Thursday, October 30, 2008

Stuff

Here are a few of the pics of Grant dressed up in last year's costume for the cold, bald-headed ZooBoo last weekend, and here he was last year in the same costume.



We'll have this year's costume posted on Friday. Grant practices trying to get candy everyday. "Skittles, please, Mama" or "Trick or Treat; get candy from all those houses," he says as he points up and down the street. He's really excited.

I have a couple videos coming of Grant (to die for cute toddler singing), but for now, oversized toddler bee pictures will have to do.

Oh, and gas was $1.82 today. I usually don't pay attention to the price of ANYTHING (if I need it, I need it), so I didn't think gas could make me so happy.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Weekend

Since Erin is still sobbing and actively watching Grant's scalp for the slightest signs of hair recovery, I thought I would go ahead and do a post about our ridiculously busy weekend. (And in case you're wondering, telling your wife a tale about how sometimes when you cut a toddler's hair, it never grows back, is only funny looooong after your toddler's hair has actually recovered from a mishap like ours.)

Erin's fall break was Thursday and Friday, so we made a trek down to Cincinnati with Nene and Papoo (Grant's names for the inlaws). First stop was the Newport Aquarium. Having been to other aquariums, I was ready to be delighted at watching Grant enjoy mother nature's underwater wonderland, as well as ready to be gagged by the stink of rotting fish flesh and alligator poop. I have to say that the Newport Aquarium was a far better than average experience as a parent. They had tunnels beneath many of the displays where you could watch the fish swim overhead. It was neat because somehow the glass used made the fish appear to be sort of floating in mid-air. Grant loved the up close views of sharks and sea turtles, and the lack of crowds meant we got through the aquarium in relative haste.

After the aquarium, we made our way to a restaurant in Sharonville called Vincenzo's. We gorged ourselves on salads, pasta, various seafood specials, wine, and dessert. Nene and Erin had to move Papoo and Daddy back to the Sheraton using a fork lift. Highly recommended.

Friday morning we made our twice-a-year stop at IKEA (which according to Eric is pronounced "icky-uh" in Singapore). Grant was fairly tired following a night of light sleeping, and by the end of our Swedish furniture buying experience, Erin and I were tired and somewhat at our wit's end. Luckily Grant ate enough of a hot dog to return to his normal, cheerful self, so we pressed onward.

After IKEA, we visited a place called Jungle Jim's International Market. We didn't really have time to take this whole place in, but it's basically a giant grocery store. Actually it's a REALLY giant grocery store -- think the size of a Meijer but with ALL groceries. They had an "international foods" section the size of our Wal-Mart. We raced around, already running late, but I did get to pickup a six pack of a Bell's product that I'd not prevoiusly seen, so I'll be enjoying that this evening.

We made our way back to Indy and dropped Grant off with Mamaw and Papaw. Erin and I were helping with a pre-marital retreat for our church, and Grant was spending the night with his grandparents. The retreat went well and Erin and I were again reminded multiple times that we're rapidly aging. Suddenly when people who are getting married are in their early 20's, Erin and I are 10+ years older than them. How did that happen?

On Sunday we took Grant back to the zoo with his cousin Brakston for the ZooBoo. Since Grant had previously gone as a train engineer (and had since lost all his hair) he went as a bumblebee using last year's costume. The bumblebee costume comes complete with a head covering, so it serves the dual purposes of keeping his head warm and keeping him kosher with various fundamentalist religious groups.

All in all, a very busy but very enjoyable fall break. I'm sure Erin will post pictures when she stops crying.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Uh Oh

We just returned from a BUSY weekend. I'll post more about all that later, but first, we have some bad news.

Last night Erin informed me that it was time to cut Grant's afro. It was starting to look like the buffet at Golden Corral, and he was scratching at it a lot. She also informed me that the guard for our clippers was broken. I told her that since we cut Grant's hair close anyway, we should do it carefully without the guard.

So this morning at about 8:00am while I was still lying in bed, I heard the trimmer start. By the time I got to the kitchen, Grant looked like the victim of a flesh eating disease. There were patches of hair missing everywhere, and there was a large strip cut to the skin on the very top.

I worked with it for a while, through Grant squirming everywhere and Erin sobbing. Finally I gave up. I told her that I thought we'd reached the inevitable. I went and got my safety razor, a fresh blade, and a can of Edge gel.
What I immediately noticed was the similarity to these dudes:

(I've always referred to these guys as "the butt heads from Star Trek.")

In any case, it didn't turn out THAT bad, and Grant is enjoying touching his head and yelling "NO HAIR!"

