Monday, January 31, 2011

Dear Mother Nature

Let's continue on this outdoor adventure train of thought for one more post. I've been locked up indoors since deer season ended in December, but not too long ago I was spending significant time in the great outdoors. And during that time, while I was perched atop my deer stand NOT killing deer, I thought of all sorts of questions.

These questions weren't actually formed by my own curiosity, but more out of a fear of Braden's coming curiosity. Right now he only asks "What's that!" He asks it all the time. Sometimes he'll ask it 50 straight times. But it is still a much much easier question to answer than a "Why?" question.

Sitting in the woods I thought of several questions that Braden could potentially put out there some day. Questions that I can't answer. So today I'm asking someone who might know.

Dear Mother Nature,

  • Do woodpeckers ever get a headache?
  • Do squirrels suffer from the small man syndrome or are they always making all that noise for another reason?
  • Deer taste good and they seem smart in order to help them survive. Conversely, do dumb animals taste bad?
  • Why did you  make mosquitoes? WHY!?!
  • Why did you make armadillos so dumb and ugly? It just doesn't seem fair.
  • Why did the chicken cross the road?...To prove to the armadillo it was possible. Sorry. I knew the answer to that one.
  • Do deer really hate me?
  • If a tree falls in the woods and nobody is there to hear it, does it make a sound?
  • Can you get me tickets to the Super Bowl?

Sorry I got off track there at the end. In closing thanks for making all the natural wonders, animals, plants, and trees that I enjoy so much. And if you can get me tickets just shoot me an email.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Man vs Child

I absolutely love survival shows. I have seen every episode of Man vs. Wild, Survivor Man, and even the new Dual Survival. Long ago I was a boy scout and learned many of the typical survival skills from that experience. I think maybe I love the survival thing so much because it seems like the basest manly instinct, the ability to survive in the wild. I know I could do it for a couple days around here in my home environment, and I would love to try a very watered down version for a weekend some time. Survival in the cold, however, is not for me.

Watching all these shows sometimes makes me think about my life as a dad in terms of a survival situation. Sometimes it feels like being lost in the dessert with no way out anyway.

So I have questions. In a parenting survival situation what would be the most essential survival tools? What would be the best plan of action? What are the survival basics?

Well instead of pondering my life away I decided to put some ideas together. So here is the first revision of my Man vs Child survival guide.
  1. The boy scout motto is "Be prepared." This is the best advice for any situation. The problem is that no one plans to be in a survival situation. It just happens. Bear Grylls always carries his trusty knife. Usually it includes a flint for starting fire as well, although sometimes he leaves that behind for the sake of TV. So what is the essential survival tool for a parent? What tool is equally as important at the mall and at the park? My answer is Diapers and Wipes. You don't want to be caught anywhere without a way to get rid of poop. Forget food and water. Go straight for the waste disposal tools.
  2. Often times you find yourself in places that are less than baby friendly like a restaurant. Just as Les Stroud would scavenge his broken down dirt bike for wire, gasoline, and insulation, we parents must use what is available to us. The restaurant menu can work as a book in a really tight spot. Straws can serve as swords. Sugar packets can work as building blocks or footballs. Use people in the neighboring booth for a peek a boo game. Pull out an ink pen and let the kid draw on something if you must. Remember THIS IS SURVIVAL! Use anything you can.
  3. Now that we have covered poop and entertainment, lets look at food and drink. In a typical survival situation the priorities are water, food, and shelter. But for children in an unfamiliar environment clean butts and entertainment often come first. Because if they aren't happy then all hell breaks loose. And once that happens all is lost. If you have a newborn then you always have food with you. We have a toddler. We don't carry around stuff for him anymore. Sometimes you have to tide the kid over until you find the next food source (read McDonald's). Crackers are complimentary and yummy. You can find free cookie samples at the bakery. In a survival situation you just have to know where to look. If you happen to be in a grocery store I strongly advise opening a box of food for the kid. Don't feed your child fresh fruit from the store though. That's just stealing.
  4. Finally we come to shelter. Always be prepared for the possibility of a nap. If the kid starts falling asleep be ready to drop all your gear and make camp for the night. You can sit down on any available furniture. The mall sofas are nice. They can work as a temporary shelter while your survival partner, if you have one, continues the search for food or clothing. There is also the possibility that in a napping situation you will have to get out the emergency flares and signal for help. I've been in spots where setting the store on fire seemed like my best option. When you find yourself in that kind of predicament you need to get back to base camp where it's more cozy. On those days just be thankful you knew how to survive so you could live to play another day.
These are just the basics. The key is adaptability. Every situation is different, and every child is different. Just remember to be prepared, use the things around you, and keep your cool. Never lose your head in a survival situation. That can only lead to disaster.

