Friday, May 29, 2009

L.A. Trip Part, Like, Number One, Dude

Yes, yes, I'm a bad father. I sat in first class while my wife, kid, and mother-in-law sat in coach. I figured I'd just be a 3rd wheel with Erin and her mom, and Grant would sooner get vaccination shots than talk to me when NeNe (grandma) is around, so I sat in first class (but only on half the flight). I didn't feel guilty about the decision until I heard a familiar voice holler "My ears! My ears!" while we were landing. I dabbed the corners of my mouth with my cloth napkin and kindly asked the flight attendant to shut the curtain between us and coach so I wouldn't have to listen to that unruly youngster's cries. Guilt assuaged.

Upon arrival in Los Angeles, Erin took me on a brief tour of the area where she grew up. She always makes it sounds much worse than it really is, now that I've seen it. So when she tries to convince you that she used ta be a gansta, don't buy it. She's a white girl who now drives a Kia minivan.

We had a well above average dinner at Novecento Pasta & Grill in Culver City, close to our hotel. While we were hanging around waiting for the restaurant to open at 5pm, I encountered my first celebrity of the trip, none other than Dr. Rocket Romano from ER. I tried to get Erin to notice him, but she thought my nudge was directed at some poor Chinese lady trying to push her daughter along in a stroller. (Grace really does need to get her sooner than later...this is getting embarrassing.)

In any case, Paul McCrane had what I can only assume was his son with him, and they apparently were stopping for ice cream. He didn't seem to understand when I acted out the full scene where he gets his arm chopped off by the helicopter blade at County General, complete with slow motion screams. I was about to move into his role on "24" when Novecento finally opened.

After an exhausting travel day, I'm looking forward to going to work tomorrow. The "Guys Choice" awards honor such noble artistry as "Hottest Girl on the Planet" and "Deadliest Warrior." I'll take my camera...

California Bound

Bret found out on Wednesday that he was needed in Los Angeles over the weekend, so with some last minute scrambling (and, boy, do I mean scambling), Grant and I decided to join him for an extended stay. Before we head up to northern California to visit with my ailing grandmother, we'll get to see some family while out in LA (I mean, I am a California native after all, a distinction I think few in California can claim), we're going to go to Disneyland (yes, Grant is spoiled), and Bret has to work (which is a blog post in itself as we'll be "red carpet guests" at the Guys' Choice Awards. Never have two people screamed: "they don't belong here" than Bret and me at the Guys' Choice Awards. Never).

We'll be blog able, so you'll have to tune in for Bret's reflections on sitting next to Hugh Hefner and other such quirks to our Saturday night.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Church Hunt

A few months ago, we embarked on a new challenge, a challenge we had yet to do as a couple: find a new church. We were both really sad to leave Common Ground, a church that had been my church home for ten years. Bret and I were married at Common Ground; we painted the walls at the new (now old building); we made dinner for the worship team; we (read: I) taught in the toddler room for years, and more than anything, we had friends that were near and dear to us.

But, with another house church (a group we met with weekly) coming to an end and moving in separate directions, Bret and I could not deny the pull and the desire to be involved in a church in Brownsburg. We knew we wanted to serve with, to worship with, to bump into around town with the people of Brownsburg. And, we wanted any effort on our part to help the people in this community.

So, with conviction but sadness, we left our church and have been searching for a church every week. It's been very enlightening for us to embark on this process together, as Bret and I process very differently. We made a list of every church in the area, crossed off the ones that were either way too big or way too small (like "didn't have a class for Grant" kind of small), and then started visiting. We'd visit one church, then another, then go back to the original, then a new church and so on. We prayed a lot.

In the end, we have landed on a new church home: The Bible Church of Brownsburg, and I am so excited to plant somewhere, even if it is new and hard. It's very different (in some ways) from our old church, which can be a hard adjustment, but we're confident that we've made the right decision. Our new church is small (70 families total), centered (on what really matters: the person and work of Christ), challenging (but it's good to get smacked around a little with challenging stuff), and in here in Brownsburg (about five minutes from home).

