Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Letter to Future Parents...

Dear Expecting Mothers and Waiting Fathers,

Your baby is almost here. You are counting down the days until you can hold your little one in your arms. As a father, you are dreaming of your little boy hitting a home run in his first little league game. Mothers are eagerly waiting to dress up their daughters in the finest smock outfits available. As soon as your child is born, you will begin looking forward to the many milestones they will reach over the next two years. Whether it is their first teeth, first words or crawl across the den floor, parents eagerly await these happenings, so they can take pictures and brag to family members and friends.

Let me be the first and probably only person, to warn you about the problems that come with these milestones. They seem so joyous and glamorous from the outside, but are far from the glitz and glam. Here is a list of the inconveniences that milestones bring to your family from my 8-month experience into the journey.

Teething: Any human being, young or old, without teeth, freaks me out. Seeing someone without teeth and all gums is just not natural. So I eagerly awaited the breaking through of Brynn’s first teeth. What was I thinking? Teething is horrible! Babies slobber everywhere. When I say everywhere, I mean changing her outfit 3 or 4 times per day because they are soaked. Babies that are teething are constantly whining or irritated. The teeth coming through the gums, evidently causes pain. This leads to hours of baby fuss. Baby fuss is not all that bad, except when it is added to the 1 AM, 3 AM and 5 AM. This leads to a longggggggggg night! This also leads to irritable parents. How to fix this problem? Not possible! How to help with this problem? Baby Orajel and Teething Tablets.

Speaking or Sounds: I have dreamed of the day that my child will utter the words Dada. Brynn is eight months old and has yet to form any semblance of these words, despite our constant practice. Brynn has mastered the art of spitting noises, random screams, nonsense chatter in the middle of the night and the word “Gee”. Spitting leads to ugly instances when green beans are in her mouth, screaming leads to a parent running into the room expecting the worst and receiving a smiling child, chatter in the middle of the night leads to parents not sleeping, while the word Gee leads to grandparents claiming Brynn is saying their name first.

Sitting Up: I made a big mistake in this area. I practiced with Brynn sitting up on a daily basis. I could not wait to proclaim that Brynn is sitting up by herself. I am an idiot. A daughter that can sit-up, can also fall over! When Matt falls over, he can catch himself. When Brynn falls over, there is no catching. Even when babies become experts in sitting up, like now, they still fall over. Guess what… eight months old, still not old enough to catch themselves. Recommendations… surround your child with pillows when you leave them in a sitting position.

Crawling: If the Navy Seals were accepting babies, Brynn would be their first candidate. My daughter can military crawl faster than I can walk. She can crawl on all fours, but typically gets lazy halfway to Sarah’s shoe, the remote control or the cat food bowl and resorts to her military movements. We wanted Brynn to crawl for the longest time and feared she may walk before crawling, because Sarah read in some book that babies need to do their milestones in a certain order for future development (blah, blah, blah). Evidently Brynn is making up for lost time, because that girl can move. Whether it is to spill the cat’s water on herself or stick anything that I accidentally left on the floor into her mouth, Brynn is on the go. There is no more leaving Brynn on the floor to play while you take a bathroom break. Brynn will not be there when you get back. Most times she just follows you to the room you are going, but more than not, she gets distracted along the way for something that can fit into her mouth. I have no recommendations to fix this problem, other than fence them into an area. Do not leave things on the floor.

Pulling Up: Seeing Brynn pulled up on her crib with a big grin, as she waits for daddy to get her out of bed is possibly the best feeling in the world. Brynn pulling up on her play table in the den, falling backwards with the toy landing on top of her, one of the worst feelings in the world.

These milestones have been great. I am not trying to scare parents away from the anticipation of these events. I just want to warn them that for every great accomplishment comes a lot of trial and error. Babies must practice these milestones with bad results to end up with the good results. With walking in the near future (probably before Christmas), the bumps are only going to get bigger!

