Friday, April 30, 2010

Star Wars Meets Camouflage

There are a great many benefits to being a baby.  Braden is not really a baby, but I am not sure what to call him. I am not much on the term Toddler. I just want to call him a little boy I guess.  We'll just say that there are quite a few benefits to being 17 months old.

There is the free butt wiping. The dressing. The bathing. The feeding. There are no jobs, bills, or responsibilities in general.  Being Braden's age is a free ticket to run around in your underwear acting wild only to be told how adorable you are.

While I was getting Braden ready for school this morning I noticed another benefit he has over me.  I was dressing him in a pair of dark camouflage shorts with a black Return of the Jedi T-Shirt featuring Yoda's big green head.  That is when I noticed that my son can quite easily pull off the wardrobe marriage of redneck and sci-fi geek. How awesome is that?

The feat is even more impressive to his Dad because my greatest redneck weakness is camo. I have a camo Cardinals hat, a Razorback shirt with some camo, and a lot of regular hunting camouflage shirts, coats, and pants.  I even have a camouflage tackle box and once owned a camo Razorback beer koozie that I have since lost.  It is really a wonder that anyone can keep up with a beer koozie anyway.

On top of that my biggest sci-fi love is Star Wars. I think I have mentioned here before that I don't go to conventions or dress like characters, but I do like the movies. Obviously the original three are the best, and Yoda is an all time great.

Unfortunately as a grown man with a somewhat professional career I am unable to pull off the blending of these two great things.  If I wore camo shorts with a Yoda shirt I would no doubt be labeled a stoner or at the very least a slacker.

Braden, however, can wear that exact outfit and be the cutest kid in the room.  I am jealous of that power over wardrobe choices that children have.  Braden could wear a cape or a giant fish hat. It wouldn't matter. He would look great. For that matter he could wear anything he wanted.

If I had the power to wear anything I wanted I think I would chose camo shorts and a Yoda shirt just like my little man.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

I Am Still Awesome

I received an award that I am going to share. I am not big on these awards anymore. I guess I have lost some of that super excited blogging energy in the past year and a half. I do like to report the rewards for two reasons though.

I like to share them just in case any of you readers are starting to doubt my awesomeness.

More importantly I like to thank the award giver. In this case it is John over at Fatherhoody.  We struck up a friendship pretty quick once I found out he liked Seinfeld and the Cardinals.  A guy like that must be a winner.  John is also a very new dad. Stop by and read his blog and offer some encouragement to a guy who probably can't remember the last time he got a good nights sleep.

I don't send awards to others because they usually don't accept. If you are an awards junkie just take the thing with you.  Leave me a comment to let me know you took it though. Otherwise it would be like stealing and we here at Life of a New Dad cannot condone thievery.

You can look at the pretty flower below. I must say that the word sunshine has never been used in any way to describe me so this is ground breaking stuff.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

My Son is Coachable

I think Braden is about to enter the stage of development that brings countless hours of joy to immature parents everywhere. The little guy is becoming coachable.

He has always imitated everything we do. I have written about that before. He imitates cooking, drinking, eating, brushing teeth, brushing hair, and anything else that he sees us do. Recently he has started imitating my juggling by taking two balls and moving his hands around in circles. It's really funny.

As a side note I am not a good juggler. I have started trying to learn since Braden was born only because it has always bothered me that I couldn't juggle.  Now I practice every night with Braden's bath tub toy balls while he takes a bath. Yes my friends it is this type of dedication that is sure to win me countless father of the year awards.

Now as Braden takes these new mimicking skills to the next level by allowing instruction there are no limits to the amount of fun we can have. The first indication of this possible new joining of forces came last weekend when I sneezed a couple times. Braden started laughing and began to imitate me.

Of course I took this and expounded upon it to make the production bigger and better. I started doing some very exaggerated AHHHHHHH...CHOOOOO! type sneezes.  Braden laughed and laughed and then started to do them himself. Braden will now give you an! complete with head motions on demand. It is hilarious.

What could be our next comedy tag team act?  I am against teaching vulgarities just for a laugh so I won't be doing that. What will it be? Touchdown dances? Three Stooges routines? I don't have time to wonder any more. I am off to draw up a  new routine for me and the little man to practice tonight after work.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Happy Birthday Arica

Any married person can tell you that a marriage is a series of ups and downs. It takes continued work on both people's part to make any marriage successful.  If you are truly blessed then you can grow as a person as a result of these challenges. To make that possible you need a special husband or wife.

