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Monday, June 30th
There is a cool new website called wordle where you can take things like text, a speech or a document and put it into a visual format.  It emphasizes the words that are used most and then you can choose all kinds of different formats and colors to display the final result.  It's art, and it's cool.  I took my blog post from June 17th 2007 (the day Caden was born) and entered it into wordle and this is what it looks like.  (Once again... geeks on Dr. Pepper and it's pretty cool).

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Sunday, June 29th
Today was the Pride Parade and Festival in San Francisco.  In a normal year, about a half a million people attend the parade but given the recent supreme court decision on marriage equality, some were saying that the attendance numbers might double.  We attended it today and I think they were right.  There were gobs of people and everyone was in an amazing mood.  We were invited to march in the parade by our adoption agency.  They usually have a booth at the festival, but I think this was the first year they decided to have a float.  John and I have walked in the parade a couple of times before alongside the ambulance when my employer participated; it's pretty amazing.  The energy is overwhelming and the crowd is in a really fun mood.  People are lined up three or four deep in some spots.

Caden had a blast and was such a good boy all day long.  Despite being pretty shy on nap time today, he was in a great mood and we couldn't believe how much he was laughing and having a good time all day.  There were balloons everywhere so he was in heaven. 

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Saturday, June 28th
From the list of commonly asked questions in our house comes: How Do We Get Ourselves Into These Things?  Or as John would prefer to say: How Does DAVE Get Us Into These Things?  When my alarm went off at 6:30 this morning, I asked myself just that question.  We planted 50 trees today.  When most people were enjoying their morning coffee or sleeping in, we were digging holes. 

After they finished building the new park in our neighborhood, I mentioned to a friend of mine at the City about whether they could also help us make some improvements to some of the other existing landscaped areas in our neighborhood.  Across the street from our house, along the creek, there is a long corridor of landscaped area where many of the plants and trees have died over the years.  One thing led to another and before I knew it, a volunteer organization called Our City Forest was scoping out a huge planting project and I was helping recruit neighbors to help dig holes today. 

The Our City Forest people brought a number of their volunteers and also arranged to have a large group of teenagers brought in who were serving time so we definitely had lots of help, but planting 50 trees was still a big undertaking.  We had fun though and the area is going to look great after everything starts to take root.  They're a great organization and we are very grateful for their donation of the trees and labor.

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Wednesday, June 25th
I stumbled across a cool new website tonight called slide.com that lets you create online slide shows and other customized video shows that you can also embed in your personal website.  This is no small deal because I've been looking forever for some type of slide show software to make our photos easier to view.  So, as an experiment, I took our favorite photos page and plopped them into this site to see how it looks.  I didn't have much time to fool around with it tonight, but it looks pretty cool.  You can add music and other effects really easily.  Hopefully we'll be able to put our photos into much more fun and interactive designs going forward!

I love stuff like this!  Whenever new technology or tools like this come out, I am always amazed at the things we suddenly have at our fingertips.  And you know it is because of some geeks sitting in a back room somewhere writing code and developing it, probably drinking tons of Dr. Pepper.  Thank God for them.  Our world would be nowhere without the geeks. 

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Tuesday, June 24th
We had an unfortunate incident today involving one of Cadens balloons.  We have several left over from the party on Sunday, and given how infatuated he is with balloons, all hes done for the past two days is toodle around with a balloon in his hand.  We were upstairs in our bedroom and Caden let go of an Elmo balloon and it floated up to the ceiling.  He had his eyes glued to it the whole time, I wasnt really paying attention to it, but suddenly I realized the thing was starting to float toward the ceiling fan.  Almost simultaneously, Caden said, Ooooh and I said Ooooh sh^t.  Before I could even leap to my feet, it got sucked in like a vortex and let out this loud and sickening THUD THUD THUD THUD sound.  Amazingly, it didnt pop but just got kicked out, only to immediately float back again as if it hadnt received enough of a beating the first time.  THUD THUD THUD THUD.  All of the cats started freaking out and running in every direction and Caden got hysterical and started bawling.  It was pure chaos for a few seconds and absolutely hilarious. 

I was finally able to reach and rescue Elmo in the midst of his third beating and brought him down to show Caden and say, see, hes OK.  But he was not having any of it.  It was like he'd just seen an innocent creature slaughtered or something.  And it was his friend Elmo.  After a few minutes of hugs from Papa (for both Caden and Elmo), things settled down and it seemed like he was finally able to look at Elmo the same way again.   If he ever wakes up with nightmares some night in the future, I can't help but wonder is Elmo or a ceiling fan involved somehow?   (And of course being the sensitive parent that I am, I'm still rolling on the floor laughing about poor Elmo nearly being double decapitated...)

