Saturday, May 31, 2008

Key West--The Final Chapter

A potpourri of thoughts:

Bret's poor glasses were--in one deft motion--crunched in the hands of baby Grant. It was like Grant was trying to remind us: "if you mess up, you're next."

Grant and Mommy before the wedding. One of my favorite Grant memories happened at the wedding. Let's set the stage: it was hot. It might have been the hottest I have ever been, but don't worry, the wedding reception had plenty of frozen cold libations, and other such drinks, to help with the heat. Bret had ordered such a drink (a rum and coke to be exact) and was drinking it out of this coconut glass (which were part of the reception's theme). Grant was "walking" around the table, and before you knew it, he had that coconut raised over his head with rum and coke spilling everywhere: his head, his clothes, his mouth. So, Grant had his first drink in Key West. I'm sure it put hair on his chest.

Here are some final pics of Grant in the hospital. What a trooper! The nurse cut a green sock and put it over Grant's IV, but he was no fool; he had that thing out of his arm before the allotted time. Smart cookie. Also, there's a pic of Grant "playing" with my Gameboy; he looked so grown up pretending to play Ms. PacMan. Finally, there's a pic of Grant in his crib (or baby jail).


Key West was not a total bust. We played in the pool, got to see family (albeit for too short a time), and got to see a part of the United States we might never made it to otherwise. Bret would like it noted that we did have some fabulous food in Key West, despite our hospital stay. Our favorite, without question, was Florida's oldest restaurant, Pepes. Just our kind of place. Yummy.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Key West

What a week. There are some weeks that just can't adequately be described, and I think this qualifies -- especially for Erin and Grant. Let me start off by saying that Erin did an amazing job, despite existing on virtually no sleep and having to deal with a very sick, very angry baby, and at times, a very irritated, very irritating husband. Given the amount of stress this week produced for all of us, she held together better than I did, and I owe her a big anniversary night out here very shortly.

We arrived in Key West on Friday night late and headed straight for the airport. On Saturday, my cousin was getting married in the afternoon, so Saturday morning consisted of a quick trip to the pool, followed by preparations for the wedding. It was hot. I mean REALLY hot on Saturday. Everyone at the wedding was sweating in pools. The ceremony was short and sweet, and it was followed by a very nice meal in the courtyard. Everyone had a great time, despite the sticky conditions, and I was glad we were able to come down and support Erin and Gordon as they embark on married life together.

Saturday evening, I went out with my cousins and the bridal party for a night on Duval Street, Key West's version of Bourbon Street. We had a great time, and I would heartily recommend the experience, even if you're not a big partier. The opportunity to see alcoholics creating their own enterprises (take pictures with a drunk guy for $5, have a drunk guy tell you a joke for $5, have a drunk guy sell you a big, nasty hot dog, etc) is time well spent.

On Sunday, Erin, Grant, and I wandered back to Duval Street for lunch. We ate at a Jamaican restaurant. Grant enjoyed the steel drum music. In fact, he enjoyed it enough to break my sunglasses in delight. So after lunch and a brief stop for new shades, we again retreated to the hotel. On Sunday night, we went out to dinner with family, and that's when things started downhill.

During dinner, Grant began coughing. He's prone to being generally full of snot, and he's also prone to dramatic fits of coughing, so we weren't all that concerned. But as dinner progressed, he coughed more and more, so we headed back to the hotel early. That night, he had a little temperature, so we gave him Tylenol and put him to bed.

On Monday, he seemed to be doing much better, in some respects. He didn't sleep well, so he was tired, but he generally was his usual self, just tired. We didn't do anything on Monday, with the exception of a quick bite for lunch. We took him back to the hotel, but by Monday afternoon, we couldn't get him to drink or eat anything, and the fever had returned. We called our insurance company's "Dial-A-Doc" service, and based on the fever and inability to get Grant to
drink anything, we headed for the emergency room.

Upon arrival at the Lower Keys Medical Center, they took Grant's vitals, and he did indeed still have a fever and was a bit dehydrated. With much screaming and parental help, we put him on an IV. At this point, Erin and I figured they'd get some fluids in him, tell us to give him Tylenol for the fever, and we'd be on our way. Little did we know...