I am lucky enough to have that type of wife. She is definitely a giver and not a taker. In everything she does she is giving to our family. Even in what seem like the most difficult of times she is giving to us all.  She has given me strength. She has given me courage. And as an old friend once remarked before we were even married, she has softened my heart. You can't do any better than finding someone who enriches your life in such a way.

I can seriously say that Arica has been more influential in my life than anyone I have ever known. That is crazy considering when we met I was pretty well stuck in my ways for better or worse. She proves it is possible to teach an old dog new tricks. I could never thank her enough for opening my eyes so that I can see the world and its people in a much more wonderful way.

Because I have found someone so special to me today is more important than I can express. Today I celebrate the day Arica entered the world.  This day a few years back made everything that is my life today possible. So on this happy April 27th I am not celebrating just another year added to Arica's age. I am not celebrating the passage of one more year on her life's journey.

I am celebrating the day that made all the joy and happiness in my life possible. What a truly great day this is.

Happy Birthday Arica! I love you!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Hazards of the Job

Two weeks ago Arica and I went to a Tim McGraw concert. Before last year I hadn't been to a country music concert since I was about 6 or 7 years old. Now in the last 6 months I have been to two. They have both been fun. Live music is always fun, especially when you can sing along.

Lady Antebellum was also there. Arica wanted to go see them. I was OK to sing along with my look alike Mr. McGraw. A lot of people have told me I look like him. It's not my opinion but others.

While we were there something happened that embarrassed me but first a little background info.

When I was in high school I was a dork. I don't know exactly why, but I just was. I was different than the other rednecks. I was awkward socially, and it didn't help that I was the valedictorian.

When I went to college I met some guys and learned how to be "cool".  From that point on it was important to me that I be cool. I wanted to say the right things and give off the right image. Everything had to be manly. Words like beautiful and cute were not part of my vocabulary. Image was important.

Of course I have grown out of that to some extent. It is still important to be manly, but I have admitted that I am to some degree a pretty boy so there is some growth in that area. Now on with my story.

When you attend a concert at this particular arena you have to wear an armband if you want to drink a beer.  I am sure most of you have worn these armbands before. They stay attached by sticking to themselves.

If an inexperienced armband person puts yours on they can cause plenty of damage. If the sticky part is not completely covered then the exposed area will stick to your arm. If you are a person with hairy arms then the armband will pull on your arm hairs all night.

So here I was sitting among 20,000 screaming rednecks at the concert. Many of them hadn't showered. Most of them were wearing their boots and hats. Quite a few of them had been dipping in the sauce. All of them were good ole boys and girls. During a quiet time between performers my arm hair got caught in the armband. This is where it gets ugly.

In my typically loud voice I said, "owie."

Arica looked at me and asked if I knew what I had just said. I was trying to get my bearings. Did I, the man who chooses words based on coolness, just say that. It couldn't be.

I looked at the man next to Arica and he was just staring at me. He was looking me up and down. I think he was thinking about punching me in the face and taking my wallet. After all what could a man that says "owie" do about it.  All I could do was grin and bear it.

For any other new dads out there that think you can remain cool after having a child beware. After an extended period of being exposed to baby talk, stuffed animals, and Barney any man is susceptible. There is only so much Barney a man can take before the manly center of his brain is turned to mush.

Sure being defecated on is a big hazard of fatherhood, but I say losing your manhood in an arena full of country bumpkins is much much worse.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Holy Rabbit Eggs! I Forgot Easter!

Just in case you missed it Easter was a couple weeks ago. We celebrated several times, but due to certain circumstances Life of a New Dad has not celebrated the holiday yet. I don't have a grand story to share about something that happened over two weeks ago so I will share in video and pictures with a few comments. I hope you enjoy.

Video #1 is footage of Braden's first ever Easter Egg Hunt. It is actually his second because they had one at school earlier in the week.  Since neither Arica nor I witnessed this supposed hunt for plastic eggs we cannot prove it actually happened. Therefore this video will go down in the records as the first Easter Egg Hunt.

This footage was sorted out of many more minutes to give you the actual gathering of eggs footage. Before this Braden played basketball, tried to go back inside, and stopped to eat all his candy before finding his egg hunting groove. He really does have a mind of his own.

