Friday, May 29, 2015

A Dog's Life is Ruff

   If memory serves me right (which it often does not), we got our golden retriever Chase the first week after moving into our new home. We found a breeder out near Denton, and Chase was the last puppy available from her litter.

  I have always wanted a large dog. Little did I know that your house actually shrinks when you introduce a large animal into said home. Almost five years later we have a 95+ lb miniature horse that loves to gallop through our living space.

   We've gone back and forth over the past year debating on whether or not to keep him. But here's the problem when you introduce a dog into your life (at least from my perspective and experience), they almost immediately become a part of your family. Does that sound cliché? It probably is for a reason.

Here's a brief list of some pros and cons I've come up with:

   Loose dog fur all over the place, all the time
   Letting in a wet/muddy dog when it rains outside
   Potty training a puppy results in a permanently ruined carpet
   Large dog + small house = dog constantly under foot
   Heavy dog + your foot = involuntary expletives
   Big dog + big bowl of food = big poop to clean up

   Our golden retriever is one of the best family dogs I've ever seen
   He rarely EVER barks
   He's extremely patient with Emerson
   He gets scared during thunderstorms and loves to be close by, no matter where you are.
   He chews only on his bone and mostly nothing else
   He's never aggressive
   He's protective of his family if he feels something is wrong

   There was a time when we seriously considered getting rid of him. The real reason behind it? He was becoming an inconvenience to us. We had multiple reasons, but that was the bottom line. The problem with that? It's not his fault. It's not his fault he's big, it's not his fault our house is small, and it's not his fault that we chose him to be a part of our family.

   The older Emerson grows, the closer the bond grows between them. It is tangibly visible, and I think I speak for both Danae and myself when I say that we made the right decision keeping him.


Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Concealed vs Open Carry

   This past Friday, the Texas Senate gave its approval on House Bill 910: an expansion to the concealed carry license to include the right to open carry in the state of Texas. The bill will next be sent to the House for a vote and finally, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.

   The concealed carry law has been in affect since 1995, yet the open carry has been banned for over 100 years. Currently certain long guns, rifles, and shotguns are already legal to have out in the open in certain locations. 

   I currently have a concealed carry license. I took the state mandated 4-6 hours of classroom/range time, filled out an application, got fingerprinted, and paid the state for my license. My original goal was not actually to carry in public. I initially only wanted a handgun to protect my family inside the home. You don't need a license in Texas to do that. I also wanted to become better educated on some of the laws that protected individuals in a self defense situation.

This is the concealed holster I own: Alien Gear Cloak Tuck 2.0
   The more I thought about it however, the more it made sense to me that the likelihood of something happening to my family outside of our home could far outweigh the chance of it happening inside our home. I understand that neither places are completely safe. One thing kept coming back to me. Should someone ever attack my family or threaten their safety, what would I be able to do? Using my gun would be the absolute last resort. I'm a firm believer that you do not pull your gun out unless you fully intend to use it. 

   Now that an open carry law is on the table, I'm once again considering my options. I feel that those who are legally allowed to carry in the general public could act as a deterrent to those who mean to do harm. On the flip side, how would we know who was legally able to carry and those who are bold enough to just show off their piece? 

   It was very strange walking outside my house the first time with my handgun tucked inside my waistband. I felt like the whole world could see it. We went over to Danae's parents the first time I wore it in public. I asked her dad the next day if he even knew I was carrying. Of course he had no idea.

   I can only imagine how it will feel in Texas once we start seeing handguns popping up in plain view for the world to see at the movies, in restaurants, in the grocery store etc. I'll admit, it will be a little intimidating to me for a little while, and I could very well be carrying one as well. It's just the nature of the beast. My father-in-law talks of a time when as a boy, you'd take your rifle with you into school. It wasn't a big deal. The majority of the boys hunted, and no one thought twice about it.

*side note, this is not my father-in-law*
   I believe 100% that we as citizens have the right to defend ourselves. Unfortunately, such a large part of the population feels "uncomfortable" about others carrying guns. I guess that's fine for them. I'll continue to carry as long as it's legal. I'll tell you what though, if my children were out at the mall and someone pulled out a gun and started firing off shots, I would be SO thankful if there was a stranger present with a concealed handgun.

   We live in a world with good and bad. Lawbreakers do not care about the laws that we put in place. That's why they're called lawbreakers. I just don't see how trying to place such tight restrictions on gun control can do anything positive for the general public. I for one, do not want to be stuck sitting idly by while someone intends to do harm to my family.