Whether you get out unscathed or not depends totally on your parenting survival skills. I suggest you have your own little survival guide tailored to your natural environment. Like I said before, being prepared is your best weapon. Because once you are at a school play with no toys, no food, and no escape plan, it's too late.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Little Golden Books

From the time Braden was born he has been the owner of quite a fine library. I wouldn't say proud owner because he has been way too busy for books most of his life. Arica and I were determined to read to our son so we bought books all the time. We encouraged the grandparents to buy books. We wanted books.

At first we could read them to Braden. He was small and immobile and thus unable to stop us. I believe it's important to talk with your baby when they are little. Hearing words and sounds helps them even if they won't be able to talk for a long time. Sometimes it's hard to say anything interesting. That is where reading comes in. If you run out of things to say just read a book. I read Dr. Seuss quite a bit during these days.

As time went on Braden wouldn't even let us read him a book. If we tried he would just take it away. Getting through one page was quite an accomplishment.

Eventually that led to him "reading" books himself. He would take them from us, but at least he would look at them for a few moments. After that you would sometimes find him sitting in the floor of his room surrounded by a pile of books.

We have one low bookshelf that is just above the floor. He can easily get those books and read them. He would look at one, throw it down, and get another. This would continue until they were all on the floor. He still does that.

A little while later Arica and I stored some of his toys and clothes in big plastic tubs. I was slow in getting them stored under the house so the tubs sat in Braden's room for a few months. During this time Braden started climbing up on one of the tubs so he could reach the books on top of his big book shelf.

This is when Braden really started to enjoy reading. Around that time this became his favorite book.
Braden called this his "Cars" book because he particularly liked the page that showed cars, trucks, airplanes, trains, and the like. He still likes to look at the book sometimes. He still likes the cars, but another one of his favorite pages has become the fish, especially the clown fish that he calls Nemo.

That leads me to our current stage of reading. Braden, as I have mentioned before, loves Cars and Toy Story. He has always loved the Pixar movies. And why would he be any different with books.

Braden has a nice collection of Little Golden Books. The same type books I had when I was a kid. He has some of the original stories, but they get little attention in our house. What Braden loves, of course, are the book adaptations of his favorite movies.

Arica and I have read each of these books 100 times.

Toy Story 2 seems to be Braden's favorite, though. At least it's the one I have read him the most. I read it to him almost every night before he goes to bed. The best part of this whole thing is that night time story. Before bed every night Braden wants me to read him a book. It's something you hear from parents the world over. Every kid goes through this stage. It seems so simple, but I love it.

Reading Braden his bedtime story is always one of the best parts of my day. Simple things like this are without question the best part of being a Dad.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Ultrasounds....And Twins!

We snuck into the doctor's office late Monday afternoon. Our mission was to get one of those "for fun" ultrasounds that our doctor had invited us to have. It was all very hush hush, secret spy sort of stuff. Don't tell Obama. We don't want to get the health care police into a huff.

Even if you've done it before it is always fun to visit the ultrasound machine. Those grainy black and white pictures offer the first glimpses of the babies that you can't wait to hold in a few months.

We had seen the babies at about seven weeks. That is how we got the news we were expecting twins. Of course they looked like grains of rice way back then. Now we were eager to see how they had grown, and what a tummy full of two babies looked like.

Well it was nothing short of amazing. It was hard for the ultrasound lady to hold both babies in one view. But for one brief moment she got them. It didn't last long enough for her to hit the print button so we didn't get a picture. They apparently don't offer DVDs of these secret sessions either. But that didn't matter. The image of both babies, one on top of the other, will live on in my memory forever. What an amazing thing.

We got some other great images as well. There was one where one of the babies had his hand held out in front of his/her head. You could clearly see all five fingers. It is so crazy that, even as small as they are, they look like babies now. The tiny arms, legs, hands, and feet are so cute.

We won't go in for the official determination of the sex for another five weeks. So I have no announcement to make on that front. At one point during the show both Arica and I thought we saw "boy parts" on one of the babies. I can't remember if it was Baby A or Baby B. As a side note, at our particular clinic they always call the baby located lowest in the belly Baby A. I don't know if this is common convention or just their preference. Either way now you know.