Video #2 is from the second Easter Egg Hunt that occurred on Easter day. There was more footage of Braden gathering eggs, but it was much like the previous video so I offer you this instead. The first note is about Braden's plastic sack. All the other kids used sacks rather than a basket so Braden insisted that he get a sack too. That is why he is lugging a basket full of eggs and an empty plastic bag. 

Second is a note about his egg toss skills. He was actually the second kid to reject the blue egg. After I quit filming he removed it from his basket every time we put it in there and threw it on the ground. He did not want that egg for some reason. I guess he doesn't like baby blue.

Now we have to close with the traditional shots of Braden in his Easter outfit. For the second straight year he wore a suit and tie. He is super handsome. My thinking is that funerals, weddings, and the resurrection of my Lord and Savior are perfect occasions to wear a tie. I think Braden agrees.

I hope you enjoyed our Easter recap. All this talk has made Braden thirsty so we have to go and fill up our canteens. See you next time.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Don't Call It a Comeback

I am sure that at least a handful of people noticed that I was absent all last week. Don't worry I am not trapped under a cloud of volcanic ash. I have not been incarcerated or injured either. Last week was just a bad week at our house.

Let me ask you a question. What do day cares, preschools, baby Woodstock, and a meeting of the very very young republicans have in common?

They are all perfect breeding grounds for terrible debilitating sickness. Any place that more than one toddler is gathered is more suitable for an evil virus or bacteria than the men's bathroom at the Waffle House. Germs will always prefer a nice blanket at the local preschool over a petri dish in the lab of Louis Pasteur.

Well that concept struck our home and apparently every other home for kids in Braden's class last week.  Braden had a stomach virus for about 7 days. The only thing he could keep down were crackers, water, and pedialyte. Everything else came back with a vengeance. By the end of last week he resembled a stick baby rather than his normally chubby self. Braden's teacher said only a couple kids escaped the outbreak unscathed. Such is life with child care.

Arica caught the virus too. She was sick for about the same amount of time. She got sick a day later, but is just now getting over it.

After taking a day off to help with sickness my remaining free time was spent studying. I finally took my Professional Engineer Licensing exam on Friday. Months of studying culminated in one all day marathon testing session. I am glad it is over.

I think I did rather well on the exam, but I won't know for sure for quite a while. Apparently it takes the testing company 12 weeks to grade our exams. They only give us one day to take the test, but they can grade it for 25% of a year. Thanks for getting in a hurry guys.

Anyway I am back. Hopefully the family is well, and we can get back to providing you the details of our wonderfully exciting lives. I know you are on the edge of your seat, but you will have to wait until next time for any more juicy details.

Friday, April 9, 2010

How Big Will He Be?

We give everything we have to our children. I think everyone would agree to that. We give them all our love, all our time, all our attention, and all of our money.

We also give them much more than what we do consciously. Parents can pass on any number of things through their genes whether they want to or not. We may give them patience or a temper. We may give them a cheerful attitude or grumpiness. We can give them a lot of things.

The argument of hereditary versus learned behavior is a very interesting one indeed. I have always found myself wondering about how much of a child's personality is passed on and how much of it is learned. Of course kids learn a lot of their personality from their parents who also pass them their genes so that line is muddled a bit.

You can discuss that topic amongst yourselves or leave your scientific research in the comments section.

We are moving on to the topic of physical traits that we pass on to our children. There is no argument about how this works. We know that these traits are passed on from one generation to the next. There are odds at play here though. There is no guarantee that children will look like either of their parents. They might look like an uncle, a cousin, or no one in particular. How the genes mix according to that xx, xy, yy chart thing that they taught us in biology is a mystery.

As people continue to tell me that Braden looks like me I am beginning to wonder what his physique will be like. Will I pass on my chicken wing shoulder blades? Will he get the bird chest? I would rather he get the good parts of my physique. When I figure out what those parts are I will let you know.

I have always been thin. It is hard for me to put on any weight. Later in life this has served me well. It is much easier to stay skinny. So far the only thing that really packs on the pounds for me is beer. In my young adult life I drank way too much. At that time I had a nice beer belly. I didn't have any accompanying weight to go with it though. I liked to call myself a skinny fat guy. It seemed to fit.

