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Friday, July 31st

One of my employees from the old firm celebrated his 30th anniversary as a paramedic and the company had a party in his honor.  It's pretty darn unusual to survive that long working in the field, but Eric is definitely one of a kind.  John and Caden and I went over to Santa Cruz today to celebrate with him.  It was fun to catch up with all the old work folks; it's been two-and-a-half years!  After working at a place for almost 20 years, those relationships don't just wither away.  Caden of course made friends right away and had a fabulous time playing on the beach. 


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Tuesday, July 28th

No, we were not eaten by a bear or abducted by Paliens while up in Alaska on our trip.  So sorry for the lack of updates.  Shortly after we got home, Caden got sick and shortly after that, I got sick and, well, I've been flat on my back for almost a week.  I can't remember the last time I was this sick.  Thank God for Gatorade, otherwise I'm certain I'd be dead.  Then again, it is a fabulous way to lose a couple of pounds!

 

I do hope to have our trip photos, along with plenty of other interesting crap posted soon.  As soon as I can emerge from the delirious, whimpering ball of Papa I'm presently curled-up in.

Update: I'm better now.


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Friday, July 24th

Very cool.



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Thursday, July 23rd

I don't know of anyone who hasn't seen this yet, but in case you haven't it is definitely worth watching.  Especially since I hate traditional weddings so much.




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Wednesday, July 22nd

I looooong to go scuba diving.  There is nothing in the world like being under the sea.

 


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Saturday, July 18th

Crap.  Our vacation is over. 

 

Caden ran into one of his buddies, Lola, at the airport on our way home.  He wanted to say goodbye.




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Friday, July 17th

No more ports.  Another sea day today on our way back home.  It couldn't be uglier outside and I sure wish I could take Caden swimming.  We did get a couple of days swimming in at the very beginning of the trip even though it was freaking cold.  Despite the ship advertising that the pools are heated, "82 degrees" is not "heated" in my book.  Caden was a trooper though and indulged his Papa long enough to get his legs wet, splash around, go down the slide a few times and then BOLT for the hot tub.  Smart kid.

 

r Family always brings along very amazing entertainment on their trips.  We were astonished last year at the level of entertainment we got to see.  This year was no exception.  From Broadway performers, singers, and comedians, it's really so unique because you will never see such a collection of people under one roof anywhere else in your life.  On board this year was comedienne Caroline Rhea, the entire cast of [title of show], singer Cheyenne Jackson, comedienne Judy Gold, actress Sharon Gless, singer Andrea McArdle (the original Annie), singer Tituss Burgess, comedienne Julie Goldman, and Ross the Intern, from the Jay Leno Show.  There were gobs and gobs of other amazing singers and entertainers as well.  They even had a couple of fun theme nights.  You can't beat the amazing entertainment on their cruises.  And the greatest part is that these folks might be in the grand theater performing or belting out incredible songs one night and the next morning they might be sitting next to you in the restaurant chatting with you while eating sausage and scrambled eggs.  It's an intimate and very personal experience.

Here's a little video of some cruise experiences.




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Thursday, July 16th

Alas, we arrive in Prince Rupert, British Columbia.  Our final port.  We've gone International in Canada dontchaknow.  But no one seems to want to talk to me about hockey.  Strange for Canadians.  Oh yeah, our inane fact for today: the pulp mill closed and the fish plant burned down in 2004 and subsequently, the population dropped 50%.  I'm thinking we might have arrived on just one of those afternoons.  There was about as much going on in Prince Rupert today.  Despite the full color, glossy map being handed out down at the dock by the Lion's Club volunteer ladies, we were never really able to find the "central business district" they boasted about.  We found several "deserted business districts" but that was about it.  One thing we did see here were quite a few bald eagles.  They've been quite prevalent all along the trip so far, but in port today we saw at least eight or nine of them flying around just above us.  They're quite amazing and majestic.  I wish I could say that it was amidst some incredible setting where the birds were soaring over a stream or snow-capped peak.  We were standing on the corner in front of Safeway and they were swopping down to retrieve some garbage in the street.  They'd fly back up to the top of the building to eat whatever morsel of Cheetos they apparently'd found.  But they were still beautiful!  It turns out the highlight of the port was the Prince Rupert Historic Fire Department Museum.  I could use a walk through there like I could use a hole in the head.  So we said a gracious "thanks ya!" and good bye and headed back to the ship to pour more beer down my gullet. 

 

Leaving Prince Rupert, BC was quite gorgeous.  This is such incredibly beautiful country.




