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Tuesday, July 31st
Given our commitment a few nights ago – after watching the Super Size Me movie – to ensure that we promote a healthy and active lifestyle in our family, I decided to go check out a new gym that recently opened about 5 miles away from our house.  We used to belong to 24 Hour Fitness some years ago but when we moved, there weren’t any locations very close to our new home, so we let our memberships expire.

I took Caden with me and prepared for the grand sales tour.  The gym is in a brand new facility right next to indoor hockey and soccer fields.  I walked in the front door and was immediately blown away at how beautiful it was.  It was nicely decorated and clean.  I signed in and took a seat.  I had Caden in his car seat.  Within a few minutes, one of the sales representatives came out and introduced herself.  She first showed me the daycare center which was incredible.  There was lots of staff on duty and it was separated into different sections based on age.  We continued the tour and the salesperson seemed strangely uncomfortable that I had to carry Caden around in the car seat.  She kept asking, “Do you want to put it down?”  “No, it’s okay… it’s good exercise,” I said jokingly. 

Anyway, the gym was really nice.  It had several pools where we can teach Caden how to swim.  It had all new equipment and weights.  And the best part was that we could get a discount through John’s work.  I was sold.  We should at least try it for a few months and see how it goes.  I suppose if we don’t use it, we can always cancel it.

We all went into the salesperson’s office and sat down.  Caden started to fuss a little bit and I could tell that it made the sales lady a little uncomfortable.  She just didn’t seem like she’d been around very many babies or something.  She kept offering me water and juice for him.  Because he was fussing, she decided to close her door.

I realized that this was probably not going to be a quick process so I asked her how long it was going to take.  “10 minutes,” she replied.  Ok, cool.  I think we can handle 10 minutes.

So I was sitting there completing the registration information and I’m holding Caden and I start to feel a little rumbling in his pants.  Uh oh.  Put-put-puttering.  He’s got gas.  Pretty soon he starts squirming and – without prior notice – cuts a giant fart.  Now if you’ve ever been in one of those sales offices, you know that they are more the size of a broom closet than a regular office.  The sales lady is sitting there facing her computer and I can see her stiffen up and stop typing.  “I think the baby has a little gas,” I said, smiling.

In the next 10 minutes, Caden proceeded to put on the most amazing fireworks show since 4th of July.  It was almost like he knew it was bugging her because he seemed like he was pushing them out on purpose.  I have never heard such loud farting from a tiny baby.  Of course, after a few minutes, I couldn't help but start to laugh.  Once you have the giggles, it is sometimes hard to stop.

It was quite a scene.  A little infant filling the tiny office with his intestinal gas and his inappropriate father with the giggles sitting there trying to hold him in just the right position so that no more gas will come out.

Eventually, we signed all of our documents and were done.  I had gotten our gym memberships and Caden had certainly left his calling card!

Y ¯ [ ÿ

 

Monday, July 30th
Mr. Short Fuse has moved into our house.  Over the last few days, Caden’s demeanor has been rather cranky.  He’s still sleeping well and eating well but while he’s awake, he turns on a dime and gets mad really fast.  It doesn’t seem like there is any activity that makes him happy for very long. 

It’s surprising how stressful it is.  When your baby is fussy, it really stresses you out.  We’ve certainly gotten used to him crying once in awhile and don’t really mind that anymore, but the thing that is really frustrating this week is the whining.  I know that sounds bad but it comes more from a point of concern.  His fuse is so short it makes me wonder what is causing him to be so grumpy.  Gas?  Pain?  Boredom?  Who knows, but we’ve done just about everything except dance on the ceiling and he’s not buying it. 

When he starts crying for no particular reason, we’ll sometimes take our finger and gently and rapidly tap on his mouth.  So, when he cries, it makes a waa waa waa sound.  It sounds pretty funny.  Most of the time, it will even make him stop and crack up or smile too.  But then he seems to think, “wait a minute, you can’t make me laugh in the middle of me being fussy!”  And then he starts crying again.

Let's hope that Mr. Short Fuse is only here for a short stay.

Y ¯ [ ÿ

 

Sunday, July 29th
Caden is 6 weeks old today!  Boy, were we ever wiped out today.  It seemed like fatigue just caught up with us today and we were just pooped.  Everybody slept in.  We had a really lazy day and just rested.  It was really nice and well worth it!

Since I’m lucky enough to be the full-time stay-at-home dad, it’s just understood that I am also the one that gets up with Caden at night.  It wouldn’t make sense for John to be sleep deprived and try to go to work in the morning too.  But we never really talked about how we were going to handle the weekends and whether his “sleep exemption” applied to the weekends too.  So, invariably, on Friday night he would say something like, “Oh, uh… do you want me to get up tonight to do a feeding?” Kind of an offer.  Not really an offer.  Are you offering?  My typical response was, “Do you want to help feed Caden tonight?”  And his typical answer was, “If you need me to help you feed him, I will.”  Why on earth do we humans communicate so bizarrely sometimes?  It’s actually kind of hilarious when you really look at it.

Then, a moment of commonsense flashed over me and I had a good suggestion.  “Why don’t you pick one night a week where you are responsible for Caden duty all night long.  It can be whatever night you want it to be, but it will be my night off.”  Brilliant!  He liked it, I liked it and now I’m guaranteed a night off once a week and he’s guaranteed one weekend night off too.  If only human communication was that easy all the time.  And hopefully soon Caden will be sleeping through the night.  We’re getting close but just not quite there yet.

Y ¯ [ ÿ

 

Saturday, July 28th
Super Size MeAfter we got Caden down to sleep tonight, John and I sat down for the first time in a long time to watch a movie.  Actually, it was the first time since Caden was born.  We watched Super Size Me.  It had been in our NetFlix queue for awhile and finally made its way to the top.  I'm so glad we watched it!  EVERYONE should watch it.  The movie, which is really more of a documentary, is about guy named Morgan Spurlock who does this experiment and eats only McDonald’s food – breakfast, lunch and dinner - for 30 days to see what the effects are on his body.  The whole idea came out of a lawsuit that was filed by some people against McDonald’s charging that they harmed their children with the quality of their food.  Anyway, he starts in really good shape and, as you can imagine, after 30 days, his body deteriorates to a level that even his doctors couldn’t have predicted.  All along the way, during his month of eating McDonalds, he travels the country interviewing people and talking about the nation’s eating habits.

What alarmed me the most was the part that covered nutrition and food service in the schools.  It was really amazing to see so many schools turn a blind eye to what kids are eating for lunch everyday.  And even schools that had full cafeterias and hot cooked meals for their students were making some of the worst crap you’ve ever seen.  I don’t often get aghast at things, but I was aghast.  I guess I had no idea.  It's one thing for a ballpark to be serving junk like that but it's an entirely different thing for a school to do so.

One of the other "memorable" parts of the movie was when they described how Chicken McNuggets are made.  Trust me, you don’t want to know.  It’s a mixture of all kinds of pieces and parts of the chicken.  The judge presiding over the lawsuit against McDonalds called them “Frankenchickens”.  And to think how many little kids eat those things every day.

After the movie was over, John and I got to talking about eating.  How can we be the best possible influence on our kid when it comes to health and eating right?  Fast food in our country has become a way of life.  The sad thing is that it really doesn’t have to be as gross and malnutritional (is that a word?) as the nations restaurants are making it.  We committed, right then and there that we simply had to make sure that our son grew up knowing the difference between good foods and bad foods.  What parent doesn’t commit to that?  But we really have to do it.

But for it to really work, we have to modify our lifestyle too.  We don’t eat badly.  In fact, we eat pretty healthily.  We seldom if ever eat fast food.  (Ok, I must admit however that pizza is my favorite food in the whole wide world.  But even that we don’t have very often).  But it goes beyond food.  We need to make it a whole package and be even more active and teach our kid how to use his body the way it was meant to be – to run around, swim, jump and do whatever else his muscles and bones were designed for.  We need to start right from the beginning making sure that Caden appreciates the virtues of being active and eating the right foods to fuel his body.

The movie was an eye opener.  It is really so sad to see America get fatter and fatter every year.  We can’t let our kids get fat too.  It’s not fair to them.

Sorry Caden, no McFrankenchickens for you.  No matter how short on time we might be  and no matter how quick and convenient and no matter how tasty the dippin’ sauce is that comes with them.  Your poppa needs to make you something healthy.

I’m sure that won’t be the last time those words are spoken! 

Y ¯ [ ÿ

 

Friday, July 27th
Today we had an appointment to go pick out our seats for the next hockey season at the HP Pavilion.  We are upgrading to a full season of tickets to the San Jose Sharks this year and they let you come in and specifically choose the seats you’re going to sit in. 

I’m not sure what I expected, but when we arrived at the arena, there were gobs of people doing the exact same thing as us!  Apparently our appointment time was being shared with quite a few other people.  We’ve been buying Sharks tickets for several years, so I don’t think we ended up with one of the last appointments, but clearly there had been a lot of people inside the arena already picking out their seats before us.