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Digital TV transition

Given that I work in the television industry, the upcoming transition to digital TV is a big deal, to say the least. The video below has been floating around work, and it cracks me up every time.

Papaw -- This one's for you. You can thank me at Christmas for having had a hand in creating this mess. :-)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Grade Night

I'm sitting right now at Grade night (or parent teacher night in some parts of the world), and thanks to the beauty of wireless internet and my mobile tablet, I'm writing this as I wait for a parent to sit down. But, seeing how I'm part-time, I don't have nearly the parent load I used to have.

But, that's not the point. The point is that I have seen at least three parents tonight that I swear are younger than I am. I am looking at a guy at a neighboring table who is talking to one of the math teachers. He's young, hip, wears an earring, and has a goatee. He looks about 30, maybe even 29. And he's not alone. I actually had a parent sit down to talk about her student, and she didn't introduce herself as the mom, so I thought she was the older sister sitting in as a proxy.

Gone are the days where my students see me as hip, in the know, or even close to being "one of them" (I was never "one of them," by the way). My students are almost 20 years younger than I am, so I guess it should come as no surprise that I am starting to look more like their parents than I am them.

But, I'm still freakin' out here. I'm 33. These people can't be much older. But they're having conversations about geometry grades and college options while I am talking about pooping in the potty, big boy beds, and covering one's mouth when coughing.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Lessons in Life

This weekend, Grant learned a lot of new lessons about life.

Lesson #1: Be wary of lions.

On Friday evening, we took Grant to the ZooBoo at the Indianapolis Zoo. This is a yearly opportunity for small children to dress up in little flammable costumes and to parade around the zoo in search of voluteers handing out candy contained in wrappers destined to eventually be improperly discarded and choke an increasingly rare species of wombat.

On this particular Friday, we ventured first to the lion cage. We immediately noticed that the lions were actually visible, something rare to our zoo. Usually the lions are chilling out in the back of the "forest" playing cards or maming a handler. But on Friday, two big lions were close enough to the fence to make things exciting.

There was a large crowd of parents and plastic costume adorned toddlers hanging out watching the lions prowl around, looking for discarded Kit Kats or Twizzlers to eat. We watched for a couple of minutes, at which point the male lion appeared to notice something on the back of the female lion. (At least I assume it was a male with a female, although Indiana is becoming increasingly liberal.)

A moment later and the lions were, uh, thoroughly enjoying each other's company. Horrified (and probably a little jealous), all of the mothers began gathering up their children and making a mad dash for slightly less inclined species like the rhinos or sea urchins.

Rather than kill the mood, Grant, my father in law, and I watched the entire show...even through the credits. The whole thing lasted maybe 30 seconds.

"Boy, that was fast" stated my father in law.
"Get in, get the job done, and get out. I like his efficiency" I remarked.

At this point, Erin returned from a discussion with a zoo employee about where the trick or treating was taking place to inquire as to why all the OTHER parents were rounding their kids up and getting out of dodge. I explained the situation to her. She was a little astounded that I had let Grant stay through the whole affair, and she was a little more mortified at my comment above. I noted that there were other fathers chuckling, but she was still not pleased.

Lesson #2: Dudes don't bellydance.

After our visit to the zoo, we made our way to our favorite Greek restaurant in town -- Santorini's. I dig Santorini's because they give you enough food to feed the entire Greek army, and I also like it because they have a bellydancer on weekends.

This Friday was no exception. About half an hour into my gyro and "baba noush" as Grant called babaganoush, here came the finger cymbals and cellulite. The dancer immediately showed an affinity for Grant, and he took kindly to her blond hair, ample bosom, and tingling cymbals.

After a few minutes showing Grant how to gyrate his hips, my father in law slipped her a bill. I'm sure Grant will appareciate having learned how to "tuck a buck" at such a young age.

Lesson #3: Model trains won't get you dates.

On Saturday morning, we took Grant with my parents to a model train convention at the state fairgrounds. Grant is IN...LOVE...with "Thomas the train" these days. His first words this morning were "Thomas the train...all day long." It's ridiculous.

The train exhibition was a dream for Grant. There were several large model train layouts and various other things put together by single men, including a large scale replica of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Indy 500 day done in Legos. My friend Eric was way into Legos when we were growing up. But then he discovered boobs. Apparently some guys never get the new playcall. I told Erin at one point that I was quite sure that there were more prosthetic limbs than wedding rings at this particular convention, but alas.