At around 11pm, the ER doctor returned and informed us that Grant tested positive for RSV, a common respiratory virus in children. Given the hydration issues, he suggested we admit Grant for the night to make sure he got plenty of fluids. We weren't thrilled about a night in the hospital, but obviously were mostly concerned for our precious little dude, so we agreed. It took until roughly 1am to get into a room. In the mean time, we had to put two new IVs in Grant's arms because of various problems. The little guy is strong. Disturbingly strong. It took three of us with all of our effort to give him an IV. I felt terrible for him, as by this time he was exhausted and completely scared. In the end, Erin stayed the night, while I returned to the hotel only a few minutes away.

I returned to the hospital on Tuesday morning to find that Grant was still runnning a fever, although it was controlled with Tylenol, and he was still not drinking anything. He'd been up all night, as had Erin, and both were completely and utterly exhausted. Grant was litterally limp, he was so tired. We saw the pediatrician around 2pm, and he informed us that while Grant didn't have a bad case of RSV (a bad case apparently involves putting the kid on oxygen and spending 5+ days in the hospital), he was still concerned about his inability to take fluids on his own. He recommended a 2nd night in the hospital. Our vacation was quickly slipping away.

On Wednesday morning, I arrived at the hospital to find that both Grant and Erin had gotten some sleep. Grant slept at least 14 hours that night, and he was pretty much back to his old self. The fever was gone. The only question now was whether he'd drink anything.

He awakened and immediately drank some grape juice provided by the hospital. He was obviously thirsty, in part because he'd finally yanked himself free of the IV in the middle of the night. We were thrilled to see him drink something on his own, until a few minutes later when he had a fit of coughing and spewed it all back up. This happened a couple more times, and we began at this point to consider the very real possibility that we wouldn't be leaving on our scheduled Thursday flights.

The good news was that Grant was in great spirits. He was standing up in his crib, giving everyone and everything his signature point accompanied by "What's zat?" The nurses, predictably, declared him adorable. Our nurse called the pediatrician and asked what to do about the fluids. At this point, we started giving Grant tablespoons of water, which he thankfully held down. When the pediatrician examined him Wednesday afternoon, he told us that if Grant could start taking an ounce of Gatorade every 15 minutes for the rest of the afternoon without spewing it up, he'd be fine to release him.

Thankfully, Grant didn't have any more trouble after this point. He's still coughing a bit, but he's holding down fluids and there aren't any other signs that he was ever sick. We couldn't be more thankful that he's doing well.

I'm now sitting here at MIA -- the call sign for the Miami International Airport, or the eventual status of the contents of your luggage at the hands of the MIA baggage handlers, take your pick. I'm sitting in the very spot where I took a phone call in January 2007 to let us know that we needed to get back to Indy ASAP. Our baby was on the way. Interestingly, the big baggage wrapping machines that so angered me on our previous visit are no longer around. I'd like to think my complaining did the trick, but perhaps I'll never know.

Anyway, as I sit here, I'm not thinking about the fact that I left a mess at work last week, anxiously awaiting a chance to sit in the sun for a week with my family on vacation. I'm not thinking about how much money we spent, only to spend our week in the hospital. And I'm not thinking about the fact that I now have to return to work, exhausted instead of refreshed. All of those things have crossed my mind this week, but in the end, none of that matters.

Right now I'm only thankful that Grant is okay, and I'm thinking about how amazing the past year has been and how much I can look forward to other good times with my family. I'm thinking about how much Erin and Grant mean to me, and I'm thinking about the fact that I couldn't have imagined loving a kid any more than I love Grant. So as I sit here in the same spot where I heard that Grant was on his way, I'm thankful to God that Grant is okay and that we got through this mess. Vacation will have to wait until next time.

I'd also like to thank the staff at the Lower Keys Medical Center. They work in a modest facility in a remote locale, but they were wonderful to us all week. Grant got wonderful care in the hospital, and I feel fortunate that there was a hospital so close to our hotel that could provide him with good care. If we ever return to Key West, I hope to avoid these fine people at all cost.

We have some pictures from the hospital that I'll post once we're back in Indy. What a week.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Quick Update

Just a brief update to let everyone know that we're still around. We traveled to Key West last Friday to start our vacation, attended my cousin's wedding on Saturday, and hung out a bit with family on Sunday. Sunday night, Grant started coughing.