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Monday, June 23rd
Yesterday was Caden's First Birthday Party.  We intended to keep it small and only invited our family and Caden's godparents but, given the size of our families, that was 30 people!  What a fun day.  We had a lot of great food.  The two families got to meet each other again (only the second time) and Caden had a blast all day.  The thing I loved was that he was really sweet and gentle all day long.  I wasn't quite sure how he was going to react to having so many people, so many birthday presents, and his first taste of pure sugar birthday cake.  While we were opening his gifts, he sat there like such a little gentleman and gave each gift his full attention and never got cranky or grabby or anything.  I was so proud of him; it was quite a big day and he did great.  And at the end of the day he was still giving out hugs and kisses. 

After everyone left, we sat and played with a few of his new toys and it seemed like he was still just glowing in the whole experience.  John and I were recounting the whole day for him in story form and he loved hearing it told over and over again.  It was after all, a great first birthday and a great day.  We are so lucky to have such wonderful family and friends.

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Friday, June 20th
I guess you really feel like it is the start of summer when all of your classes and programs end in the same week!  This was the last week of swimming and the last week of Little Gym.  Caden got a ribbon for completing "Polliwogs" and he got a medal for graduating from "Bugs" at Little Gym.  Pretty cute.

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Thursday, June 19th
Caden had a doctor's appointment today for his one-year well baby check-up.  Everything looks great and the doctor was impressed with how Caden is growing up.  His measurements all look good too:

Height = 30 inches (50-75th percentile)
Weight = 21 pounds (25th percentile)
Head Circumference = 44.8 centimeters (10-25th percentile)

Our pediatrician said it's pretty normal to see their weight start to taper off at this age because they become so active.  Considering that this child never stops moving, I'm surprised that he hasn't kicked his metabolism up even higher!  (So why hasn't my weight tapered off too?!)  Anyway, speaking of moving around, Caden was bouncing around the exam room the whole time laughing and cracking everyone up.  When it came time to do the shots though, the party was over.  He got two shots today.  Once she gave them, he had to think about it for a second and then let out a big wail.  That only lasted a second and then he did what he always does:  he homed in on her like a laser and wouldn't take his eyes off her until she left the room.

I remember going to the doctor's office as a kid.  Our doctor had the same nurse all those years until he retired.  Esther.  Thick Latin accent, a bouffant hairdo, painted on eyebrows and plenty of makeup.  She would greet every kid by saying, "Honey... do jew wanna chot?!"  She apparently thought it was a good approach with little kids to offer them shots every time they came to the doctors office.  It didn't matter the reason you were there.  You were always offered a chot.  Ah, the memories.

Seriously though, these vaccines are friggin scary.  I'm sorry...  I'm a big believer in the importance of vaccines but I think this is one of the worst things we've had to ponder so far.  The reality is that we just don't know what some of the side effects are.  It kills me to think that we might be introducing something into our baby that could impair him.  Maybe I've read about too many horror stories.  The risk-versus-benefit choice here just sucks.  We got home and later this afternoon Caden was just not himself.  It's hard to not let your mind wander and think the worst.  We can only pray that he wakes up tomorrow the same ol' wonderful kid.

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Wednesday, June 18th
Even though we're going to have a little birthday party for Caden on Sunday, John and I thought it would be fun to take him out for some big-league birthday celebrating on his real birthday.  So where does a one-year old go?  Well, Chuck E. Cheese's, of course!  Luckily (sadly?), there is one very close to where we live so we went right after John got home from work.  From the moment we walked in the door, Caden was mesmerized.  His mouth was open the whole time (see the photo on the red dog below; that was his expression the whole time).  It was so funny to watch.  The place, is, after all, a bit much to take so I don't blame him.

We sat down and ate their traditional card-board tasting pizza.  It was the first time Caden tasted pizza and he liked it!  Then Chuck E. Cheese himself showed up.  Caden was ok looking at him but when it came to getting close or making contact, he wasn't too keen on it.  He didn't cry but he just wiggled out of Chuck E's touch.

Then it came time to use up our tokens.  Caden rode some of the little rides and we played some games and even played skee-ball.  We ended up with a whopping 78 points to redeem for prizes.  We couldn't wait to see what we were going to win.  A television?  A new microwave?  A popcorn popper?  Uh, not quite.  How about a 3" rubber snake?  It wasn't even worth standing in line for.  We all went home happy anyway, albeit with a little heartburn.

