Monday, February 26, 2007

Mix 5

On Sundays, Erin and I frequently have lunch after church at one of two places -- Costco or Pancho's. Lunch at Costco is usually preceded by us doing our weekly shopping, then stopping for either a hot dog or slice of pizza, the sum total of the Costco dining menu (they also have 1/2 pound ice cream bars, which frequently follow my lunch.) Pancho's deserves its own blog entry at a later date, but it features, quite simply, the finest Mexican cuisine in the universe.

A while back I took a gander at in search of recent restaurant reviews and new places to dine. One of the new restaurants, at that time, was a place called Mix 5. Mix 5 purports to be Indy's only Iraqi restaurant. The reviews were positive, and it just happens that Mix 5 is directly across the street from my beloved Pancho's, offering a potential fallback option in the event that the Iraqi menu listed organs rather than dishes. (To give a picture of this neighborhood, there are three Mexican restaurants, two African restaurants, an Iraqi restaurant, a boarded up White Castle, and a place featuring "ribs, chicken, and fishes" all within a block of each other.)

We entered Mix 5 and discovered that it was an Iraqi grocery store, with the restaurant in the back. One of our favorite restaurants in town, the Cairo Cafe, has a similar setup, so this was not an issue. Plus I'm well aware at this point that the visitors to place virtually no stock in ambience or clean toilets, choosing instead to focus on the cuisine. We were ushered into the restaurant, a term used loosely in this case. It was four glass top tables on a patchwork carpet floor adjacent to the kitchen. It also featured an aging 25" TV and satellite box, which was turned off or had frozen, I'm not sure which. It was approximately 60 degrees in this portion of the store, and we were the only customers. Erin and I are pretty adventurous, so we decided to stick it out, despite chattering teeth.

The owner soon emerged, seeming friendly enough. He spoke rather broken English, and he wore a dirty white apron and his hands looked to have been washed sometime around the end of the Cold War. Giving him the benefit of the doubt, we quickly put in orders for hot tea and a somewhat rich quantity of Iraqi food, which is similar to Greek or Turkish food -- lots of kabobs and meat cooked on spits. The owner, sensing that we had little to look at with his limited decor, quickly turned the TV on to an Arabic news channel. He turned, smiled at us, and headed back to whatever was making his fingers dirty. A few seconds later, an American emerged from the kitchen in similar garb and declared, "This here channel is in Arabic, right?" This seemingly obvious point caused the owner to reemerge. He quickly turned the channel to another news network, and I heard "...this morning in Baghdad there were lots of Americans milling about..." and so forth, in a well mannered British accent. "Is this the station that does the news in English?" asked the coworker.

Now it seems to me that if you heard a language you didn't comprehend on one station, but a language you DID comprehend on the other, if you were an English speaking individual, you would be able to figure out that the second one was the English language channel. I'll give this gentleman the benefit of the doubt and assume that the British accent was a curve ball. At this point, the Iraqi restauranteer looked at me and said, "You know Al-Jazeera?" I had already discovered that this friendly gentleman had a mannerism carried by many non-native speakers -- he smiled with every word and continually nodded as if suggesting your agreement. But in this particular instance, with the state of American-Iraqi relations today, I found myself struggling for what the right answer to his question would be. I also gave pause because there was a significant amount of blood on his apron.

"Uh, yes, I've heard of it" I smiled and returned.

Smiling and nodding, "The liar channel? They're liars? Yeah? Lies... Many lies."

I nervously smiled and chuckled. I was dumbfounded. Speechless. I looked to Erin for support, but her face said, simply, get us our kabobs and get me the hell out of here. I imagined parts of me clinging to his apron. Finally our host headed back into the kitchen. Relief.

The rest of our freezing lunch was relatively uneventful. As we left, I could see Erin glancing over to the Pancho's parking lot, longing for the warm embrace of a Pancho's burrito and their friendly Mexican providers. I suspect we'll be returning there next Sunday. When we returned home, I checked more recent reviews of Mix 5 and discovered that many others had had similar experiences there. One individual commented that he watched the owner get beaten senseless in front of his customers by a woman in a birka, shouting at him for being open during Ramadan. Opening a restaurant is difficult enough, but it seems to me this poor guy is fighting an uphill battle with his fellow countrymen. The Middle East can be a tough place...

Friday, February 23, 2007

A Big Day

Today is a big day, a very big day. For those of you who have been following our adoption journey, you know that we had to wait 30 days to see if the birth father would claim his rights to Grant. Then, we had to wait another 10 days to find out--from the state of Indiana--whether or not he had indeed claimed his rights. As you can imagine, it has been an emotional 40 days. We love Grant so much (who knew this kind of love was possible), and the small potential that he could be taken away was enough to cause massive prayer sessions and near emotional collapses.