We tried on Monday to nurse our little dude back to health. But on Monday night, a fever led us to the emergency room. In the end, he was admitted to the hospital here in Key West with RSV, a respiratory virus that is apparently fairly common in little kids. I'm not sure what the acronym stands for, but I came up with Really ***** Vacation. You can choose your own adjective starting with S.

The good news is that Grant is doing fairly well, although they are keeping him in the hospital until Wednesday. After three attempts at getting his IV going, he has developed a healthy contempt for medical professionals. He is keeping them all entertained, and each new person that enters the room declares him adorable.

We know. Just make him well.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Travelin' Man

Under threat from the doctor to have to visit the physical therapist, Grant is up and walking. I purchased a new toy (read: 1 dollar garage sale find) shopping cart that has aided his walking, and now, after a weekend of walking around with that cart, he's taking lots of steps on his own (mind you, this is the fourth "walker toy" I've tried and the only one to work). Walking is slowly becoming his prefered mode of transportation, but it's not like he's going to walk around the mall or the airport anytime soon, but he is mobile and upright, so we're moving in the right direction.

I've feared that I would have to start telling people he was nine months old, as I got many a stare, "word of wisdom," or snicker from anyone who asked how old he was as he crawled around under foot. I thought it might be easier to just say he was 9 months old, and just let them stand in amazement at his verbal skills and massive size. Thankfully, I will not have to resort to such mistruths.

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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

WhoaMan

I'm frequently reminded of the differences between my brain and my wife's brain. As I step into the closet to retrieve the day's clothes, only to have to step over the last few day's of her wardrobe, I am reminded. When I get into her car and find the entire contents of a 7-11 convenience store strewn about the cabin, I am reminded. When she tells me she's starved for affection, and I reply with a bodily function, I am reminded.

I was reminded yet again yesterday when I arrived home after work. "That low tire light thingy is on in the van again."

Now this is usually not a reason for concern. The light kicks on when the tire goes below 30 psi, so it's frequently just a matter of putting a little air in to make the light go away. But the light is usually accurate. In this case, the light was somewhat more disturbing.

"Which tire is it complaining about?"
"One of the rear ones."
"Oh, one of the BRAND NEW rear ones that was put on 2 days ago?"
"Uh, I think so."

On Saturday I took the van in because there was a large nail sticking out of the side of one of the rear tires. Therefore I immediately thought, "Oh great, the tire place jacked up the installation of a new tire."

"Did you take a look at the tire after you noticed the light?"
"Nope."
"Did the car drive funny or anything?"
"Uh, erm, no."

I stepped into the garage to have a look at the offending tire. It was flat. Completely flat.

"When did you first notice the light? Saturday? Sunday?"
"Dunno...probably just today. I don't really notice dash lights so much."

I decided to inspect the flattened tire myself. In approximately three seconds, I discovered a screw sticking out of the treads of the new tire. It was a large screw, of the type one might find holding together the corner of an oil rig in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

"There's a large screw in this new tire, dear."
"I didn't run over anything! I didn't do it!"
"I'm not upset, dear. But can you just watch where you drive?"
"I always look. I didn't run over anything."

Erin always assumes that I'm angry, and that her insistance that she hasn't driven through an actual screw production factory leaves her blameless in the incident. In reality, it's the annoyance of having to return to the tire shop and drink their nasty coffee that is bothersome, and I'm genuinely not that upset.

Historically, though, she doesn't always notice things in the road. On her previous vehicle, she drove through what appeared to be the remains of a crash involving a truck carrying plate glass windows in front of her place of employment, only to have the tires go flat later that day while parked at the school. I noticed the large amount of glass as I arrived to put on her spare tire.

When I asked her about the glass, she replied, "What glass?" Indeed.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Saturday, May 17, 2008

I'm Funny

This video cracks me up; watch as Grant watches himself on video. The video is one of him laughing while being tickled, but he thinks he is pretty funny on screen. One of his new favorite things is to watch himself on the camera after I've shot a video. He's pretty cute, huh?



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Thursday, May 15, 2008

Grant's new favorite word, thanks to an evening with my dad in which my dad "taught him how to argue" (great job, dad), is "No." Grant has shaken his head "no" for some time, and those people close to him know that he made up his own sign language sign that means, "no," or "get the heck out of my face." He's spirited (to say the least). Well, here's a conversation centering around Grant's new word. Daddy tried to be funny, but Mommy prevailed!

