Tuesday, September 30, 2008

potpourri

1. We're thankful that Bret made it home! Yeah! He had a great trip in China and Singapore, but we're REALLY, REALLY glad he's home. He told me within minutes of picking him up that he might have to go back in four weeks. I told him--that in the future--such unwelcomed declarations should be made after he has purchased me a great meal and a very large bucket glass of wine.

2. I almost had the backyard finished for Bret. For those of you who were not conscripted into service, I planted (in the new beds I dug with my father-in-law earlier in the summer): two trees, 22 bushes, and 6 plants. Plus, it's decked out with a turtle sandbox. Once the mulch is down, we'll take some pics.

3. I became worried yesterday that some of my blogs about Grant's veracious speech could be seen as boastful. So, I thought I'd clear that all up. First off, while I think Grant is bright, I don't think language is the only indicator of intelligence. I love the fact that he talks and shares his ideas; it's the cutest thing, but I have had many of my brightest students' parents tell me that their children didn't talk until 3 or 4. So, the reason I put all that stuff on the blog is really not to share it; that's just a by-product. I just want a record. I want to be able to tell Grant as much about his childhood as I can (adopted children tend to have a larger number of questions about childhood and the past than do biological children). So, that's it. I'd hope you guys would know me well enough to know that, but just in case, I wanted to set the record straight.

4. I have an issue with wait times at doctors' offices. I don't like waiting, but I REALLY don't like waiting when I have a 20 month old to entertain. Grant's wonderful pediatrician gets this issue. First off, there is a LARGE play area for kids (mind you, this is an adult medicine site too), but we've never really been able to use it because we've ever only had to wait 5 minutes or so. Then, once in the room, our top wait time: 5 minutes. Yesterday, for the second time, Grant I had a less than pleasurable experience at the ENT. First off, it was hot in the waiting room. I was visibly sweating, and that's not pretty. There was a box of blocks and a few books, but that's it. And then, to make it all worse, we had to wait FORTY minutes. If it were just me, I'd flip through a few People magazines and call it a day, but with an interested and explorative toddler, it aint so fun. Then, in the room, where Grant tried to put his Thomas the Tank Engine in every biohazard hole imaginable, we had to wait again... Here's the truth: if Grant's pediatrician (or any other medical professional we had to see with regularity) did this with frequency, we'd find a new place. I don't leave parents waiting in the lobby for 40 minutes. I don't leave students waiting in class for 40 minutes. Doctors' offices, you're on notice: if you can't figure out how to schedule your patients, I'll be happy to come and help. And it won't be pretty. Once the doctor came, the check-up exam lasted 2 minutes. I suggest a formula: I'll wait for however long my appointment ends up being... even times 2 or 3. Maybe even 5. But that's it. It can't be that hard: it just can't.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Grant's Growing Up

Today, after I had finished singing a song to Grant, he looked up at me and said, "Great job, Mommy." I gave him my credit card. He's just too cute, and to say that he is oozing personality is an understatement.

Here's short video of Grant. He says my favorite phrase in it: "Eat beater," which he says every time I ask if he wants to make cookies.

video



Grant now sings several songs (or, I should say "parts" of songs), counts to about 20 (though he confuses 8 and 18 a lot), and says some sort of ABCs... sometimes he stops around H and picks back up around M. It still too cute. He also fills in the words to "Jesus Loves Me," "He's got the Whole World in his Hands," and "Sally the Camel." It's too cute to watch him bob up and down singing, "Sally camel has no hump." I could eat him up. He's even taken to saying, "See you later, Alligator" or "After while, Crocodile."

Also, Grant's into every animal. He knows how to say and identify lots of animals, but the ones that stun me are rhinoceros, dinosaur, hippopotamus, chameleon, starfish, salamander and armadillo. We're working on colors, but that's slow going.

He also has lots of "characters" down, and it kind of freaks me out. He knows every character on Sesame Street, Super Why, Thomas, Arthur, Boz, Veggie Tales and Mama Mirabelle's Home Movies. Every. Single. One. But, what I don't understand is how he knows who Dora is? Or, Sponge Bob? Or, the Transformers? He has never seen any of these "characters" on TV or in our books, but every time we're walking around Walmart, he points them out. It's got me nervous.

