Saturday, January 31, 2009

It's been a while

As I type this, I am s...t...i...l...l recovering from a lung infection that has me sounding like I've smoked for 70 years (just to be clear: my lips have never touched a cigarette, a fact my students find hard to believe. I guess I've got "live hard and die young" tattooed on my forehead).

My sickness and general malaise have kept me from even feeling remotely like blogging, but then I freaked out as I thought of all the cute things Grant is doing lately that will drop into childhood oblivion because I have failed to record them.

Don't think that I haven't been on the computer, though. In fact, the computer has come in handy as of late. First off, I sent in my sub plans for the last several days via computer, a perfect use of modern technology. And, much to Bret's chagrin, I have become an expert in all things Disney World. No, really. I'm a freakin' expert. Seriously, ask me a question. I understand every single nuance of the Disney Dining Plan, and we're not even going to use the Disney Dining Plan. I know the height restrictions for every ride, the ins and outs of every resort (please keep in mind, we're only staying in one of the twenty), and every single trick and tip for saving a dime (or your left arm, which is the going rate for a cheeseburger) inside the Disney Complex. You think that I'm kidding or that I'm exaggerating, but I'm not. I'm not in love with Disney, never have been, but I am in love with Disney for Grant, and I wanted to know everything. Really, everything. In fact, all I've done for the last two weeks is learn everything I can about that money-thirsty Mouse. Quiz me, if you dare.

But, keep in mind, this is all mother motivated love, and anything done under that umbrella passes by the "crazy" or "codependent" or "unhealthy" categories and moves directly over to the "perfectly acceptable" if not "necessary" categories.

So, in the name of motherly love, I'll get some pictures and videos of Grant up soon.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Snow Day!

It snowed somewhere in the neighborhood of 10-12 inches here at our lovely central Indiana home last night. Erin's sick, so she was already taking the day off. And with my Chinese colleagues on vacation for Chinese New Year, my job is stalled, so I decided not to risk life and limb by traveling in to work today.

Instead, I got up, had breakfast, took my morning Aleve for my bad back and Prednisone for some lingering Sciatica, and spent a couple of hours heaving snow over my shoulder in an attempt to clear our driveway. I'm sure I'll walk again. Someday.

As I began pushing the snow around, I gave myself a little pep talk. "You know, it's more manly that you've chosen not to purchase a power tool to do this. I'm sure Erin thinks it far more chivalrous that you're out here using your own muscles to do this work, rather than spending our hard earned cash for a machine we might use twice a year."

Somewhere in there, I heard what sounded like a gang of giggling squirrels. I looked over, and one of my neighbors was out with an ELECTRIC snow blower. Now part of me was jealous, but part of me was laughing. The same neighbor has an electric lawn mower, which also makes me giggle. I'm all for saving the environment, but if you own an electric lawn mower, your wife better have made you buy it. It's just not right.

I watched him struggle with his faux-power tool for a while, and then went back to my snow heaving. I looked over every once in a while to see where he was, and it gave me a little boost. Sort of my own John Henry story, if you will. (Although, doesn't John Henry croak in the end? Eeks.)

Anyway, I'm proud to say that I beat him by a few paces in the end. I went over and tore my shirt open to show him my copious chest hair and overt manliness. I shoveled like a mad man -- even moving the stuff dumped by the snow plow at the end of the driveway. I'll let everyone know what my address is at Hendricks Regional Health.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Slice of Life

Sorry for the lack of posts; we'll pick it up... I've got to make sure to get some of the happenings chronicled.

Right now, it's 8:30 pm, and I should have a sleeping toddler, but Grant is screaming and crying in his bed. He is screaming, "I want to see Mickey Mouse in his clubhouse." I guess I should have held off on telling him that we're going to DisneyWorld over spring break (they were practically giving those vacations away... thank you bad economy).

Now to deal with a crying, heart-broken, not-remotely-patient child.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Other Church

On Sunday, we visited a church that isn't our "home" church. I sang in the Indianapolis Children's Choir as a kid, so I've visited my fair share of churches and synagogues, but I still find visiting a new church to be both entertaining and horrifying.