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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Music Lover


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Grant's love of music is becoming legendary. Of course, he loves the piano, his harmonica, and now, the guitar. However, his love goes much deeper than that! Sure, he loves the traditional tunes of "Twinkle, Twinkle" and "The Itsy-Bitsy Spider." And sure, he likes the classic church tunes (my favorite thing is when I sing "Jesus Loves Me" because Grant shakes his head "yes" the whole time and does his strong boy at the appropriate line).

But, that's not all. Grant's favorite TV show (I'm not kidding) is Austin City Limits, a concert show on PBS that Bret tivos (new verb sighting). Grant dances to the music of Franz Ferdinand and Ray Davies. If Bret pauses the concert, Grant signs "please, please, please" while pointing at the TV. He'll watch the whole concert.It's too cute.

Daddy has a new music buddy.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Mother's Day travelin'

One must be on some sort of street provided "medications" to schedule one's self the way Erin and I have scheduled ourselves over the past few weeks. I told her yesterday that I was having trouble relaxing, and I've BEEN having trouble relaxing since trip number one to Mexico several weeks ago.

Since then, we've had trip number two to Mexico, prom, and a trip to Madison (the eventual subject of this ramble). We still have a trip to Key West and a trip to California to go before this idiocy ends. At some point, I need a real vacation that doesn't involve anyone but Erin, Grant, and anyone with a liquor license.

This weekend, we went to Madison, Indiana with Erin's folks for our annual trek to the Madison In Bloom festival. We dearly love Madison, and strolling around for an afternoon in spring is always a nice diversion. We always have lunch at The Downtowner, and then we wander around to the various houses, occasionally pocketing a trinket or two from the particularly nice backyards.

Things this year started a little rocky. The first house wasn't very stirring, so we moved on to house number two, which turned out to be an Episcopalean church. Not wishing to be struck by lightning, I didn't pocket anything, but apparently the damage had already been done, because a bird pooped on me about five minutes after we arrived. As someone not fond of being shat or spat upon (is anyone really?), I spent a good while bathing in the sink inside the church fellowship hall.

For whatever reason, the gardens this year just weren't doing it for us, although it was still nice to wander around, and the people were, as always, exceedingly friendly. Erin had a pounding headache, so we bailed early and went to Scottsburg, Indiana and used some Holiday Inn points from my stays in China to stay at the Holiday Inn Express.

We took the opportunity to let Grant swim in the pool, which he has done in the past. This time he seemed somewhat leary of the whole thing. I didn't understand why until my eyes began to burn and several of my toes dissolved. I am of the opinion that the Holiday Inn pool maintenance might be a little suspect.

For dinner, we drove up to The Pines. We had driven past this place a multitude of times, and I had regailed Erin with stories of eating there with my grandparents as a child. I hadn't been there in years, and I warned her that we shouldn't go there necessarily for the food, but more for the experience.

The Pines is housed in a metal pole barn, and the inside is outfitted like a mortuary. It's very odd. Nobody under 80 apparently eats there, and there is some suspicion that perhaps these individuals are confused and merely think they're saving themselves some extra legwork by checking themselves into a mortuary, a reasonable theory proposed by my uncle. There are trellises everywhere, a gazebo, and green grasses painted on the walls. The staff is all dressed in tuxes, a feature of many of these types of restaurants in Indiana. It's as though they're serving in a five star restaurant in their mind's eye. In any case, the food was fine, and Grant took the opportunity to throw a large quantity of pudding around the room.

On Sunday we drove up to Bedford to be with my grandmother and mother on Mother's Day. We took a scenic route in an effort to allow Grant to take a nap on the way into town, and it turned out to be quite beautiful. If you're ever in the neighborhood, the county roads between Little York and Plattsburg, Indiana make for a wonderful drive through the woods, providing ample opportunities to witness river folk, a favorite of Erin's. About a half hour into the drive, Erin noted that every house featured exposed insulation on one portion or another. She was, indeed, correct.

We came home last night exhausted, but looking forward to my cousin's wedding coming up in a couple of weeks. Despite the presence of a shifty uncle or two, it will be a nice opportunity to hang out at the beach and consume whatever is available.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

What do you do with your ice cream cone?

What kid does this? He doesn't take after his daddy (that's for sure).


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Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Little Miss Grace Update

It goes in cycles. A few times a year for an entire week, Bret and I get this question: "Now, aren't you adopting from somewhere else?" It's like everyone got an email reminder at the same time to ask about the process.