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Tuesday, June 17th
Today Caden turned One.  The Big 0-1.  One year ago today, John and I were driving a hundred miles an hour on Father's Day morning to get to San Bernardino because Candice was in labor and we didn't want to miss Caden's birth.  Luckily, she and Caden waited until we got there and he was born at 5:07 pm.  It is really hard to believe that a whole year has gone by.  Like any parent, we have very mixed emotions about it.  On the one hand, we absolutely hate to see the time go by and see him grow up so fast.  On the other hand, it has been so fun to watch him develop and mature and change every day.  He is an amazing kid and he has changed our lives and brought more joy to us than he will ever know.

In honor of his birthday today, I put together some photos and video to remember back on the past year.  It's a little long but hopefully you'll find a moment to sit down and watch it.

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Monday, June 16th
Oomph!  What a busy weekend.  It was gay pride weekend in San Jose and John and I were in charge of coordinating a ton of activities for our church.  Every year they have a booth at the two-day pride festival and for the past two years, we've built a float for the parade that happens on Sunday.  We volunteered to coordinate it (or got volunteered?) again this year.  It invariably turns out to be a ton of work.  Coordinating volunteers and buying supplies and, well, you name it.  It's actually a huge pain in the ass but we are so happy that our church is willing to do this.  At a time when so many churches are alienating and/or attacking gay people, it's nice to belong to one that is not only accepting, but reaches out.

The San Jose Pride festival and parade is pretty small (and kinda lame) compared to San Francisco's.  After all, almost a half million people watch San Francisco's.  (It is apparently one of the largest parades in the world).  But we still had fun building our float for the San Jose parade anyway.  It was a huge fish with rainbow colors.  John towed the float with his truck and Caden and I walked alongside with the stroller.  There were other members of the church walking as well.  We handed out stuff.  Caden (being the little activist that he is) even had a sign on his stroller.  He was fascinated by the parade and all of the people clapping and cheering for him.  (By the way, gay pride parades are nothing like you see them show on the news; they always pick out the biggest freak possible to televise.  We always hate that - the poor choice of news coverage and the one freak.  There were more churches and families marching in this year's parade than anything else).

So we're getting the float ready before the 10:30 am launch time and I can tell that we're going to run out of time.  We're all scrambling as fast as we can but we're just plain late.  We're still putting some things together when the parade launches and the pretty soon the contingent in front of us starts to move.  Well, we've got to move too.  So everyone is feeling rushed and the organizers are yelling at us on their bull horns to go go go (by the way NEVER give a gay guy a bull horn; they'll suddenly feel like Wonder Woman with special powers).  So we've got little old ladies walking with us and I'm thinking, "Christ, we're going to have a broken hip any moment!"  Pretty soon I pull out my cell phone and call up John (who's driving) and say, "SLOW THE F&%K DOWN!  I DON'T GIVE A F*&K HOW FAST THEY WANT US TO GO... WE'RE GOING TO GO AS SLOW AS WE WANT!  WE SPENT ALL F&CK*NG WEEKEND BUILDING THIS DAMN FLOAT AND I'M NOT GOING TO FLY THIS FISH DOWN THE GAWD D^%M STREET!" 

Nice huh?  Good manners from a church contingent!  Hopefully no one overheard my conversation.  But we slowed down, everyone took a deep breath and we started to have fun.  And there were no broken hips. 

The funny thing is that the next day there was a video on YouTube of the parade and it shows our contingent go by and then suddenly me fly by with my cell phone plastered to my ear yelling something.  Lovely.  Always one parade bitch in the crowd.

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Friday, June 13th
Caden is a really good eater.  He always has been.  He unanimously prefers eating anything that he can feed himself.  He eats chicken, fish, beef, pork and almost all vegetables.  He's not crazy about spicy stuff (yet!).  Most of the time, he shovels food in his mouth faster than we can put it in front of him.

Lately though, he's found a new past-time.  He takes three bites for him and then drops one bite on the floor for the cats.  They circle around his high chair like a school of hammer head sharks.  And the funny thing is he knows what they like.  He never offers them Cheerios or peas or corn.  He only gives them chicken or ham or pork.  Well, this little habit has gotta stop.  I appreciate that he wants to share, but he's doing it mostly because he thinks it is funny.  He gives them a piece of chicken, they all run to get it, and then he laughs... ha ha ha.  Very funny.

So far, I haven't gotten the cats to clean up the floor when there are Cheerios and bananas everywhere.  Geez.  Picky!

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Wednesday, June 11th
Caden's first birthday is coming up in one week!  He got an early birthday present the other day from our friends William and Susan and had quite an interesting reaction to it.  It was kinda my fault though.  Lesson learned, let's say?  And for those of you who say "Caden never cries" - here's proof!

