Monday, October 30, 2006

Baby Update

As most of you are aware, Erin and I filed for an adoption from China earlier this year. It seems like it was about five years ago, but it was actually March of this year when China logged us into their system. In March, we were hopeful to have Grace by Christmas. In fact, I think my card to Erin last Christmas made some comment about it being our last Christmas without kids. Crud. Maybe I should have said "...this will be our last Christmas with vast quantities of ice cream and barbeque" or some such. In any case, since March, the wait for a child from China has extended to lengths we hadn't really imagined. At this point, we're hearing 2008. The reasons for the slow down are sketchy and not worth going into. Just know that we're not alone. Everyone in the line for a Chinese adoption is in the same holding pattern.

With that said, and after some prayers, Erin and I have made the decision to go ahead with a domestic adoption in the mean time. After fully committing ourselves to the Chinese process, to which we're still fully committed, we are also fully committing ourselves to adopting a child from here in Indy. We've already gotten things ironed out with both the local adoption agency and our Chinese agency, and we're hopeful to have an infant by February or March of 2007. That's February or March. It actually could be in January, but saying it makes my stomach feel funny. It's not that I'm not ready...we've waited so long. It's just that we were all set for our little 12 month old Grace...and now it's...a newborn. Diapers...night feedings...the whole shebang. He or she will be either bi-racial or full African American, and as Erin and I like to say, we're just trying to hit all the kids in that song. You know, "Red and yellow, black and white...they are precious in His sight." And they'll be equally precious sitting at my dinner table.

So say a little prayer for us. Erin probably needs it more than I do. We went to Babies 'r Us, USA Baby, Burlington Coat Factory baby zone, and Once Upon a Child already last weekend. I was told by multiple people that I looked like I'd been hit by a train. I had gotten used to the idea that the only burp cloths we'd ever need to own would be for me after too much Mexican food or for my dad in a few years. But I can get used to the idea of having them around for a newborn as well.

Friday, October 27, 2006


I just happened to notice that it was one year ago today that I added the site meter to our page, therefore it must have been (almost) exactly a year ago today that we started our blog! Almost 2500 people (my uncle in Birmingham 2200 times, my grandfather 200 times, and myself 100 times) have visited our blog in the past year. Not a huge number in Internet statistics, but hey... who really cares?

In other news, I ate a McRib at McDonald's for lunch. That isn't meat. It just isn't.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Covered Bridges

This past weekend, Erin and I joined my parents, my sister and brother-in-law and his mom for a jaunt through the annual Covered Bridge Festival in Bridgeton, Indiana. This festival does a particularly splendid job of giving Hoosiers a chance to drive through the hills looking at the newly turned fall leaves while backing up traffic for miles in every conceivable direction.

The highlights of this year's trip included a man who makes marshmellow blowguns in his retirement and sells them for $6.50 a pop, a soy candle which was scented "Smell My Nuts," and one of those guys covered in silver paint acting like a robot...from the 1800's. If there's one thing the Amish do well, it's the robot. Here are some pictures from our little trip.

Awww...they got ahold of my uncle Bret's Christmas list...

Here are my brother-in-law, his mom, and my sister all chowing down on tenderloins large enough to stop your heart...

A look down a street in Bridgeton... I choose where I'm headed next at this festival based solely on how much smoke is eminating from the building. Lots of smoke == good grub. Or a carelessly discarded cigarette in dry leaves.

Two of my favorite words -- "Free Sample." After a rest stop at a Port-o-Let with a less than stellar hand sterilization system, nothing says "Get yer bacterial infection here!" like a tub full of Old Tyme Sugar Korn.

This was one of many "man with chainsaw make you decoration" offerings at the festival. He appears to be making...logs...from the larger this case...

The lovely Erin carefully selecting her wares from piles of someone else's trash...

This was the largest pot of ham and beans that I've ever seen. It looked pretty wonderful, although it's hard to tell if the guy is scooping out beans or vomiting in this picture. If there's one enclosed tent you want to steer clear of at the Covered Bridge Festival, it's this one.

And finally, a view of the NEW covered bridge in Bridgeton. The beauty of the Covered Bridge Festival is that it highlights the many unique, aging structures which gave the festival its name. It also has upped the notoriety which comes with torching these structures after a high school football game.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Hair Care

First off, sorry for the dearth of posts this week. Work has gone from zero to sixty, and it appears that the pedal will stay on the floor until the end of the year. Don't they realize that this impedes on my blogging time? Onward...