As is always the case with international adoption, it is out of our hands. It's been almost three years since we started on our path to Grace (read: longest freakin' pregnancy ever), and we've still got some time to wait.

We could realistically get her sometime between November 2008 and April 2009, but the Olympics are the big wild card. No one is certain how the CCAA (the Chinese governing body in charge of all adoptions) will function during the month of August. Will it shut down? Will it still allow travel? Will people be working? And then, will things pick up after the Olympics?

Ideally, we would have Grace home by March of 2009; if not, we will have to redo paperwork (again) and pay more fees (again). We cannot wait until the day that baby Grace is home, safe and sound and part of our family forever and ever.

We very much love her, and the wait has been a true test of patience and trusting in God's timing.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Prom 2008 - "Now With Breathalizer!"

Yep...it's that time of year again. For our third consecutive year, Erin and I chaperoned the prom. Actually this is the second consecutive year that Erin has been one of the organizers of prom, so with each year, she gains more responsibility and the speech about how I'd better not do or say anything stupid gets a little bit longer.

This year's prom theme was "Viva Las Vegas." What could better suit a student at an elite college preparatory school than a thorough instruction in the art of roulette or Texas Hold-Em. I kid, but prom this year was a rousing success. This year's prom had several key differences from previous years, and I think in all cases these changes were beneficial.

The first major difference was that instead of a formal sit down meal, there were food "stations" placed around the room. These included a veggie/dip table (read: the table nobody went to), a fajita table (read: the table covered with little chunks of discarded meat), a turkey carving station (read: a man with a big knife and short temper for snotty high schoolers), a pasta bar (read: a table for people trying to carb load for the rest of the night's activities), and finally, my personal favorite, a dessert table (read: where you'll find me for most of the evening).

I was assigned check-in duty for prom, which stationed me directly across from the dessert bar. As the food stations opened up, I noticed that the long lines were at the main courses, but the dessert bar was looking lonely. I also had a creeping fear that the desserts which looked good to me might disappear at the hands of these greedy little monsters who had actually paid their way into prom, so I decided to make my move. While everyone else was eating dinner, I snuck (rather unsuccessfully) over to the dessert table and loaded up a platter of desserts.

This plan worked flawlessly and proved to be endlessly entertaining to the other parents and teachers assigned to check-in duty. Erin was off doing other things, so I ran little risk of getting smacked around for what was later deemed embarrasing behavior. I also noted that since it worked so well, I should make it a ritual every 15 minutes or so. I tried different desserts with each visit, and it actually became quite a challenge once I discovered that if I emptied one plate on the dessert table, they brought out new, DIFFERENT desserts to replenish it with.

After my checkin duties were done, Erin and I made our way to all of the other food stations. It was difficult to scoop up the pasta or fajita meat, in part because of the diabetic tremor I had developed after two hours of dessert. I also noticed that I was having trouble controlling my bladder and my vision was blurry in one eye. Such is life.

After we had eaten our real dinners, I decided I needed my real dessert. As I made my way back to the dessert station and got a couple of cookies placed on my plate, one of the deans at Erin's school scolded me and ordered that I take no more cookies. She laughed in that, "I'm just kidding with you, but you really are disgusting" kind of way. I was undeterred.

Following the meal, the kids could either stand on the dancefloor and be deafened by the soothing sounds of today's Top 40, or they could make their way to any number of gaming tables around the room. These tables turned out to be an enormous success. There was no money involved, and you simply played for bragging rights, but these high school kids ate up getting to sit at a real gaming table with a professional dealer who, in some cases, looked like a hired lady. It was a hoot.

The kids who stayed on the dance floor also provided me endless entertainment. One of my coworkers noted that his daughter's school now broadcasts live video from prom on a local cable access channel. This seems like an interesting idea. He commented that he was somewhat taken aback by the fact that kids no longer dance facing each other, choosing instead to have the girl in front of the guy with her back to him. Apparently strip clubs are now providing dancing lessons.

I figure this makes the girl feel better about all the lunch money she blew getting her "tramp stamp," the common name of those lovely tattoos in the small of girls' backs that are so popular. I tried to explain to Erin why this type of dancing is so popular with the younguns, but she still didn't quite get it. I then tried to show her, but this only resulted in her smacking the top of my head and threatening to have me neutered.