We brought Caden along in the Baby Bjorn, a baby carrier that straps to the front of you.  This is our plan for watching the games; we intend to take him along with us.  We’ve only purchased two seats, so Caden will either be hanging out – attached to the front of one of us in the Baby Bjorn - or sitting on our lap.  I wish we could afford a third seat!  They’re going to make us buy a third seat for him anyway when he turns two, so we might as well try this for his first season and see how it goes.  We’ve seen lots of people at the games holding babies and they seem to do fine.  We shall see…

After we checked in at the arena we entered a big room and got a short orientation on how the select-a-seat process would work.  I think there were probably about 40 other people in our group.  John had Caden strapped to the front of him and I had the arena map and paperwork in hand.  I could kind of sense that, when they gave us the green light and opened the doors, this was going to be a free for all.  So, I edged us closer to the door that I thought they might open up into the arena.

The Sharks representative finished his little speech, they opened the doors and sure enough, it was a scene from one of those television shopping sprees or after-Thanksgiving sales you see on the news.  Everyone started running into the arena all at once to see which seats were available.  Of course there are always those few people in the crowd who are just too cool and wouldn’t be caught dead seen running, so they lagged behind.  And then there was me amongst most of the masses, not at all concerned about looking cool, running to find the best seat.  And then there was John.  I looked back and he was trying to run… actually trot… with Caden strapped to the front of him.  It was a pretty hilarious sight.  John was bouncing and Caden was bouncing and – clearly it just wasn’t quite working.  Of course I started just cracking up!  I hollered back at him not to rush and that I would try to find something and hold it until he made his way around to find me.

We eventually found a whole section with a lot of seats available.  At a point you think you want a seat, you just sit your fat ass down in it and proceed to give everyone else a dirty look.  Kind of like a dog guarding his food bowl.  A little growl works too.  We changed our minds a few times but we eventually settled on two seats on the aisle (sitting on the aisle was a must in our opinion having a baby).  We asked Caden what he thought.  He replied, “aahh doo” and we figured everyone was in agreement.

I’m not sure how to explain our infatuation with hockey.  We’re not Northerner’s who grew up around ice rinks or anything.  We just kind of fell in love with the sport a couple of years ago.  It really is an awesome sport once you learn about it, the strategies and the players.  It’s not all about fighting, despite what a lot of people think; although there is almost always a strategy behind every guy picking a fight in hockey.  They fights are seldom, if ever, random.

I think more than anything, we just have the utmost respect for the intensity of the game and how hard the players work.  They have to play so hard and so rough but at the same time with such finesse and precision.  We always love to compare it to baseball because baseball is sooooo slooooow.  You know… baseball – the sport of interminably waiting for something to happen.  God, was that Barry Bonds home run thing every the epitome of that or what?!  And I always crack up when a baseball player trips or falls or something because everyone gasps in horror because, well... he might have injured himself!  Baseball players are such babies.  Hockey players take it on the chin over and over and keep on playing.  We’ve seen guys dislocate their shoulder, pop it back in and get right back on the ice, make a goal, only to have their teeth knocked out on their next shift.  Now that is a true athlete.  A baseball player with that kind of injury would be out and whining about it for three seasons, only to be paid 10 million dollars to sit in a Jacuzzi the whole time.

Anyway, we do intend to introduce Caden to our love of hockey.  We’ll see if he likes it too.  We aren’t going to be dads that force feed certain sports into our kids.  We hope to introduce all kinds of different sports to him and let him pick what he likes.  More than anything, we just want him to be active and learn how to play something he enjoys.   Ok, I'll admit... as long as it's not baseball.  I’m not sure either John or I have enough patience for it.

Anyway, GO SHARKS.  We have 44 games between September and April.  Here’s to an awesome season.  And Caden cheering right along with us. 

Y ¯ [ ÿ

 

Thursday, July 26th
Caden is really starting to turn on his smile lately.  I guess this is the age where they change from having a “gas-only” smile to a “social” smile.  I never really bought the gas-only smile notion anyway, but he’s definitely making eye contact, recognizing our faces and voices and lighting up like a huge sunflower.  It is very cute.  What’s even more fun to watch is John’s reaction to Caden’s reaction.  He gets all giddy when Caden smiles and laughs.  A day seldom goes by without the words “You’re the cutest baby in the whole world, Caden!” being proclaimed by his proud daddy.  John’s heart is clearly filled with lots of love for this little guy and I can hardly wait to see what it’s going to be like as Caden starts to become even more and more social. 

The hard part is that I just can’t get any photos of him smiling and laughing.  He’s just too elusive with the whole thing and every time I raise up the camera, his expression changes to one you’ve already seen a hundred times.  I bought a remote control for my camera the other day so hopefully I can capture a few of those precious beaming grins in some new photos soon.

Y ¯ [ ÿ

 

Wednesday, July 25th
I don’t feel that tired but every time I look at a photo of myself I gasp and say “Geez, I look like crap!”  I need to take some more naps during the day. 

I’ve been starting to fall asleep in the middle of the night during Caden’s feedings.  Actually both of us have (me and Caden).  It's only for a brief moment but enough that the bottle usually comes out of his mouth and ends up in his ear or under his chin.  Then I kind of jerk myself back awake, apologize to Caden, and keep going. 

It seems like he’s been eating more and more slowly lately.  That is, until the other day when I had a little revelation.  I went to the store to buy some more nipples for his bottles and accidentally bought the wrong ones.  He’s been using the slow speed nipples and I purchased, in error, the fast flow nipples for kids over three months.  I decided to try one anyway.  Instead of taking 20 minutes to eat, he was done in 8 minutes flat!  Jackpot!  Since he is such a good burper, he didn’t seem to have any trouble with the faster flow or additional gas.  I asked the doctor about it yesterday and he said it’s no problem as long as he’s not spitting up or getting bad gas.  He’s handling them fine and seems to have figured out how to negotiate the faster flow.  He burps really well and hardly ever spits up.  So, I’m using these things at night and we’re cutting down our awake times even more.  It also means less milk in the ear.

Y ¯ [ ÿ

 

Tuesday, July 24th
Caden had his one month check-up appointment at the prediatrician’s office today.  John took time off from work and got to go along too, which was great.  It just cracks us up but in the three times that Caden’s been to the doctor’s office so far, he’s turned on his full charm all t
hree times.  He was really impressing the doc!  I was trying to ask some questions of the doctor and Caden kept interrupting me.  Seriously!  I’m asking something and all of the sudden the doctor would get distracted by something Caden was doing and say, “Oh, he’s cute, look what he’s doing.”  He is a very good doctor.  He spends a lot of time and explains things really well.

Anyway, everything measured up great today.  The doc said he’s had a little growth spurt and was a little higher on the charts today, but we are also about a week late for the one month appointment, so we’re probably right in the range of where we need to be.

Yesterday was an important day in the adoption process.  When a birthmother chooses a couple that she wants to adopt her baby to, she signs what is called a relinquishment document.  Candice signed that document shortly after Caden was born.  Then after 30 days, the paperwork is sent to the State and made final.  It’s at this point that the adoption becomes official.  Yesterday is when the paperwork was sent to the State.  We are staying in touch with Candice often and, while she tells us that the adoption process is still very difficult for her and her family at times, it is still her intention to have the adoption move forward as planned. The finalization in court will take place sometime at the end of the year. 

It would be disingenuous for us to say that we know how hard this must be for Candice and her mom.  We don’t.  We can’t relate to what it must be like.  We can only be supportive, stay in touch and do what we’ve promised to do: give Caden the best possible life we can, share information and photos, and include Candice and her family in whatever parts of his life they feel most comfortable.  They’re wonderful, strong and amazing people and this is one of those things that probably only time will help heal.  I’m really looking forward to the relationship we’ll have together as Caden grows up.

Y ¯ [ ÿ

 

Monday, July 23rd
I was called unfit to be a parent today.  Yes, it’s true.  A perfect stranger yelled at me and called me unfit.  It’s going to take me a bit to set up this story, so bear with me.  Because of our party yesterday, we had our four foster kittens stay at the adoption fair all weekend.  The agency has adoption fairs at PetSmart stores and, in their newer stores, they have really nice facilities where the animals can be displayed all the time; even overnight.  So, we decided to leave them there until Monday morning because of yesterday’s festivities.  They also got more exposure to the public that way.

Anyway, I printed out all of the instructions for accessing the key to the adoption center at the pet store and for checking out the animals and Caden and I drove to PetSmart this morning to pick up our four kittens.  He’d been pretty cranky all morning, probably overtired from yesterday, so I was hoping this was going to be quick.  When I arrived, I went to the manager’s office but could see through the glass door that she was on the phone.  Not wanting to disturb her, I waited.  After about five minutes, Caden was getting more and more fussy so I approached one of the female employees of the store and told her I was from Safe Haven Animal Sanctuary and needed to pick up my kittens from the adoption center.  She kind of looked me up and down, gave me a little bit of a strange look and took me over to the manager’s office.  She closed the door behind her and said something to the manager.  The manager then looked me up and down, gave me a strange look and came out of the office with a clipboard.  “Your name?” she asked, somewhat sternly.  I answered.  “You’re not on the list.  No one is getting the key that’s not on the list,” she replied.  Hmmm.  It was already a tense environment and I wasn’t sure why.  Even Caden was picking up on it because now he was crying.  As I bounced and consoled my baby, I proceeded to explain, “I’m one of the newer volunteers so I may not be on the list yet, but I do have paperwork here that…” She cut me off, “Sorry. You're not on the list.” 

I don’t mean to be judgmental, but sometimes you can tell the personality of someone just by the way they look.  This woman looked like trouble.  It was in her eyes and she exuded “power trip” from her appearance.  Plus she had what appeared to be a really bad Billy Ray Cyrus haircut.  The other female employee was obviously her lieutenant, standing there leering at me with her hands on her hips. 