Matt Perdue

Monday, October 12, 2009

Saturday with a family vs. Saturday without a family

As most college football fans, especially SEC fans know, this weekend kicked major bootie in terms of top-notch football games. At 11:00 we had Auburn v. Arkansas, at 11:30 Georgia v. Tennessee, at 2:30 Alabama v. Ole Miss and at 7:00 Florida v. LSU. Not to mention, Kentucky v. South Carolina and Miss. State v. Houston, which I did not locate on the thousands of channels I receive courtesy of DirecTV. As I prepared for such a plethora of college football greatness, I realized how much my life had changed since my marriage and birth of my daughter.

This blog centers on what this Saturday would have entailed five years ago versus what actually happened on Saturday:

Waking Up (Past): Five years ago, I would have set my alarm for about 8:50. I would have got up in just enough time to put in my contacts, get a Mountain Dew and locate my green blankey for couch time and ESPN Gameday!
Waking Up (Present): I was awoken at 5:30 by the cries of my daughter Brynn. It was not a cry of let's go back to sleep, but a cry of let's get up and play. Being nice, I let Sarah continue to sleep and I make my way to the den for floor time with Brynn. At about 7 AM, Brynn and I start to get hungry. We wake up mom for breakfast. Instead of my Mountain Dew diet, we decide to have waffles, eggs, bacon and cheese grits. Brynn goes for some kind of fruit and cereal. Following breakfast, we clean the kitchen, put Brynn down for a nap and get showers. This Saturday morning equals Vet Day. We get to carry our cats to the vet at 9 AM. Yes, the same 9 AM that Gameday starts. Susan comes over to watch Brynn and Sarah and I load up Swen and Fergie and head to the vet. With an appointment, I think we will be in and out in 15-20 minutes. Nope, we are behind the couple who train dogs for a living and brought 5 of their prized possessions for vaccinations. Needless to say, I get home about 10:30, just in time to watch the final 30 minutes of Gameday.

Early Game (Past): For the early games, I used to take in a pre-game meal at Swen in Northport for some General Tso's Chicken, fried rice and hot-sour soup. I would get it to-go and return home before kickoff. Typically, I watch the first game by myself on the couch with my Chinese food and computer on for updates on other games.
Early Game (Present): Instead of my pregame Swen meal, I attempt to save a few bucks and knock down a leftover taco from Lupe's the night before. Instead of watching the game alone, I have the luxury of watching with my football guru best-friend Jeff Coleman. Instead of getting updates on other games from my computer, Jeff continually gives me updates from his IPhone's Tweet Deck! If you need to know where someone is moving, getting married or eating for lunch, just ask Jeff! Instead of not getting off the couch for the entire Razorback massacre of Auburn and Tennessee whipping of Georgia, I get convinced to ride up to Jeff's house to pick up a bunch of BBQ. Evidently to Jeff, a bunch of BBQ equals enough for 1 sandwich.

Alabama Game (Past): If you know me, you know I do not do well watching Alabama games on TV with large groups. I can watch it with my parents, my wife or a couple of friends, but never a large group of people. I get too nervous and too worked up. I hate listening to idiots who do not know the correct (Orlando McLain anyone?) name of 3 players, but can direct an offense better than Alabama's coaching staff. I tend to watch Alabama games in the solace of my home, where I can yell, stomp around or take a deep breath outside. I like to be in control of the volume of the game, control of the commercials, etc... If I was not at the game, I would be locked in my den for about 4 hours of Bama football!
Alabama Game (Present): This Alabama game seems like it is going to be a replicate of past Alabama games for me. I have my wife on the couch and she does a good job of keeping me in check. I have Jeff and Jonathan coming over to watch, the first not claiming to know anything about football and the latter possessing a good amount of Alabama and football knowledge. The wildcard in this scenario will be Brynn, who is getting to watch her first daytime game with daddy. Sarah fails miserably in her ability to keep me in check. She is actually asleep on the couch before the game starts. Jeff is still annoying me to death with his Twitter updates. Jonathan is obsessing over the volume of the TV and the decision of whether to go to the beach that night or next morning. Brynn is asleep in her crib at kickoff and forces us to be quiet until halftime. Once Brynn wakes up, Sarah decides she wants a nap and I get to play with Brynn while she heads to the bedroom. Playing with Brynn and watching Alabama do not go hand-in-hand when Alabama is kicking field goals from inside the 5-yard line, but I do a good job of keeping my temper. Alabama pulls out the victory, which does not make the afternoon a complete wash, but truly enjoying the victory over a solid team was lost to many distractions.

