Saturday, August 30, 2008

Two Faced

Grant loves bath time, and it used to be really easy because he never got upset when bath time was over, but that's all changing. In the last few weeks, Grant has a fit when it's time to get out of the tub. Part of the reason, most likely, is the discovery of bath crayons. He's had them for a long time, but he just started taking a real liking to these soapy monsters. He'd be happy to get out of the tub, but he wants to take his crayon with him. It's hard to learn that life's not fair.

Here are some bath pics. You might be able to see some chicken scratching in the back thanks to the crayons. More importantly, the first one shows Grant's love of all things bath and water; the second pic was taken when Mommy announced it was time to get out. No worries about the soap all over Grant... that all comes off in the last rinse.

Off to Learn

Grant's first day of school was hard on... MOMMY! I cried. Hard. It's not the leaving for school part that was hard, or the my baby's growing up part, it was the "I have to be at work and can't take him to school" part that was hard.

We did get two comments from the saints (aka preschool teachers) who are in Grant's classroom. First, I guess one of them said, "Oh. My. Goodness," which Grant continued to repeat the rest of the morning. Miss Carla said she flagged down every teacher she could find and had Grant repeat it because she thought it was so cute. I like the idea that Grant can report back to me in word for word fashion every going on in preschool. Miss Carla did say that I needed to work on "something" with Grant "at home." Oh no. "Please, no biting," I thought. "No spitting; everyone hates a spitter."

Nope, Grant is a certified toy thrower. She said a lot of only children (tread carefully, please) have this issue. They aren't used to kids around them, so they just kind of flop their toys where they will. Noted. We are now working on the "I shall not throw my toys" routine at home.

A couple of key points to Grant's vocabulary. It's amazing to watch him put concepts together now. The other day, we were watching TV when there appeared a submarine. It was round and floating on the water. Grant's response with pointed finger? Bubble boat. Or, the other day, I was wearing a polka-dot skirt (I don't know if polka-dots are in fashion or not, and frankly, I don't care; the skirt's comfortable... and yes, I just did get really old with that comment). Grant has called the polka dots bubbles or balls before, but this week, he looked at those small little dots and called them "baby balls." Smarty pants. He also told me "careful, Mommy" as we went down the stairs and grabbed a book and announced "Dr. Seuss." He just started singing the chorus to Barbara Ann... now he sings... ba ba ba, ba, Barbara Ann. It's too cute.

When I asked Grant what he learned about at school, I got two answers: crickets and Jesus. It doesn't get much better.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Convicted by the Kid

A few weeks ago we discovered, somewhat to our horror, that Grant now recognizes the lovely gray and blue brick behemoth that is our local Wal-Mart. Grant wanders around the house saying, "Shopping? Shopping?" while pushing his little shopping cart, so we've convinced ourselves that we've tought our child about pushing a cart rather than outright consumerism.

This past Sunday, Erin and I made an agreement to sleep in as long as possible. Grant had been sick all weekend and therefore not sleeping, which led in turn to us not sleeping. We had also been a part of a church retreat on Saturday for the duration of the day, so we were all more than a little bit tired.

After sleeping in, having a bite of breakfast, and doing as little bathing as required by the health code, we piled into Big Whitey (our beloved Kia minivan) to grab a few groceries at Wal-Mart.

As we pulled into the parking lot Erin, always the overly proud mother, said to Grant "Where are we, Grant?" With little hesitation, Grant responded in a questioning tone, "Church?" As we walked to the front door, he repeated it several times, "Church? Church?"

Leave it to your kid to call you out on sleeping in on Sunday...

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


The other night Erin suggested that we needed my cousin Kate's new mailing address. Kate is a sophmore at Indiana University (ranked 14th, 19th, and 8th respectively on the Princeton Review's "Party Schools", "Lots of Beer", and "Lots of Hard Liquor" lists -- a solid collegiate choice by all accounts).

The last time we saw Kate, she made an attempt to educate my wife in the art of "texting." For whatever reason, kids under 25 no longer have the ability to speak on the telephone or even compose a thoughtful email. They now communicate in short, incoherent bursts (possibly related to the rankings mentioned above) via cell phone text messages.