Friday, May 22, 2015

"Honey Don't List" #2 - The Rogue Toothbrush

   When you were first born, your world was limited to wherever your parents placed you at that specific time. You couldn't move around, you couldn't roll over, nothing. As you got a little older, your world slowly became a much larger place. After a while you learned how to roll over, you gained some neck control and could actually look around. Your vision might not have reached quite as far as it does now, but you could still inspect bits and pieces of your surroundings.

   Shortly after, you began to sit up, then eventually started crawling. This was the first real leap into this giant place that we live. We call it home. After plenty of bumps, tumbles, and fits of laughter watching mommy dive head first in an attempt to save her precious child, you learn to walk.

   Now you embody all that is Indiana Jones. Scaling the tall towers of the couch, diving backwards out of my arms into the treacherous sea of blankets on the bed, springing over the royal beast called Chase, you quickly gain an appetite for adventure and exploration.

   You find things hidden around the house long ago forgotten. You also hide things in those same places never to be seen again. And sometimes you surprise us with the things that you find amazing. The things that mommy and daddy would never think would need to be moved "out of reach". For example, the edge of the bathroom counter. A few weeks ago, this would've been a tower much too tall for even you to reach. Now, it is easily within your grasp.

   Daddy sits at work and gets a message from mommy, "Do you remember how I told you not to leave your toothbrush at the edge of the sink?" Instantly thoughts come rushing to my head. "Please tell me he didn't scrub the floor with it" (I have a major phobia of loose hair). Did he drop it in the toilet? Not this time, not this time.

Thankfully, he was just practicing... I will take that any day.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Food Stuff. When you just can't think of what to call it.

   Who does the cooking in your family? Is it primarily one person? Is it a role shared by multiple people? Or does no one cook and the local delivery guys know you by your first name?

   In our house, Danae is the cook. And by cook, I actually mean chef. She can get an idea of something she wants to make and just throw it together. 9 times out of 10 it turns out great, and I always go in for seconds. 

   She has this 6th sense that she got from her dad. It's the "I bet it would be better if I added THIS!" And BAM!! Just like Emeril Lagasse, she kicks it up a notch. 

   I'm not the worst cook, but i need to have exact measurements of everything in place ready to go before I start. And heaven forbid I try to get more than one item going at once. I just can't get the timing right. I'll get the chicken going but put the bread in too late. Now the chicken's done but the bread is still cooking. 

   Since she's the pickier one of the two of us, and it tends to work out well. She can make something she likes and there's a pretty good chance that I'll enjoy it as well.

   On the flip side of all this, I'm the baker. You see, in baking, it's pretty crucial that you get the majority of the ingredients down correctly or you could end up with a not so sweet treat to eat. Sure, you can always add a little something extra, but for the most part you stick to the script. And I'm good at that. 

   Over time you start making the same meals/desserts over and over again. You become better at making them; they become easier to make. You take a dish over to a party. This is how our conversations end up going:

Friend: Wow, this (insert delicious dessert descriptive) is really good. What's it called?

Me: Uhh....*I quickly scan the room for Danae. She usually has the answers*...It's Cookie Stuff

Friend: Cookie stuff?

Me: Yup, cookie stuff. Glad you like it. 

   We now have a list of recipes including: Cookie Stuff, Pasta Stuff, Cinnamon Apple Stuff, Spicy Queso Pasta Stuff, the list goes on and on. 

   I'm not sure if that makes us lazy, BUT should you get the privilege of joining us for dinner and we make a dish ending in stuff, you can bet your bottom dollar it's going to be delish!

Monday, May 18, 2015

New Parents VS The Picky Eater

   Take a good long look at this photo. Actually, you probably don't really need to. I'm betting that anyone reading this who is a parent has seen this face before. I'd even go so far to say that even the non-parents have seen this face.

   In all fairness, I can admit that whatever was in that bowl would probably make my face do the exact same thing. I really don't blame the poor guy. This particular day, we tried out the "green stuff".

   I can only assume the green stuff consists of spinach, peas, green beans, peas, and probably some peas. This was at a time when he was actually eating a variety of baby foods. The sun was shining, the birds were singing, life was good.

   Then out of nowhere, he developed an opinion! I don't know when it happened or where it came from, but it hit us like a ton of bricks. Both Danae and her mother are very picky eaters, so it really shouldn't have come to us as a surprise that our son received this beloved trait as well.

  So what are new parents to do when your child decides that they just no longer want to eat the good nutritional things that their parents put in front of them?

1. Take a look at your child's characteristics
   Everywhere I look, I see helpful suggestions on how to create the perfect snacks that picky eaters will come crawling back for more. Cut them into unique shapes, give them a wide variety of options to choose from, present them on a shiny plate complete with soothing ocean sounds and interactive cartoon characters.  Our problem here was that 1. We don't have the time, nor the energy to offer a smorgasbord of options every single night. 2. Emerson was so picky that every time we tried a new food, we could not get it into his mouth. 