Despite showing her my ID, all of the checkout instructions that I’d printed out and even a printed e-mail with my name on it and the name of our foster care coordinator, Ms. Cyrus was obviously not going to budge.  I even explained that the cat carrier inside the adoption center had my name on the top of it.  Nope!  No dice.  I wondered how the heck I was going to get my four little kittens out of the poky.

Meanwhile, Caden was now screaming.  He’d already eaten so I knew he wasn’t hungry.  What he needed was to be swaddled and put in his bed.  He needed to get home.  But Ms. Cyrus and her lieutenant were standing in our way.  So, I started trying to make phone calls but I didn’t have any of the agency’s phone numbers with me.  Eventually, after about 40 minutes of these shenanigans, I finally got a hold of another volunteer who just so happened to have called me on my cell phone a couple of weeks prior during a different adoption fair.  His wife was pretty high up in the agency volunteer ranks so perhaps she could talk some sense into Ms. Cyrus and vouch for my authenticity.

At this point Caden was screaming bloody murder but I finally had someone on the phone that might be able to bring this nonsense to an end.  I needed to get my phone to the manager so the two could talk.  Caden was sitting in his car seat in a shopping cart, so I left him sitting right in front of the adoption center while I ran around the corner to hand my phone to Ms. Cyrus to speak to the agency person.  I handed her my phone, explained who it was and dashed back.  I was gone no more than a few seconds.  As I turned the corner, guess who was standing there in front of Caden, starting to push the cart back toward the office?  The lieutenant.  She turns to me and starts hollering.  Literally hollering.  “I CAN'T BELIEVE YOU LEFT YOUR BABY ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE STORE!  YOU ARE NOT FIT TO BE A PARENT!  I HAVE A REAL PROBLEM WITH THIS!”  She continued to rant and rant and rant.  Hollering.  Oh Lord, what next?

If it had not been for the political relationship that the agency needs to maintain with this pet store, I probably would have reacted.  But I couldn't.  I picked up Caden, said “you need to stop yelling” to the lieutenant in a calm voice and turned around and walked away.  She followed me, right on my heels, continuing to rant.  I walked back to the manager’s office and was told that I was still not allowed to have the key despite the fact that the agency volunteer had just vouched for me.

Ok, this woman and her lieutenant are clearly nuts.  This whole situation is surreal.  I would have just abandoned the whole effort and taken Caden back home to take a nap and try again later, but this particular store is about 35 minutes away from our house.  If I can release our four little hostages, I’d rather do it and get outta here rather than have to come back a second time to face these two lunatics again.

Finally, after about 5 more minutes of Caden crying, Ms. Cyrus walks over to us and looks at all of the paperwork I’m carrying and begrudgingly hands the key to her lieutenant.  The lieutenant walks me over to the adoption center, ranting the whole time about how "this is the one and only time they will ever do this again, and you have to be on the list", blah, blah, blah.  She opens the door and walks inside with me and Caden.  I turned, proceeded to gently escort her out of the door calmly saying, “Thank you so much for your help, we won’t be needing you anymore.”  I still have a hilarious picture in my head of her standing on the other side of the locked glass door, ranting and raving while I just smiled at her. 

Caden immediately quieted down and remained a jewel for the next 10 minutes while I loaded up the kittens and cleaned their cages.  I spent a few minutes greeting and feeding the other cats who where left in the other cages. 

The kittens were so glad to get home.  Caden and I were even more so.  I talked to our foster coordinator later and it turns out that this particular manager can be a real problem.  Most of the time when volunteers go into the store, they're never even asked their name or checked against “the list” but apparently on this day, it was Ms. Cyrus’ plan to show me and Caden who was boss.  I hope she went home feeling fulfilled.

I figure the majority of parents go through their entire lives without ever being called an unfit parent, no less in public and no less by a screaming lunatic.  So, I’m going to wear it as a badge of honor!  The few, the proud, the unfit.

Y ¯ [ ÿ

 

Sunday, July 22nd
It’s baptism day!  John and I were up at the crack of dawn this morning trying to finish getting ready for the party.  Caden had a good night’s rest so let’s hope he’s in a good mood today despite the fact that he was about four hours short on naps yesterday.

We were of course running around like chickens with our heads cut off before church, but we did make it on time.  Our dilemma this morning was that once we had Caden in his baptismal gown, we could see the cartoon pictures on his diaper show through the gown because of the sheer material.  There they were, plain as day, Eeyore and Winnie the Pooh.  I love Eeyore but does he have to show up now?!  Oh, who cares.  They’ll just have to show through.  We’ll hold him in a way so that E and P don’t show up so obviously during church.

The church service was really nice.  John and I picked most of the music and our friend Phil sang a solo.  He is an awesome singer.  Caden hardly made a peep during the whole service.  He slept during the baptism part.  Other than flinching a little bit when Pastor Bea poured the water on his head, he pretty much snored through the whole thing.  For something like this, you usually choose a baptismal verse for your kid.  It's something they can remember for years to come.  We liked Psalm 121, which says, "The Lord will keep you from all harm - he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore."  After the baptism was over, Pastor Bea paraded him down the center aisle of the church and everyone clapped and cheered.  John and Caden and I are so warmly accepted and supported at our church.  It's really great.

We made a quick appearance in the fellowship hall and then it was on to the party.  We made a mad dash home and before we knew it, the food arrived and the first guests were coming in the door.

The party was wonderful.  We were so honored by all of the people who attended.  Several families drove from very far away, and my brother flew down from Lake Tahoe, so we were extremely grateful that everyone made such an effort to come and honor Caden today.  It really meant a lot to us that our families and friends gathered with us to share in the joy of our adoption and the amazing little blessing that has come into our lives. 

Caden was a real champ all day.  He was in a great mood and turned on his charm for everybody.  It was great to see people from all different walks of life talking and visiting with each other.  The best part was watching my dad (who I think was having the best time of anyone) whoop it up with some of our friends. 

I think the one person in the crowd who was beaming the most was Patsy.  We chose Chris and Patsy as Caden’s godparents.  I kept telling her that I was going to get her a sash with the words “Godmother” on it because she was walking around acting so proud as if she had just won a pageant or something.  It was pretty cool.  We don't take for granted having great friends like them.

There were a lot of kids in the crowd and since we aren’t really a fully kid-entertaining house quite yet, John and I were worried that some of them might get bored.  So, we made each of them a little gift bag with stuff inside like stickers and trading cards.  We also had them do a little project and create a greeting card for Caden that they could color and leave for him at the end of the party.  We got really awesome ones that we will keep forever.

This day was so special and amazing.  To me, it was symbolic of two things.  First and foremost, by starting the day with Caden’s baptism, it was symbolic of the faith that John and I have had to have throughout the adoption process.  Despite the long and difficult journey, we had to keep telling ourselves to have faith and believe that it was meant to be and that it would happen when it was meant to be.  The ups and downs and the wait was pretty painful at times, but that’s what faith is all about.  Making life’s waits bearable.  Second, this day was symbolic of the amazing community of people that surround us.  All of our families were there.  So many of our good friends were there.  And even though Candice and her family couldn’t be there, we knew they were with us in spirit.  It is this great group of people that surrounds Caden with the love and support that will guide him through many future years of life.

Y ¯ [ ÿ

 

Saturday, July 21st
Tomorrow is Caden’s baptism.  We’re having a little party afterward that we’re officially terming his “welcome home” party.  Ok, the party is not so little.  After we put both families together and included some close friends, the guest list quickly grew to 80 people!  Holy moly.  I’m not sure where we’re going to put all of these people, but I figure as long as there is good food and plenty to drink, people won’t notice how crammed in they are. We rented tables, chairs and umbrellas to go on the back lawn so hopefully it will give folks some room to spread out.

We have so much to do to get ready for tomorrow!  You always feel like you have plenty of time, but never do.  Then again, I don’t think I factored in enough “Caden Time”.  I think he knew that something was up today because he just didn’t want to sleep today.  No naps and no schedule.  He kept waking up all day.  Instead of getting ready for the party, I spent a good part of the day trying to coax him back to sleep.  Sleeeeep baby.  Sleeeeeeeeppppp.

One of the best parts of the day is when he wakes up from a nap.  I think any parent will agree.  He is so amazingly cute.  He usually goes through his regimen of stretching, arms overhead, chin out, arching the back, grunting.  It’s pretty darn cute.  Then he’ll usually smile, fart and coo.  It doesn’t get much more adorable than that.

Tomorrow is going to be an amazing day.  It’s the first time that our two families have ever met.  We’re also getting some of our friends together for the first time ever.  I can only pray that Caden is in a good mood! 

Y ¯ [ ÿ

 

Friday, July 20th
These foster kittens are getting to be quite the comfortable little houseguests.  It’s akin to Uncle Benny and Aunt Mavis who came to stay for the weekend and still haven’t left yet.  Before you know it, they’re eating you out of house and home and are now sitting in your favorite chair.  If you haven’t read my previous posts, we are foster parents for four orphaned little kittens who were actually placed in our home before Caden came into our lives.  They were found in a dumpster when they were only four weeks old and were rescued by an agency that we volunteer for.  We’ll provide them food and shelter until they get adopted.  They're pretty darn cute but they have definitely made themselves at home.