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Wednesday, July 15th

Today we arrived in Skagway, Alaska.  I'll tell you an inane fact about this place and then I'll tell you what this place is really like.  First the inane fact.  Ok, there is NO inane fact to tell you about Skagway.  Here's the real fact: it's a FAKE TOWN!  I swear to God.  It looked like a movie set.  From the 1890's gold rush.  I thought we were walking around Knott's Berry Farm or a bad replica of downtown Disney.  All of the storefronts are pretend.  And I think when the cruise ship leaves and the place closes down, the workers count their money, leave and drive their 1974 Gremlins and 1987 Pinto's back to some other real town.  They probably live in real houses and real mobeeel homes somewhere else.  Don't think you fooled us Skagway with your cutesy tootsie little town.  IT'S A FAKE!

 

Caden's really getting quite comfy with the whole restaurant / service / waiter / waitress idea by now.  Tonight when we sat down to dinner in the restaurant on the ship, our very nice waiter came up and asked him his name.  His answer?  "Ice Cream?!"  How embarrassing.  My child is two-years-old and already barking orders at the wait staff.  All week long he's been a very gracious guest.  We've been emphasizing the importance of greeting the wait staff by name and using formalities as best he can.  He's been doing great.  But for some reason tonight, he apparently thought he would just cut right straight to dessert.


 

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Tuesday, July 14th

Today we floated on into Juneau, Alaska.  It is the capitol of Alaska and, in fact, has the ugliest capitol building of any state in America.  No wonder she quit.  It ain't befittin' of no diva.  And no, Mrs. Ignoramus was not in town when were were visiting.  However, Juneau was sure beautiful and despite being cheap, we did do an excursion!  We took a bus to the Mendenhall Glacier.  It's an an easy-to-get-to glacier (as glaciers go), so we packed up Caden and headed out to the big block of ice.  And Holy Crap, it's melting!  (You can see in the photo that we're all smiles. Caden was the only one with reverence enough to show his concern.)

 

After we returned from the glacier, the ship headed to another glacier, the Dawes glacier.  This was pretty fun because here we are in a massive cruise ship floating down a channel filled with ice bergs bumping (literally) along in the frigid water.  It was really quite a spectacular experience.  We could see marine life like sea lions and seals out on some of the ice bergs.  Caden even saw a whale!

UPDATE: It seemed very odd to us at the time that the ship was getting so close to this marine life but we figured that the Captain must know what he's doing, right?  Uh, apparently not.  After we returned home, we found out that there was a small excursion boat of r Family guests in the water next to the cruise ship at the same time we were travelling through the ice field on the way to the glacier.  They were apparently part of an excursion.  As the cruise ship got in close and near the wildlife, the excursion boat (and all the people and kids on board) witnessed the cruise ship RUN OVER several seals and kill them much to the horror of everyone on board.  Apparently there was a big to do and some complaints filed but Norwegian Cruise Lines have reportedly been assholes about the whole thing.  So formal complaints have been forward to the feds because it turns out that the area is a marine sanctuary.  Oops.  If people on the cruise ship had known this was going on below, there would have been a riot.  Can you imagine a bunch of animal-loving lesbians breaking down the doors to the bridge and beating that Captain to a pulp because they heard he was responsible for a seal dying?  Whew. The guy's lucky to still have both nuts.

 

 

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Monday, July 13th

Today we arrive in Ketchikan, Alaska.  It is known as the salmon capital of the world (I'm going to tell you one inane fact about each place we visit).  Their zip code is 99950, which is the highest zip code ever assigned anywhere in the United States (sorry, that's two inane facts; I promise, I'll try to keep it down).  Since we're cheap, we did not plan any excursions.  So what do you do when you're in port?  You walk around town. 

 

Any port that accepts a cruise ship - anywhere in the world - will have stores with jewelry, t-shirts and other touristy crap for shoppers feast on.  Not really being consumers of Ketchikan salt-and-pepper shakers or Sarah Palin 2009 calendars, we were left to just browse the town and enjoy the scenery.  We did come across a wildlife rescue exhibit where a bald eagle and two owls were on display.  Caden enjoyed that.  They also have plenty of stores in Alaska that sell clothing made from animals (pelts, skins, tails), although none shot from helicopters that I could tell.  It was interesting to look. 

 

Caden found a hacky sack ball in one of the stores and just had to have it.  We took it outside on the sidewalk and I kind of showed him how to kick it and play.  I couldn't believe it; he threw it up in the air and started kicking it.  This kid amazes me.


