braden would rather play outside despite the fact that this seems like a dying pastime. Anyway he should at least watch less TV than his Dad.

I never really worried about Braden watching TV because he wouldn't sit still long enough. He runs and runs and runs through the house all day long. He has been doing this since he started walking in September.  As time went by he would occasionally stop in front of the TV when something caught his eye or more often his ear.  Sometimes he would stop and watch odd things like Dirty Jobs or the Bourne Identity.  No matter what was on TV he would always stop when he heard singing.

As time went by part of his daily routine would be to watch PBS in the morning a little with his Mom. She was learning what shows he liked and watching them with him sometimes.  Most days he watches PBS or other cartoons when he gets up. I need coffee. Braden needs cartoons. Whatever gets you going.

Other days the TV stays on cartoons just in case Braden runs by and decides to stop.  When you have an active toddler in the house encouraging him to stop from time to time is necessary for your sanity.  It is better he stops for educational PBS shows than for ice cream or playing with scissors.

The first show Arica noticed that Braden liked was "It's a Big Big World."  This PBS show comes on at noon every day. I have been coming home for lunch every day to eat a sandwich since long before Braden arrived. Now along with the sandwich I work in time to play with Braden and hopefully help Arica out. During these lunches I have seen the big world quite a few times.

Arica says the main character, a sloth named Snook, sounds like he is high.  I have to agree. Snook and his friends also live in the "world tree" and do many environmentally themed shows. One show was about helping the tree.  Helping is just another "h" word to substitute for hugging. I think Snook is a hippie.

What comes right after the tree hugging sloth named Snook?  Barney!!

A lot of people have bad mouthed the purple dinosaur over the years, but as far as I can tell he is a dinosaur sensation. So far Barney is cool with me.  We will see how that changes as I watch him millions of times.

Braden loves Barney. Sometimes when he is in a terrible mood and crying about everything, I will say "let's go watch Barney." When Braden hears this he runs straight for the TV and stands there staring at it. Another time I use this tactic is when he is holding on to his mom crying to be held while she is busy with her hair or makeup or cooking.  When he is like that nothing will deter him, except maybe Barney.

Using these tactics has taught me a lesson though.  Some idiots that make these DVDs put long promos and ads before the main menu. You can't fast forward or skip ahead. You have to watch several of these before you can get to Barney. So be sure to never ask your kid if they want to watch Barney unless the DVD is queued up and ready.

Otherwise they will not stand there all mellowed out like our buddy Snook. They will scream and yell until they hear:

Barney is a Dinosaur from our imagination.....

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

How to Spend Your IRS Refund Check

Recently I have mentioned Valentine's Day and the Olympics. Before that there was the Super Bowl. Next up is baseball season. So what is the topic du jour. Today we talk about income tax returns. 

If you are not getting a refund then I am truly sorry. You can use this time to complain about the stupid IRS if you like. For those of us who are anxiously awaiting our tax return it is time to spend our money.

As a parent the tax return will go towards necessities more than luxuries. It's still fun to dream of spending money as freely as a Hollywood starlet on Rodeo Drive. If that is not your thing then you can dream of swimming in mountains of cash like Scrooge McDuck. Either way dreaming never hurt anyone.

It would be fun to spend it all on Arica. I could rent out her favorite store for a private shopping spree. I could buy her the largest diamond possible, and she could wear it around her neck on a rope.  Another idea would be a trip to somewhere exceedingly tropical. I bet she would love it if I turned the entire thing into a spa gift card.  Finally I might use the money to hire a nanny for a few weeks. A helping hand would always be nice.

The money could go a long ways for Braden as well.  We could use it to buy a real, live, pooping, banana eating monkey.  Maybe we could buy him an entire fleet of motorized cars. That might actually work. He would be like a baby Hertz renting cars to toddlers all over town. We could go back to the shopping thing again. This time we would be at Wal Mart shoveling toys into multiple carts while laughing like wild hyenas. Maybe we could take the shopping tour to Toys R Us as well.  We could take trips to as many zoos and aquariums as possible. Of course the trips would have to be south towards warmer weather. I wouldn't want to go up north to find only polar bears and penguins out for the viewing public while the other lazy animals slept inside.