I love to hear his little voice.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Singapore Bound!

Well, I've finished off my work week in Shenzhen, and now I'm sitting in the Hong Kong airport waiting for my ride to Singapore. Singapore should be a hoot this weekend, given the F1 road race that's taking place on Sunday. Plus it'll give me a great chance to catch up with the Longs since their move to Asia.

Here are a couple of photos from my last couple of days in China. The first is of one of our hostesses at the Holiday Inn Donghua. We stay at this hotel primarily because of their wonderful staff. Candy, pictured next to the jolly green giant below, is leaving in a month to return to college, and we will all miss her and her unlimited supply of Tsingtao between 4 and 7pm.

The final picture is of one of my fellow employees, Vicky. Vicky has always been a wonderful ambassador to all of us when we are in China. She knows all the great restaurants, and she always offers to make you a home cooked meal during your stay. I haven't gotten to take her up on that offer yet, but I'd love to on the next trip.

Vicky told me that in addition to her love of cooking Chinese food, she also loves to eat American food when in the U.S. Her favorite restaurant, you ask? The beloved American classic -- Steak 'n Snake. I thought I misheard her the first time, but after she brought it up multiple times, it was all I could do to keep from biting through my lip. Perhaps that is the name of their Asian division.

In any case, I had a great trip to China this time around. I got tons of work done, made some new friends, and didn't drink the water or milk. Life is good.

Daddy, I miss you...

but, I'm having fun without you!

This last weekend, Grant and I headed out to "in the middle of absolutley nowhere Indiana" (like take a dirt road to get there kind of nowhere) to celebrate Bret's sister's 30th birthday. It was an absolute blast, and Grant couldn't have been happier. There was a bonfire, toy trucks and sandpits, a hayride, tractors and cows. Grant was in toddler bliss. Here are some fun pics from the night.







Thursday, September 25, 2008

Update to previous post

So I spoke with my wife this morning, and I asked her excitedly if she had read my latest blog post? She unenthusiastically informed me that she had read it. Perplexed by her seeming lack of interest in me or the blog, I asked her what she thought. She informed me, in no uncertain terms, that she thought I was rather uncompassionate about the plight of the individuals discussed.

I tried to explain that I mentioned that the second gentleman, while virtually naked, was also carrying several sacks of groceries and wearing relatively decent sneakers and was therefore not as destitute as his attire would indicate. Similarly, I am not convinced that the first naked man wasn't naked merely as a matter of choosing, given that it was approximately 110 degrees in the shade here yesterday.

Needless to say, I definitely see the humor in a situation before I feel the compassion, so it's good to have Erin around to inform me when I'm being crass. So if, indeed, the two individuals I encountered yesterday were truly destitute, my apologies. I will use the experience as a reminder of how blessed in life I truly am. Otherwise, I hope these two guys choose to throw on some shorts the next time they head out for a stroll.

I did NOT need to see that...

So I'm sure everyone has been waiting on pins and needles, but needless to say, I survived my first typhoon unharmed Wednesday morning. There was a brutal amount of wind and rain, and I spent the entire night listening to the windows rattle in my hotel room. In the morning, the carpet around the windows was wet, but I figure the mold won't start growing until I'm back on the plane to Indy.

Today on our way to lunch, my co-worker and I passed a Chinese man dressed only in the brownest, most stretched out pair of BVDs ever to grace this side of the Yangtze. He looked like life had treated him somewhat poorly, so we chuckled to ourselves and moved on, trying not to take the curious glance to catch the backside of the package.

A few paces later, my co-worker noted that it was only sort of funny because it was the second naked guy in the past two blocks. "Huh?" I replied. He then turned me around and pointed to a nearby bus stop. Sure enough. My old buddy Two Hung Lo was crouched behind the bus stop wearing nothing but the suit God gave him. It was disturbing to say the least. It was only slightly more disturbing because nobody but me seemed bothered by his presence.

After lunch, which seemed slightly less appealing today than normal, we started to walk back to work. I commented that I was a bit concerned about running into our naked friend again on the way back. How far can a naked man get on foot in a major city?