 

 

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Sunday, July 12th

Today was a "sea day" meaning that the ship isn't stopping in any ports.  It was nice to kind of unwind and not worry about having to be anywhere.  Except that r Family has other ideas.  They bring along so much entertainment and activities that you feel like you really should take advantage of it all.  We learned the hard way from the trip last year that you can - actually - yes - schedule too many activities on your vacation.  So we're going to take it a little slower this time. 

John and I attended a workshop this afternoon provided by the Family Equality Council.  It was about how to help your kids grow up in a society where they're likely going to encounter a few assholes here and there who don't understand the structure of their family.  That wasn't the title of the lecture of course, but it might as well have been.  They used a much shorter title, but I don't remember what it was.  Anyway, it was a really good talk.  I'm not terribly worried about Caden.  He's already got some pretty good confidence and we're going to teach him to beat the shit out of anyone that makes him mad. 

 

r Family takes one of the conference rooms on the ship and turns it into a big play room for toddlers.  They basically go buy a bunch of brand new toys and plop them down in this room and you can come and go whenever you want.  We've met some other really cool parents in there with their kids. It doesn't hurt that it's close to the bar either.  Caden, of course, loves it too.  He's really got his whole act down for when he wants to go.  He looks at you with his big brown eyes and says in the cutest voice possible, "Pwaaay Woooom Papa?"  How can you say no?

 

My mom and dad even went to a scheduled activity today and attended the "grandparents tea" this afternoon.  I was really excited they went.  Sadly, it didn't turn out to be quite what they were hoping for.  Thank God my parents have a good sense of humor.  Let's just say, it was a lot less tea and a lot more therapy.  Aside from one normal-seeming couple (who were half-lit after just coming from the martini-tasting excursion), my mom said several of the "grandparents" seemed to want to just bitch about their kids and what terrible parents they were.  Rrrrrrreally?  And you're on vacation with them?  Even the "moderator" tried to keep steering the conversation back to more pleasant things but Betty Bogart and Mildred Miserable just couldn't shut TF up.  Needless to say, I don't think my parents will be going to any more grandparents teas this week - unless they go to the martini tasting first. 


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Saturday, July 11th

We sailed out of Seattle this afternoon on our way to Alaska.  It's always fun to watch all the families gather together in one place at the start of the trip.  There are tons of kids and overwhelming excitement.  Poor Caden.  I think he was getting a little overwhelmed with us peppering him with the ..."did you see that" ... "look over there" ... comments.

 

r Family always puts on a great sail-away party with fun music and entertainment on the pool deck.  After so much anticipation, it was nice to just get underway.  And get a beer in my gullet.




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Friday, July 10th

We flew to Seattle this morning to start our vacation.  There's nothing like getting up at the freaking crack of dawn to start vacation.  And of course we were up late last night packing; only three bags between the three of us but of course we're going to take advantage of every possible pound we can get.  We have one of those luggage scales, so half our evening was spent weighing luggage and shifting crap around so we don't have to pay extra fees.  "Let's see ... 49.88999 pounds ... PERFECT!  Wait, this bag's 51.1 ... move that shoe!"  We just won't be able to buy anything while we're gone or if we do, we'll have to sell something in it's place.

 

Caden did great on the flight.  I brought along all kinds of stuff to keep him busy but what does he want to look at?  The sports section of the newspaper.  He doesn't even know how to read!  John opened the paper, Caden saw it and let out the whiniest cry possible, "baaaaasebaaaaalllll!"  Probably as a consequence of the fact that we wouldn't let him bring along his baseball bat.  So he'll just have to look at Lincecum pitching on the front page.

 

Seattle is HOT!  And I'm not trying to sound like Paris Hilton.  89 degrees hot.  What's up with that?!  We walked around Pikes Place Market, watched some fish throwing and admired the beautiful flowers.  Why don't we have shopping like this where I live?  We also walked around the grounds near the Space Needle and found this awesome fountain (called the International Fountain) which Caden could have watched forever.  It does tricks.  Caden made friends with a very cute puppy.  For being a couple of old farts, my parents kept up with us pretty well.  And Caden absolutely LOVES having them along.

We got back to the room at the hotel tonight and I could tell there was no way this kid was ready for bed.  He might as well have had a Venti triple espresso.  So John and I took him downstairs to the lobby and found a place to hang out.  We ordered beers for ourselves and ordered Caden to run around.  It wasn't long before he found himself a buddy and within minutes, they were having the time of their life.  One thing I love about Caden is his fearless nature of going up to other kids and introducing himself ("HelloHi") and breaking the ice right away.  The other boy was three.  They had a blast and ran around and chased each other for almost an hour.  People couldn't get over how much fun they were having.  Enough fun to at least get a little tired.  Thank goodness. 