We really do love them, even though they can sometimes really get into our hair.  It usually takes me about twice as long to type this blog because there are typically one or two of them "helping me" all the time.  If I didn't fix it, my typing would look something like this: l;;aksdflk>><}{jfjjGFSAkjsdf/ma.  (They don't spell so good yet).

They each have very different personalities and humongous hearts.  They really love Caden and are so gentle around him.  Whenever they get near him they always start purring like mad.  This whole notion of them being near the baby really freaks out my mom.  She’s never really been a cat person; more a dog person.  She definitely likes all of the cats that have been in our family, but I don’t think she really understands how cats think and behave.  She’s convinced that one of them will suddenly turn on a dime and strike out at any moment and swat at the baby, or worse yet, get into the crib, sit on his head and smother the poor child.  You know, all of those grandma fears that they're supposed to have in order to be a legitimate, tried-and-true grandma.  It’s funny to watch her around the kittens because, naturally, they seem to want to pay more attention to her than anyone else.  She’s always got this pained smile on her face as if she's just narrowly tolerating the whole experience.  It's pretty cute.

Anyway, we sure hope the kittens get adopted soon.  Not because we’re tired of them but because we want to see them get settled into good homes before they get too much older.  It’s the height of the kitten season though and they’ve got lots of competition out there.

In the meantime, Caden is having a great time watching them.  He looks at them when they walk by and when we hold them up for him to see.  He usually smiles.  My friend Brenda was here to visit last weekend and gave Caden a blanket that she’d handmade for him.  It’s so cool.  She has an amazing talent!  It has all kinds of different colorful designs on it and a bunch of pictures of these funny and quirky looking cats.  Caden is definitely going to recognize kitties.  The blanket has already been put to good use for Caden’s “belly time” on the floor and when we sit on the couch reading books. 

Y ¯ [ ÿ

 

Thursday, July 19th
Our home is slowly but surely being filled up with … things.  Kid things.  Some of them are quite large things.  I’m sure there’s a point in every new parent’s life when that same moment of shock comes over you as you look around your house and realize it will never be the same again.  It’s not that our home was ever like a museum or anything, but we always enjoy it the most when everything is picked up and put away.  I keep trying to make it that way but have to come to the realization that there's just no going back.  When you have “things” like baby swings and activity centers, they just don’t easily “tuck away” in a closet when not being used.  And the thing is, Caden doesn’t even really have any TOYS yet. 

The worst part is... I know payback time is coming.  After all the crap we bought our friends kids over the years, we are surely going to start suffering the consequences now that they have Caden to buy for.  I’ll never forget about eight years ago John and I bought something for the daughter of our good friends Chris and Patsy.  I think it was her birthday or something and we were in Toys R Us shopping and we saw it.  It was massive.  It was colorful.  And it was all plastic.  We decided that Alva needed a pretend kitchen.  This was no small kitchen.  I remember we could hardly fit it in John’s truck.  When we gleefully showed up at Chris and Patsy’s house with it, I can still remember the look on their faces.  A gray, pale look of shock.  Alva of course loved it.  She looked so small next to it.  Now that I think about it, I wonder where that thing went.  I don’t remember seeing it the next time we were over at their house.  Hmmm…

I need to just get over the fact that our house will never be the same again.  Caden is here and so is his stuff.  Lots of stuff.  If ever there was a time to create extra storage space and places to put “things” this is it!

Y ¯ [ ÿ

 

Wednesday, July 18th
It’s been a month.  How time flies!  I was sitting here this morning feeding Caden and thinking to myself that I hardly remember what he looked like on the day he was born.  So, in the spirit of remembering what we’ve all been through in the past month, here is a little summary.  Plus, I’ve got to do something with all of this crap we’ve been writing down so diligently!

In the past month since he was born, Caden has been given 264 bottles, he's drunk 5.4 gallons of formula, had 162 diapers changes, pooped 53 times (is that all?), he's had 2 baths, and I have been lovingly deprived of 39 hours of sleep. 

Date

Sunday, June 17th

Tuesday, July 17th

Weight

7 pounds, 13 ounces

10 pounds, 6 ounces

Length

19.7 inches

23.8 inches

Head Circumference

33 cm

39 cm

Appearance

Cute As A Button

Cute As A Button

Poop Color

Greenish Black

Dijon Yellow

Daily Formula Intake

16 ounces

30 ounces

Mug Shot

(The one about the bath is a joke; I just want to make sure the grandma’s are paying attention.  We've given him more than two baths!).

Y ¯ [ ÿ

 

Tuesday, July 17th
Caden is ONE MONTH OLD today!  Yippee!  It should feel more exciting than that.  I guess it might have if he hadn’t been so crabby all day.  Boy, did he ever have a rough day.  He seemed very out of his groove today.  Didn’t really want to eat today or sleep very much.  Just wanted to be held.  That’s OK.  We all have days like that from time to time.  Maybe he had a bubble.  (There is actually an inside joke that I will tell you some day about “having a bubble”; it’s pretty funny).

Caden had his first real full-length bath in his new bathtub tonight.  He loved it!  It really made a difference in his attitude.  He seemed like he was so content just sitting there, splashing around in the water.  The first time we had him in it, he kind of fussed so we were glad to see him really take to it this time.

We made lots of extra soap bubbles and really splashed around a lot this time.  He had a blast.  I think he’s going to be one of those kids that is going to shrivel up like a prune in the bathtub when he gets older because every time I would start to get him out, he would get mad and start to scream.  He didn’t want to get out!

We washed his hair and, for whatever reason, this time a layer of dead skin decided to come off all at once.  It was like a full bloom of "cradle cap" happened all in a matter of 2 minutes.  Rinsing and rinsing and it kept coming and coming.  Now he has dandruff up the kazoo.  Just in time for his baptism on Sunday!  Maybe Pastor Bea can rinse some more of it off too.

Once we had him out and we combed his hair, he was having a great time just sitting there next to his bathtub talking to his two dads.  We were laughing and joking and talking about his very handsome hairstyle.  Then, without notice, he decided that I needed to be watered.  The Supersoaker 5000 sprung into action and I was drenched.  He pee’d all over me.  John, of course, was laughing like crazy and I swear Caden had this evil little grin on his face like he was quite pleased with what he’d accomplished.

Oh well, it’s his birthday.  I’ll let him get away with it this time.  At least he has good aim!

Y ¯ [ ÿ

 

Monday, July 16th
I don’t understand “Baby On Board” signs.  You know, those yellow signs that people hang in the windows of their car?  I never really noticed them that much until we had Caden but now I see them everywhere.  I remember about 20 years ago when they were really, really popular but then they kind of disappeared for awhile.  But now they are coming back again.  Kind of like a bad fashion trend.  I just don’t get their purpose.  Here are my theories about why I think people buy them:

(1)     Car Accidents – apparently some people believe that if they get into a car accident and are somehow rendered unconscious, the Baby on Board (BOB) sign is going to help clue in the paramedics and firefighters that they shouldn’t forget about the kid sitting in the back seat.  I actually have a little experience in this area given the thousands of car wrecks I’ve run on.  It’s stupid!  Our better clue is going to be… the kid screaming in the back seat!  Not a dumb sign in the window.  I suppose someone somewhere thought up a ridiculous urban legend about a kid who flew out of a car window and was missing and if there had been a BOB sign, the rescuers would have gone to search for him or something.  It just doesn’t happen.  Kids don’t fly out of cars.  And if that theory is the reason people are putting them in their cars, then they should also take them down when the baby is NOT on board (which of course they don’t).  If you really want a firefighter to take notice of something, hang up sign that says “Free Food” or “Jelly Beans Inside”.

(2)     They’re Proud – perhaps the person just wants you to know they just had a baby.  I can relate to this.  The other day when I was in the midst of one of my bigger proud moments, I actually considered having a button made with Caden’s picture on it that I could wear around in public.  But then I came to my senses and realized that I would be stepping way over into geek territory if I did that.  I think it was the same day that the tune “Skip, Skip, Skip to my Lou” was intractably stuck in my head, so I wasn’t really myself.  But if people are driving around with these BOB signs just because they want everyone to know how proud they are that they have a new baby, well… I guess I can respect that.

(3)     Driving Safety – is it because they think people around them will drive more safely because they see a car with a baby in it?  In California?  In the Bay Area?  Please help me up off the floor when I stop laughing.  As if some guy late for an appointment with his parole officer is going to see the BOB sign and suddenly think to himself… “Oh, gosh, I better not tailgate this person going 62 in the fast lane. They have a baby on board!  The last thing I'd want to do is upset that poor child or its mother!"  Yes, I’m sure that happens everyday.

So, to me, given that none of these theories really hold water, the Baby on Board sign just doesn’t seem to make any sense.  Silly concept?  Definitely.  Good marketing?  Sure.  Do I think they are pretty darn funny?  You Betcha!

Y ¯ [ ÿ

 

Sunday, July 15th
I was pushing Caden in the stroller out in public the other day (yes, feeling manly in our Rock Star Baby stroller) and came to a realization.  Boy, do we ever owe a debt of gratitude to Disabled Americans or what!?  They pushed through the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) back in the early 90’s and we’ve all benefited ever since.  Especially parents pushing strollers.  I mean, think about it.  Can you imagine having to push your kid in a stroller over all of those curbs?  I’m serious!  Because of the activism of the disabled, we hardly ever have to deal with high curbs or raised sidewalks wherever we go.  I dunno, it’s the small things you notice when you have a kid that you never appreciated before.  Plus, the lazy people of the world (who hardly pick up their feet when they walk) should also be grateful.