The stenographer (read ultrasound lady) said she couldn't find any "boy parts" but it was really too early to tell. The doctor also said it was too early. Despite the fact that these two people are medical professionals and one of them has been delivering babies for 30 years, everyone we know has said they are wrong. They can tell the sex now. Whatever. We will not know the sex for another five weeks. That's my story.

I have, however, begun to prepare myself for the possibility of twin girls. I keep hearing that stupid Coors light commercial ringing in my head.

"And Twins!"

That's a nightmare.

I've also started to develop building plans for Braden and I to have our own little escape from the girls. It will be a place we can go to escape reality TV and watch a football game instead. It will have multiple TVs. It will have cold drinks. There will be rock music. It will be our manly place. I don't like the term man cave so I'm not calling it that. That term rose to prominence too fast for me. I never really accepted it. We'll call it, as Frank Costanza once said, "The Place to Be."

Whether "The Place to Be" ever comes to life or not is really not important. Maybe Arica will need her own place to run from all the boys when the time comes. We don't know. What we do know is that so far the babies are perfectly healthy, and that is all that really matters.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Rock and Roll Tricycle

I have made a goal to start posting more. Perhaps you noticed. This is my fifth post this week. For you math majors out there that is one post a day during the work week. I don't think I've accomplished that since back in 2009. The post I have marinating in the drafts section right now is not yet ready for prime time, so I'll have to do something quick and dirty today.

I don't want to start putting junk up here in order to post every day, so I probably won't keep this mad schedule up for liong., I did, however, want to try and accomplish it for at least one week. So this is the capper that completes my dream. For one week I was once again a prolific blogger.

I have two things to share. One is a video of Braden riding his Lightning McQueen tricycle again. Yes, it is the same instrument of terror that he is piloting here. No, this time animal terrorizing is not the subject. Just a little rocking out and riding his bike.

But before we get to that I have a request for my praying friends. Tomorrow Arica and I will be joining a group of our friends from church to feed the homeless in our home town. A group of 7 or 8 of us has put this event together because we want to "Be the Church" in our community. I'm cooking chili in the morning and we will hand it out tomorrow afternoon. My request is that all of you pray for our little outreach tomorrow. Pray that the people we help will feel God's love through our actions. Pray that the love we share might encourage these people and give them hope. Thanks so much and have a great weekend.

Now on to Braden.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

M&Ms: Is There Anything They Can't Do?

Back in 1941 when Forrest Mars, Sr. started producing M&M candy he probably didn't expect that 70 years later I would be writing this post about his magical treats.  In fact he probably didn't foresee the coming of the internet at all. He was a smart dude, but I think this whole thing would have probably blown his mind.

Anyway, Mr. Mars got the idea for M&Ms from soldiers in the Spanish Civil War. These soldiers carried chocolate candy with a hard shell that kept the candy from melting. You know the whole, "melts in your mouth, not in your hand" thing. After getting a patent for his own process of making chocolate with a thin candy shell Mr. Mars brought the world M&Ms.

The candy was introduced to American troops serving in WWII during 1941. And today they are still fighting the good fight inside our home.

These magical candies are serving a two fold purpose in the Life of a New Dad home. First they are Braden's reward for using the toilet rather than his pants for disposing of bodily waste.

Second they are teaching him the colors. We don't just hand over the chocolate for a properly placed pee. The kid has to tell us the color too. He has known most of his colors for some time, but for some reason he doesn't like to tell us. Braden just says any color in hopes of moving on. Now, with the M&Ms, Braden is finally starting to play the color game rather than trying to drive me crazy. That is the magic of these little chocolate candies.

They fed the US troops in WWII.

They are teaching my son to poop in the toilet.

They are teaching my son his colors.

I don't think there is anything that M&Ms can't do. They can probably teach basic math skills and help kids learn to read. They may even be qualified as driver's ed instructors. These candies are special.

It is because of all these things that I would like to take time today to say thank you to the Mars Candy Company. Keep up the good work and don't let those so called health experts get you down. America needs its candy and we're counting on you.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Branded a Parent

I don't have anything particularly exciting to share today. Yes, every day with Braden is exciting, but sometimes the spirit of creativity just doesn't stir within. After all, how many times can I attempt to explain that Braden is a wild man by describing the way he uses his leapfrog train as a battering ram or by the way he says "I kick cars" and then goes around the house delivering Bruce Lee style punishment to his toys.