Well, the wait is over. He's ours! I was so excited and tearful and thankful. We feel like God has blessed us so much, and He continues to take care of us each and every step of the way. We will go to court in March to make it legal, but as of right now, there is no way that anyone could take Grant away from us.

Here's a picture of Grant celebrating today. He is happy too.

Grant also had a first today...!! He outgrew his first outfit. My friend Jodi sent the cutest pair of tweed cargo pants from baby Gap, and at just 6 weeks of age, the little porkchop had to box them up. As you can see, he wasn't happy about it. He loved his stylin' duds. Poor Grant, if someone doesn't buy him clothes, his clothes come from the "garage sale" designer label, so he had a special affinity for those pants.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Get that kid some Gas-X...

Over the past few days, Grant has developed a considerable problem with gas. This has manifested itself in various ways, including but not limited to spewing everything he's eaten in the past five weeks onto whatever and whoever is within a six foot radius. Erin has noted that despite his lack of genetic relation to his daddy, it is obvious that he holds a connection to yours truly, given that I, on occasion, have proven flatulant.

Witness this picture of spewage from last night. (I think it's uncanny how much this looks like a still from the Zapruder film. Nice camera work, dear!) Please note that not only has Grant royally fouled himself and his clothing, but he has also fouled my shirt. (I have highlighted the three areas of spewage -- Grant's face, Grant's neck folds and shirt, and my shirt.) Let it be noted that this outfit had been on him for approximately 35 seconds when this incident occurred. I had just changed him following a similar incident. Grant's room is quickly becoming known as the "vomitorium," therefore we're trying a different formula and some different sleeping arrangements in his crib to try and help the little dude digest rather than eject.

In other happenings, I have become increasingly aware of a new form of communication developing over the past month between Erin and myself. In almost five years of marriage, we have learned how to discuss issues in a civilized manor, such that I can now safely say to her things like, "Dear, I'd appreciate it if you'd move your dishes from the office down to the kitchen." And similarly she can say things like, "I don't know what you ate for lunch today, but could you please take it somewhere else." These exchanges go fairly smoothly most of the time.

Since Grant's birth, I have noticed that we've found an unlikely new conduit for these conversations -- Grant. In an effort to stimulate our young son, we frequently talk with him. I've noticed myself saying things like, "Grant, do you see that object over there next to that rather expensive piece of electronics? That's a bowl. Do you see what's in the bowl? That's right. It's a quart of milk and the remains of mommy's breakfast. Do you think that's where that bowl belongs? I don't either." Similarly I've heard Erin say things like, "Daddy stinks, doesn't he Grant? You sure wish he'd go out in the yard or downstairs or somewhere else, don't you, Grant?" In this way, Grant has provided a rather sly way of saying what might be construed as insulting things to each other without the risk of causing a confrontation. The trick is making sure the recipient of such commentary is not too far, but not too close, to Grant at the time. It works flawlessly and has ushered in a new era of openness between Erin and I. Just another of the benefits of having a small, unaware third party in the house.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007


Grant says hello and lots of love to all his peeps the world over: those in Alabama, California, Puerto Rico, China, Nevada, and Indiana. Peace out.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Bret and fashion and fatherhood

Let me start off by saying that Bret is an amazing father; he is loving, patient, full of good humor, wise, and wonderfully affectionate.

However, it is not to say that Bret isn't without some weaknesses, and the majority of his weaknesses, which he admits, center around the "everyday" tasks for Grant. A few examples.

Example 1: What's a blanket?
The other day, I went into work for a few hours (I am the junior class moderator which means that I'm in charge of prom, and prom waits for no baby). On Bret's way to work, he drove Grant to my school just as I was ready to leave (the great parking lot baby switch). Before leaving, Bret called, and I told him, "be sure to wrap the baby in blankets" (seeing how it was 7 degrees outside). When Bret and Grant arrived, I checked on the little guy in the back seat only to discover that he was wrapped in towels. TOWELS. Now, Grant does have designer (read: garage sale purchased) baby towels, but still. There was the little guy wrapped in mounds of terry cloth. Daddy said, "it worked."

Example 2: How do I put this on?
Bret, despite the advice that I have given him, has his own special way of putting on and taking off Grant's clothes. First of all, let's start with taking off. Imagine a child in a onesie: snaps at the bottom, neck and arm holes at the top. It makes sense to me that one would undo the snaps and, moving upwards, remove the arms before lifting the garmet up and over the head. Not Bret. Bret starts by removing the arms and pulling the onesie's neck over the belly of the baby. Now, our baby Grant has a large belly (already weighing in at over 10 lbs), and Bret's top down method stretches out the neck of the garmet as he tries to pull and tug it over our dear child's ribcage. Now, because of the necks beging stretched, all of Grant's clothes now have a special "off the shoulder" quality to them.