The church that I grew up in was very conservative. There was a hitching post out front, and the bathroom featured a special dryer for "thy longeth beard." Erin, on the other hand, grew up in slightly less conservative worship environments that featured things like instruments, women and electricity. The diversity in our upbringings always spurs interesting conversations when we attend a new church together.

Sunday morning we pulled into the parking lot and made our way to the front door. Things get tricky for me right off the bat. First off, I had us walk the length of the building in sub zero temperatures to go into an entrance that I thought was near the children's classrooms -- despite there being an indoor, heated walkway that traversed the same path. I did this because I will always risk frost bite over prolonged human interaction. Therefore rather than say, "Hi, my name is Bret, and this IS my first time here" fifty times over the course of 30 feet, I'd rather freeze my ass off, say my greeting once, and follow it up with "Where's the classroom for two year olds?"

We trotted back down the hallway and deposited Grant in his Sunday school classroom. Grant was "the black kid" at Sunday school this week. As usual, there were no tears and hardly a backward glance to make sure we had agreed to return to pick him up. Grant just headed for the nearest group of kids and began playing gleefully. I'm glad he's so social. It makes life much easier. I always dread working in the toddler room at church and having to deal with the two year old who screams and removes various pieces of their parent's clothing as they get dropped off in the classroom. That's always delightful.

Erin and I headed for the main sanctuary and carefully chose a seat a few rows from the back. About 30 seconds after sitting down, the door greeter tracked us down and provided us with some reading material about the church. To be fair, he was one of the better church greeters I've encountered, despite finding us twice within our first few minutes in the building. He was kind, not pushy, and provided me with some genuinely useful information.

Worship time at a new church is always full of questions. Will I know any of the songs? Can I pass on the collection plate without getting a scowl from some old lady who doesn't realize we're new? Will everyone suddenly kneel without warning? Will there be any live animals involved? Is there enough padding on this seat to keep parts of me from getting all numb and tingly, but not so much as to put me to sleep?

The service at this particular location was pretty typical. At one point, the lights did go dim and then completely off for a few seconds for no apparent reason. I took it as the "2 minute warning" and luckily, I was pretty much on target.

During the invitation song, several couples made their way to the front of the sanctuary. At my church growing up, if you made your way down front during the invitation, there was either a body in the trunk of your car, or you fornicated with an elder’s wife out back during a pot luck. You didn't go forward because you wanted prayer about an upcoming medical test or your grant aunt Edna had a growth on her neck. At this new church, you had to go forward if you wanted to become a member of their congregation. I found this interesting, although I was disappointed that I didn't get to witness a public shaming of one sort or another.

All in all, I enjoyed our experience, and I think it's good to see what other churches have to offer on occasion. If there had been one, I might have stuck around for a pitch-in. Casseroles and desserts often say more about a church than a sermon.

Friday, January 16, 2009


When I was younger, I used to go with my dad to buy blue jeans. Normally, I wouldn't say "blue jeans," I'd just say "jeans." But in dad's case, blue jeans was absolutely correct. My dad used to buy the bluest, rawest jeans he could find. They'd stand up on their own and still had enough dye to stain your legs the first time you wore them. My dad would slide those babies off at the end of their first wear, and he'd look like Papa Smurf (minus the fluffy white beard...all other physical characteristics applied.)

Dad even took me to a special store to buy his jeans. The store took half an hour to drive to and wasn't near any malls or other stores. He was always looking for the ever elusive "34-29" size. As a rule, when your waist is bigger than your inseam, you might have a problem. But when the inseam is 29, not so much. Anorexic dwarfs are few and far between.

The jean store sold every imaginable size, shape, and color of jeans. They sold gigantic jeans for heavy folks, overalls for the Hoosier farmer, and really, really blue ones for dad. They also sold a lot of other fashionable stuff like oversized belt buckles and those swingin' "jean slacks" for the older set.

I should have known my dad would have pant issues early on. My grandfather once sent my mom and I looking for size 40-30 "jean slacks" for Christmas one year. Why do older men like these things? They frequently have elastic waistbands and are washed until you can almost see through the fabric. Comfort and expandability -- I guess I just answered my own question.