In all fairness, everyone was very nice at the model train convention, and there were lots of people with toddlers running around looking for displays without "DO NOT TOUCH" on them every 3 ft. One can only imagine the horror of spending 11 years in the basement creating a scale replica of the B&O, only to have it destroyed in one fell swoop by Toddlerzilla.

Grant had a wonderful time at the convention, and afterwards, we went for his new favorite food -- Chicken McNuggets. That's my boy.

To cap the evening off, I showed him how to roll his own cigarettes and left him in bed with a dirty magazine. I figured with the way the rest of the weekend had already gone, why stop now?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Learning His Letters and Fall Fun

Recently, Grant has taken up a love for pointing out letters and numbers; sometimes, he's right, and sometimes, he's wrong, but he's getting better and better. Here's a short video clip of Grant identifying letters (and sounds too). My favorite part comes later in the video (and you've got to listen closely) when Grant says "thank you" and "welcome" (Grant speak for "you're welcome") back to back. He knows they go together, so sometimes, he just does your work for you by saying both of them.

video

He's also starting to speak in sentences more than words, which as an English teacher, I just love. Yesterday, while hiding from Bret, Grant said, "Daddy, I see you over there." Now, if I could just get him to identify the subject and the verb, I think we'll be on to something.

Here are also a few pictures from a week or so ago. I wanted to try a pumpkin patch suggested by a friend, one with all kinds of fun stuff for kids. We got there as it was closing (which I now realize is the trick), so there was no charge to go in. We spent about 30 minutes roaming around as the last of the paying patrons made their exit. It was perfect... and cheap.



Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Banner Weekend



Well, I'm sick again. Yep, that icky viral infection that plagued me a week or so ago is back. The high temps, the swollen glands, and it's fun, fun, fun.

But, before the craziness began, we had a great weekend. On Saturday, we visited with Bret's cousins: Boomer, Heidi and Erin (and aunt Penny too). In addition, Grant got to love on Brakston, his cousin just about 6 months younger. We ate, went to a pumpkin patch, and had a blast.

In addition, Grant transitioned to a twin bed. Ever since the surgery back in September, Grant has been a horrific sleeper. Bret sat in his room the other day and discovered that Grant is so large and moves so much that he often gets his arms and legs stuck. So, we pulled out an early Christmas present (his Thomas the Train sheets), and we buckled down for what might be a hard transition. Thankfully, it's been seamless, no problems whatsoever... plus full nights of sleep. What a blessing.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Three Years and Counting

On this day, three years ago, we launched this blog with this post. This blog started as a way to keep family and friends updated about baby Grace, a journey we thought would take about 10 months total. Now, three years later, we recognize that God had a different plan for us, and everytime I even think about Grant (much less look at him or hear his little voice), I'm so thankful that my plans were not realized. I'm thankful, to quote a Garth Brooks' song (yes, I did just go there), for "unanswered prayers."

But, while I'm thankful that the wait for Grace helped us find Grant, I still yearn for Grace. She has been on my heart, in my prayers, and part of my life for three years, and that's a long time to wait.

Each month we inch closer. There are 27 numbers in front of us (imagine the line at the DMV [or BMV for you Hoosiers]). Once a month, someone calls a bunch of numbers. Sometimes, they call two numbers. Sometimes, they call seven. So, give it a few months, and we should be sitting with a referral in hand, a packet of translated papers that tell us the age, weight, and height of our little girl. The paper will tell us what she likes to do and what she can do.

I want to send a paper back: a paper to her birth-family, a paper to the Chinese government, a paper to her orphanage. It would say: Mommy and Daddy and one adorable older brother, all in good health, have been patiently (for the most part) waiting for this child, for this moment for a very long time. And they couldn't be happier. They are more than ready to love this little gift of a girl.

This morning, I was reading from the book of Ezekiel (34:26), and I came across this verse: “I will make them and the places all around My hill a blessing; and I will cause showers to come down in their season; there shall be showers of blessing.”

Bret and I are living in a shower of blessings currently, and we know that baby Grace, and her immenent coming, is just one of the many things for which we are grateful.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Jabber-Jaw

Grant just kills me with what he talks about now. Just today, he sang "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star," and if it's not that song, it's his personal favorite: "Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer." Nothing's cuter than hearing Grant sing "then one foggy Christmas Eve" (or in Grant speak: den one oggy kiss-mas-ebe). I just asked him where he wanted to go after his nap, and he mentioned four options: Costco, Walmart, Zoo or Library. We're actually going to go to a train shop to see if we can find an engineer hat to complete Grant's homemade (by homemade, I mean overalls and a red bandanna) costume.