But that's not nearly as bad as Bret putting clothes on Grant. Now women who wear nylons or tights understand that you start by sruching up the length of the leg into a managable bit, and I treat Grant's onesie the same way. I take the entire onesie, ball it up around the neck, and, in one deft motion, pop the whole garmet over his head. Bret, however, INSISTS on pulling the onesie over Grant's head without srunching the onesie . What does this mean? It means that Grant has to endure his face riding the inside of the onesie for a long time. I have a few pictures to try to help explain.

Here is Grant happy after eating. Please notice the naked boy; he obviously spit up all over whatever he was wearing. The smile suggests that Grant hasn't wised up to the Daddy fashion torture that is about to ensue.

Then the torture begins. First the snaps over the face. Then the body over the face, and then finally... maybe... a vent hole we call the neck. Grant comes up practically gasping for air.

Still after several minutes, Daddy does not have the onesie even over the head. Grant is trying to be patient, but you know he is thinking, "Man, it ain't that hard."

Still, mission not accomplished, but Grant is resigned.

All in all, Bret is the world's best Daddy. His love and affection and care of Grant make me love Bret in new ways. It is so endearing. Maybe Grant will even grow to find Daddy's fashion sense (read: or lack there of) endearing as well. As for now, it's off to Walmart to buy some more onesies; I can't have my kid flashing those delts this early in his career.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Shower Gift

Grant and his momma had a baby shower this afternoon which resulted in a mass of purchases rivaling Imelda Marcos at a shoe sale. Among the fine gifts received was a DVD with the following sticker on it...

Apparently babies just don't dig faith based videos...

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

I'm Dumber Than A Car Seat

Something I've discovered in the few weeks since Grant was born is that most of the random knowledge I possess has been of absolutely no value whatsoever when it comes to dealing with newborn, er, stuff. I have a secondary degree from Indiana University (a source of amusement to my engineering friends from Purdue), and I am living proof that collegiate degrees are absolutely useless when dealing with even the most trivial aspects of having a newborn. And let's not forget all the useful piles of music trivia I have stored up. (At some point Grant is going to ask me a music question, and as I get all excited to whip out the answer, I'm going to realize it either doesn't involve the Beach Boys or involves any artist since 1995, again rendering me useless.)

Take, for example, his clothes. It doesn't matter what time of day it is or what amount of sleep I've had recently, I cannot button up a one-sy (sp?) (I can't spell it because I didn't even know what it was until last month) without some amount of difficulty. I start at the top, and I button sequentially as I move down, but things always go awry once I get to his legs. No matter how careful I am, there are extra snaps left over around his crotch. Or there will be two of the snappy parts left, but no snap-into parts (are these considered "male" and "female" in the snap universe?) Anyway, I always end up having to start over, only to be left with different snappy parts left the next time. And the more that I think about it, I don't even think I'm actually discussing a one-sy. I believe the proper term for this is a "sleeper," but to me it's just a soft, infant-sized body bag with evil snappy parts.

I feel the same way regarding car seats. We have two mid sized cars, and to lean over and actually lock the car seat into the base requires my back to bend at an angle which leaves me needing to be in traction for the next three days. But that's an ordeal only after I've actually gotten the kid buckled into the seat. I have to twist his arms backward to get them through two straps which have to be adjusted on the back of the seat, and they're supposed to be tight enough for him to sustain a 75 MPH head on collision without moving more than 1/2" in any direction which means you'll have to tear his arms off to get him into the thing. Same goes for the belt that runs between his legs and around his hips and then snaps into the arm strap thingy. I feel bad for the poor guy. By the time we're done, he's praying for a car crash just so he can be released from this seat and breathe again. The car seat makes dismemberment seem like a high note.

The base of the car seat is equally disastrous. There are a myriad of latches and buckles in the back of my car which, apparently, are for car seats. Up to this point, they've merely confused guests in my vehicle into spending twnety minutes trying to buckle their seatbelt into a latch that doesn't fit. Now we have to run a labyrinth of belts and buckels into various latches both on and behind the seat, all in an effort to securely mount the base so that our beloved Grant will be able to walk away from virtually any accident, hopefully in good enough shape to one day feed his parents who were most likely ejected from the vehicle.

I know these things are all for his safety, but after slamming a finger under the seat just as it latches onto the base a few times, I'm ready to tell the poor kid that he won't be going on any more rides until he's big enough to drive himself.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Go Colts!

Congratulations to the Indianapolis Colts, winners of the Super Bowl! It's a good night to live in Central Indiana... My apologies to any friends who have moved to Chicago in the last few years... ;)

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Funny Grandparents

Since the birth of our beloved Grant (a physically and intellectually superior being), Erin and I have noticed a distinct change in our own parents. We expected following the birth of the Golden Child that there would be the potential for extra visits to our house or a gift here or there, but what we've discovered is that Grant has actually caused a rather bizarre personality shift in some of these individuals.