Supper (Past): In the past, I would have headed to Wings, Buffalo Wild Wings or Phils with my friends to eat hot wings and watch football.
Supper (Present): In the present, I head to Mr. G's with my friends and family for a near fist fight with a tatooed woman and her eight kids. For those familiar with Mr. G's, we make our way to the back room for football on the big screen. No one is in the back room, so we settle in front of the TV for pregame Florida v. LSU. While waiting for our food, a lady confronts me and asks if we are watching TV. I say that we came back here to watch the Florida game. She says that she has 4 kids who want to watch cartoons. I inform her that we have been sitting here and plan on watching football. She still insists that her kids are bad and need to be in this background for cartoons. I still insist that we are not moving because I am going to watch this game. She then comes up with a quick lie that the employees told her this area was a kid zone and cartoons were allowed on the TV. I am not budging, but thanks to Jeff and Sarah lacking confrontational bones, our seats and TV is quickly given up. Jonathan may have helped in my argument, but he was too busy on the phone contemplating his decision of when to go beachside with Rochelle. Despite my arguments that she should have taken her children to McDonalds or Chick-Fila, since they have a playground, we end up in the front of the restaurant.

Night Game and After (Past): Watching the night games of the past would have involved all of the guys leaving the restaurant at the same time and heading to someone's house (normally Jeff) for football. We would have settled around the TV all with the beverage of our choice (Matt:Sunkist, Jeff:Coffee, Robert:Caffeine Free Diet Dr. Pepper and Jonathan:Some weird Latte). We would have snacked on food all night. During halftime, we would have snuck in a couple of Halo games. After the game, we would have played Halo til 1 or 2 AM then made a Krispy Kreme or Waffle House run. Finally, we would have fought over who is sleeping on couch, on floor or with Jeff.
Night Game (Present): Oh how things have changed! Jonathan and Jeff headed up to Jeff's for the game immediately after dinner. I had to go home and help Sarah get Brynn ready for bed and missed most of the first quarter. Robert showed up after halftime following a thrilling one-year old birthday party. Jeff spent most of the night packing for his business trip, while Jonathan contemplated whether he made the correct decision of leaving for the beach Sunday morning. Our snacks were Halloween candy and hot chocolate. Halo was never once brought out and the thought of Waffle House or Krispy Kreme visits were passed over for bed before 11 PM.

Things have changed greatly over the last few years. We have all tied the knot to some wonderful women and added to the world's population with great kids. Jonathan is moving a little slower, but might catch up on both this week at the beach.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Guys Trip (Guys Day Out)

The annual guys trip (Myself, Jeff, Robert, Scott and Jonathan) had high aspirations for Fall 2009. Many ideas were tossed out such as: Canada, Northern California, White Water Rafting or the beach. Due to the large number of children being added to our families, the guy trip actually turned into a Guys Day Out. Unfortunately, the airline business (Jonathan) and need of someone's construction skills (Scott), the fivesome was turned into a trio. Instead of an exotic or wild locale, we took our threesome to the major metropolis of Starkville, Mississippi.

Highlights of the trip:

1. Cowbell (twofold): Thanks to some good advice from a former Mississippian, we took ourselves to a sports bar called the Cowbell. It was AWESOME! The place was huge and wide open. Each booth had its own TV. Tons of bigscreens filled the place. It included four pool tables and plenty of arcade games. The place had a limited menu, but served great Wings and sandwiches. According to Jeff, the bar was well stocked and can lead to numb lips. We watched the entire Alabama game at the Cowbell and first half of Georgia-LSU. It was a great place to cheer on the Crimson Tide and keep a tab on other games.

1a. Cowbells: I have always been annoyed with MSU fans and their cowbells. If it was an Alabama vs. MSU game, I am sure they would have driven me crazy. But as an unbiased viewer of the Bulldogs, cowbells rock. They really get the players and fans going. If I was an opposing player, they would drive me crazy. But for a day, I had a fever for more cowbell!!!