The money could go towards me too. I could always use hunting and/or fishing gear, new electronics, video games, or some other useless junk.  In fact too often the extra money goes to my vices. I have written about my affinity for betting on the ponies. On date nights I often lead our outings towards a drinking establishment. Spending money on those type things leaves only empty feelings and empty pockets.

That is why I truly want to spend the extra money from our refund on the two most important people in my life. Yes we will have to spend some on necessities. Yes we will save some for a rainy day that we hope never comes. With that little bit extra I am making a promise to myself to spend it on something fun and rewarding for Arica and Braden. 

Maybe we won't buy monkeys, diamonds, or a fleet of toddler rental cars, but we can have a good time. They deserve it for putting up with me.

Monday, February 15, 2010

No Matter How Cold the Winter, Baseball is Ahead

It has snowed three times in the past week here in southwest Arkansas.

The winter Olympics are all over the TV and the news right now. Although I have to admit I sometimes have felt like Homer Simpson when he proclaimed on last nights episode "There's a winter Olympics?!"

You can have snow skiing, ice skating, ski jumping, and every other cold weather sport. I am tired of the cold. I am longing for the winter to end and the spring to begin.  I dream of sunny days, blooming flowers, green grass, and baseball.  That's right, baseball.

All around Florida and Arizona major league players are reporting to camp. The official "pitchers and catchers report" is happening this Wednesday for my favorites, the St. Louis Cardinals.

I can think of no better words to warm my heart in the deep dark cold of winter. I wrote this last year about Baseball's return. I think Weasel Momma and my darling wife were the only readers on board at that time so be sure to go back and check it out.

As for this year I look forward to sharing a little bit more of the season with Braden.  It will be a while before he can play catch, but he is already hitting off the tee with great ferocity. Just yesterday he sent two balls flying out of his room and down the hall with a vicious cut reminiscent of a roid raging Mark McGwire.

By the end of the summer Braden will be approaching two years old. Maybe by then I can get him to say Pujols. I think it's a noble goal.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Happy Valentines Day

You can count me as one of those guys who never really understood Valentines Day. It seemed like a corporate created holiday to sell cards, flowers, candy, and stuffed animals. Why do we need a day to say I love you?  Shouldn't we be doing that every day? Do we really need cliched gifts and Hallmark memorabilia shoved down our throats?

I have to say that I've changed my mind a bit on the subject.  With a baby/toddler in our lives the marriage relationship doesn't get as much attention as it deserves.  The cycle is work, child, chores rinse repeat.  By the time Braden goes to bed there are only a couple hours left in the day for me and Arica.  By then we are worn out, especially Arica.  How she keeps up with that whirling ball of energy we call Braden is a mystery to me.  I would be a more capable replacement for a brain surgeon than for her.  I could never do her job.

That is why I am now glad that there is a Valentines Day.  It is nice to have an extra day to remember Arica and all that she does for me and Braden.  I wish I could say that I treat her like every day is Valentines Day, but that is just not true.  Because of all she does and all I don't do, I am really happy to have another special day this year to show her how much I care.

So with that I want to say Happy Valentines Day Arica!  I love you.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Curiosity Set My House On Fire

I have been thinking about the concept of curiosity a bit lately. How did I get there you ask? Let me map it out for you.

Braden loves monkeys.
A monkey named George is one of the world's more famous monkeys.
This monkey is well represented in our house.
This so called George is curious.

So as I read to Braden, or more likely to an empty room, about George's troubles my brain wanders off into deeper thoughts on curiosity.  A line in one of the Curious George books we have talks about getting a good nights sleep so George can wake up and be curious and wise.

I think there is no doubt that curiosity in a child is a sign of intelligence.  A curious child has to touch, feel, beat, throw, smell, and taste everything within arms reach.  This is the only way they can learn about the world around them.  Once a curious child has fully investigated something they file it in their memory as a lesson learned and quickly move on to something else.

The same thing goes for watching people.  A curious child watches everything that is happening around them.  They do this in order to learn how they are supposed to act or where they can find certain things.  It's the same way with adults.  Most intelligent people are always searching for answers.  "Just because" does not suffice for an intelligent person. They always wonder why and/or how.

Now the geniuses don't stop there. They may go fly a kite in a thunderstorm or try to invent a flying machine. These are the weirdos though.