I guess I could do it every day, but I won't. Today instead I thought I would share something that I think absolutely, without question, brands us as parents. Being branded means there is no going back. There is no flip flopping from parent back to our prior life. Even when Braden is not around we are still 100% parents. That brand does not wash off. No amount of "Sons of Anarchy" watched while eating a meal that didn't come out of a box will change that.

Food is actually the driving theme for this post, so let's get to it. Let's start with Pampered Chef. Anyone heard of that?

Basically it's a fairly expensive brand of kitchen stuff  that is sold via parties. For a while before Braden was born Arica was invited to dozens of these parties. She even threw one once at our house to help out a friend. It may have been my cousin's wife now that I think of it. I don't know. When I hear the term party preceded by any word other than keg I instinctively get in my truck and drive away towards more manly pursuits.

Well through all these parties Arica acquired some things. One of which was a set of three very nice cake pans. They were a lot better than the Wal Mart type pans we usually used. Arica used them to make some awesome cakes. I liked to use them for corn bread because of the way the browned the bread. Anyway they are fine culinary instruments.

We still have those three pans, and we use them now more than ever. They are in a state of constant motion between cooking and washing. They never get a break.


Because Braden eats a lot of chicken nuggets and fish sticks. Having kids not only transforms you, but it transforms your cookware as well.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Unforgiven

I am a huge Clint Eastwood fan. I think he is one of the coolest, toughest leading men of all time. So when I was flipping channels on Sunday as the rest of my family napped I had to watch a little of the Unforgiven. It is probably my favorite western of all time. I was flipping back and forth between that and football, and Braden eventually woke up so I didn't get to see much of the movie. Even though TV time was cut short I thought of my favorite line in the movie and was inspired to write today's post.

In the closing gunfight one of the bad guys played by Gene Hackman says, "...You just shot an unarmed man!"

My hero Mr. Eastwood replies, "Well he should have armed himself..."

That is one of my favorite movie lines, but Sunday it didn't remind me of manly tough guy things. It made me think of my tiny unborn twins. It made me think about their arrival this summer. They will arrive with guns blazing.

Dirty diaper! Pow!

Hungry! Bang!

Wet Diaper! Boom!


They will be packing a double barrel shotgun full of ammo for me. And they won't care if I'm armed or not. You see in this analogy the twins are Clint Eastwood, and it is up to me to arm myself.

I can either be the unarmed man that goes down in a blaze of pooping, crying, sleepless glory. Or I can do my best to be prepared. I can arm myself with knowledge, patience, understanding, self control, and of course love.

How in the world can I prepare for the birth of twins? I don't really know that exactly. I figure it is like the birth of your first child all over again. Everything is new. Everything must be learned by first hand experience. After all no one in my family has twins. They can't give me advice.

I think the best way to arm myself is through daily prayer and self reflection. I have about six more months to figure out what improvements I need to make. Although much of my life I just barrelled ahead like everything I did was right, I have developed a strong belief in self reflection. Being married to a smart and caring woman has helped me tremendously in this area.

Everyone should regularly take the time to look at their life, how they behave, and how they react to others. By doing this I can easily see that I need to work on my patience. I need to continue my effort to be more selfless. I need to keep working on the idea that I am now, above all things, a husband and father.

I think arming myself with the knowledge that my sole purpose in life will be to care for my wife and three kids is the best thing I can do. Taking the time to wean myself off other pursuits that are really a waste of time is part of that. I have to learn to be more mindful of my time. I'll pray about it, and I'll work on it every day.

In the end I'm just thankful that, unlike the bad guys on the Unforgiven, I've been given enough warning of the gunfight to come that I have time to properly arm myself.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Potty Training with Big Boy Underwear

This weekend we got hard core with the potty training. We enacted the big boy underwear plan. This plan is very simple. Braden wears tiny little underwear with Cars designs. Arica and I take him to the bathroom every thirty minutes in the hope of avoiding accidents while at the same time drilling him on the fun of using the toilet. Repetition. Repetition. Repetition.

I think the weekend went well. On Saturday we had three accidents. On Sunday we had none. And this morning before I left for work Arica got Braden to poop in the toilet. Braden demanded that his Mom leave the room to give him privacy. Apparently that was all he needed. While she waited in the wings Braden went to the bathroom on his own. Big win.