Let's start with my mom. (Don't worry Deb, I'm an equal opportunity harraser. You'll get yours next.) My mom is a pretty stoic individual. During the summer following first grade, I tried to perform some Bart Conners style maneuvers on our swing set (which will be subject of a future blog entry, since it featured all metal construction with various protruding screws waiting to pry the flesh or eyes from any child who dared swing from anything other than its losely affixed plastic seat) and in the process, fell squarely on my right arm. When I gathered myself up and took a look at my arm, it was aligned in a rather unnatural fashion such that when I stuck it straight out in front of me, my forearm aimed left. Not good. I proceeded to try to correct the situation by gritting my teeth and rearranging the bones in my arm, which only furthered the damage. I gathered myself up and reentered our house. In my stunned state I said, "Mum, I think I broke my arm." She gave me a glancing look, observed that I wasn't crying (shock will do that to you), and declared, "Wait until your dad gets home, and let him have a look at it. I suspect it's just a bruise." After this she went back to placing leftovers in unidentifiable dishes in our fridge. What mom neglected to tell me as I slinked off to my room was that Dad was in another state and would be returning right around the autunmnal equinox. I waited patiently in my room, trying various experiments with my wounded appendage, all of which led me to the obvious conclusion that my arm was broken. Once my dad returned home, it was determined (with the help of my grandfather who is a pediatrician) that my arm did, in fact, need medical attention. My mom gave me a quick kiss and sent me off to the ER with my dad. Again, there was no question that she loved me, but you couldn't easily coax a tear from her ducts.

After Grant was born, the grandparents made a quick visit to the hospital to have a look at him. My mom held the kid for about 30 seconds, and she was hooked. My dad informed me that in the time between her meeting baby Grant and us exiting the hospital, he found her rather emotional, teary even, while awaiting word that we were, indeed, leaving with Grant. You mean to tell me I could break my arm after living with her for six long years, and I got nary a tear, but this kid gets tears after 30 seconds? It's an injustice.

Erin's mom has also proven herself to be of questionable mind following Grant's birth. Erin's folks live down the street from us, and they have been nothing but wonderful as neighbors. They never show up unnanounced, and they're always very cautious of invading our space. Until the last couple of weeks. Now Erin's mom still calls before coming over, but she frequently has a list of demands regarding how long she'll be able to hold our beloved child upon arrival. They were over for dinner the other night, and I was holding Grant when they arrived. She asked if she could hold him, and I gave pause (actually, I was just messing with her). This lovely woman who I have the utmost respect for damn near bit me in an effort to get to my son. I had to pass Grant to her while holding her at arm's length to prevent her from inflicting an injury on me.

The grandfathers haven't proven themselves beyond reproach either. My dad calls frequently to "see how Grant and you guys are doing" but his intentions are thinly veiled. What he's really asking is a) you're taking appropriate care of our grandson, aren't you and b) can we come over to see Grant? Erin's dad has been more restrained (he's a laid back dude), but I have found it humerous that since it snowed here recently, he has warned us repeatedly about the ice on his driveway and how slippery it is and how sorry he is that he didn't get it shoveled. Now in the time they've lived in their house, it has snowed repeatedly, and their driveway has frequently been icy. But only now does it matter. Erin and I could have shimmied down that drive a thousand times, but only now, with our precious cargo in hand, does it cause him concern.

We're on to you guys. We're more than grateful for the gifts and love you've shown Grant in his early days, but it hasn't gone unnoticed that our position in the family pecking order has been supplanted by a child you've known for days, not years. We see how it is. And don't get me started on next Christmas. With the potential addition of Grace from China, Erin and I fully expect to receive a couple of pairs of socks and some motor oil for ourselves.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Grace Update

Even with the exciting addition of Grant--the love of our lives--Hawkins to the home, we still are in the midst of a very long, every growing international adoption. Grant's sister, Grace Hawkins, will make her way on to the scene somewhere in late 2007 or early 2008 (at latest... summer 2008).

We just received word that the Chinese government has finished reviewing our dossier (it's through the review room). This is wonderful news because it means that the Chinese government has "approved" our paperwork, and now we are simply waiting to be matched with a little girl.

Now, matching takes quite some time, and as many of you know, the timelines for Chinese adoption, once the easiest and most constant of international adoption programs, are increasing. In the past, the whole process could take as little as 5 months, but now, the whole process is moving towards taking 24 months. Our log in date (the date our paperwork was officially logged into the line) is March 15, 2006. The Chinese government just finished matching families with log in dates of October 13, 2005. Currently, the government is placing about 7-15 log in dates a months, so we have a ways to go before we get to March.

I just thought that I would update everyone. We haven't forgotten about Grace; we love her and can't wait for her to join our family. Grant is especially excited that there will be someone else to help defer the many kisses Mommy gives him every hour.