My extended family has, to say the least, had some hair issues over the years. Now I know this may sound odd, but it's true. Hair, or the lack thereof, has played a key role in several family holidays and provides my dad something to poke at my uncle about while they sweat out the holiday of the moment. I can remember thinking as a child that hair must be very important, as I'd seen multiple family members in tears over various hair-tastrophies, and I knew that on Friday's, I would never be able to see my grandmother as she was always "getting her hair fixed," which as a child made me think that they must have to replace it each week. I guess I inherited some of this, as my hair has gone through a new stage approximately once per year since college. I'm currently in the preferred stage for engineers -- "don't comb it when you get out of bed."

A few nights ago, my lovely wife informed me that she had purchased a kit to do "highlights" at home, and that she might require my assistance. The last time she bought one of these kits of evil, we ended up with black dots all over the paint in our shower and on our countertop. And if memory serves me correctly, she was none to happy with the results on that particular occasion. Knowing better than to question a woman on a mission, I responded that helping her wasn't high on my list of things to do (slightly lower than poking myself in the eye), but that I'd be available in case of emergency.

At about 9pm, she emerges from the bathroom with some white glop on her hair that smelled like something with which you might clean out a toilet or sewer drain. It reeked. She plopped herself on the bed with a towel around her shoulders and informed me that the product stated that it needed to sit on her head for a minimum of 30 minutes for minimal highlights, or longer for lighter highlights. It seems odd to me that you would put a product on your head that can dissolve paint and countertops, but my grandmother is still alive after several million gallons of Aquanet have soaked into her head, so perhaps the human head can withstand more than I realize.

At about 20 minutes, she hopped up and headed into the bathroom for a look. The initial screaming led me to believe that perhaps I'd left the toilet seat up, but instead, she was screaming at her newly highlighted hair. She immediatley started trying to remove the product in the shower, and when she emerged...

Now the bruises from calling your wife "skunklady" or saying things like "that would look great if you were a hooker" don't heal quickly. Following my insensitivities, she headed out the door at 10pm to buy a hair coloring kit to redo her whole hair in her natural brown. This in itself seemed like another bad idea to me, but I stayed quiet and nursed my wounds.

When she returned, she followed all the directions on the new package, which involved us watching another half hour of TV in a caustic ammonia-based cloud with a towel draped around Erin's shoulders. When she rinsed the latest product out, I heard yet another scream. Part of me hoped that her hair had actually fallen out this time around, 'cause that there makes a stellar blog entry. Instead, her hair just turned a shade of red. It doesn't look bad, but it's definitely not her natural hair color. Apparently the second dye somehow mingled with the original dye and created this new shade.

In the end, Erin looks very nice as a redhead. And I have learned that if she reaches for hair dye at WalMart in the future, I should not say, "But honey, you looked like crap the last time you did that!" At least not out loud.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Way to go, Tony!

Just wanted to post a quick congratulations to my good friend Tony Sahm and his new bride, Jennie! We had a great time at their wedding last night, and we wish them the best in their new marriage! When I saw the groomsmen wearing Converse Chuck Taylors, I knew I was at the right wedding...

Friday, October 13, 2006

"Skylarking" by XTC (1986)

This is one of those albums that completely changed what I listened to in high school. It was originally recommended to me by a guy named Paul Colella from Boston who used to be on the RIME Music board, back in the pre-Internet days of the late 80's and early 90's. (Strangely, a couple of years ago I was talking to another music fan on this new fangled Internet who had traded music with Paul...what are the chances...)

In any case, when I bought this in high school, I listened to it non-stop for about 6 months. It's the perfect blend of the Beach Boys, weird instrumentation, great orchestral and string sections, and uplifting songs. No album in my collection do I more closely identify with summer than this album. I can remember Eric and I driving around blaring this during high school, both of us excited that a band that sounded like XTC even existed. What other band would tackle the issue of marriage in 2 tracks on the same album?

There are lots of stories about the band fighting with the producer during the recording of "Skylarking," and if those are true, it's a prime example of something stunningly well crafted coming out of intense circumstances. It made me a huge XTC fan and had a lot to do with my obsession with English music over the next 15 years. Much to my wife's chagrin, this has recently caused me to import a 9 CD box set of unreleased XTC tracks that was just released. Oh for joy...

"Ballet For A Rainy Day"
"Earn Enough For Us"
"Man Who Sailed Around His Soul"

XTC website link
Allmusic Guide link

Sunday, October 08, 2006


This afternoon, given the gorgeous fall weather, Erin and I took a quick trip out to Shades State Park for a hike. We're very fortunate to have several great state parks within an hour of our house, and the hiking at Shades is wonderful. One of the things Erin loves about Indiana is our claim to have waterfalls. Shortly after we were married, we stopped at Cataract Falls, which has an approximately 30 foot drop over the main falls. Erin quickly declared that this does not constitute a REAL waterfall and that the individual who named the site must have, indeed, had cataracts. Given that her childhood history with waterfalls is rooted in California and the many falls of Yosemite National Park, it's not surprising that our 30 foot falls didn't garner any "oooohs." Today we found another Indiana waterfall at Shades, in which Erin delighted in the minimalism...