 

Tomorrow afternoon we jump on the boat! 

   


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Thursday, July 9th

Holy crap, I need a vacation.  Oh, thats right were taking one!  Tomorrow.  Were going on an r Family trip.  Its a cruise to Alaska!  We first went on one of their trips last summer and had a blast.  Caden was in heaven all week.  Ill tell you what its an oasis on water.  Weve never experienced such a friendly and nonjudgmental experience in our lives.  The only bad thing about it is the ending, when you have to go back to the real world.  Caden was confused for weeks after we got home last year because he didn't understand why people out in public weren't saying "hi" to him all the time or being as friendly as he'd experienced on the ship.

 

We pretty much wrote off this years trip because we couldnt afford it, but then about a month ago, they slashed prices big time.  Sometimes you have to take advantage of the devastated economy, you know?  So not only are we going, but we invited my mom and dad to come with us.  They just celebrated their 60th anniversary and wed love to spend a week travelling with them and celebrating their amazing milestone too.  They love Caden so much; I think theyll be in heaven this week too vacationing with him.

 

We fly to Seattle tomorrow morning and get on the ship on Saturday.  Ill try to do some blog posts while were gone but cant promise anything.  If Internet access is too pricey (I do live with a tight-wad after all), we might need to wait until we get home.  So in the meantime, talk amongst yourselves and we'll see 'ya later this week or next!  Oh and if you plan to come and break into our house because you think we're gone, don't.  We have a house-sitter.  Do you really think we could get away with leaving the cats for a week?  They'd be pissed and make us suffer for a month.

 



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Wednesday, July 8th

We finally broke down and purchased a second stroller.  It was time to get something lighter and smaller to use for travelling and quick trips.  UPS delivered it today and, of course, it had to be christened for the first time.  In our house that usually involves a cat and some silly sound effects from Papa. 




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Tuesday, July 7th

I didnt have a chance to follow any of the funeral service for Michael Jackson today but Ive been around enough people the past week to partake in plenty of discussion about his life and death.  Its interesting to hear peoples opinions, especially those on the more derogatory end. Considering Ive never really been a fan and dont own any of his music, Ive been surprised how sad its made me to hear people call him a freak or a weirdo this past week.  As I was driving in the car today and briefly listened to some of the media frenzy unfold on the radio, I had to stop and ask myself why his situation was making me feel so odd. 

 

I think its about judgment.  Disproportionate societal judgment.  I think our society has developed an all-too-quick habit of casting judgment on those that we have no right to judge.  People in the spotlight especially the performers, stars and politicians of our time are very often judged by society based on a sound-bite-driven persona created in the media.  Is that appropriate?  Of course not. 

 

Theres no doubt that Michael Jackson was an odd duck and Ill admit that I found his eccentricities interesting to watch, like a looky-loo or rubber-necker.  But I realized today that despite my limited gawker-view of his life, it doesnt give me the right to judge him.  I dont know him anymore than he knows me.  He was a real person.  He was a dad.  He had kids.  And he probably had all kinds of the same aspirations, principles, worries, and demons as anyone else.  If only we were programmed to judge ourselves at least once for every time we judged someone else.  Wow, what a different world it would be. 

 

Peace Michael. 

 

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Monday, July 6th

There is a giant pest eating things in my garden.  Its about 35 inches tall, 27 pounds, and his name is Caden.  We put in a summer garden every year and grow tomatoes, cucumbers and green beans.  Its all stuff that Caden loves to eat, but he doesnt quite understand the whole notion of wait til its ripe.  If he sees a baby tomato or a baby cucumber on the plant, its fair game, plucked, in his mouth, and being devoured before we can even blink an eye. I cant imagine tiny green tomatoes taste very good. 

 

At least Ive been able to grow enough ripe cucumbers to make a couple batches of pickles, but he loves those too so production demand has been at a record high this season. 

 

I may have to resort to some kind of anti-pest netting or we may never see a ripe tomato all summer. 

 

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Saturday, July 4th
Happy Independence Fourth of July Day!  Caden helped me put up the flag this morning.  Yes, we're patriotic Americans that proudly schlep out the flag anytime we can.  I would normally drive to a neighboring city that sells fireworks, illegally purchase a legally illegal mega-value-box of pyroexcitement and then smuggle them in the trunk of my car across the border of that city to my own, immersing myself in these risks in order to assure the utter joy and thrills of my family.  And mostly because I like to blow things up.