It's really a leap for me to be in a church so small, a church where everybody really does know everybody, but I'm excited to get my feet wet. We will forever think fondly of our friends at Common Ground; it's been sad and hard, but we knew it was the right choice to leave, and for awhile we were so concerned that we'd never find another church home (like when we went to the church with four families), but we did. We're thankful and excited!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Cincy, IKEA, and Dinosaurs

Since the arrival of little miss Grace is imminent, we decided to use some of our free long weekend to make a run to the IKEA in Cincinnati to pickup some more kiddy gear. In reality, we picked up some cool beer mugs and a plush shark for Grant, but it was still a good trip.

But prior to shopping in elegant splendor at IKEA, we made a quick run to Jungle Jim's. This place never ceases to amaze me. They have an amazing selection of virtually every type of food, AND you get to see a singing Campbell's soup can. How could you ever top this?

Between Jungle Jim's and IKEA, we had dinner at an AMAZING little Italian place in the Cincy suburb of Madeira called Ferrari's Little Italy. Holy smokes, was this some good food. We had your basic spaghetti and meatballs so that we'd have something Grant would eat, plus their pollo basilico. I can't say enough good things about the pollo basilico. At least two of us at the table agreed that this was the single best Italian meal we'd eaten EVER, so that tells you how good it was. Wine was drunk, noodles were slurped, and Grant ate several platefuls of spaghetti. It was a good night.

On Saturday, we made our way over to the Creation Museum. Now I know this is a controversial topic, but I'm pretty sure nobody reads our blog to engage in meaty debate (of which, I believe, there is plenty regarding this topic). So I'd just like to touch on this as an experience.

As I made my way past the "Biology book burning" on the way into the museum, I was immediately struck by just how crowded the place was. Obviously this place has turned into Disney World for the "homeschooling, can I borrow your bonnet?" crowd. These ticket agents heard "family of 13 with 1 on the way" more than anywhere else in America. It was pretty eye opening. I actually felt a little out of place in shorts and sandals...Mostly because my shorts didn't touch my ankles.

I did note that they have the world's largest collection of art featuring human beings playing cards and smoking cigarettes alongside the dinosaurs, so that was entertaining. We wandered through the museum and took in all the displays, including a large replica of a section of Noah's ark and a replica of the garden of Eden.

In case you're wondering, all of the "pre-apple-tasting" displays featuring Adam and Eve showed the lovely, unclothed Eve seated with her long, flowing hair perfectly placed over her front. I'm fairly certain that there were not even breasts sculpted underneath her lengthy locks, for fear of the potential consequences.

After seeing the museum, we then made our way out back to the petting zoo and gardens, which were actually quite lovely (the gardens that is...Petting zoos rank right up there with nosebleeds as entertainment to me). All in all, it was an interesting experience. And it gave me more than enough material for a blog entry.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Is there something you people aren't telling me?

Do you ever get the feeling that there's something about you that everyone who knows you is aware of, but they're unwilling to tell you?

When I answer the phone for telemarketers or the Am-Vets lady, they frequently refer to me as "Ma'am" until I correct them. This leads me to believe that I must sound like a woman on the phone. And apparently I'm not a cute young lady, but rather a middle-aged mother of four.

I have had the same occurrence on some of my teleconferences with Asia. Occasionally a new member of the team (if that's what you call a worldwide collection of semi-disgruntled employees) will join our calls and refer to me in the feminine. Not cool.

When I was a kid, I had the voice of a castrated angel. I sang in choir and proudly displayed my pre-tenor abilities around the world. But I fear that I must still sound like I'm castrated on the phone. Can somebody help me here? Does my voice really say "ma'am" instead of "dude." This is distressing.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

On the Horizon

There's some good news on the horizon (nothing definite) that international adoptions in China might pick back up sooner than expected. We'll have more news in the coming days, but it looks like we might see Gracie's picture as soon as two weeks (or as late as early July). There are still lots of problems with travel, but the thought of seeing those two little eyes is just divine.

We'll fill you in when we see something definitive. We're happy beyond measure!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Church Windows

On Sunday, we visited yet another church in our community with the intention of smoking out witches, snake handlers, and poorly prepared casseroles and Jello salads.

Something I have noticed over the past couple of months is that church windows are never clear. In other words, it is virtually impossible for me to daydream and stare out the windows during the sermon because the view is always obscured.

This practice started long ago with the use of "stained" glass. (And remember those old churches with the really high pews that you couldn't see out of?)