Having laid out my theory on curiosity, I now pose another question.  What is the deal with "curiosity killed the cat?" That statement is directly opposed to my theory.  If curiosity helps a child learn then why are we telling them that curiosity kills our feline friends?

Living these past months with a abnormally curious toddler named Braden has given me some insight into that statement.  Curious Braden (CB for short) can drive any person crazy with his nonstop investigations of all things.  He gets his hands on everything in the house.  As he grows taller there is no place safe from his curious grasp.

I'm sure the phrase arose from the frustration some parent felt because of their own little curious child.  Sometimes I feel like telling CB curiosity is going to set the house on fire. Instead I just curl up in a fetal position in the corner and dream of warmer weather when CB can go be curious in the neighbors yard.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Making Important Choices

Making choices is an important part of everyone's life.  You are faced with choices every day and the decisions you make shape your life.  Yes, some decisions are not as important at others.  Choosing between a hamburger and pizza is not going to be a life altering decision most days.  Choosing between a hamburger and a salad over the course of 30 years might make a difference though.

From the time we are children we start making decisions. Eventually they lead to choosing friends, choosing activities, choosing colleges, choosing a major, choosing a job, and so on.  One day you will choose a home and a spouse.

Braden is already making choices.  Each day he chooses what toys to play with.  He chooses what he wants to eat much of the time.  He decides which ball to slam dunk or which thing in the house to bash with his baseball bat.

Sometimes we take him to Wal Mart and let him choose a toy.  We usually do this when we have to return a toy that he already has, which is quite often.  After executing the return we let Braden pick out a new toy with his money.  This weekend we took Braden on such a trip.  All of the toys in Wal Mart were available to him. He could have anything he wanted.  We were allowing total freedom of choice for the wee man.

This is what he picked.  He wore it through the store for the rest of our shopping trip.

As you can see he also likes to wear it when he is eating chocolate.

I guess this is a lesson for us as parents.  We can do our best to prepare Braden for the choices he has to make in life.  We can guide him, teach him, and encourage him, but even after all that we will never know for sure what choices he will make.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Who's On Stage: Super Bowl XLIV

I have nothing on my mind about parenting today, so I will tackle the Super Bowl. It is the dominating topic in our country this week so I might as well join the fray.

I think there could be a new Abbot and Costello routine born this weekend.  I foresee one of the many young kids that the NFL funnels down to the stage to dance and act crazy during the halftime show turning to a more educated fan to ask about the pensioners playing on stage. It might sound like this.

kid: What are these old geezers called?
adult: They are called The Who.
kid: I can't hear you. Who?
adult: That's right.
kid: What's right?
adult: The who
kid: That's what I'm asking

Now after that awful attempt a humor I will give you my 10 thoughts about Super Bowl XXIV. That is Roman for Super Bowl 44.
  1. More people will watch the game for the commercials than for the athletic contest.
  2. Many businesses will suffer a huge lack of productivity on Monday.
  3. There will be no less than 100 references to Hurricane Katrina.
  4. Some players between now and Sunday will make the news because of something that happened after dark on South Beach.
  5. I will eat a lot of food.
  6. The pregame shows will be ridiculously long and boring.
  7. Someone will ask what does XLIV mean.
  8. We will get plenty of random shots of celebrities especially those working for CBS.
  9. There will be commercials about beer.
  10. Peyton Manning will become the dorkiest QB to ever win two Super Bowls.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Red Menace Meme

Before I start I want to thank Katherine at Another Day, Another Moment for giving me an award.  I have not posted it to the site, but I am grateful that she thinks I am deserving of any type recognition that does not involve wanted posters. 

Another regular reader of this blog, Manic Mommy, tagged me with a meme today. I am supposed to post 7 or so pictures of something red as part of the Wordless Wednesday theme that makes its rounds every hump day.  I have decided to include pictures that have red in them even though the red thing may not be the focus.  I may be breaking the rules but this is my blog and I will do as I please.

The first group of pictures is about Braden's love of chocolate.  The first shows him with one of his many candy canes filled with Kisses on Christmas.  The other was taken very recently as he was enjoying one of said kisses.  If you look closely at the second picture you will see that there is red on my t-shirt.

The next two pictures are of Braden playing in the snow for the first time. It is really just a dusting of snow, but Braden is playing outside in it anyway. This is Arkansas. You take what you can get. 