About that time, my previous buddy, Ty Tee Wy Tee, reappeared in his natty, loin covering garb. Only this time he was carrying several bags full of groceries from a nearby store and was wearing tennis shoes. I guess when you're hot, you're hot.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

A Blow Out of a Day


Grant has had a terrible time readjusting to normal life since his surgery. We spent a week with night wakings (can't blame him after major toddler surgery), but then we had two nights back to sleeping 12 hours. Then, just as Bret was getting on a plane for China, Grant threw a curveball. For three nights in a row, for no apparent reason, Grant woke up about ever 45 minutes screaming. I'm not kidding. He woke up between 10 and 15 times a night. It was WAY worse than those newborn nights, and I was about ready to pull my hair out.

So, last night, after three nights of this terror, we had a talk. I told him that if he didn't sleep through the night, I would take him back to the doctor (at which point he says "Dr. Walters" [his pediatrician]) and have the adenoids put back in. This kind of lying for the sake of sleep runs in my family. My mom just told me the other day about how, when I was about three, we boarded a plane while she was sick (I'm sure the FAA would have something to say about her infestation of flight 1834 from LA to San Jose). She told me that all she wanted to do was sleep, but I wouldn't shut up. She finally threatened me with a whopper of a lie. She said that the pilot didn't like little girls who talked, and if I kept talking, he would come and make me sit on the wing of the plane. Seeing how I had a window seat right over said wing, I pondered her threat. But, then it started. How would I stay on the wing? Could I fall off? If I fell, would my mom come get me? What about the girl talking a few rows back? Needless to say, my mom's little white lie didn't work out.

But, Grant, on the other hand, took the potential threat of anesthesia and reversal surgery very seriously, and he slept for 12 solid hours. I still only got about 4 hours of sleep (don't you hate that point where you are really, really tired, and you keep telling yourself, "you should be asleep" and "you'll be really tired if you don't sleep," but you just can't fall asleep. Needless to say, I played Mindsweeper on the computer (yes, I'm addicted to that free game that comes with PCs the world over)).

So, to make a long story even longer, when Grant went down for his nap at 1pm today, Mommy also went down. This is when things started going bad. I woke up feeling sick. Not stomach sick. Not cold sick. Headache sick. At one point, I even felt around my head because I was sure I had a gaping head wound (I'm serious). I was dizzy, didn't feel comfortable walking, and downed some meds and caffeine as quickly as possible. The fog cleared, and while I had a load of errands I had been planning to run, the fog left me feeling lethargic and ready for a quick meal at Taco Bell (which Grant now says all the time. He also says McDonalds, chicken nuggets and ice cream cone every other day. I swear, we don't eat that much fast food).

So, my mom and I headed to Taco Bell. Afterwards, he headed to WalMart for a few necessities. In the parking lot of WalMart, I heard a familiar sound: Grant grunting. A quick look in the rear view mirror, and I saw his breathless pushing coupled with his red face, and I knew I had a dirty diaper to deal with ASAP. I told my mom that we'd run into the store and deal with it there. I wanted a table or sensible platform after all. And down hill it went.

First off, without sounding gross, it was the worse diaper in the history of Grantdom. All babies have those newborn blowouts. No big deal. This was no newborn blowout. It was toddler revenge. It was everywhere. His clothes, his shoes, his legs. It was coming out the top (and FRONT!!!) of his diaper.

It was at this moment that I realized that all my wipes were in the car. They were in the other diaper bag or had fallen out, but for sure, they weren't in the bag I was carrying. So, I huffed and puffed to aisle 4 while my mom waited with the soiled boy. After using half of the 400 pack of wipes, he was clean. I scooped the dirty clothes (those things should be burned... not washed) and was ready to redress the boy. Oops. What else was I missing in the diaper bag: pants. I was lucky enough to have one shirt, but that was it.

So off we went to the toddler section to buy a pair of pants. I also bought Grant a pair of Elmo slippers to ward off any future revenge he decided was due.

All in all, it was memorable evening. My mom's comment as we got in the van to come home: "I feel like I've been through the ringer."