The other necessity in a pair of jeans for an older man is that there be at least 18 inches of fabric between the waist band and the crotch. We used to have an older gentleman at church who would pull his pants all the way over his belly. He always seemed comfortable enough, but his zipper was about 3 feet long. He had to bend over to finish zipping up in the bathroom.

As I grow older, I'm finding my taste in jeans is changing as well. I used to spend a lot more on my jeans, but now, I just don't give a rip. Well, actually I do. I don't want ANY rips in my jeans when I drive them out of the store parking lot. If I'm spending money on clothes, I'll rip them myself when I fall off the roof or bend over to tie my shoes, thanks.

The last three pairs of jeans I purchased came from Wal-Mart. I'll admit it. I saw the Faded Glory tag and $12 price and couldn't resist. They looked just like all the OTHER jeans at Wal-Mart, so who cares? The only problem with the Faded Glorys is that they have really deep pockets. In one sense, they're really convenient because I can fit my iPod and cell phone in one pocket with no issue.

The only problem is I can't get my hand in far enough to get my keys out when I'm in the parking lot. I have to push my arm in up to my elbow to get to the bottom of the pocket, and then I have to fish around for a while looking for my keys. People look at you funny when you walk around with a hand in your pocket, wriggling all over the place like you're trying to take your pulse down there.

In any case, someone needs to stop me if I ever ask for denim Dockers for Christmas, and remind me that I'm not yet ready to shop at my dad's special jeans store.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

CES Wrapup

Trying desparately to get back home for Grant's birthday on Tuesday, I departed Las Vegas Monday morning with high hopes. The previous night I'd enjoyed a wonderful dinner at Wolfgang Puck's Trattoria del Lupo at Mandalay Bay. (Can someone please explain why Wolfgang's crotch is highlighted in the picture at the upper right corner of that link? It confuses me.)

It was seriously one of the best meals of my they had "donuts in a sack" on the menu for dessert. (Actually, they gave it some high and mighty Italian name, but any good Hoosier with at least one shoe would know that it was good old Fried Do-nuts, just like at the fair.) With a good meal under (and slightly hanging over) my belt, I boarded a plane bright and early Monday morning.

Earlier in the week, I had changed my flight home from a connection through Memphis to a flight arriving six hours earlier via Minneapolis. Now I know that Minneapolis in winter SEEMS like a bad idea, but they have some unbelievable snow removal gear at MSP, and I've actually never had any problems there. Everything proceeded very nicely until we began doing laps around the airport. Apparently they were alternating open runways in some sort of "plow, let planes land, close, replow" cycle, so they were far below their usual capacity.

After circling for an hour, the pilot came on and informed us that we were out of gas and would need to divert to Duluth. Duluth? Isn't that basically Canada? Crud. Half an hour later I'm sitting on the runway in Duluth, only moments after watching a pilot flying an Airbus A320 stand on the brakes in an effort to keep the plane from sliding off the end of the runway, through the bar, pizza parlor, city hall, and out the back end of Duluth.

One older woman was very excited to have gotten the world's first and last direct flight from Las Vegas to Duluth. She deboarded the plane, and I'm fairly sure she made an obscene gesture toward the rest of us as she did so. To Northwest Airline's credit, we got refueled and were back in the air within an hour.

Upon getting off the plane, I was handed a new ticket for the last flight of the night to Indy, arriving mere moments after my original flight via Memphis. Unfortunately, our pilot and crew were unable to get to the flight in time, so we took off a couple of hours late.

Our lateness and sub zero temperatures required our plane to go through the de-icing process once again, so it was really dang late before I left Minneapolis. After an uneventful flight to Indy, we landed at our lovely new airport, only to be greeted by a rather non-intellectual gate crew who decided that since our plane looked vaguely like a Delta plane and was parked at a Northwest gate, they should not let us off until Deputy Dan came down from the Northwest office to take a gander. Someone forgot to let these kindly employees know that the two airlines have merged.

After waiting yet ANOTHER half hour to get off the plane, I was on my way to baggage claim, inventing various new swear words in the process. After waiting for ANOTHER half hour at baggage claim, I saw the "Last Bag" sign light up and headed for the baggage claim office -- better known as the Island of Lost Underpants. As I began filling out my paperwork, a kind employee walked in and threw my bag on the floor a few feet away. "Somehow one bag from that last flight got onto the wrong carousel. Dunno how that could happen."