   What we noticed is that Emerson is a very visual eater. He will watch every single bite you put into his mouth.  If you try to swap out his food with something different, he'll immediately go into full lock down. 

   He is also very physically active. He runs all over the place, tosses toys, loves to dive onto pillows, roll around on the ground, and even pull down our bar stools. Eventually we started feeding things to him that he could actually feed himself or else we'd "help". He'll want to take half a sandwich and shove it into his mouth.  He'll want to put his hand on the spoon that we're using, and guide it into his mouth. Finally, something we could work with.

   So take a look at your child's personality. Are they completely engrossed in moving objects and sounds? Maybe the ol' fashioned airplane or spoon train will do the trick. Is your child extremely independent and wants to do everything themselves? Maybe offer little finger foods they can feed themselves.
    Our children are so different from each other so it makes sense that what works for one family, will more than likely not work for another. Don't lose your sanity trying to make "the only way to do something" work. Sometimes it just won't, and that's okay. At the end of the day, I'm thankful that my child eats.  It might not always be the healthiest and he might not always come out of it squeaky clean, but he goes to bed with his belly full.
2.  Propriety goes out the window
   Toddlers do not understand the order of society. They understand, "I want this. I don't want this". Over time, they'll learn by repetition and example. We have this grandiose picture of the whole family sitting around the dinner table at 5pm on the dot, enjoying dinner together as a family. Don't give up on that vision! It just might not be that season of life quite yet.

   Dinner time in our house varies. We try to keep things in as much of a routine as possible, yet at the same time, we don't beat ourselves up if he just will not eat anything. Occasionally, we'll get him out of his chair and let him run around for a bit. He usually does not run off much farther than the dining room (where we're eating). He wants to be where the action is, but most times he'll return for a few more bites. 

   We also don't try to be firmly set on what he'll be eating for dinner. We try one thing and hope he'll take it, we'll give it several valiant efforts, but he's also getting the point where he'll actually point out what he wants. This is huge for us. "Oh, you're thirsty.." Did I mention we're still new at this?

3. Pick your battles
   The questions will soon become, "So how much do I want to push my child to eat what I put in front of them?" Well, it depends. I think if it becomes a habit for you to constantly swap out whatever he/she doesn't want to eat with something else, eventually they'll catch on. They'll quickly learn that if they don't like something, mommy and daddy will cave and give me something they know I like. Good luck getting them to try new things. We began falling into that trap. 

   It's difficult for me because I want to explain the situation to Emerson. I want to teach him and help him understand, get him to make decisions based on the options I provide him, but he's not quite at the age yet where a discussion is going to go very far. 

   So we have to pick our battles. Take into consideration: did he nap well today? Has he been extra fussy or clingy leading up to dinner? Has today been an all around good day? These types of things can effect the end result of dinner time. You know your child and how they act. Maybe tonight isn't the best night to introduce the lobster frittata. 

4. Ketchup = sweet nectar of the gods
    When all else fails, try adding ketchup. I don't know what it is about ketchup, but our pickiest of picky eaters loves the stuff. Maybe it'll work for you too. And it's not just the ketchup, but the fact he gets to dip his food himself. Earlier I said that propriety goes out the window, well so does the preconceived notions of what we know to go well with ketchup. Guess what Emerson would tell you goes great with ketchup? Green beans and carrots! We just figured that one out yesterday. But you know what? I do not care, at least he's eating vegetables. And THAT is a big win in our house.

   The bottom line here is that you cannot beat yourself up if your child is a picky eater. Just keep trying, don't give up, but also understand that it's just fine to let some things go. I'd rather teach my son to be able to roll with the punches then grow up learning that things have to be done one way and one way only.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Bird is the Word


Overtly proud father alert! Be on standby for sudden bursts of fanfare and praise.

   Okay, for those of you who stuck around after my short PSA just now, I'd like to share with you one of my many new proud father moments. I'm talking about Emerson starting to speak for the first time.

   Now don't get me wrong, he's been saying plenty up until now. But mostly he'll just point at something and go UHH. I always wondered how parents were able to decipher the babbling of a toddler, but this is one step beyond that in my opinion. Danae and I have become quite versed in this primitive language. 

   In the last week or so, he's begun making very conscious statements. They don't come out exactly crystal clear. Some words also come out sounding the same as other similar words. For example:

Me: Emerson, where's Chase? (our Golden retriever)

(Emerson looks over his shoulder and points to Chase)

Emerson: Esh 

Me: Would you like to go pet Chase?