Grant talks about school all the time, and he has a special love for his teacher, Miss Carla, but he also talks about his "best friend" (as he calls her), Emma. I don't think there's an Emma in the class; there is an Ameilia, but I don't know if there's an Emma. I'll have to ask Miss Carla tomorrow.

Just yesterday, Bret and Grant went for some male-bonding time over an ice cream cone at McDonalds. Grant looked at Bret and said: "Daddy, it's raining outside (ou-sigh)." Bret agreed. Then, Grant said: "Rain, rain, go away. Come again other day," which is pretty close to what I say every time we talk about the rain.

My favorite thing he says right now, though, is "Yes, I do: and "Yes, I am." It doesn't matter if you ask if he wants a cracker or a bath, you're going to get an emphatic, "Yes, I do." Unless you ask: "Are you cute," to which you'll get "Yes, I am." It's just too cute. Also topping my list is when you ask Grant to do a magic trick (which he got from watching Elmo with Mamaw). Grant will take a napkin, wave it around in front of your face (he's got timing... he wants to make sure you've seen it), and then he drops it behind him. Then, to finish it off, with hands in the air and lots of gusto, he says: "Ta Da."

Gotta love him.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Congrats!

Congrats are in order for my cousin and her husband, who are in the process of finishing up their adoption of a sibling group. I just saw the pictures for the first time, and I just lost it. I love older child adoption. There is no more beautiful statement in the whole world about the capacity one has for love than taking two kids who want a family and are old enough to know it... and bringing them into your home--forever.

Check out there blog here.

I've been think a lot about Kathy and James lately, and I heard this song the other day, a song I haven't heard in a long time, and I thought of them and their new family. The video on YouTube is here.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Old Friends

Battling sickness, fatigue, and some beautiful fall weather, we took a little break from the blog last week. The good news is that everyone is back to being healthy, and I've hopefully carried enough diseases off with me from my last trans-Pacific flight to keep our immune systems on high alert through winter.

First off, I'd like to thank my good friends in Singapore for their hospitality during my recent visit. It's not every day you get to see an F1 road race...and it's even more rare that you get to see the first one held at night, so that was a very cool experience. I also got the opportunity to lose a taxi to a French girl wearing nothing but fishnets, a racing suit, and a cigarette, so that was lovely.

Secondly, I've been thinking a lot lately about the close friends I've had over the years. I've been blessed to have lots of good friends in life, and I've always tried to keep in touch with a lot of those people. This is due, in part, to my complete inability to interact with people now socially. But I also think that having some people around who have known you for a long time keeps you grounded. Nothing reminds you that you are, and always have been, an idiot like someone who has watched you fall on your face repeatedly in life -- like a friend from school.

I've only had a couple of really close friends who I've completely lost touch with over the years. One was a friend from my days in the Indianapolis Children's Choir. I remember seeing him for the last time at a party after we had completed our respective tours of duty in choir. We were freshmen in high school at the time, and it was the last time I ever saw him. I ran across a picture of his family recently on a web site, but I was unable to make any further headway in tracking him down.

Similarly, when anyone asks me who my best friend in elementary school was, I've always answered "Shawn." (I'll withhold his last name out of what is assuredly a desire on his part to distance himself from me, if at all possible.) Shawn and I spent lots of time riding bikes all over the place, going to Little League games, torturing his little brother and playing on his computer. I think we probably bonded, in part, in an effort to provide each other protection. Neither of us qualified as "cool kids" and probably spent the vast majority of our elementary school years defending ourselves from armed packs of 3rd graders declaring us to be dorks. In any case, my memories of time spent with Shawn are all positive, and I've always regarded him as one of the better people I've had the pleasure of knowing in life, even if we were only eight years old.

After our 5th grade year, I moved and changed school districts and shortly thereafter, Shawn moved to a new town altogether. We predictably lost touch, and I've always wondered what happened to him. I frequently thought about him over the years and hoped that life had treated him well. Last week, shortly after I returned from Singapore, my dad called and informed me that he had met Shawn one afternoon in front of their house. Through a strange set of coincidences, Shawn was related to one of my parent's neighbors and had stopped by and even inquired about me.

I was disappointed in having missed the opportunity to speak with my old friend, but just this past weekend, Shawn was in town again and gave me a ring. We haven't had the opportunity to get together yet, but we exchanged numbers and hopefully we'll get it together soon enough. Shawn has kids of his own now, and it will be a pleasure to meet them, introduce them to Grant, and get reacquainted. And maybe most importantly, it will provide my wife with yet more evidence from a third party that I have, indeed, been like this my whole life.