"Do the Northwest gate agents have anything to do with the baggage?" I inquired.

I scooped up my bag and headed home, a mere nine or so hours past schedule.

My co-workers found all of this highly entertaining, especially since many of them had opted to stick with the late night flight from Memphis. Perhaps next time they will get diverted to Tupelo as payback.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Look Who's Two

It's hard to believe that two short years ago (and, boy, do I mean short) Grant came into this world as a quiet baby boy. He didn't make a sound for what seemed like days. He opened his eyes just long enough to make sure you had formula in your hand. We couldn't be more in love or more proud of our baby. Grant is such a delight. We are blessed beyond measure!

He celebrated with NeNe and Papoo on Saturday (as my mom is in CA visiting family) and his "party" is this weekend, but today is going to be a quiet day with Mommy and Daddy involving breakfast out with Daddy, a few presents including Thomas clothes and a Mr. Potato Head, and chicken nuggets at Chic Fil A (with lots of play time in the "treehouse," as Grant calls it). Here are some pics from the morning and a video too. The super cheesy ones are when I asked Grant to "smile big."

Sunday, January 11, 2009

30 Rock

Well, at least the Hollywood Foreign Press and I agree on something! Funny!

Home Alone

With Bret off "working" in Las Vegas, I'm left this Sunday evening on my own. Grant's sleeping; I refuse to do any more housework, and my clothes are put out for the morning. So, I'm watching the Golden Globes, more to look at dresses and jewelry than anything else. But, I have to admit that I have not heard of most of these TV shows. I know we don't have cable, but come on. I've seen (or at least heard) of many of the movies, but these TV shows are throwing me for a loop. When is The Bachelor going to win a Golden Globe? Then I'd know what was going on... Sometimes, I feel like I live in a cave.... a very dark, very deep, very pop culture illiterate cave.

Saturday, January 10, 2009


So here I am at CES in Las Vegas. Contrary to my wife's previous post, this IS work, my feet DO hurt, I DID eat a $60 steak last night, and I DID help finish two bottles of wine which cost more than Grant's entire 0-24 mos. wardrobe. Tis the price one must pay.

I have decided that CES is the geek equivalent of band camp. (On second thought, band camp is the geek equivalent of band camp, so CES is the electronics nerd equivalent of band camp.)

Everywhere you go you hear, "Dude, this one year at CES, we blah blah blah..." and "Yeah, last year at CES, I stuck my finger in the demo of the blah blah blah and I had to have it surgically removed later." It's live-in-your-parent's-basement, only-get-exposed-to-sunlight-by-accident, my-high-score-is-10-million-higher-than-yours crazy out here.

Luckily, the show is starting to slow down a bit, so tomorrow I will hopefully get to wander around a little bit more. Our booth is right behind where CNBC is broadcasting live, so every once in a while I run over there with my cell phone in hand, jumping up and down, waving, hoping someone will notice me behind Maria Bartiromo's head. Look for me!

Friday, January 09, 2009

A Not So Short Conversation

I think it'll speak for itself.

Daddy's Gone

Bret is in Las Vegas until Monday for "work." I don't think when you go to the city that never sleeps and stay in a room that's costing your boss $400 or so bucks a night that you get to say that you're "at work." Don't let him fool you when he talks about it... he might have to get dressed up (that wedding suit comes in handy yet again), might have to talk about TVs for hours a day, and might have to hang out with colleagues all day, but still: Vegas, nice room, no diapers, an expense account that rivals few others. Again, work I call it not.

Grant keeps saying that Daddy is in China, and I think I'll let Grant continue in his ignorance. He might get kind of mad to think that Daddy's off in America's playground all the while Mommy and Grant are practically housebound by the cold.

So, Honey (which Grant now calls us from time to time), if you even have time while off "working" to check in on your family back here in the heartland of America, here's a pic and smile:

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Good Observation

I think Grant is feeling better. Tonight I passed gas in his presence, and he stated rather matter of factly that Daddy's "penis burped." Go figure.