When I was growing up I would have liked to be a bit bigger. I was a sports nut, and size always helps. In baseball I was destined to be a singles hitter. Despite my obvious lack of muscles I did record exactly one home run in my high school career. I still remember it vividly in that glory days section of my brain.  I was never cut out much for football because of my size either. I got playing time in 7th and 8th grade, but eventually quit to pursue basketball and baseball.

I would like for Braden to be built a little bigger than me. I will be happy no matter what size he is, but there are advantages to being bigger. This is not just a pipe dream either. The men in Arica's family are very big and strong. Her cousin could double as the brawny paper towel guy. He looks like a lumberjack. Let's just say that her uncles have never had any fear of a little tussle either.

So what will it be? I have no idea, but as you can see from these pictures Braden is happy to show off his physique already. Maybe that is a good sign.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Snook is a Hippie

In the coming days I have a couple posts that I would like to share covering a very important topic, cartoons. One of the hidden joys or burdens, depending on how you look at it, of having kids is the reintroduction of cartoons into your life.

The last time I was watching cartoons on a regular basis Bugs Bunny was still king.  There was the Road Runner, Tom and Jerry, Mickey Mouse and others as well. Mickey is still around, of course, but now he is the ultra digitized and computerised version. He looks nothing like the Mickey of old. Pooh and other old favorites are still hanging around too, but for the most part there is a whole new cartoon world out there these days.

Now I am not here to cover important topics like why Mickey wears pants and no shirt while Donald Duck wears a shirt and no pants. No, I will leave that to the pros.

Today I am here to build a case against Snook. For those of you who don't know Snook is a big sloth that hangs around on PBS every day at noon on a show called "It's a Big Big World." Today we will prove once and for all that he is a hippie and he is using his show on PBS as a platform to pass along his tree hugging ways to children everywhere. 

For starters Snook's voice, unkempt hair, and laid back attitude are enough to convince me he is a hippie. But if I have learned anything from hours of drinking beer with a lawyer it's that you can't get a judge to convict anyone on looks alone. You need facts.

Let me state my case.
  • I just heard Snook yesterday say "Don't you like to celebrate trees?" I am serious. That is what he said. The case should be closed now, but I will go on just to humor the legal eagles out there.
  • The tree dwellers sing a song called "You and me are the keepers of the tree."
  • Snook and his band of merry men and women also sing a recycling song that goes something like this "The forest is your friend so use it again and again and again."
  • On two occasions I have seen Snook out in the real world talking to a guy with a ZZ top beard. They talked once about a compost heap and once about growing organic carrots.
  • I have heard Snook implore his minions to "help the tree" on a few occasions. I say help is just another H word substituted for Hug.
  • They live in the world tree.  Not the oak tree. Not the pine tree. Not the Mangrove tree. Not even the rubber tree. The World Tree.
Don't get me wrong, teaching children not to litter and how to recycle are good messages. I love the outdoors, and I hope we can keep some nature around for a long time. I am just a little concerned about this guy in a sloth suit pushing a little too much of the hippie counter culture.

So Mr. Snook I'll be watching you. If you ever show up on my TV with a tie-dyed shirt then our relationship is over.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Opening Day 2010

I had nothing prepared today to post on Baseball's Opening Day.  As one of the literally dozens of baseball fans under the age of fifty I should be ashamed of myself. I am not supporting the sport that I love in a proper way.  I have plenty of Easter footage and other thoughts rambling around upstairs, but today must be reserved for baseball.

Right now as I type this the Cardinals are playing the Reds. I am recording the game with my trusty DVR so I can watch it tonight. I will have hot dogs and perhaps a few cold ones to celebrate Opening Day.

Lately I've tried out baseball a few times on Braden. I posted about his first viewing when he got a bat and watched with me while whacking away at the furniture.

The last time Braden watched part of a game he got excited because the players were wearing hats. He kept saying ha, ha, ha until I got him a hat to wear. Then he sat on my lap and watched a few innings.

I am looking forward to a special summer with Braden in many ways. We will go to the lake. We will swim and maybe even try to fish. We will play outside at the park. Braden will even get to watch Mommy and Daddy play softball this year.

Not the least of our summertime fun will be watching the Cardinals. I know he won't watch a lot, but surely we can exchange a few high fives over a home run or clutch strike out.  He already clapped with me last week while we were watching a spring training game.

Few things have the power to bring fathers and sons together like baseball. It was something special I shared with my Dad, and I hope it will be the same for me and Braden.  Our 2010 journey begins today.