I do not understand this fad. I latch onto new technologies like a tic on a dog's hide, but this one I don't get. Isn't texting a sort of regression in the communicative landscape? With all of the computers and iPhones and Palm Pilots available to kids, isn't this the electronic equivalent of passing a note during class?

In a futile attempt to understand why "all the kids are doing it" and to maintain my own hipness (a quality instantly diminshed by the use of the word "hipness") I decided that the best way to reach Kate was to send her a text message. I set about figuring out how to enter texting mode on my phone. Once I found it, I began composing my message -- one Roman alphanumeric character at a time.

"d" Uh-uh. I need a capital D. Letters...shift...capitals. There we go.

"D-D" Nope. No more caps. Letters...shift...lower case. Voila.

"D-d" Still no go. I need an "e" not a "d". Press the "D" key again to get "E". All is well.

"D-e-a-r" Oh, crap. How do I do spaces? There it is.

"K-a-t-e" Two more minutes of my life gone.

"H-o-w a-r-e t-h-i-n-g-s g-o-i-n-g" Where's the stupid question mark. Back under letters...symbols...spaces. Three more minutes of my life gone.

I spent approximately 40 minutes composing a thoughtful message to Kate to inquire about how college was going, whether she was keeping her grades up, and whether she could forward her mailing address to us so that we could send her pictures of our adorable son. See? I was able to type that in under 10 seconds on a REAL keyboard.

I hit send. Approximately 8 seconds later I received something akin to the following on my phone.

"uh...ok. who is this?"

Oh, yeah. I guess I need to introduce myself.

"T-h-i-s i-s y-o-u-r c-o-u-s-i-n B-r-e-t."

Another 8 seconds elapse.

"Oh, hey! Good to hear from you! How are Erin and Grant? It's been like ages since I saw you guys? Did you watch the Olympics? Wasn't that cool? Things are going great here at Hard Liquor U. My apartment is cool, and I'm doing really well in my Informatics classes. I'd love to see you guys. I'm going to Indianapolis on Saturday. Maybe I'll see you around!"

Again, this isn't a transcript, but the key here is that she did that in UNDER 10 SECONDS. I was, to say the least, moderately annoyed.

I responded with something like "Great. Now send me your freaking address before I smash this little keyboard with my bloodied thumbs."

We went back and forth like this for the next couple of hours. After 10 or so messages, it occurred to me that I don't think our "cell phones for the elderly" plan includes texting. So it probably cost me $11 to transmit an amont of information equivalent to a one minute local phone call.

In the end, dazed and confused, I sent something along the lines of "We will c u l8r" and put my thumbs to rest. I have no greater appreciation now for texting than I did before this exchange. I fully intend to purchase Kate an IBM Selectric for Christmas so that we can communicate in a way that I find more meaningful and refined.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Growing Up

Last night, after our 3 hour ENT doc appointment (with accompanying x-rays... not easy with a toddler), Bret, Grant and I headed to the Calvary Learning Academy Open House. Grant will be heading to a Mom's day out program on Thursday mornings. Our rationale is that our dear and loving son needs some social skills, and one day of week of Sunday school isn't helping his constant kissing of his peers.

So, the local Methodist church has quite a Mom's day out program, complete with a pre-preschool curriculum. We realized we were in for a whirlwind upon arrival, as every kid in the whole program swarmed around us. Grant was in toddler ecstasy. We grabbed our informational packet, filled out our health forms, dropped off our classroom supplies, and picked up our snack schedule. But then, we needed to bolt. It was chaos. Not bad chaos akin to "why would I send my kid here," but chaos of the "I'm glad the class size is limited to 10" variety. Grant sobbed. He was so upset that we had to leave all those toys and all those kids. Great first impression.

Off we went to buy Grant a lunch box--a Thomas the Train lunch box. He carried that lunch box around the house for the rest of the evening. I have a serious lunch box philosophy that comes from the absolutely lame lunches I had as a kid. My mom, who tried her single-mom hardest, was a perfect mom... except when it came to lunches. What kid has bell pepper slices, a sandwich that isn't cut in half, and an orange (not peeled, not cut into wedges.. but) cut in half? Don't get me started on the large carrot, sometimes unpeeled, complete with green stems still in place. I never got a cool Capri-Sun or even a juice box. It was white milk for me. Nothing was ever cool--much less trade-able--in my lunch.