We went to the Los Altos Art and Wine Festival today.  It’s one of the better outdoor art shows.  Despite it being blazing hot outside, we enjoyed it.  Caden did great and lots of people “oohed” and “aahed” at what a cute baby we have.  Yeah, we know.  He’s darn adorable.  Of course Caden had to wait to poop in his diaper (twice!) until he was out in public.  No, he couldn’t do it while we were still at the house. Changing diapers on the tailgate of the truck; what a lovely task!

Despite generally being a tight wad, this is the one time when I’ve actually seen John be a little impulsive with money – at an art show.  It really surprises me because he is usually Mr. Practical.  He has this innate ability to calculate in his head the cost benefit analysis of practically any purchase we make.  We have totally different philosophies about money.  He thinks we should always be frugal and save for a rainy day.  I say you should live a little because, who knows… you might get hit by a bus tomorrow.  Probably on a rainy day when the roads are slick and the bus loses traction and runs over you.

So the first time we’re at an art show and we see this really cool painting and John says, out of the blue, “I want it.”  I thought he was joking.  Actually, I thought he either had heat stroke or a little too much wine.  No, he was serious.  Now usually when he says he wants to buy something I highly support and encourage it because it is such a rare occasion.  But in this case, I was like “what the heck are you talking about?  This is not practical.  It does not DO anything.  It does not toast bread, make coffee, cut the lawn or clean the floors.”  But he kept looking at this art work, admiring it and seemed insistent.  I liked it too.  I just never would have considered buying something so… very… impractical.  I was surprised.  And glad too. 

Since then, he’s purchased a couple of other things at art shows and I’ve been surprisingly pleased.  It’s actually really good when he does this because then I can use these purchases as leverage the next time I want to buy something equally impractical. 

Some of our favorite artists are Liz Collins, Michael Leu and Sonya Paz.  Can you tell we like colorful and abstract?  We've also struck up a friendship with a fun, crazy lady named Marsha Anderson who makes some very cool plates.  We did buy something today, made by Mary Beier.  A little painting of a big heart on metal that we are going to hang in Caden’s room.   We loved it when we saw it and it wasn’t too expensive.  It definitely expresses our feelings for Caden.

Y ¯ [ ÿ

 

Saturday, July 14th
So it’s been about ten days since Caden has been on The Schedule and it’s time for our first real report about how it is going.  WE LOVE IT!  So does Caden.  Remember, this is the feeding, activity and sleeping schedule that repeats every three hours.  To make it work, you have to be pretty religious about it and keep to it or your baby will never realize consistency.  There are really two main goals.  First, you want to always be ahead of your baby’s needs.  So instead of your kid getting hungry and screaming and crying for their next bottle, you try to anticipate when they’re going to need it and be there to offer it at just the right time.  Same with sleep.  As opposed to waiting until they get overtired and stressed out, you get them onto a consistent schedule of sleep time.  You also avoid using a bunch of sleep rituals (called sleep props) like rocking or swinging.  You just put them in bed, say “we love you; go to sleep honey” and that’s it.  It works amazingly well.  The best part is that Caden seems so comfortable in his own bed.  He doesn’t cry or get scared when we put him in his crib.  He seems perfectly at home.  Do you know how good that feels as a parent to see your kid be able to fall asleep on his own?  And even when he doesn’t fall asleep right away, he usually just chills there and looks around.  That’s really important because the philosophy behind this method basically says this: if you’re going to establish a bunch of sleep routines like rocking, swinging, singing or reading books, then you’d better be prepared to do them forever.  It makes sense.  Your kid will expect it.  With this method, you get your baby used to going to bed by simply saying “it’s sleep time” and then just do it.  No futzing around.  That doesn’t mean we don’t read books, sing, swing and rock.  We do all of those things while he is awake during activity time.  Caden loves those.  He especially loves to dance around with the music turned on.  He smiles and laughs.

The second main goal you want to achieve through this method is that The Schedule work for the whole family.  By following this schedule, it benefits everyone in the house because it is predictable.  Instead of the baby dictating when it is time to eat and sleep, The Schedule determines when it will happen (within reason of course; he is still a baby after all).

So far it is working great.  Caden is such a happy baby compared to his demeanor before we started it.  Back then he seemed way more out of control and fussy.  He just never seemed to be in his groove and when he would wake up hungry, he was usually pretty ticked off about it.  Plus, sometimes he would sleep for 6 hours at a stretch and other times sleep for 6 minutes.  It just didn’t make sense.  This way he’s more consistent and falls into a pattern that he knows he can expect will recur with certainty.

The only caveat to The Schedule is when we screw with it ourselves.  If we have a day filled with errands or interruptions, he is bound to have a hard time.  I suppose like any baby, if we’re interrupting his nap time by taking him in and out of the car during the day, his evening will invariably turn out to be pretty crabby.

Our friend Susie is a big champion of The Schedule.  She used it with her two kids and was really sold on how it worked.  She’s a teacher and actually got quite a bit more training in the methods.  Since then she’s been counseling parents on how to do it and has been making a difference in lots of little babies’ lives.  We met her through our good friend Patsy.  THANK YOU SUSIE!

We’re still swaddling him before he sleeps.  It does wonders.  He seems to sleep so much more soundly than if his arms are allowed to flail around.  We’ve watched him on the video monitor and he tends to wake himself up if he’s not swaddled.

We feel very blessed that Caden is adapting so well to his eating, sleeping and activity regimens so far.  Well, we just feel blessed period.  There isn’t a day that goes by that we both don’t just stop in our tracks and gasp at how lucky we are.  He is so amazing and wonderful.  I was looking at him tonight in his crib all swaddled up.  I said, “Go to sleep Caden, we love you honey.”  He looked up at me and gave me the biggest smile as his big brown eyes beamed at me.  My eyes couldn’t help but well up with tears at how incredibly thankful we are that Caden is a part of our lives now.  He is such an amazing gift.  We will never be able to thank Candice enough.  The only thing we can do is give Caden the best possible life we can and include her in it through photos and phone calls every chance we get.

Y ¯ [ ÿ

 

Friday, July 13th
What is it about babies and the heat they produce?  I think Caden could produce power for our whole neighborhood.  He’s
The Heat Misersuch a little Heat Miser.  I don’t know how many times in the last three weeks I’ve been sitting and holding him or feeding him and found myself overcome with heat stroke!  I’ve wondered, does he have a fever?  I check his temperature in his armpit… 98.6 degrees on the nose.  For whatever reason, we sweat like mad every time we hold him.  This kid conducts heat like a power plant. 

Then why is society so worried about babies getting cold all of the time?  It’s hogwash.  I think it’s a conspiracy promulgated by cold people.  You know, people who are themselves cold all of the time and who have some sort of genetic predetermination to put 19 layers of clothing on every baby.  I just don’t understand it.  The poor babies of America.  Poached in their own skin. 

One of the most common baby emergencies that we used to run as paramedics were febrile seizures.  A baby having a seizure because their fever spiked.  They’re not life threatening but, of course, when you see your tiny baby start to convulse, parents naturally panic and call 9-1-1.  Ninety percent of the time we’d walk in the house and find this feverish little kid all bundled up in clothes and blankets and the first thing we’d do is start tearing them all off and cooling the kid down.  Some parents would really freak out and get mad at us that we were “letting their babies freeze” to death.  We wanted to tell them that they were the ones who were putting their babies at risk!  No poaching the baby please.

Anyway, I just don’t get this crazy hysteria about babies getting cold.  They give off heat at like 800 degrees Fahrenheit!  I think there is an underground society of Grandma’s out there who just want to knit more blankets.

Y ¯ [ ÿ

 

Thursday, July 12th
Caden’s belly button fell off today.  Finally!  We were overdue for this to happen.  It’s supposed to dry up and fall off after about 14 days but after three weeks, his was still firmly attached.  It was definitely dried up but it didn’t seem like it was going anywhere.  When we were in the doctor’s office last week, the nurse practitioner told me to come back within a couple of days to have it removed (cauterized!) if it did not fall off by itself.  I decided to just “help it off” myself today.  A little hydrogen peroxide and a few Q-Tips and I finally got that little sucker to come off!  It didn’t even bleed.

It looks like a dried up old chocolate chip.  We’re not saving it after all.  It’ll just sit in a drawer in a zip lock bag for 15 years until one of us stumbles across it again.  I can see it already.  One of his dads will either embarrass him in front of his friends with it or cause some big gross out scene and chase him around the house with it.  I’ll save him the trauma and just throw it away now.

Now we can give him a real bath.  Up to this point we’ve only been able to give him sponge baths because of the dried up stump.  We’ve got to go out this weekend and buy a little bathtub.  We can’t wait to see how he does in the bathtub.  Knowing him, he’ll probably turn it into a Jacuzzi.

I weighed Caden today and he’s already 9 pounds, 10 ounces.  That means he has gained nearly two pounds in only 26 days.  We looked in the book and that is how much a 7-week old baby is supposed to weigh.  Caden is only 3 ½ weeks old.  I’m not sure I believe the book. 