Saturday we nearly avoided all three accidents. Braden told me he had to pee pee the first time. Even though he released the flow before he told me, we did manage to get some in the toilet. The other two accidents involved the big number two. We almost made it to the toilet the first time. I just caught him to late. We ran as fast as we could, but, alas, the deed was already done.

Later in the day just before Braden's 30 minute appointment at the porcelain throne, I had to use the bathroom. When I was done I went to get Braden. I set him on the toilet unaware of what he had been doing while I was in the bathroom.

That's when my ever inquisitive son pointed to the floor and said, "Daddy, what's that?"

To which I answered, "That's your poop."

Such are the adventures in potty training. Even with the excitement of floor poop, I have to say that it went a lot better than I expected. So off we go to the first full week of Lightning McQueen underwear. Wish us luck.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Beware of Toddler

So you're all tired of hearing the southerners talk about snow, right? Well there is one detail that has yet to be discussed at Life of a New Dad. This topic is the cold weather's effect on the Forgotten Furry Children. You might recall from past posts that we have two dogs who live outside. Once in a great while they get to drag their dirty hides into the house for a little R&R. You might say it's like the doggy spa treatment.

Last year when the temperatures dropped to single digits for a few nights we let the dogs in. It was a fairly quiet process. They got cleaned up. They warmed up. And they slept for nearly the entire time. Braden was nice to them. It was a fun family time.

Well with all the snow and temperatures getting into the teens the last two nights, the dogs have spent a few nights under our roof again. I know that makes all you animal lovers out there happy. It made us happy too. We love our dogs and it's nice to have them in the house sometimes.

It is not nice however when one of the dogs roams the house all night long. She woke us up eating her food at 2 am. Then at 3 all her wandering around woke up Braden. He stayed awake for 3 hours. I think the dogs have probably lost their spa privileges for a while.

But it wasn't all fun and games for our canine companions either. In the past year Braden has developed a bit of an ornery streak. See what I mean.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Grinch Didn't Steal Christmas

Christmas was nearly three weeks ago. We have all moved on and started to enjoy 2011. Still this is some sort of a journal for me to record what life is like for me, Arica, and Braden. So even if it is a new year I have to post something about Christmas. Otherwise when I look back on this year I might think that the Grinch really did steal Christmas back in 2010. With the way my mind is deteriorating it won't seem that strange in another 10 or 15 years so documentation is necessary.

I'm sure most of you don't care, but for those of you that like pictures, here is visual proof that we had Christmas this year. Furthermore it is proof that we once only had one kid. Because next year things will be much different.

Another good reason to share these pictures is to show you how prevalent the "CHEEEEESE!" face has become in our house. Every picture taken of Braden, unless you go all stealth mode on him, results in the cheese face. It's cute, but once in a while it would be nice to see his big brown eyes.

So enjoy the pictures on the basis of a love for Christmas, a love for cute kids, a curiosity about the cheese face, or simply because you are bored to death. I don't care. I'm just glad to know that I have successfully documented Christmas 2010 for all future generations. Tomorrow we'll get back to the current decade.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Bllizzard 2011

Anyone that has no life and actually reads my tweets already knows that Monday was a snow day for much of Arkansas. I have dubbed it the Great Blizzard of 2011. Roughly translated that means Arkansas got 6-8 inches of snow, sold out of bread and milk across the entire state, and everyone played in the snow rather than working. We're a bit snow crazy like that. Adults and kids alike enjoy the snow in Arkansas because it isn't often that it actually sticks around here.

As I write this post there is still a significant amount of snow on the ground, and schools are still closed. So this definitely is a big weather event for us.

I spent my day off Monday playing in the snow with Braden for the first time. Arica, Braden, and I built a snow man, threw some snowballs, made snow angels, and even did some sledding on an inflatable raft. We had to improvise because we just couldn't pass up the opportunity to have some fun. After all, it might be a couple years before we get another chance. This just in. Sledding is fun!

After calling it a day I realized that this was the first time I've ever been sledding before, even if there was no sled per se. I grew up not only in snow challenged Arkansas, but also in a part of the state where the ground doesn't rise more than a degree or two for 100 miles in every direction. So even when there was snow we could only sled if pulled by a 4-wheeler.

Enough of this Arkansas snow day history. Here are some pictures and one short video of our day in the snow. I hope you enjoy them.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Fix My Buzz

Kids always get duplicates of toys on every gift giving occasion. We were lucky this year that we only had one duplicate for Christmas. Last week Arica and I took Braden along to Wal Mart to return the duplicate toy and get another.