Following our traversal of the mighty falls of Shades, we went to a restaurant in Covington, Indiana which features one of my favorite restaurant names...

Any place called The Beef House has gotta be good, and this place is no exception. In addition to their mighty slabs of beef, they pride themselves in great dinner rolls. I don't think the rolls are all that great...good, but nothing to advertise on your web site. But the staff did have shirts that said "Got rolls?" on the front, and after eating there, I imagine I do...

Friday, October 06, 2006

Slippery Cell Phone

Upon my return from the Land of the Slurpy Eaters last weekend, Erin and I ventured to Brown County for a stroll through the shops and a chance for me to regain my sense of Indiana hillbilly. For dinner, we decided to stop in Morgantown, Indiana for a bite at Kathy's Cafe. I remember going to Kathy's as a little kid, my most vivid memory being that they brought me the rest of the chocolate shake I ordered in the mixing cup, in addition to the shake they poured me initially. To a fat third grader with a penchant for shakery, this was dreamy. In recent years, we've considered stopping at Kathy's numerous times, but they seem to be open weird hours, so we jumped at the chance this time around.

Kathy's was quite similar to my memories of the place. The decor hasn't changed in at least 30 years, and they still feature a lunch counter, lots of home made pies, and most importantly, milk shakes. Erin found it amusing that the wait staff wears hospital scrubs. Comfort always wins over asthetics in Indiana. Our food was home cooked and a tad on the greasy side, which made for a nice return meal after a week of duck tongue and kung pow chicken with bones. We returned home to Brownsburg full, which is my minimum requirement for any dining experience.

At some point after returning home, we discovered that Erin's cell phone was nowhere to be found. This is not an unusual occurence, and we have had numerous discussions over the definition of the word "lost" in our marriage. Erin's claim is always that she does not know the location of an object at a given time, but she insists that this does not constitue an item being "lost." Rather, she simply does not currently know the location of the item at this very moment. Sounds lost to me. We tossed the house and cars looking for the phone, but no luck. Usually this means we give it a couple of days, and the object turns up in a glove compartment or jacket pocket. Not so in this case.

So Erin began retracing her steps. She thought the phone was in her purse while we were in Brown County. I must preface this with the fact that on the last trip to Brown County, she bought a purse with zipping compartments to prevent things from falling out as she cavalierly tosses her purse about. She mentioned that as she exited the car at Kathy's, her earrings fell from her purse, and she had to retrieve them from the street. I inquired as to how this could occur with the new purse, and she told me that she had placed the earrings in the front compartment -- "you know, the one without the zippers to hold stuff in."

"Was your cell phone in that pocket as well?"

The purse with zippered pockets was obviously a good investment. Erin requested that I call Kathy's to see if the phone had turned up, but I remembered that we didn't actually park in front of Kathy's, we parked in front of a hardware store up the block. I called the hardware store, and they said that someone else had called another store on the block asking about a lost phone and that they had looked around in the street but found nothing. I figured Erin must have called Kathy's, so I left it at that. No sign of the phone. The phone we've owned for precisely three weeks.

Wednesday afternoon, Erin's mom gets a call from Kathy's.

"We found this phone in the street. It wasn't charged, so we spent three days figuring out how to charge it to get a number out of it. Do you know whose phone this is?"

So Wednesday night we hop in the car for a lightning fast trip to Morgantown. We retreived the phone, and I got some more pie. At the end of our meal, Erin picked up her purse and promptly dumped its contents under the booth. I may have to weld this purse shut.

As we left Kathy's, I noticed a cute old barbershop up the street. Upon closer inspection, the sign offered up "Barber Shop and Bait." God bless Indiana. Now if we could only find the set of car keys that's been missing for three months...

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Picture Update

Due to some weirdness with Shutterfly (the site who hosts our picture albums), apparently only my pictures from Shenzhen were available. I've added the pictures from Hong Kong. Click here for those pictures.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

I have returned...

So I'm back home, safely, in lovely central Indiana. I have to say that I don't think Indiana has ever felt any better. I'm all unpacked, and I have a vicious cold I'm trying to shake (well, it may be a cold, or it may just be that my body is ticked off with me for what I put it through in the past week).

In the mean time, for anyone that is interested, click here for a link to all of my pictures from Shenzhen and Hong Kong (it's easiest to just click "Slideshow" link at the top of the pictures). I haven't filtered through these at all yet, so I'm sure there are some duds in there. They're in the order that I took them in, so somewhere after the shots of the breakfast buffet in Shenzhen, things transition over to Hong Kong.

Anyway, glad to home, glad to have a soft bed, etc.