Who did these guys think they were fooling? Stained glass had nothing to do with art. It was developed, no doubt, by the guy in the Big Funny Hat at the front of the cathedral who was tired of Lance and Anselm staring into the courtyard watching Maid Marion pick daisies (and slowly die of The Plague).

As people caught onto the scam, church builders began reducing the size of the windows. First we had smaller stained glass:

Then we had simple narrow slits for windows (these were easily found at the local prison supply store):

And now, it seems that most every church we visit has used some variant of the material used to keep people from peering in at you while you're on the toilet to cover their windows. Some call it "frosting" and others call it "translucent window covering" but I call it, "Preacher's-Ego-Can't-Handle-Me-Zoning-Out-After-35-Minutes Blinders."

In any case, it's clear to me that eventually we're all going to look like this poor bloke, sitting on hard benches with no windows to stare out of, looking at Powerpoint slide #45 of #2305 on why it's bad to poke people with a pointy stick until they give you all their if we haven't all heard that one before.

Friday, May 15, 2009

She Will Pay

Erin put a bag of prunes AND a Fiber One bar in my lunch today. Apparently she thinks I'm an 80 year old woman. She will pay this evening.

Personal Trainer Hell

As some of you may know, I am meeting with a personal trainer twice a week. This morning was especially painful, which prompted this post. Here are my observations of our short conversations:

My least favorite word: Again.
My least two favorite words: Pulse it.
My least three favorite words: Make it count.
My least four favorite words: Keep your core tight.
My least five favorite words: I will see you tomorrow.

I'm dying. I am so sore!

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Our Little Comic

Grant is growing into quite the comedian. As you'll see in the video, his current mode of joke is switching the words in songs, changing your name, or messing up on purpose. But, my favorite thing Grant does comes after he's said something funny. If you laugh at something he says, he immediately turns around and asks, "what did I say?" because he's just dying to know how he can make you laugh. But, don't you dare tell him because then he will, with no exaggeration, say it 100 times. If you laughed once, people, you're bound to laugh again!

Here's a video to prove my point. He insists on calling me Mamaw (his grandmother), which he thinks is just the funniest thing ever. He switches the words in both "Jesus Loves Me" and "Raindrops on Roses" (don't know official title, which is sad because I know every single word from the Sound of Music, much to Bret's chagrin. It's a long video, so it's really only for grandparents, and even then, only if they are bored or lonely.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

10 Things You Should Ask Your Mother

In celebration of Mother's Day, CNN ran a story today listing the top ten questions every person should ask their mother now. I found the story mildly interesting and decided that I would offer up what I think my mom would answer. (I could actually ask her the questions and let her provide the answers, but I suspect she'd answer most of them with a slightly confused look and a "Yeah!?" or "Just a sec, let me ask your dad" which provides little entertainment.) Let's proceed.

1. What's the one thing you would have done differently as a mom?

I suspect my mom would say that she would have placed some of her sock money in Breyer's stocks. She bought enough "mint chocolate chip" to fill in the Grand Canyon while I was living at home. At least she could have gotten something back (up until the past year, anyway).

2. Why did you choose to be with my father?

"Just a sec, let me ask your dad..."

My mom is not a pinnacle of decisiveness. My dad provides their relationship with a great deal of balance in this regard. My mom can't individually decide which side of bed to crawl out of in the morning, so it's good that she has dad to consult. If only he could hear her...

3. In what ways do you think I'm like you? And not like you?

I think my mom would say that I picked up some of her indecisiveness, so it's good that I have Erin to balance that out. I think she might point out that she has a complete lack of gluttony, so who knows where that came from. (When my diabetic tremor starts, and I reach for my third piece of chocolate cake, I'll always think of my dad saddling a box of Christmas cookies while watching the History Channel.)

4. Which one of us kids did you like the best?


5. Is there anything you have always wanted to tell me but never have?

I don't have any interest in worrying about NEW horrors of history. I feature enough genetic anomalies as it is, therefore I shall avoid asking this question.

6. Do you think it's easier or harder to be a mother now than when you were raising our family?

My sister and I were pretty easy kids to raise, so she probably would say it was easier back then. She only had to drive me 40 miles round trip to choir practice three times a week, so she really had it pretty easy on the whole.