2. Jane the Chi Omega: Upon leaving the Cowbell, we found our way to Main Street and Mugshots for dessert. After enjoying a piece of chocolate cake, we found our way walking to the stadium to mingle with tailgaters. Along the way, we stopped at Regions for Jeff to get some cash. As we wait on the money to dispense and Jeff does his best to hide his pin number, a Jeep Cherokee pulls up. Robert, proving that age and two children can't slow him down, strikes up a conversation with the lovely young lady. Pulling out all of the game that Sara has not sucked from him, Robert lands us a ride to the stadium with the lovely young lady. Since Robert bagged the lady, we let him ride shotgun and Jeff and I find seats in the back. Not wanting to see Ava and Tessa go without a father, I immediately step in and put any hopes of Robert ending up at the Chi Omega house for the night. I inform the young lady that we are married, like to eat chocolate cake at Mugshots and her seats are very slippery. She immediately lets us out. Robert and Jeff blamed me for our lack of visitation time at the Chi Omega House. I think I was a messenger from God.

3. Gameday Experience: I was extremely impressed with Mississippi State's gameday experience. Like all colleges, they had their Bulldog Walk where the players walk to the stadium to a chorus of cowbells. Once inside the stadium, things get crazy. First off, there was a flyover. Flyovers are the greatest pregame ritual EVER. Not only did the plane come through unexpectedly once, it made a second lap. Even though the flyover caught me off guard, Alabamas are much better. They are much louder and the fans react better. MSU has a great, new jumbotron. It takes up one entire endzone. The videos and replays used on the screen rocked. The players come out to "Who let the dogs out?". Once on the field, the team does some typing of jumping ritual on the sideline. It got the stadium rocking. State's main problem is the fans. They started out great, but as soon as the score swung in GA Tech's favor, the fans went quiet and sat down. This lasted most of the game. I would rate the Miss State experience a 6 ot of 10. The setup was great for the game, but fans really hurt the place. There were plenty of empty seats and they were playing a ranked team. Fans like Jeff, would fit in perfectly at Mississippi State. Get excited for about 10 minutes and then sit down in your comfortable seats and only get up when forced to by the guy in front who stands up.

4. Dinner at Mugshots: In case you ever need reminding of what it is like to go out to eat with Mr. Pate, just go with his son, Robert. Prime example of this experience occured at Mugshots after the game. I ordered Stu's Magic Mushroom and ate about 2/3 of the sandwich. I did not cut it in half, but bit around the entire thing. I picked off all the cheese with my hands and finished off the mushrooms underneath. Being done with my meal, I placed my napkin over the plate and the waitress picked up on the signal that I was done with my food. As she starts to clear off my plate, Robert lets out a yell like he personally witnessed someone stab his mother. Evidently, the waitress did not pick up on the fact that Robert was planning on getting a doggie bag for my leftovers. A friend's mauled burger was definitely lunch the next day. Our waitress was officially afraid of our table for the rest of the night, but at least Robert had a meal.


1. We walked way too much. Alabama's strip is right next to the stadium which makes eating and hanging out much easier to do. At Mississippi State, the stadium is 2 miles from Main Street. This is a very long walk after a football game. If not for Jane, we would have walked this twice.

2. Starkville lacks road signs. It is impossible to find anything in Starkville, because they lack road sign. GPS is useless when it tells you to turn on MLK Drive, but finding MLK Drive is not labeled.

3. We really needed our other two amigos. This trip rocked, but definitely needed a Scott and Jonathan feel. Jonathan could have provided us with a constant sense of purpose... finding him a wife. There were plenty of available girls in Bulldog Land and we would not have left without a diamond ring on someone's finger. Scott would have used his master manipulation skills on the trip at some point. Possibly, to swindle us seats in a skybox, a free meal or a new deep-sea fishing boat that he plans to sell in three months.

Conclusion: All in all, this trip was a great experience. Alabama won, I experienced a great football game and enjoyed time with two great friends. It was not the adventure of a foreign country or some extreme sport, but it was quality time with your best buddies. If Jeff comes through, we may head back to Starkville November 14 for Bama vs. State.

PS. Thanks to my dear wife Sarah who let me go on this trip!