So, Grant, don't you worry. Mommy is going to take special pride in your lunch box. While I'm committed to lunch box packing greatness, I can't believe I'm even packing a lunch for my son. He's growing up so quickly. Because we haven't had to do the whole day care scene, this little program is a great deal of firsts for us: the first "these are the people who can pick up my child" form, the first Christmas program, the "bring a blanket for nap time" request.

I'll post pictures on Thursday of Grant's first day of school. I'll by crying behind the camera, but I know Grant is going to love every minute of, what he calls, "shool."

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Grace Update

There was a point when Grace seemed so close. When we started our journey to her, she seemed just a few months away. Then, she seemed so far away, years and years away. But now, the tide is turning again.

I've been thinking about Grace non-stop lately. I'm sure it's because of the Olympics and all those cute Chinese girls running around and singing. Or, maybe it's because our friends Matt and Amy just birthed a little baby named Grace, such a bundle of love. But, I like to think it's because Grace has been born, that there is some connection between mother and daughter that transcends place and time.

The reality of her birth has created a whole new wave of unexpected emotions. It's not that we are "for sure" that she's been born. Or, for that matter, that we even know who "she" is. We're just starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel, and with that light, comes the awareness that our daughter is going to be born without us...

And it makes me weep. I break into tears constantly. I cry at the thought that some brave woman decided to birth a baby, break the law in giving her up, all in hopes that her daughter would have a chance at a happy and a healthy life. There were a lot of other options for that woman to take, but she decided on the brave and loving path.

But, then, I cry at the thought that my daughter, my sweet baby girl, is now alone in this world. Or, I cry at the thought that she is scared and alone and in an orphanage... often left to herself... or, that when my baby cries, the woman who attends to her doesn't love her like I do, doesn't dream of bringing her home, doesn't say prayers over her from half way across the world.

In some ways, Grace seems forever away. In other ways, we know that 2009 is our year. I can't wait to bring Grace home. I can't wait to introduce Grant to his new sister. I can't wait to watch him learn to love her with his big, soft toddler heart.

As we wait these last few months, please pray for baby Grace. I am so thankful that God does not leave us alone in our distress, and I know that he is attending her heart even now.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

WWW--better late than never

So, yesterday, my mom and I were driving to Kohls when my mom looked out the window and asked Grant, "What's that?" Grant responded, "Walmart." Clear as day. He was right, and I was scared. Another tad bit scary thing is that we've heard Grant calling Mommy and Daddy by the names Erin and Bret. Kind of freaky.

Grant's alphabet is coming along. His favorite letters right now: B, I, N, G, O... but not in that order. He still likes "couning" (counting) as he says it, and he now counts up to 7, but he usually needs help with the number 4. Go figure.

Here's a little of Elmo's song that Grant would like to sing for you. The words (at least according to Grant): la, la, la Elmo's song.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

I'm a garage sale junkie

It's true. I love garage sales. I don't think I have ever purchased Grant a new toy, and I don't think I've spent--in his lifetime--over 35 dollars (I'm not kidding) on new clothes and shoes for Grant. It's not that I don't want Grant to look cute or to have fun stuff, but it is because I don't think stuff matters, especially toys and clothes. And, I have other goals for that money: like college for Grant, paying off our house, and such. And, let's be honest, Grant looks cute in a dirty diaper, so I don't think he's hurting. I know there will come a day when we have to fight over designer shoes, but I'm not going to start that fight until I have to do so. So, until then, it's two dollar tricycles for Grant.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

State Fair 08

I'm big on traditions. And, to be honest, the reason I think I'm so big on traditions is because I work with a high schoolers. As I talk to my students about their memories, about what's important to them, about what they remember about growing up, the traditions of their families and their cultures are what surface. And in a contemporary culture that values the "here and now," fame and financial success above all else, I find traditions to be all the more valuable for their ability to "ground me."

