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.