Emerson: Esh

Me: Emerson, what does a ducky say?

Emerson: AAaack, Ack

Me: What does a puppy say?

Emerson: (in the tiniest little whisper of a voice) oof oof

*And for the grandaddy of them all...*

Me: Emerson, what does a bird say?

Emerson: Burrrr

Me: Bir-Duh!

   Did that last one remind you of any particular cloven hoofed quadruped created by Disney? I'm talking about you Bambi. 

   I realize that these are probably some very minute details to some. But in our little world, they're by far the largest. It amazes me to see how much he's developed in such a short amount of time on this earth. It's a miracle in itself at how much development takes place inside the womb. God has designed such a beautiful composition that is what we so flippantly write off as "growth". 

Can I get an AMEN?!

   So what's next you ask? I'm thinking we'll step it up a notch and work on something a little more difficult. Giraffe sounds like a good one.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Riddle Me this Batman...

Riddle me this Batman:

   Why is it that a baby must poop only in a clean diaper? Answer? I have no clue, but no wonder these things are so expensive.

   I firmly believe that if my son didn't have to do his number two in a fresh clean diaper every single time, we'd be able to afford that trip to Europe we've been dreaming about for years.

   We delved into the whole cloth diaper movement when we first found out we were pregnant. We even went so far as to invest in our first round of re-usable diapers. I use the term invest, because that's truly what they are....if you use them. Once we had Emerson and reality hit us like a ton of bricks, we very quickly decided that cloth diapers was not the best option for us.

   If you have the patience and the rock solid stomach to handle the "duty" (see what I did there?) of maintaining the diapers, then by all means. It will most certainly save you money in the long run. But as long as you're buying the diapers, be prepared to cash out a little extra for the disposable inserts (or additional reusable ones), and a little attachment that hooks up to your toilet to do a quick "pre-rinse" before tossing them into the wash.

   While you're at it, go ahead and purchase some clothespins to pinch off your nose. Now you can work in blissful ignorance of the awful truth that insults every fiber of your olfactory senses. Of course there's always cheaper alternatives out their and you'll always pay more for the convenience of things. So for us, when it came down to it, we decided to just go with the disposable.

   Don't get me wrong, I love our trees, I think whales are cute, and I try to recycle when I think about it. That being said, some things are just not worth sacrificing your sanity, or your lunch.

Monday, May 11, 2015

"Honey Don't List" #1

   Something that's been on my honey do list for a quite some time now, was to purchase some replacement parts for our gas grill.

   This grill that we have has held up fairly well over the years. I think it's about 6 years old now and this will be the first time I've ever replaced any of the guts. Well let me tell you, it was OVERDUE. I kid you not, if you opened the lid to this thing, you would see something straight out of Silent Hill. That bad. Metal shards and rusty fragments all over the place.

   I'm amazed my family hasn't needed a tetanus shot just eating food off the "good" side of the grill. Either way, enough was enough. Baby boy and I hopped into the car and headed off to Lowe's. Most days, Lowe's is my favorite. However, they don't carry Brinkmann grills or accessories. Home Depot does sell the grills, but only a very limited variety of accessories. They mainly offer Weber parts.

   Returning to the car with my tail tucked between my legs, Emerson and I headed back home to see what Amazon had to offer. That's usually my first stop as I never have to leave my seat, but today was one of those days. We needed to fill the hours until it was time for little one to go to bed, hence the road trip.

   After doing some more research I was able to locate the parts I needed. None were actual Brinkmann parts (did I mention that my particular model was discontinued 5 times removed). Seriously, I was able to track a timeline of when my model was last in circulation to the current version. 5 discontinued models in between! No wonder I had such a difficult time finding parts.

   I added my items to the shopping cart and proceeded to checkout. Shipping and handling alone was going to be almost $25. Okay Google, let's find a "free shipping" coupon. No go. Well wait a minute, why not try the "Free Amazon Prime Membership Trial"? Get free 2 day shipping on all Amazon Prime orders. Sounds great to me. Done.

   Well hold up just one minute there fine sir! It seems you've already been an Amazon Prime Member. So click the link for the free trail, and then we'll bill you $107.17 for the yearly membership. Welcome back ol' chap!

   Now I'm not as good at math as I used to be, but I'm fairly certain that my grill parts just got a whole heck of a lot more expensive. Thankfully, I hadn't placed my order quite yet and was able to back out of the membership for a full refund. Now, it's going to take 2-3 business days to process the refund. This means I have to wait 2-3 business days before I can check off the one item on my honey do list.

Don't lose faith in me yet sweetheart.