Our thinking was that we would get him some sort of Buzz Lightyear toy. Braden is on a huge Toy Story kick lately. He asks to watch Buzz at some point every day. Some days he never stops watching it. We got Braden all three movies for Christmas and he likes them all. We knew he would because he was mesmerized by the trilogy when his Mom watched them all recently.

Toy Story 3 is probably his favorite though because he likes the train scene in the beginning. Other than that scene everything is all about Buzz.

When we went to Wal Mart Braden wanted to play with the toy we were returning. To help encourage him to let us return it we promised him a Buzz. So the entire time we were standing in the return line Braden kept saying, "I get my Buzz. I get my Buzz."

Finally we made the transaction after the cashier asked for my ID, made me take it out, and swiped it. I guess he thought I was running a scam by going around the country and stealing $15 dollar toys just so I could return them to Wal Mart. And just to add to the disguise I brought along a woman and a small child that I kidnapped from McDonald's.

Nonetheless, we had our gift card, and we were off to the toy section.

First we handed Braden a rocket with Buzz as the driver. You shake it and Buzz and the rocket shoot off across the floor. Braden wanted that. Then he decided he wanted a Buzz figure. Then he wanted both. Then he wanted something else. Eventually he decided on the little Buzz action figure. It would be Braden's first action figure and it seemed like a good purchase. He was happy.

Before we even got out of the store Braden had to open his Buzz. So we opened it and handed it to him. He gripped it in his little paws and began pushing the buttons on Buzz's suit. Nothing happened. Then he pushed the button on his arm to fire the laser. Nothing happened. He tried to close Buzz's helmet. It wouldn't budge. Of course none of those things were intended to happen, but you try explaining that to a 2 year old.

All the way home all we heard was "bix my Buzz. Daddy bix my Buzz. Momma bix my Buzz" as Braden continually pushed the buttons with a disappointed look on his face. Finally we got home and he just threw Buzz aside.

All these talking toys have ruined our kids. I'm not sure many little boys even know how to make truck sounds anymore. Everything talks. Everything sings. Everything makes noises to drive Mommy and Daddy crazy.

I am happy to say, however, that Braden can make truck noises. And that next day he and Buzz became best friends. Now Buzz goes almost everywhere with Braden including "to infinity and beyond!"

Friday, January 7, 2011

Toddler Bed Conversion

I've written a lot about milestones. After all raising a kid is an endless series of milestones, especially in the early years. I've marked the first food, the first steps, and even the first time we had to buy a gallon of milk. That last one was pretty popular so I think I'll give you the link.

On Sunday night I got my butt in gear and prepared our home for the next milestone. We were going to give it a try no matter the cost. It was time to convert Braden's crib into a toddler bed.

While I was making the conversion, Braden came in to watch. I told him I was fixing his bed because he is always asking me to "bix" something. He also has some toy tools that he plays with and will say, "Daddy. I bix" as he pokes and prods at whatever he has deemed broken. I also tried to explain I was making his bed into a big boy bed, but that didn't seem to resonate. Braden kept reading his books only to look up every few minutes and say, "Daddy bix my bed?"

When I was done Arica came on the scene to add the finishing touches. She brought in the Lightning McQueen sheets, bedspread, and pillow case to dress up the bed.

Braden's eyes absolutely lit up. He couldn't wait to get in the bed. We had to literally force him to wait until his Mommy was finished making the bed before he climbed aboard.

As soon as she was done he bounced into the bed and laid down all the while carrying on about his new bed and Lightning McQueen. He was so excited. Laying there he looked like such a big boy it was hard to believe. It's like you flip a switch when the crib is gone. Little boy bedspreads and pillows seem to make all the difference in the world as well. The whole room now looks that much more grown up.

Later that night Braden actually went to bed about 15 minutes early because he just couldn't wait. And he slept all night. We were pleasantly surprised. I was certainly dreading what he would do with his new found nighttime freedom.

Monday night came and he wasn't quite as excited about bedtime. It was like any other night, but eventually he begrudgingly got in bed.

We could hear him in his bed talking for quite a while. Then we heard his door shut followed by the sound of little footsteps. Hoping to nip this thing in the bud, I went back to have a talk with Braden about getting out of bed.