Now, I'm off to burn those clothes, the clothes I was wearing, even the diaper bag because it surely got too close to some fumes.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Hot Hot Hot!

OK, so it's really hot here in southern China. I mean REALLY hot. It's so hot that a guy on the street started to show us nudie pictures of some girl he was trying to pimp on his iPhone, and my co-worker's response was "It's too hot for that." Actually, he phrased it much differently, but this is a family blog, right?

Yesterday was a bit of a debacle for us. We usually take a 9:45am ferry from Kowloon, Hong Kong to the mainland, but for whatever reason, that ferry no longer exists. Rather than wait for an afternoon ferry, we took a cab over to the other ferry terminal in Hong Kong central. By the time we hit the mainland, it was about 1:30pm and right around 100 degrees. It was wicked hot.

We trudged around in sopping wet clothes looking for a place to have lunch. In the end, we landed in a little noodle shop. Nobody spoke any English, so I just pointed to a picture on the menu and out came this little pot.

It was quite tasty. It was basically rice with bacon and mushrooms. I love little restaurants like this over here, because all the waitresses giggle at your cluelessness. I'm fairly sure they were also laughing because we were soaking wet with sweat, but alas.

Upon reaching my hotel room, I noted this sign on the door.

Notice the particularly rectangular shape of the lock, as well as the direction the arrow indicates it should be turned. It's no wonder that the instructions included with products produced here are of so little value.

It's still ridiculously hot today, but there's a typhoon coming tomorrow morning which has cooled things off a little bit. I spent all day yesterday asking random people if they realized that this area was about to be demolished by high winds and flood waters. Everyone looked at me strangely. Apparently they had a similar storm last week. One co-worker noted that "there might be a meter of water in the street in the morning, so it might be hard to get a cab." He was not kidding.

Apparently typhoons here are a much different deal than our hurricanes back home. For starters, what kind of name is "Typhoon Hagupit?" That doesn't carry nearly the weight of an Ike or a Gustav. Plus apparently these things don't cause nearly the mayhem they seem to cause in the U.S. Hagupit is now forecasted to miss this area by a bit (if you look at the map at the link, Shenzhen/Hong Kong is in the delta at about 114 degrees east), so all they're expecting is lots of rain. I'll keep you posted.

I had a delicious breakfast of eggs, bacon, donuts and melamine. We're about to head out in search of lunch. Ciao!

Also An Option



Just another option for your new Elmo undies.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Flying Day

I'm greasy, sweaty, and smell like 400 people who've eaten bad chicken teriyaki for lunch. This can only mean one thing...I've arrived in Hong Kong!

It occurred to me on the flight from Detroit to Tokyo that I felt as if I'd been invited to a giant Japanese slumber party. It was all fun and games until I got up to have a stretch, and when I returned to my seat, the lady behind me had decided to have a stretch herself by pushing her foot in front of her between my arm rest and the window. This plan would have worked had she had the forsight to know that it would be very difficult to retract her foot once in this position.

All in all, it was an easy trip. I'm glad to be in my hotel before midnight, and I'm even happier that they have free Internet. Onward to the mainland in the morning.

Erin and Grant -- I love & miss you guys! Eat a cheeseburger (and anything else in arm's reach) for me!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Too Darn Cute



Don't get any ideas: we are NOT in potty training mode (YET!), but Grant is fascinated with his "elmo potty seat" (as he calls it), and he loves to go to the potty, talk about the potty, and every now and then, practice in his big boy undies.

Is there anything cuter than a toddler body?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Drowning in "the creek"

My wife has developed a slight problem. It's nothing tragic. It's nothing earth shattering, but an addiction is still an addiction. She's become addicted to Dawson's Creek. She has watched the entire six year run in approximately two weeks. Our child needs bathed, and I need dinner. I am incapable of completing these tasks on my own, so I need someone to throw my wife a life preserver to get her out of "the creek."

"But isn't that show off the air?" you ask.
Correct. It is off the air, but Netflix has every episode available on DVD.

"Wasn't that show aimed at like, teenagers?"
Oh yes. It was a step ahead of the tween crowd and a step behind the collegiate, reading types.