Monday, January 05, 2009

We're Home

After three rounds of laxatives, three suppositories, an enema, a ton of tests and many hours of lost sleep, Grant is home. We left in our trail a bucket load of perplexed doctors: from the ER docs to the pediatricians (pediatricians not pediatrician) to the gastroenterologists... no one is quite sure what has been bothering Grant. His pain episodes were so severe, so random and so quickly resolved (about a minute or so) that it was all very tricky.

This is what we do know: it's nothing life threatening. Very early on, they all thought Grant had a telescoping bowel, also known as intussusception, but it turned out, after several ultrasounds, that the original fear was not founded. We've been through other possibilities: from kidney stones to appendicitis, but no go.

In the end, after a thorough blood and urine work up (both of which came back clean) to a full body ultrasound, he was released, with fingers crossed. We are visiting our regular pediatrician today, and we might need to get further tests done through the gastroenterologist, but for now, he's on an anti-spasm medicine for his stomach and intestines (which seems to be helping).

We are thankful for one restful night at home (Grant had not slept more
than an hour or so for the last three days). We're thankful for your prayer and for a family who supports us.

During the last few hours in the hospital, Bret and I had to take Grant to his final ultrasound. We went a different route than usual, and we ended up next to a wailing woman, head against elevator, family gathered around her. It was so clear that she had just lost her little girl. My pain for her was immediate. I cried and cried and cried (the poor ultrasound girl thought I was crazy), but I was so overcome by this woman's grief, a grief I hope to never know or to understand.

It was so clear in that moment how fleeting life is, and so above all, we are thankful to a God who does not leave us alone in our distress. Of course, this dear woman has been in my prayers, and I know our God is attending to her even now.

Here are just a few pictures...
Grant in the hospital

Grant home this morning watching Clifford.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Grant Update

Just a quick update on Grant's condition. After seeing the doctor Friday morning and not finding anything, we waited until Friday night to take further action. By Friday night, his pain was becoming more frequent and intense, so we took him to the emergency room on the advice of our on-call physician. The ER we initially took him to recommended we take him to Riley Hospital for Children.

The doctor's at Riley have run all kinds of tests, done bloodwork, used ultrasound to look at his abdomen, and at this point, they haven't found anything. It's very discomforting to have 10 doctor's from one of the best children's hospitals in the country staring at your 23 month old son, all scratching their heads. But we know they're doing everything they can, and they've been really great to us thus far.

Please say a prayer for Grant. He's in a lot of pain, and he has two parents who couldn't feel more helpless and inexperienced at the moment. He's getting ready for his second night in the hospital, and we're just hopeful the doctors figure something out soon.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Say A Little Prayer

What was thought to be gas cramps has turned into 72 hours of misery for little Grant. He has some serious pain in his abdomen, and even after 72 hours, it isn't relenting. Every 15 minutes or so, he doubles over and starts sobbing, all while clutching his stomach. Anyone who knows our little guy knows that he's a major trooper, never complaining or crying. We saw the doctor today, and all kinds of tests and x-rays were ordered. Poor little guy. We'll post when we hear something, but for now, just say a little prayer for our little guy.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Random Mess

Here's a quick look back at a few highlights in December. Unfortunately, for some of the events, I only took videos, and those will have to wait.

Blurry, but the only picture I have of Grant smiling AND stopped. He's in his new Thomas the Tank Engine robe. His new wagon.

And, of course, his new trains.

I LOVE Christmas at the Zoo (and Holiday Trainland). A Family Picture outside at the Zoo... no one looks too hot! Grant had so many layers on, he couldn't even put down his arms. Too cute!

Trainland... enough said. It was a winner in Grant's book.
NeNe and Papoo might not love trains, but they love their Grant.

Not a hat person. Or a zoo person. Or a zoo person in frigid temps. But, most definitely, not a hat person.

For those interested (I assume about one person), here are the ornaments from this year's ornament exchange.

Bret's gift to Erin (in honor of our Key West Hospitalization Extravaganza):

Erin's gift to Bret (in honor of our long drive through Rte 66 Missouri):

Mommy and Daddy's gifts to Grant (do we need to explain?):

Grant's gift to Mommy and Daddy (our first homemade one... I could die):

Off to the Car and Auto Show... nothing says Happy New Year like new cars we won't buy.