John is worried that we are creating a giant.  We aren’t over-feeding him.  He’s taking in the exact amount of formula that he’s supposed to.  We don’t shove a bottle in his mouth every time he fusses.  He doesn’t look fat.  His cheeks are chubby but the rest of his body looks normally proportioned.  He just looks solid.  When we were at the meeting last night, one of the other fathers commented on how “brawny” he looks.

I have nothing else to compare it to so it’s hard to know.  I mean, all you see everyday is your own kid.  When we were in a restaurant last week, there was a couple walking by with a 6-week old infant that looked so frail and tiny compared to Caden who was only 2-weeks old at that point.  I dunno, I guess he’s just getting big right now.  I don’t think you can really use it to gauge anything at this age.  I downloaded the growth charts from the CDC and he seems to be in the higher percentiles right now but not for long.  They climb pretty steeply.

The amazing part is that some of his clothes are already getting tight!  I bought a couple of cheap onesies at Target last week and he is probably going to wear them true to their name – onesie.

Y ¯ [ ÿ

 

Wednesday, July 11th
We went to the first adoption “group” meeting tonight.  There isn’t really a better name for it than that.  It’s just called “group”.  We are required to attend at least five of these meetings in the next five months as part of the agency’s post-placement supervision program.  It’s just part of the process.  However, it is also intended to be a support group for all clients of the agency including those who have not yet adopted.  So, you tend to get this awkward mix of couples with newly adopted babies and couples who are still waiting to adopt.

Anyway, the place was loaded tonight.  The meeting was in this tiny cramped room and there were 7 couples with babies and one couple who were still waiting.  The waiting couple had just had their match fall through, meaning that they had been matched with a birthmother for several months and then she notified them that she changed her mind and decided to parent the child.  I felt terrible for them.  I wanted to go over and give them a hug.  There is really nothing you can say, because when you’re in that situation, saying things like “don't worry, it will happen for you too someday” just doesn’t feel that good or do justice.  We had been in the same boat at a group meeting about a year earlier.

The rest of the attendees were all couples with infants.   And the dynamics were a little ... well ... interesting.  The majority of the couples were very, very nice.  But there were one or two mothers who seemed to be particularly ... how do I say this nicely ... spirited?  I don’t know, maybe they were just tired.  I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt.

We were going around doing introductions and one mother mentioned that she was really, really tired because her baby was waking up at night every hour and a half.  When it got around to us and it came time to introduce ourselves, I did the standard intro, told a little bit about our story and then jokingly said (which, in retrospect I shouldn't have) something like “I won’t tell you how much we're getting up at night.”   Everyone did the obligatory chuckle.  Two of the "spirited" mothers in the room demanded to know.  “How much?!  How much?!" one of them demanded.  “Oh, once, sometimes twice,” I sheepishly replied. 

Half the room seemed to gasp in disbelief and half the room seemed to think that was perfectly normal.  Then one of the spirited mothers barked at me: “IS THAT REGULAR FORMULA YOU’RE FEEDING?!”  Huh?  I didn’t really answer.  But she kept asking.  “IS THAT REGULAR FORMULA YOU ARE FEEDING!?”  I felt like saying, “No lady, I’m adding a shot of Jim Beam with each feeding!”  Of course it’s regular formula!  What do you think!?  Do you think there is some special formula you buy that makes your baby sleep longer through the night?  If so, I’d market it and make millions. 

Anyway, things settled down and the group proceeded to talk about group things.  Adoption things.  Baby things.  Legal things.  We covered the gamut.  Pretty soon one of the mothers started to talk to the group about how insensitive people can get when they ask her questions about her adoption.  And it's true.  People can ask the most off-the-wall questions, mostly out of ignorance.  It happens to all of us.  Anyway, she went on to give an example of just how insensitive people have been to her in the questioning they’ve thrown at her about her baby.  The group ruminated on this subject matter for a few minutes and everyone shared stories about how to best answer some of the better off-the-wall questions. 

And then it happened.  The same mother who had just complained about all of her insensitive questions turns to John and I and asks, “I wonder what made your birthmother decide to choose you?”  Hmmm.  So I have a choice at this moment.  I can allow my sarcastic wit to kick in and smear this woman on the floor in front of the entire group, or I can be gracious and pretend like she didn’t just ask us what could be interpreted to be a totally insensitive question.  Since we are probably going to trapped in these group meetings for four more months with her … I should be safe and vote for … graciousness.  Plus, John would kill me if I embarrassed her in front of the group.  He's a conflict avoider big time.

So, I acted like I perceived her question to be “what attracted your birthmother to you” and answered with some of the reasons that we have a great connection with our birthmother and her family.  Of course what I really wanted to say was something like, “and why on earth did your birthmother choose you?” but that wouldn't be very gracious, now would it? 

I guess I didn’t really take offense to her question.  She’s just ignorant.  Ignorant about why a birthmother would choose two dads over a perfectly normal straight couple like she and her husband.  But isn’t it funny how insensitivity and ignorance can run the deepest in those who think they are the most righteous? 

I go back to my theory about "spirited" parents.  Spirited parents make spirited kids.  Chill and your kid will chill with you.  And he might even sleep longer than an hour and a half at a time.  These are the same parents that have a dramatic melt down every time their kid falls and bumps their knee.  They react so dramatically that, before long, their kid learns to do the same thing and might as well do Shakespeare for a living.

Caden was a champ during the whole meeting despite the fact that he really needed to poop the whole time.  I could tell because every once in awhile there was root-a-toot-tooting coming from his pants and grunting expressions on his face.  I was just hoping that no one in the room thought it was me!  I'm sure it’s hard to poop when you’re sitting in a car seat.  I’ve never had to do it but I can only imagine.

Y ¯ [ ÿ

 

Tuesday, July 10th
We are planning Caden’s baptism.  Because we had to coordinate so many different schedules between families and friends, it turned out that we needed to schedule it sooner rather than later.  So, we’re having it on Sunday, July 22nd.  We’re going to have a lunch get-together at our house afterward. 

I met with Pastor Bea today about the baptism.  John and I had done a little bit of research beforehand to determine if there was music or readings we wanted during the service.  We went on the Internet and we couldn’t believe how much stuff there is online.  Hymnals, bible stuff, you name it.  Anyway, we picked out a couple of songs and I took them in with me today for my meeting with the Pastor.  She told me that no one had ever come that prepared for a baptism meeting.  Yeah, well, we’re gay.  Gays prepare.  If there is ever a major earthquake, go to the house of a gay person.  They'll have plenty of bottled water and canned food stored up.  And they'll probably have a portable generator so that they can still play their club mix CD's.

The baptism will be nice.  Both of our families will be there.  It’s going to be held during the regular church service.  Caden is going to wear the baptismal gown that has been passed down through my family.  At first, John had never heard of baptismal gowns and was worried about his son “wearing a dress” to church but after we explained the tradition behind it, he supported it.

You know what I’m worrying about?  I don’t know if this is the same thing every pre-baptismal parent worries about, but I’m worrying that he’s going to do a big poop right before we go up on the altar.  His timing is usually impeccable.  Should be interesting!

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Monday, July 9th
We’re trying a different formula.  We think the Costco formula is making Caden constipated.  He was still having PlayDoh-like turds as of late last week so we’ve switched over to Similac to see if it makes a difference.  They say that all formula is the same, and if you hold both cans side by side and read the labels, they are the same.  But we’re worried about the poop problem and it’s worth trying something else.  He’s been on Similac for two days now and his poop consistency seems to be changing to something softer.  Is it a coincidence?  Who knows.  One thing I don’t think is a coincidence is that they smell very different.  The poops I mean.  Similac poops smell way worse than Costco poops.  These are 2-gag diapers for sure.

Caden has been on The Schedule for about 5 days now.  Aside from those days when we run too many errands and don’t follow it ourselves, he’s doing great!  The only side effect is that he is now waking up – predictably on schedule – at night.  Previously, he would sometimes wake up only once and on other nights he would wake up three or four times.  Now he pretty much wakes up on schedule.  The best part of him being on the beginnings of The Schedule is that he seems so much happier this week than he was last week.  He seems much more rested, content and less fussy.  Even when he does have his meltdowns from time to time, he is at least quickly consolable.

The one thing I am truly thankful for when he eats is that he is an awesome burper.  Isn't it amazing the things you are thankful for when you have kids?  I've been around babies before that just don't produce.  Burps I mean.  You've seen them.  They keep you guessing.  You're sitting there patting them and patting them and you're like ... was that a burp?  Did you burp?  Then finally you get impatient and let the kid down and within 6 seconds they spit up all over you.  Thankfully, Caden produces.  Usually two.  And quite audible.  If you've got him too close to your ear when he does it, it's a little bit like a dragon trying to whisper sweet nothings in your ear, but it works.

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Sunday, July 8th
We went to church again this morning and Caden was great again.  He was awake for almost half of the time and seemed to be mostly engrossed in the big overhead lights and the music. We sat way in the back again but I guess it wasn’t really necessary because he didn’t even make a peep.  Actually there was another little kid, a cute little toddler, sitting a couple of rows in front of us who was making a little bit of noise.  A couple of people turned around and made eye contact – with us!  You know, you’ve probably been in those situations before where you get that surprised look on your face and you want to point at the guilty party (but you can’t) because it’s not you who’s making the noise.  I wanted to say “it’s not OUR little kid making noise!” but of course you can’t say that and you have to just smile and kind of shift your eyes toward the real brat making the noise.