"Isn't that where that Katie Holmes chick got her start?"
Yep. And now she's married to Tom Cruise. She's obviously a brilliant role model.

"Isn't your wife in her mid 30's, a college graduate, and an excellent teacher?"
Yes sirree...And an addict for crappy TV teen dramas.

Hopefully by the time I get back from China in a couple of weeks, she'll be over this kick. Of course, she'll have moved on to Beverly Hills 90210 or The O.C. by that point...Ick.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Look Who is 33!


There was a point during my engagement to Bret that I thought, "what the heck am I doing?" I take marriage very seriously, and I remember freakin' out that I had really only known Bret for a few months.

But, God is good, and He brought me a great man. Bret is a great husband. He makes me laugh all the time; he keeps life interesting and lively. He's beyond helpful (there is no husband on the planet as helpful around the house as Bret is), and he's a great father. Bret takes good care of me, is careful with my heart, and is supportive beyond measure. Bret forgives easily (which is needed when I get agoing), and he is never, ever harsh with his words.

And he is 33 today. I'm so thankful that I had enough wisdom to stay put back when I had my pre-vow freak out. He is a blessing and a gift to me, and I'm so thankful we have another year together.

Happy Birthday, Bret. I love you tons!

Stirring the Pot

This weekend, Grant and I joined Erin at school on Saturday afternoon so that she could do a few minutes worth of work while Grant made sure that the lock on every single locker in the school was, indeed, locked.

In the process of performing his thorough inspection, nature called Daddy, and I ducked into the men's room to relieve myself. As I was washing my hands, I looked over to see Grant stirring one of the urinals with his fist. Already twitching and beginning to cry a little, I rushed to remove Grant's hand from the toilet. Upon closer inspection, it appeared that not only was Grant's hand in the urinal, but the urinal had been used at some point...AND not properly flushed afterwards.

Grant was very angry about the thorough scrubbing he received in the sink of the boy's bathroom, followed by the wipedown with wet wipes, followed by the hose down in hand sanitizer.

It's an image that will take me some time to recover from...

Friday, September 12, 2008

Paper Pusher

For the last couple of weeks, I feel like I've done nothing but fill out forms and wait on hold on the phone. Here's a brief summary.

1. We switched our home phone service over to Vonage. This involved filling out a form and waiting for a little box to arrive. It also involved waiting for our phone number to transfer over from AT&T. Not too much hassle here.

2. I switched my cell phone to T-Mobile. This, on the other hand, was a nightmare. It started by filling out a form to order a new phone online. This went OK, but the rest of the process was a disaster, especially keeping my phone number. It's partially my fault. I've switched to a system that allows me to use my cell phone in China, and I wanted to keep my old phone number. It took almost four hours on hold to Bangalore to make this happen. In the end, a nice young lady in Louisiana fixed things up for me.

3. I repeated step 2 for Erin's cell phone. Another four hours on the phone with "Steve" who sounded suspicially more like "Sreedev."

4. I applied for a China visa for my upcoming business trip. This requires multiple invitation letters, fees, passport paperwork, and proof that you've trimmed your toenails recently.

5. I'm still trying to get the insurance issues from Grant's hospitalization in May figured out. I'm down to one doctor in Florida who is insistent on making my life miserable. Each time my insurance company calls him and says, "You've already billed for this" or "You're not technically allowed to bill for this" he says, "OK" and rebills me. Nightmare. Hours on the phone.

6. I booked my upcoming trip to China. This involved the airline website repeatedly crashing, followed by me calling their 800 number, followed by them informing me that I "should really use their website instead." Grr.

7. I submitted for reimbursement from my company for said travel. Not much here.

8. I submitted for reimbursement for childcare expenses. Monthly task. Nothing new.

9. Finally, we received a package this week informing us that we needed to redo all of our background checks for our Chinese adoption...for the third year in a row. Add on the fact that we did all these checks one additional time when we adopted Grant, and I've spent more time being fingerprinted at our county jail than O.J. spent at trial.

It appears to be neverending...

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Huh?