After all these years of buying the mega-box, I've finally realized that about 90% of the fountains inside are actually the same thing with different labels on them.  But I still buy them.  Except this year I didn't.  I'm not sure why.  Am I becoming law-abiding or something?  I doubt it. 

So instead of us sitting in the backyard at the crack of dusk with me running around like a pyromaniac, the cats watching from their inside perches with exhilaration (I know, they're weird), John fretting that the police are at the door, and Caden being more impressed by the packaging than the pyrotechnics, we're probably just going to lay low this weekend and find a fireworks display somewhere.  But I'll still need to blow something up.

 

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Friday, July 3rd
I happened to swing by one of my favorite blogs the other day and about fell off my chair when the page opened up.  Right there on the front page was our ugly mug!  We'd apparently been photographed in our Papa/Daddy t-shirts at the parade on Sunday.  LesbianDad is written by another gay parent (with adorable kids) and I've always enjoyed reading her blog.  So I shot her an e-mail introducing myself.  What a cool person!  She even posted the link to Endless Grins and we've gotten quite a few hits since then.  I think our volume increased about ten-fold.  And you're visiting from all over the world!  I think I've counted 17 countries and 39 states so far.  (LD is one popular chica!) So for those of you who just recently found Endless Grins, here's wishing you a warm welcome.  I figure if you're still coming back to this ridiculous site four days later, then you deserve an even special-er welcome.  In fact, I was thinking to myself ... criminy, now I've got to start writing more interesting crap!

P.S. Special shout out to the Canadians!  You know how we love the hockey, dontcha know.  Yah.  Go Sharks!  We're going to win it this year.  Really!  I think.

 

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Thursday, July 2nd
Caden got his social security card in the mail last week. Two years later and he's finally official!  Official something. I tried to take a picture of him holding it up and smiling, but he kept trying to eat it. I think this was the last, final step in the adoption process so it feels good to finally have everything completed. Every step is dependent on some other step and we were waiting to get his official birth certificate with our names on it before we could apply for a social security number. 

The process of applying for his card was a little odd though. Caden and I went down to the local social security office to submit the paperwork. It was your typical sterile government wait-in-line-4A-type of office.  When we finally got up to the window, I'd already observed enough of the window/customer interactions to know who was a friendly agent and who was a drone.  It's amazing how rude these people think they can be to the public.  So I was booking for us to get the lady at window #3; she seemed to be the nicest (must be new).  But it wasn't our day. We ended up with the snotty-government-worker-lady (SGWL) at window #2.  Based on the nasty conversation she'd just finished with the people before us, I have to admit I was feeling a little intimidated (yes, even me).

SGWL apparently liked kids, so everything got off on the right foot.  She talked to Caden and smiled.  "Everything will be just fine," I thought.  That's the great thing about having kids with you; they bring down everyone's guard. And then we launched into the paperwork.  The conversation went something like this...
SGWL: "So, let's see ... the father is David..."
Me: "That's me."
SGWL: "And the mother is ... [silence] ... [long pause] ... [silence] ... JOHN?"
Me: "Well, he's Caden's other dad."
SGWL: "Oh."  [more silence and more shuffling around of papers]
Me: "Is there a problem?"
SGWL: "Well, do you have any other identification for the child?"
Me: "Uh, like what?  We have his birth certificate here and I brought along his adoption decree too."
SGWL: "Other identification to prove the child's identity."
Me: "Like a driver's license?"
SGWL: [obviously doesn't get the joke]
Me: "You know I was going to get him micro-chipped when we were at the veterinarian's office the other day..."
SGWL: [blank stare of indignation]
Me: [laughing out loud] ... "what other identification is a toddler going to have?!"
SGWL: "It's ok ... if you tell me he is yours, I believe you."
Me: "WTF?!" (That was not actually said out loud but in retrospect, it should have.  Anyone who knows me knows that I would have said much more, but I've learned to shut my trap when things just need to get done.)

SGWL proceeded to stamp, staple, scribble on and shuffle the papers until she informed us we were done.  We paid our fee and were out of there.  What a ridiculous experience.  Our government at work.  Spreading smiles everyday.

 

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Wednesday, July 1st
Our friends Patsy and Chris bought Caden a karaoke microphone for his birthday.  It's a toddler-oriented one that he can record his voice while singing along with pre-recorded nursery rhymes.  He loves it!  But of course, being the people that we are, we've spent more time recording the sounds of our bodily functions than we have any twinkle-twinkle-little-star songs. 

I'm constantly sticking the microphone in Caden's face asking for a comment like some kind of pushy reporter, which he thinks is funny.  When he can't think of anything to say, then he just resorts to being cute. I had to save this one.

 

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