Everyone at church was so nice again.  We were surrounded again several times.  Several people remarked about what a cool stroller we have.  I feel total vindication every time I hear this.  This issue goes back several years and deserves a little explanation.  Back when we decided to adopt, we started to look around at all of the myriad types of baby gear on the market.  In the stroller department, I was having trouble finding something … well … that I would be willing to be seen in public with.  Everything had these little plastic girlie wheels on them.  And a lot of them were frilly.  I guess it made sense: strollers were primarily pushed around by ... girls ... moms ... women.

We needed to find a stroller that was going to be pushed around by me!  Something masculine.  Something with some manlyThe Rock Start Baby Stroller wheels and no frilly parts.  We found a few masculine looking strollers on the high end of the stroller market like the Bugaboo, but they cost a lot!  Eventually we found one called the Rock Star Baby.  It was perfect.  It had the right kind of wheels, no frilliness and plenty of cool embroidery that was masculine looking - I mean, as masculine as you can make a stroller look.  It was designed by Jon Bon Jovi – not that I consider that a plus.  I always considered him to be a little 80’s and with hair that was way too big.  But he designed a cool stroller and I had to have it.  The only thing that stood in my way was… John. 

The Rock Star Baby Stroller coveredHe just couldn’t understand why we needed to spend an extra $200 for this fancy stroller when we could get a perfectly good Graco with plastic little wheels, a tiny bit of frilly and complete functionality.  This was not about functionality, I argued.  This was about cool.  If I have to be seen pushing this thing around town, my baby and I want to look cool.  Eventually, I convinced him that big wheels and no frilly was important.  He agreed.  We ordered the Rock Star Baby and I have been loving it ever since.  Caden looks like a total stud in it and I might as well be in the running for the Hottest Daddy On The Block (and yes, that last part is a complete joke).

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Saturday, July 7th
What do you suppose is the most common question we get asked by people?  Yes, you guessed it:  “Are you getting any sleep?”  We get asked that a lot.  Well, first of all, since I’m lucky enough to be the dad that gets to stay home with Caden while John gets to be the dad who brings home the bacon, then obviously I’m the one who gets up at night when Caden needs to be fed.  It wouldn’t make sense to send John to work everyday sleep deprived from us sharing nighttime duty. 

I’m getting pretty tired.  It's my own fault.  I should be taking more opportunities during the day when Caden is sleeping to take a nap, but I haven’t.  There are too many things I want to get done.  I need to slow down and take advantage of the time to nap while I have it.

Getting up at night with him reminds me a lot of getting up at night when I worked as a paramedic on 24-hour shifts.  It’s the kind of thing that, when the “alarm” goes off, you don’t really have time to lay there and think about it.  You need to just get up and go.  The funny thing is that this is so NOT me.  I usually abuse the snooze alarm like crazy.  When I was working a desk job, I would set my alarm for at least 90 minutes before I had to wake up in the morning so that I could keep hitting snoooooze.  But it’s different for babies and 9-1-1 calls.  My body and brain react totally differently.  My feet are on the floor before my mind even has time to argue about it.  That’s good, I guess.  There is no snooze button on Caden that I have been able to find as of yet.

Physically, getting up at night with Caden does feel a lot like running emergency calls on 24-hour shifts.  The only difference is that I’m never going to get four days off at the end of my tour like I did on the ambulance.  Dang!  The only thing close is that John has been helping on the weekends to get up and feed him at night.  But even that makes me worry because it’s just going to screw up his sleep schedule too.

Speaking of schedules, today is day three of The Schedule.  They say that within a couple of weeks of following it, the baby will start to sleep for longer and longer stretches through the night until they are ultimately sleeping all night long.  Today was not a good day for The Schedule.  We had a bunch of errands to run and Caden spent too much time in and out of the car going up and down.  If you want to do this right, you really have to minimize that kind of thing at the beginning.  He ended up melting down for much of the evening until we finally got him back into his groove later in the night.  Despite his fussiness this past week, we sure do marvel at what a beautiful little guy he is.  We can’t believe how incredibly blessed we are.  He’s going to be three weeks old tomorrow!  Where has the time gone?

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Friday, July 6th
Our good friends Chris and Patsy came to visit us for the first time today.  They’ve been away on vacation so this is the first chance they’ve had to come and see Caden.  That doesn’t mean we haven’t talked.  About every couple of days Patsy has been calling to check in, which has been nice.  We’ve been close to them for a long time and they’re the kind of friends that we know we can always count on no matter what.  In fact, we asked Chris and Patsy to be Caden’s Godparents.  Patsy will be a great maternal influence in Caden’s life.  They’re parents too.  They have two wonderful girls, Alva and Jane, that we really adore.  Chris and Patsy have already showered Caden with gifts, of course.  Their excuse is that they have 13 years of making up to do because we’ve been buying gifts for their kids for that long.  Yeah, right.

We had a really great visit with them tonight and they ended up staying the night.  It was really the first chance we’ve had time to sit down with a pair of seasoned parents so far and talk about the nitty gritty of raising kids.  The ups and downs and laughs of how to raise your children.  (I probably shouldn’t mention the time that Chris used Duct Tape to carefully position Alva’s pacifier in her crib so that she could always reach it in order to suck on it.  No, I don’t think we are talented enough with Duct Tape to accomplish that).

Today is day two of The Schedule.  It is going ok so far.  The Schedule is basically broken down into eight 3-hour hour blocks per day.  You start the cycle – the three hour block – with a bottle feeding.  This usually takes about 15-20 minutes.  You need to keep the baby awake during feeding time.  It’s important that the child not associate feeding with sleeping.  Then, after the bottle is finished, you spend about 20 minutes doing an activity – more time being awake and active.  No, this doesn’t mean we’re outside riding bikes or hunting for lizards.  At this age, an activity can be changing the diaper, singing songs, looking at shapes, etc.  Then, at the end of the activity, you put the baby to bed for the rest of the 3-hour cycle.  In their crib, in their room.

When the next three hour cycle rolls around, you do another feeding and repeat the whole thing.  Within a few weeks, you should be able to achieve a couple of things:  (1) a calmer and more consistent existence.  Why?  Because you are meeting all the needs for baby instead of them having to scream and cry for their next bottle or nap.  (2) A well fed baby.  You are giving exactly the amount of formula per day that the pediatricians recommend.  (3) A well rested baby that is used to sleeping in their own bed and does not learn to rely on sleep props like swings or rocking chairs in order to go to sleep.

So far so good.  He’s still struggling a little bit in the evenings when he gets really fussy but so far it’s nice to see how happy he is after his nap times are over.  His smile lights up a room.  They say it’s only “gas” at this age but I don’t believe it.

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Thursday, July 5th
Today is the first day of the rest of our lives.  From a schedule standpoint I mean.  Boot camp starts today!  I know... that sounds bad.  But today is when we need to get serious and get this schedule started.  As much as much for Caden as for us!  We’re the ones that need the schedule.  He’s doing just fine.  Eating plenty.  Sleeping plenty.  Playing plenty.  Screaming plenty.  It’s John and I whose lives are in shambles.  OK, that sounds a bit dramatic.

It comes down to philosophy.  A philosophy between “Child Centered Parenting” and “Family Centered Parenting”.  This is where you can read lots of different theories about what works and what doesn’t.  I’ve read them all and believe strongly in finding a balance between all three of our lives.  And of course, any baby, toddler, child, adolescent, and teenager is going tip that balance quite a bit of the time, but I think you need to strive to keep the focus on the family as a whole and not just on the individual child.  If everything single thing you do is geared toward baby, then your relationship with each other will get lost and who will suffer the most in the end?  The kid actually because there won't be a stable family unit for him to thrive in. 

It was funny because John and I were discussing some of the concepts of The Schedule and we both looked over at Caden and this was his pose.  We cracked up.  It was like he was deciding whether or not he was going to participate.  So cute.

Based on how rocky the last few days have been with Caden’s fussiness, crying and bowel problems, I figured there was no better time like the present to start The Schedule.  As the days go on, I’m sure I’ll give lots more updates about how it is going.  The ultimate goal is to always anticipate his needs before he needs them (like eating and sleeping) and to integrate him into our lives as opposed to letting him run our lives.  It ought to be interesting.  Let The Schedule begin!

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Wednesday, July 4th
It was a holiday today and John was off work, so we wanted to spend our time wisely.  Caden was still being pretty fussy today but not quite as bad as yesterday.  He slept OK last night but not as soundly as he usually does.  The weather has been really hot, so that’s not helping his mood either.  Things seem to be looking a little better on the poop front; his last one was a little softer.

We looked at the newspaper today to see what events were going on around town.  By the time we got our tired butts out of bed and were ready to do something outside, we’d already missed half of what was going on.  We decided to go to the little town of Los Gatos where there was an event with live music and food being sponsored by the Rotary Club.  We figured it would be fun to hear some music and it'd probably not be filled with mobs of people. 

We loaded Caden up and headed out to the event.  When we arrived, the first thing we noticed was that about 90% of the crowd was at least 75.  Not that we can’t have a good time in that kind of environment, but it was just a little surprising.  The next thing we noticed was that there was no music playing.  In fact, they were reading the names of war dead.  You know, with that slow droning tone of voice.  Hmmm.  With all due respect to the war dead, this isn’t exactly how we’d planned to spend Caden’s first Independence Day.  We paid a couple minutes reverence and then said to each other, “Let’s walk into town!” 