I set out all of Grant's stuff for school the night before: the snacks, the extra clothes, the diapers labeled with his name, the lunch pail. There's one thing Bret has to do--dress the baby. But, I think I might have to take that over too. As I picked up Grant from school today, he was wearing sweat pants. The teacher actually said that he started crying on the playground (which is BEYOND abnomral), but she thinks it was because he was so hot.

Bret might be the world's best daddy, but he obviously needs a little mommy help when it comes to late summer fashion.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

"That Time"

The other night, I heard Erin moaning and groaning about something in the other room. Since I'm a thoughtful husband and a good listener, I turned down the TV long enough to make sure she wasn't in the throws of death, and then I returned to "America's Got Talent" in hopes of seeing Hasselhoff finally make a pass at one of the dancers during their routine. Erin eventually made her way through the room, briefly blocking my view of the television, and entered the bathroom. The moans continued.

Then it hit me. I looked at my watch, checked my calendar in Outlook, and then took cover. It was "that time." Oy vey. How did I let this slip up on me?

You see, I've always had a somewhat unnatural fear of "that time." Sometime around 3rd or 4th grade, my grandmother, knowing that I was a lover of good fiction, purchased me a copy of Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret for Christmas. I didn't realize what I held in my hands after opening it on Christmas Eve in front of my cousins and parents. (If you're unfamiliar with this delightful coming of age tale, please click on this link for a summary.)

It didn't take long until I hit the words "belted sanitary napkin" and immediately realized that my well meaning grandmother had not given me a present for Christmas, rather an unwelcome insight into the horrors of pre-teen womanhood that no boy should experience.

My mom discreetly removed the book from my presence (I'm sure she and my dad had a good howl over its content), and I passed on further Judy Blume literature during elementary school.

Later in life, I encountered "that time" again during gym class. Apparently saying that it was "that time" was a "get out of jail" free card during swim time. I didn't understand why, but during swim class, there was always a row of girls who'd played this card and weren't being forced to tread water for 35 minutes or lock arms and do synchronized swimming routines with the dude later voted "most likely to pee in the pool."

In high school it occurred to me that many of the girls in my class were apparently somehow super human, as their cycles ticked along at a much higher rate than normal women. Many of them had "that time" four times a month, or at least it appeared so based on their lack of swimming participation.

Now that I'm married, and none the wiser, I have many useful coping mechanisms for "that time." Almost all of them involve me leaving the house and being able to deftly avoid a punch. I feel badly for Erin. It really is a curse what she goes through. The other night she commented that it's really not fair. The only reason to endure the misery is to produce biological children, and since that hasn't happened, fairness would seem to dictate that she get a free pass much like the girls during swimming in gym class.

So I guess our prayer should be, "Dear God. Erin's bakery is on fire. Again. Please either drop some bread in the basket or turn off the ovens. Thanks. Amen."

Monday, September 08, 2008

He's such a trooper

Every nurse in the whole facility had to come say goodbye. Grant obviously charmed his way into the heart of many a middle-aged woman this morning. His surgery was successful, and his adenoids were huge (the size of half an adult thumb), and he's already breathing better. He's off to sleep, and Daddy's off to get Grant some Tylenol with codeine. Mommy bought Grant a special DVD, and we'll be watching it while eating ice cream all day long. It should be a mellow afternoon.

Thanks for your prayers, friends.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Say A Prayer


Grant is having a small, common, minor surgery tomorrow, so I'm trying to remain calm and rational. But, I'm still super prayerful, and if praying is a part of your life, I'd like you to be too. Grant is having his adenoids removed at 8:30 tomorrow morning. Surgery will only take about 30 minutes, but we have to get up really early, and there is anesthesia involved. So if you have a second, please say a prayer for baby Grant. Mommy hates this kind of stuff, but I really think he's going to feel (and BREATHE!) so much better. We'll update tomorrow.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

oops

video

We're all in recovery mode here in the Hawkins' house; the family that is sick together stays together, I guess. Until we feel like posting anything real, here's a video from a few weeks ago. Just so you know, Grant didn't even cry, but that's another blog about his "low body awareness" and the therapy we'll be starting soon.