A few minutes later, as if I had never spoken to him, Braden gets up and shuts the door again. This time the footsteps are running, presumably back to the bed. Arica, being the far more successful disciplinarian, went to have a talk with our little nighttime doorman this time.

A few minutes later the door shuts and the footsteps scurry. This time we decide to just let it go. And wouldn't you know Braden went silent. He fell asleep and slept all night again.

Maybe we were too loud. Maybe the lights were too bright. Either way Braden just wanted to shut the door and get a good nights sleep.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Sugar Bowl Crash

I had something else planned to write about today, but the events of life often change our plans. Of course this is about the devastating Sugar Bowl loss that was handed to the Razorbacks and the entire state of Arkansas last night. All around the state today people sit at their places of work and blankly stare at the walls with thoughts of what if?

What if Joe Adams could catch a football?

What if Mallet hadn't thrown the ball directly to a DE in the final seconds of the game?

What if the Hogs could tackle Pryor?

What if the defense had recovered that fumble on OSU's first drive?

What if the DB's batted down one of those TD passes when they were in great position?

What if the Hogs had picked up the blocked punt and scored?

This type of speculation will go on until next fall. That is the curse of losing a bowl game. Most people can't get that taste out of their mouth until another game is played. But I'm writing today because that's just not me anymore. I still love the Razorbacks way too much. I still got very mad and may or may not have screamed obscenities when Mallet threw that last interception. I had trouble getting to sleep last night, and the first thing I thought of this morning was the loss.

Then I saw my beautiful wife. I knew she hadn't slept well last night. She's had a headache for about 36 hours straight. She said she was really tired. At that time football meant nothing. Arica is pregnant with two special little babies. She is struggling with feeling bad a lot of the time. All I wanted to do was help her feel better. So I just sat there and rubbed her back for a few minutes.

Then Braden, who stayed with his Grandma last night, came home. He was happily jabbering on about everything. Then he gave me a big hug and any lingering feelings of loss and pain caused by the football game vanished completely.

Before getting married and having a kid a loss like this would linger for weeks. At totally unexpected times the pain of losing would shoot down my spine. It wouldn't take much to set off the mourning cycle all over again, but now I don't have time for that.

It is a great blessing to have things in my life much more important than a football game. Today things go right back to normal. My main focuses are to help out Arica as best I can and play with my little boy. Those things bring true and complete joy that easily overcomes the pain of watching a team of people I've never met lose a football game on TV.

Yes I'm still a big fan, and I was extremely upset about the loss. But this is the part where escaping the carefree days of youth is a good thing. Now I have grown up responsibilities. I have things to occupy my mind other than wondering why Petrino called a straight drop back pass on 4th and 1.

Life is full of blessings. One of those blessings is the ability to enjoy sporting competition by participating or  by watching. A greater blessing though is the ability to share the joy of victory and to totally forget about the agony of defeat with my family.

Monday, January 3, 2011

2010: Year in Review

Last Tuesday my boss enexpectedly said lets close down shop and come back on Monday. I said no sir. I will never abandon my post. I would rather work even if there is nothign to do.

If you believe that then you must be new here.

I got a surprise 5 day vacation and spent it all with my family. I didn't do any blogging related things. I thought I would go ahead and put that out there just for the insanely small chance that someone actually missed me.

Now that I am back I have a 2010 wrap up post to do. It is a little bit of Braden in pictures. I did one for 2009 if you want to get an idea of what you are in for. With that bring on 2011 as I look back fondly at 2010.

We started the year with something that looks like this, and man did we learn a lot.

We leaned water safety.

We fine tuned our baseball skills.

We learned to properly operate an ATV.

We even studied a little geology.

It wasn't all fun and games. Braden got banished to live with the dogs a time or two.

It was mostly fun and games though like this first trip to a ballgame in Springfield.

Mommy taught Braden the joys of snow cones.

Braden taught himself the joys of stickers.

Braden was a shrimpin boat captain on one day.

And caught some guinea pigs for his buddies in Peru on another.

Of course I couldn't leave out the fact that he even learned some skills with the ladies.

Braden actually did learn about Charlie Brown or "Cha Bown" after I joked about his Snoopy picture.

Only that dang gravity kept us from learning to fly.

We were ready to greet the aliens, but couldn't master the flying as noted above. 

Braden turned 2 this year and he celebrated by spitting on a cake shaped like Mickey Mouse.

2010 was tiring.

And now it's time to go.

When it was all said and done we ended up with this

Happy New Year and best wishes for a great 2011!