At the end of the evening, as they did on the way into prom, the deans gave each kid a breathalizer. The students had been warned about the test on the way INTO prom, but they weren't aware of the test on the way out. We manned the exits at the back of the hall, figuring at least one kid would catch wind of the exit exam and make a run for the back door, but it didn't happen. This year's prom appeared to be a problem free experience, as far as alcohol goes.

Erin and I spent a lot of time discussing what the theme for next year's prom could be. This mostly involved me making suggestions featuring inappropriate slogans. For example, I suggested that they bring in Pop-A-Shot basketball goals and have T-shirts that say, "I scored at prom." I made other suggestions as well, but in the interest of maintaining our family friendly readership, I'll stop now. I figure I've already garnered myself a couple of nights on the couch with this post as it is.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Adios

On my final day in Juarez, I was forced by incurable hunger (I hadn't eaten since breakfast) to venture into the streets alone to find lunch. I decided initially that I would go to a Burger King that didn't appear to be too far away, based on Google Maps. It was in the same vicinity as the Wendy's I'd previously visited, so at least I knew the area.

As I approached the Wendy's, I decided that the BK was still several miles away, and no part of me wanted to get any closer to central Juarez than I had to. I also noted, at this point, that there was a restaurant called Barrigas near the Wendy's, which we had eaten at on our previous trip a couple of weeks ago. I decided that I'd rather have decent Mexican food than lame fast food, so I headed into Barrigas.

My food was good, although not exceptional. I spent the whole meal a little paranoid. During my dinner at Kiki's the previous night, a couple of El Paso natives told me multiple times that they thought I was crazy to wander around Juarez alone. They said things like, "Don't you know they have shootings in broad daylight?" and "If you have a wreck, you have a 50/50 shot of ending up in jail."

What I've discovered is that I actually feel much safer in China, in part because I don't have to drive. Mexico requires you to have "special" Mexican insurance, and if you have a wreck, it's immediately a criminal matter. Coupled with the fact that the traffic in Juarez is horrendous, and things like turning left from the right lane are common, and I just don't like taking the chance of having to deal with the cops over an accident. My drive back to the plant from lunch was made even more complicated by another sand storm, so visibility on the highway was extremely low. What a nightmare.

Erin inquired as to why I didn't just eat lunch at the plant. Excellent question. Basically I have a greater fear of being killed by our cafeteria than I do of being pistol whipped by a Mexican cop following a fender bender. When this plant opened a few years ago, there were several deaths due to improper food preparation in the cafeteria. No exaggeration. Deaths. "I'll have the chicken fingers...(24 hours later)...I'm dead now. Dang." There is a van parked in front of the factory that sells various burritos and such. Apparently they're very tasty...if you don't mind eating perishables from the back of an unrefrigerated minivan in 90 degree heat. Hell hath no fury like Montezuma...

Dinner last night was a mini-pizza and many brews (dig my homonym) at a place called BJ's Brewhouse. It was all tasty, made even better by the fact that it was all half price due to a happy hour special. Half price mini-pizzas are probably more dangerous for me than half price pints, but I was glad to test both. I crashed at the hotel early, wanting to get a good night's sleep before my 8am flight.

As I sat staring at my wedge salad and supreme mini-pizza, a thought crossed my mind. Over my many trips during the past few years, I've heard some dang seedy tales regarding what guys do on business trips. I've heard tales of drunkenness and debuachery. I've heard tales of strip clubs and girls in Asia. I've heard of guys putting weed on an expense report as an "entertainment" expense.

But what dawned on me last night is that my wife need not worry about me hanging out at strip clubs or smoking a joint. These are not my vices. No, my vice is corporately expensed food. When I travel, it's nearly impossible for me to eat in a proper fashion, knowing that I'm not paying for it, and I have nothing better to do. If it's fried, I'll take it. If it's green...and fried...I'll take it. If it comes smothered in cheese or some sort of butter based sauce, I'll take it.

And then each night, once I'm so stuffed that I can't remember what city or country I'm in, I wedge myself back into the rental car, I go back to the hotel, turn on the TV, and lay in the middle of the bed in various stages of undress with my arms and legs sprawled out like I'm making a snow angel on the covers, moaning quietly to myself in gastric misery. And I think, "If only Erin and Grant were here, life would be perfect." Indeed...