We walked into Los Gatos and went to Willow Street for lunch.  It was funny because I don’t think we were the only people with the same idea.  The place was packed.  And packed with people with kids, especially babies.  There were high chairs everywhere.  I’ve never seen anything like it.  We ordered lunch and Caden slept in his stroller next to our table.  Pretty soon you started to notice "the noticing".  The other parents in the restaurant are all trying to take a look at your kid.  You know they are doing it for comparison purposes.  I’ve found that it seems that half the people that do this are friendly and half are not, which is weird.  Why not just be friendly?   

We got home and waited for it to get dark.  We had our own fireworks show to conduct.  No, fireworks are not legal in San Jose.  But, we were going to have some anyway.  Yes, we are outlaws.  We smuggled them across two towns all the way to our backyard.  To our credit, we only purchase the Safe and Sane variety and we always follow all the safety considerations.  We blow them off in our backyard on the grass where there is nothing that can catch fire.  And there are only a couple.

By 9:00 pm, the City of San Jose sounded like a war zone with all of the booms, blasts and flashes of light.  I figured that my little “49er Variety” safe and sane fireworks pack was probably the least of San Jose PD’s worries tonight, especially given all of the M80 explosions we could hear and illegal rockets I could see flying overhead.  We all positioned ourselves outside; got Caden covered up so he wouldn’t get bitten by bugs, put all of the cats in the window to watch, and lit the first fuse.

Caden slept through all of it.  Never even opened an eye lid.  Oh well, I’m just glad he’s sleeping and not screaming at the moment.  At least Marge loved it.  She was glued to the window.  Aren't cats supposed to run under the bed and hide on 4th of July or something?

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Tuesday, July 3rd
Caden was not the Happiest Baby on the Block today.  In fact, he was clearly not the happiest baby in the whole county today.  We had a pretty rough day.  It’s tough business being a dad and even tougher work being a baby.  Lots of melts downs, hardly any sleep and Caden hardly ever got comfortable today.  Things got bad enough that we ended up in his doctor’s office by the end of the day today, but let me back up and tell you how.

We’ve been a little worried about his bowels and so we’ve been tracking his poop regularity.  (Sorry, more poop talk).  Our pediatrician said that formula babies can sometimes go 24 hours or more between poops so we didn’t worry too much about it until last night when it had been almost two days and he still hadn’t pooped.  Then this morning he finally passed something quite “firm”.  He then passed two more a little later that were also firm, kind of the consistency of PlayDoh.  He’s having plenty of wet diapers so we knew he has been plenty hydrated.  When he woke up this morning he seemed particularly cranky, and I don’t blame him.  I'd be cranky too.

By about 11am, he became practically inconsolable and there was nothing I could do to get him comfortable.  He would wake up from a dead sleep and just come unglued with a piercing cry.  I thought to myself, “Are we starting colic already?  Or is this really constipation?”  Not wanting to be Chicken Little and call the doctor already, I thought I would try a couple more feedings and naps to see if we could get him back into his routine.

By about 2:30pm, nothing had changed and he still hadn’t slept a wink.  He had spent most of the afternoon madly screaming and there was just nothing I could do to make him comfortable, so I called the pediatrician’s advice nurse.  It’s the kind of thing where you leave a message and they will call you back within an hour after they finish calling back all of the other worried parents who probably have the same exact problem.

About 30 minutes later she called back and said that she could hear him crying in the background on my message and, based on how I was describing his poop consistency, we should come in right away to be evaluated.  “Great!” I thought.  At least we will know one way or another what’s going on.  She made me an appointment for 4:00pm – ah yes, the day before 4th of July.

Caden screamed the whole way to the doctor’s office even though he typically loves to ride - and chill - in the car.  I made sure that I took along one of his poopie diapers as evidence so they could see exactly what I was seeing.  We were scheduled to see Dr. Drucker’s nurse practitioner since he had already left the office for the day.  I had no problem with that; they often know just as much as doctors.

She was an older woman who seemed as though she had been seeing babies for awhile.  And what do you suppose happened as soon as she came into the room?  Caden turned on his charm, started batting his big brown eyes and even smiled at her a few times.  No cries.  No grimaces.  Not even a grunt.  I scrambled to pull out my evidence.  “See… here.  Look at this!”  I showed her the firm yellow infant turd, expecting her to gasp.  “Oh, that’s not too bad.  I would be more worried if it looked more dried,” she said.  “Fine!” I thought to myself. “It looks pretty petrified to me.”

“He’s so cute!” she said.  “And so mellow!”  I think I looked at her cross-eyed when she said that.  “Well, he’s been screaming since ten o’clock this morning so I guess he’s going to put on his best charm for you,” I replied. 

“Is this your first child?” she asked.  OK, now I’m starting to feel defensive.  "They told me to come in here!" I wanted to yell at her.  I just smiled and answered all of her questions.  We were discharged, $116 later, with some recommendations for adding a little bit of water to his feeding regimen and to buy an herbal preparation called “Gripe Water”. 

We got back into the car and Caden proceeded to start screaming again.  He screamed for the rest of the evening.  Every time he did, I thought of the nurse practitioner saying "And so mellow!" and asking me “Is this your first child?” as if I was some kind of idiot.  Fine lady!  I’m just proud that my kid is such a lady charmer already.

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Monday, July 2nd
Have you ever gotten something for free or won something?  You know that gleeful surprised feeling you get?  So I had to drive over to Santa Cruz this morning and I was sitting there in traffic and suddenly I realized … I CAN DRIVE IN THE CARPOOL LANE!  I was overcome with this feeling like I’d just won something.  I pulled in and, with only a fleeting moment of guilt, sped up and officially became a member of the carpool lane.  Within seconds I was already feeling cocky and waved to the poor souls in the single driver lane and said, “See Ya Suckah’s!”  I then profusely thanked Caden for making us “Two”. 

There are a lot of people out there who do not think that a baby qualifies as a “person” from the standpoint that it takes two "persons” to make a carpool.  I mean, it’s not like he’d be driving himself somewhere if we weren’t “sharing” our ride together this morning.  So, from that perspective, it’s not really a carpool in the truest sense of the word.  And it’s not like I’m going to be dropping him off at work or something.  But on the other hand, I do think that parents have every right to drive in the carpool lane.  Why?  Because we are probably late for something.  And because we are probably tired.  And because we just deserve some extra perks for trying to raise the next generation.  Good enough reasons?  I think so.

Anyway, I was going to Santa Cruz today because I had a meeting with the paramedic school there.  They have asked me if I am willing to come back there and teach again.  I taught there for about ten years but stopped back in 1999 when my job became really busy.  They want me to teach the Anatomy and Physiology portion of the course again.  It’s what I used to teach there; I have a degree in Physiology and I really enjoy teaching it.  It’s the foundation for everything else they learn, so it’s pretty important.  Anyway, it seems like a great opportunity to stay connected with my career, pull in a little extra cash, but not work too much that Caden would be impacted much.  It looks like it might be about 50 hours total spread over about two months.  My mom has already offered to watch Caden and since they live on the way to Santa Cruz, I can just drop him off on my way to the school.  Most of the teaching sessions are only 4 hours long.  I think it might work out well, but I have not said yes yet.

While we were in Santa Cruz today, we made a few rounds and visited some friends and family.  We stopped by my old work and visited friends there.  We also visited my sister-in-law Libby who got to meet him for the first time.  I also stopped and visited my brother Jeff and my mom and dad.  Everyone just gushes and gushes when they see him.  It’s awesome.  The kid is so loved.

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Sunday, July 1st
How could it possibly be July already?  It doesn’t seem possible.  Caden is two weeks old today!  Wow.  We’ve got one of those “Week by Week” books and have, of course, been reading each week to track where he’s at compared to the milestones in the book.  He seems to be ahead on some things already.  I mean he’s not talking or riding a bike yet, but he does appear to be progressing nicely.  He’s controlling his head pretty well.  He’s eating like a champ.  He’s doing a lot of things they talk about in week three and four.  I just wish his crusty old belly button stump would fall off.

I can’t believe how many people have told me that they’ve saved them – the crusty dried up belly button stumps - from their kids.  In fact, enough people have told me they’ve saved them that I almost feel obligated to do so now.  I’m not sure I have a lot of sentimental value tied up in a dried up stump.  Maybe Caden will want it and I’d be glad to save it for him if he wants to … I don’t know … show it to his friends some day?!  I can’t imagine.  But who knows.

Grandma Barbara and Grandpa Ron Buffi came to visit for the first time today.   They actually had been scheduled to come several days after we returned home but had to cancel because Barbara had a sudden onset of chest pain the night before they were planning to visit.  They went to the hospital and she stayed over night to be checked out.  Luckily, all of the tests proved to be negative thank goodness but it gave all of us quite a scare.  I think she was just so excited to meet Caden!

Anyway, John’s brother Steve and sister-in-law Anne also came to visit.  We had a great time and Caden got tons of attention.  He was such a good boy.

We also got lots of rest this afternoon.  A good long nap.  I put Caden on the bed next to us during the nap.  I can’t believe how much this kid moves around when he sleeps.  He’s constantly moving.  I guess he is growing.  Just when I would start to doze off, he would jolt me awake again.  I would look at him thinking he was waking up or something and there he was, snoring away.  Jitter bug.

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