We've got lots of traditions in the Hawkins' home, and now with Grant, our list of traditions continues to grow.

One such tradition is our annual trek to the Indiana State Fair. I love the state fair. I love it because it is so classically Hoosier. The California State Fair is like DisneyWorld by comparison, but I like the small town charm of the Indiana version. I like that there is a huge brick building that has the word "SWINE" in stone letters. I love that the largest pumpkin contest is high on the list of "things to do today" at the fair. I love that you can register for a fishing license right on premises. It's so Indiana.

Last year with Grant was fun, but this year, it was a toddler wonderland. On the way to the fair, he must have said, "cows, sheeps, horsey" 500 times, and the fair did not disappoint. While we didn't have time for the world's largest pig, Grant did get to see baby cows and goats, ride a few rides, eat kettle corn, and play on some tractors. It was glorious.

Here are some pics.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Daddy's trick and WWW Thursday edition

I think Bret has been giving Grant pointers on how to "ignore" Mommy all under the guise of being very interested in the moving pictures on the screen.

My favorite of Grant's words this week: Thomas, James and Percy. Grant is taking after his cousin Aidan because Grant is in love with all things train. This is good news since I've decided to decorate Grant's big boy room (coming this January) in trains (recently bought this decal for the wall). I'm not going to go overboard: this decal, a garage sale rug I bought for 5 bucks and some Thomas the Train sheets for a Christmas present.

Other new words: church. When asked, "Who do we learn about at church?" Grant responds, "Jesus." Melts my heart. Then he responds, "people." That too, I guess. He says every body part, now including tongue, elbow, knee, and just today I heard, "I did it." He can't throw a ball or run with any real skill, but the boy can talk it up.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Wash Me

Last night Erin suggested that it was time to clean out our minivan.

"Oh, and you think I'm brilliant and have movie star quality good looks. Very funny."

"No, really. We should start tonight and finish this weekend."

After checking both her forehead for fever and my shoes for signs of hell going arctic, I enthusiastically agreed with her. Car cleanliness, the bane of many marriages, has always been somewhat of an issue for us.

When we were dating (the timeline of which is also a source of great debate) Erin drove a lovely green Toyota Camry. It was an automatic with a sunroof, 6 cylinder engine, CD changer, and a variety of soups and cracker combinations in the backseat that would make the Golden Corral jealous.

Pair this with a wide selection of slightly moldy Tupperware products, a few empty beverage containers, and a half eaten bag of Golden Grahams, and you get a picture of Erin's Camry. I tried to clean it once, and something under the seats bit me and growled.

In all fairness, Erin does a remarkable job of keeping our house and child clean. Very rarely does Grant smell more foul than his father, so I applaud her efforts. But somewhere in our genetic makeup, women just don't feel a need to keep their cars clean. Our minivan is no exception.

As we dumped the various toys and used-to-be books out of the backseat, we began to notice a multitude of stains on the floormats. A little juice here, a little mac and cheese there. We decided to actually remove Grant's carseat for the sake of completeness, underneath which we found approximately two pounds of partially masticated cookies and crackers.

(In Grant's world, crackers are called cookies most of the time. This is an effort on Erin's part to convince Grant that a Ritz or Saltine is the best tasting cookie-like object on the planet. When she does give him a cookie, I believe she calls it "sugar coated crack.")

There were also remnants of McDonald's ice cream cones and a few socks under Grant's car seat. By this time, Grant was running around our driveway in merely a diaper, so we paused until the weekend. I'm hoping to find an iPod or something I can take on the Antiques Roadshow when we return to the task.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Dancin' Fool

I don't think much explaination is needed.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Finger Lickin' Good

I don't want to hear about raw eggs or anything of the sort. I grew up licking the beaters, and until we have a hospitalization or two... so will my kids.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

TV time and WWW

I swear: Grant doesn't watch that much TV. But by the videos below, you might start to question that truth. He loves his dds (dvds), and his favorite thing to do is to carry around an empty dvd case. He'll tell you all about the pictures a thousand times a day. For example, he was carrying around an empty Wiggles dvd case today, and when I asked him about all the character's pictures on the back, he knew them. I died... more mortified than happy.