By the way, I watched the first inning of the Cardinals game at lunch because I just couldn't' wait until tonight.  Albert Pujols hit a home run in his first at bat of the year. I think I heard Braden cheering all the way from his classroom.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

The Seven Dwarfs Open a Bar

I have stopped doing all types of themed posts. I have pulled out of the little communities tied together by Mr. Linky. I like it this way. There are no rules or other encumberments to my creative process. Blogging may not pay enough to fill a zippo with fuel, but at least at this job I can be my own boss.

Having said that I sometimes miss being able to vent my random thoughts onto an unsuspecting public like Homer Simpson vents explosive gas to the atmosphere from Sector 7G.

Since I am the boss I am instituting a random thoughts posting this Friday. I shall call it Venerdi Venting. I like Venerdi rather than Vendredi because who doesn't prefer Italians to the French. Really? Who?
  • There is a bar in town that has changed names from Slim's to Heavy's. It is safe to say that Too Tall's and Shorty's will be next. Other possible names include Happy's, Sneezy's, Grumpy's, and Doc's.
  • Why must the wholesale clubs, like Sam's, hire the most talkative people to check your receipts as you leave the store. Every time I go I have to wait in line while some pensioner talks to a random stranger about the weather or the price of corn. These highlighter armed security checkers need to be focused on keeping people from stealing 20 pound cans of Folgers rather than chatting up the customers.
  • Since we have been getting up earlier to get ready for school I have become a brief watcher of the Disney morning line up. Is there a worse song than the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse song "Hot Dog, Hot Dog, Hot Diggety Dog." What is that? Whatever happened to M-I-C-K-E-Y M-O-U-S-E.
  • Why does the best weather of the year in Arkansas come with unbearable wind. You can go outside and enjoy the weather as long as you don't wear loose clothing and fly away like a kite.
  • I recently got to experience a new joy of parenting for the first time. It was not for the faint of heart. Let's just say that if you have never been fishing for brown trout in the bath tub, don't try it. It's not that much fun.
  • Lately Braden has developed a new sleeping habit. He wakes up most nights between 2 and 3. He doesn't fuss or cry much. He does make noise though when he tries to go back to sleep. From our room you can easily herar mmmmm....MMMMMM....mmmmmmmmmm....MMM. I keep waiting for Rain Man to show up and start imitating him and saying I heard noises.
  • Let's close with a random pic.

Leslie Knope is a Genius

It seems lately when the question is asked if I want to do something with Braden my answer is always, "Let's go to the park."  I don't really know why this proclivity for park visitation has arisen. I never was a regular park attendee as a child.  Of course the park that we had at the time was a couple run down swings and a lot of trees surrounding a softball field for the local beer league games.

I don't love the parks system as much as Leslie Knope or anything, but I do think that parks are pretty cool. She is right about that. 

I think maybe the reason for my new found love of the parks system is two fold. The most obvious reason is that Braden LOVES to be outside. He regularly drags me or Arica to the door by the finger and points to the handle.  He wants to be in the great wide open. The walls of our house are apparently too confining for him despite the fact that he has an embarrassing amount of riches in there to keep him occupied.

The second reason is that it is really difficult to take him outside at our house. We live at the foot of a mountain. Our front hard is very steep making it difficult for Braden to roam about.  We also have only a small piece of property which doesn't provide sufficient space for our little explorer.  It takes about 5 seconds for him to get out into the street.  The back yard is better, but there are two gigantic dogs and a fence. Braden doesn't really mind the dogs, but again he isn't much on boundaries.

The park solves these problems. It is big and relatively flat.  Braden can roam around for as long as he likes.  He swings and slides occasionally, but the biggest draw for him is the ability to walk and walk and walk without someone scooping him up and ruining his fun.

We have to be careful what days we take him though because he has pretty bad tree pollen allergies. If you have never been to Arkansas in the Spring then you might not know how we are affected by tree pollen in this great state. For a couple months our entire world has a yellow haze too it. All surfaces are covered with yellow dust. All puddles of water look like a runny watered down pools of cheese dip.  Pollen is everywhere.

Because of the pollen invasion we try to keep Braden inside on windy days. Otherwise he coughs and sneezes for a week or two. 

When we actually get to the park it looks something like this.

There is climbing...
and  walking...
and playing with sweet gum balls...
and lots of smiling.