Since spring training is just around the corner I included two old pics of us in Cardinal gear. The first is one of me and Arica at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. The second is me and Braden on Opening Day 2009.

Finally I close with a picture of Braden in a box.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

I am a Dad So You Must Listen to Me

Braden has another ear infection and all the joys that come with it. So yesterday after work I went to the pharmacy to pick up his medicine. I gave them his name. Then the lady started looking through a myriad of baskets to find his prescription. Seriously they had about 50 baskets littering every available counter top in this place. It was no surprise when it took her 5 minutes to find the right basket and that the medicine still wasn't ready.

It was at this time that I started thinking....

This is no way to run a pharmacy. In fact this is no way to run a zoo. These people need help, and I am just the man to help them.  After all I am a Dad. A Dad teaches his kids every minute of the day. Therefore I must be a teacher. I must teach these pharmacy folk.

Hey! Didn't your mother teach you how to clean your room! Or did you grow up in a barn where the only cleaning you did was to remove the cow patties from your hay mattress before you went to sleep!

You need to clean this place up! How do you ever expect to find anything in this pig sty! If it were clean and organized it wouldn't take you 10 minutes to fill an order of ibuprofen!


Oh crap it's the police! This is the last time I ever cause a ruckus next door to the donut shop.

As I ran through the door and out into traffic with Braden's medicine in my hand and fear in my heart, I realized something.

Being a Dad does not give me the unquestionable right to help mankind by teaching them life lessons, even though it should.

...As the flashing blue lights in my delusional mind brought me back to reality I decided to keep my mouth shut and stand there in line like another mindless cow waiting at the feeding trough.

Instead of taking an opportunity to make the world a better place I tried to read the pill bottles on the back wall to see if I recognized anything. That feels about right.

Monday, February 1, 2010

A Dad Prepares for Lost: The Final Chapter

In between engineering, surfing the web, and studying one word continually creeps into my conscience.  Lost...Lost...Lost. I can't escape it. My nerd alert is screaming at full blast, and the violator is none other than me.

Lost is returning to my life on Tuesday.  I am somewhere between free beer and you're the next contestant on the Price is Right excited about the return of my favorite show.  Actually Lost is probably one of my top two favorite TV dramas of all time, along with The Sopranos.

I have admitted here before that I am a science fiction fan. I have even wondered before if Braden will watch Star Wars with Dad in the future. How great a dad would I be to impart the double barrelled coolness of engineering and science fiction to my kid.  Before you call child services know that I don't go to conventions. I don't own costumes. I have never even read a sci-fi book. I just like watching a little science fiction on TV and on the big screen.

Why do I like science fiction? I think it is due to the depth of the stories and worlds created in these works.  It seems much more difficult to create your own world complete with belief systems, lifestyles, wardrobes, and the like than it does to film in New York City.  In the good movies or shows the stories are very thought provoking. That is what draws me in.  The mysteries of time travel or some other intriguing pursuit get my mind working.  Other times it is just great story, but always the story and characters matter.

I don't understand why some people have a hard time suspending belief to follow these type shows. Most shows that are theoretically based in reality are about as familiar to me as space travel.  The lives these movie characters live are as much like my life as Chewbacca's.  It seems that you have to suspend belief to follow 99% of every movie or show anyway. So why not just go a little further for the sake of a better story.

Lost adds the element of mystery as well. The show has developed a loyal following of weirdos that clamor for answers to the endless number of questions the writers leave unanswered.  This year will be the end of the ride.  Will we get all the answers?  Will the bomb reset the whole space time continuum?  Will the survivors be here or there and what year will it be?  How does this whole crazy mess work anyway?

Who knows?  But that is the fun.  I am sure the writers will let us in on the important secrets. Maybe we will get to know more about Jacob or the ageless Richard Alpert.  Maybe we won't.

Regardless of what answers we get, I will miss Lost when it is gone.  So I am preparing for the season opener with the same excitement Bear Grylls gets from jumping off a cliff. I will be prepared just like Lady Gaga was prepared for her trip to the nut house with that outfit at the Grammys. I will be glued to the TV every Tuesday night. Braden may even have to learn to entertain himself for an hour or two.  (Just kidding. We have a DVR, otherwise known as mankind's greatest achievement.)

If my posts seem a little mysterious for the next several Wednesdays, now you know why.