Here's a video where Grant plays "Name that Tune." He's not too happy with Mommy's singing, as every time I open my mouth, I get a big "NO" from Grant. He's identifying: the Wiggles, Elmo, Bob (the tomato from Veggie Tales) and Boz (that Giant Green Singing Bear).

Here's a video where Grant identifies the characters in his book (Elmo, Zoe, Cookie Monster (which in Grant speak is cous-cous, like the Mediterranean dish, Oscar and Bird [Big Bird]). Notice his favorite toy in his hand: an empty dvd case.

As far as Grant's language skills, they just continue to explode. It is not uncommon to hear any and every word come out of his mouth. We are no longer shocked. He repeats everything (which I don't think counts as "knowing" a word), but then a few days later, he's using the word all on his own. Crazy ones I heard this week: airplane, fox, bubbles, Jesus and Noah (I think he thinks they are the same person?), violin (don't ask... we have a magnet of a violin on our fridge... which Grant pronounces v-lynn), and octopus (pronounced: o-pus). He talks CONSTANTLY, which Bret says he gets from me. I say that it's genetics. I can't wait to see Grant's birthmom again, so she can let us know about Grant's two biological sisters and whether or not they were jabber-jaws.

Monday, August 04, 2008

If the straightjacket fits...

OK, enough with the cutesy Grant crap. Let's get back to discussing his defective parental units. This blog is beginning to edge away from "man, those people are warped...but entertaining" to "awwwww...more pictures of their cute kid burping up lunch...that was funny at first..."

So Erin has had a theory for a long time now that I've got a little of the autism in me. (That's how you say it when you've got a medical defect here in Indiana. "I've got the autism." You might similarly say "I've got the cancer" or "I've got a bit of the fever" as though there's one strain of each disease stalking around our state like the headless horseman.)

Erin based this theory on a number of observations. First off, she worked one summer at an autism camp, and as she told me stories about her autistic campers, a couple of things occurred. For starters, she frequently found herself saying "Wow...that seems just like something you'd do" and secondly, I frequently found myself saying "Wow...I would totally go for that."

For example, she noted that her autistic campers frequently "flipped out" (for lack of an appropriate term) when things strayed from within the boundaries of how things are "supposed" to behave. I suffer from similar freak outs. If Erin leaves me to babysit Grant and tells me she'll be home at 7pm, when she arrives at 8pm with some story about having to stop for gas or be stranded on the highway, she will usually be telling it to me while I sit in the middle of the family room floor, head between my knees, rocking back and forth while mumbling the lyrics to "Paint It Black."

Another example is that we've often heard autistic kids talk of wanting to be placed inside a "squeezing machine" that puts pressure on their sides. If one of these costs less than a small family sedan, you now know what you can get me for Christmas.

I've often watched Erin wrap Grant up in a "baby cocoon" and wished something similar (outside the "nut house") existed for adults. Nothing sounds better to me than sleeping while wrapped up like a mummy. I might even be up for sleeping in a coffin if I could have one delivered without the neighbors seeing it left on the doorstep.

So last night Erin, partly in jest and partly because she wants documentation before having me committed, took a king sized sheet and wrapped me up like she used to wrap Grant up. It was heavenly. She propped my head up on a pillow, and I watched the second half of the Colts game in sheer, 200 thread count ecstasy.

Unfortunately Erin fell asleep during the 4th, and my forehead began to itch. Major bummer not having arms or hands at this point. I also still had my glasses on, which wasn't conducive to going to sleep. A few minutes later, my dessert beer began a-callin' which led to some pretty ugly scenarios. Suddenly my "man-coon" wasn't such a great idea.

I managed to fling my glasses off my forehead and go to sleep unaided. At about 2am, I woke up with my bladder threatening to secede from the union, and my body temperature was approximately 108 degrees. I was suddenly swaddled in hell's blanket. I managed to get free and sprint for the toilet, narrowly avoiding being made to wear a "man diaper" to bed the next evening.

I keep life interesting...right, hon?