7. Is there anything you regret not having asked your parents?

Sheesh...both of my mother's parents are still alive, so if she has regrets in this regard, she needs to give them a call. This question makes it sound like my mother must be at least 80 years old, and I'm fairly certain she's at LEAST five years shy of this.

In reality, my dear mom asks everyone she encounters the same basic questions:

"Did you know they have gas for $1.96 at the Speedway on Meridian?" or

"Do you have a coupon for $1 off ground chuck at Meijer? It was in section C on page 5 of the Sunday paper." or

"Did you see that the price of milk has gone up by $.06 this week? Better stock up! We have a Democrat in office!"

8. What's the best thing I can do for you right now?

"Point me to your bathroom" is probably a likely candidate.

9. Is there anything that you wish had been different between us -- or that you would still like to change?

I would hope that my mom would think very carefully before answering this question. It could have a strong bearing on when and where she goes when assisted living is necessary. It's her call. She can either be sitting under a flickering 40 watt lightbulb watching "Gunsmoke" reruns into eternity, or she can be sipping a smoothie in a leather recliner, waiting for the charter bus to take her on a day trip to go shopping. These next few years will be decisive.

10. When did you realize you were no longer a child?

This is a dumb question. Who ever thinks about this? For me, this moment was about 30 seconds before "I do"...just as a little bit of sweat (or maybe it was pee) ran down my leg. I suspect my mom entered adulthood far more gracefully, but who knows?

In any case, happy Mother's Day, Mom! Your cheese log is in the mail.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

A Whopper of a Temptation

Tonight, Satan took me up on the mountain for my temptation, and this time, it came with a side of fries.

On our way to go shopping tonight, Erin and I decided that we couldn't wait until after buying the week's groceries to eat dinner (as that might cause our stomachs to growl for at least 30 minutes...unacceptable), so we stopped at Burger King (my choice) for a healthy and delicious meal.

When we eat fast food, Erin inevitably asks questions like "Are the tomatoes grown locally?" or "Can I get that with some of the mustard on the top bun and some of it on the side?" These questions usually garner a blank stare and occasionally reveal that the individual taking our order actually speaks no English beyond "cheeseburger," "fries," and "Sorry dude, I don't have insurance."

So tonight at Burger King, she requested that her Whopper come with no onions or mayo, simple requests. Upon receiving our order, I began devouring my sandwich when Erin opened hers to find no onion and globs of mayo, despite being correctly marked "No Mayo" on the wrapper. Frequently in these situations, Erin just sucks it up and eats her food, not wishing to have a confrontation with a vacant high school student (at least not on her weekends). But tonight, she did NOT want mayo, so she headed rightfully back to the counter.

As I watched the exchange occur between Erin and the individual behind the counter, I noticed her sandwich sitting there, lonely, on the counter. I silently prayed to myself, "God, please let that lonely, discarded Whopper make it into the trashcan or an employee's dinner. Whatever you do, Lord, don't let Erin bring it back with her."

Just as I saw the employee hand Erin her new sandwich, I noticed Erin also pickup the old one. As she walked back, I was about half finished with my original Whopper. She threw her first Whopper on the table in front of me and began eating her new and improved, no mayo sandwich.

I finished up my sandwich and stared longingly at the extra Whopper on the table. I had finished my fries and sandwich, and I was actually pretty much full, but the Whopper looked so forlorn, laying there already unwrapped on the table, like an uninvited guest at the party.

Eventually I told Erin, "You know, I've always said I could eat two Whoppers."

"No way" she replied.

"Oh sure I could. Watch me."

And with that, I began the 2nd Whopper.

Almost immediately, I began to feel my dinner building up in the top of my stomach as though trying to climb out of my throat with a rope ladder. I would have tried to push the food down manually, but I was too busy trying to regain the feeling in my left arm.

I slowly finished Whopper #2 and let out an exclamation, letting our fellow Burger King patrons know how proud I was of my achievement. I waited for Erin to congratulate me in astonishment. She was astonished alright, but all she could say was "You're gross."

As I type this, there is a small army of Tums the size of a toy poodle keeping my Whopper's at bay. I shudder to think of what will happen when I go to bed later, or even worse, the bathroom.