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Tuesday, June 10th
We put together a cool collage of photos of Caden's birth family to hang in his room.  We have a small album of family photos that we show him once in awhile but I wanted something that was going to be more present in his environment to represent how important they are to us.  The photos show his birthmom Candice, her mom Erin and his birthfather Mario.  There are a couple of additional photos from the hospital when he was born.  By having it in his room, I hope he'll grow up learning to recognize them as just part of our family.  Because we don't get to see them very often, I want him to know their names and faces and who they represent.  I know they see him a lot because they visit this blog often, which is great.  It is one of the main reasons I keep it up!   

Open adoption is all about maintaining that relationship between birth family and adoptive family.  We believe Caden will be so much better off as he grows up knowing his birth family, his heritage and his ancestors.  I have talked to so many people who were part of adoption during the "dark ages" when everything was closed, sealed and private.  No one (now) thinks that was a good idea and everyone is now either reconnected or searching for their birth family. 

We're so blessed to have Caden in our lives and we are equally blessed to have an extended family in Candice and Erin too.

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Sunday, June 8th
There was a grass fire near our house today.  We were actually driving home and noticed the smoke so we pulled over, checked it out and called the folks over at the 911.  And being the gawking, rubber-necking, lookie-lou's that we are, we of course had to stay to watch!  It was burning off of a remote trail below a row of houses on a grassy hill.  When I talked to the dispatcher I told her where it was and she said they initially had it reported in a different area.  I knew fire wasn't going to find it and, well, they didn't.  They arrived on scene and ended up circling around out on the roadway for awhile until they finally figured out that they needed to drive in on the trail.  But that little delay gave us a bunch of time to go GAWK at the fire which was COOL!

And of course I had my new tiny video camera with me so I had to capture it all.  Caden seemed totally unimpressed.  Of course, he might be a little biased.  He's only 11 months old and I've already told him that firefighters just work-out all day, they make the paramedics do all the real work, and they earn huge pensions that are draining our local governments dry and result in cuts in story time at the library. 

He does like to look at the big red fire trucks though.  And his Papa makes pretty good siren noise impressions.  He'll probably grow up to be a City Manager.



Saturday, June 7th
If you ask John, he'd tell you that I'm not one of those people who gets all excited about new gadgets.  Getting new toys like cameras or computers is just not a life-altering kind of experience for me like it is for some people.  But I think I have an exception to make.  I heard about a new kind of video camera that lots of people are buying and raving about and so I looked it up online.  All of the reviews were really positive so I decided to buy one.  It's called The Flip.  It is A W E S O M E !  And the best part is that it only cost $129.  It is tiny and the video quality is really great.

Just after Caden was born, we did tons of research on video cameras and ended up buying something good but not horribly expensive.  But the thing that sucks about it is that it is really hard to download the videos from it.  It takes 19 steps and 14 cords.  It's stupid.  It kind of makes you hesitate using it.  The cool thing about the Flip is that you just plug it right into your computer and it downloads directly. 

Anyway, for a guy that doesn't get overly excited about gadgets, I love this one!  And fortunately (or perhaps unfortunately) for you, there will probably be lots more videos for you to watch!

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Thursday, June 5th
We're starting to hear lots more words these days.  A lot of them make no sense to us of course, but I'm sure all of them make perfect sense to Caden.  He is getting pretty good at saying "Papa" and will sometimes say "Daddy" (not often enough for John!) but his favorite word right now is: balloon.  Or at least in Caden speak, it is "BhOOOn".  He was first introduced to a balloon when the three of us were having a cheesy (literally and figuratively) dinner at Chevy's on Cinco de Mayo.  I think it might have been a kind of religious experience for him because he hasn't been the same since.  He is completely crazy about balloons.  Anything that looks like a balloon is referred to as BhOOOn.  We have some decorative lanterns hanging outside on our patio... BhOOOn.  Whenever he sees anything up in the sky like an airplane or kite... BhOOOn.  He looks up at the big florescent lights in the grocery store... BhOOOn. 

I went into his room this afternoon after he'd been down for his nap and immediately upon opening the door, I got a telling whiff that a diaper change was needed - and soon.  Ever since this kid has been eating protein, he has the stench of a portapottie at a Tamale Festival.  He was in his usual spot, standing up at the corner of his crib waiting for me to come in to get him.  I said my usual "Hey!, look who woke up!" thing and he promptly spit out his pacifier and blurted out "I POOPED" and then laughed.  So then I laughed.  And of course I had to ask him... "What did you say?"  Which he answered again with "I POOPED" clear as day.  Then we both laughed - a lot.  "You certainly did, son."   Oh, the small victories in learning the English language.  (And all that corn from Tuesday is still coming out!).

So here we are... before he even says "Papa" or "Daddy" or "Grandma" on a regular basis, he's already got his vernacular down on the bodily functions.  He'll fit right in with this family.

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Tuesday, June 3rd
Caden ate corn for the first time tonight and based on his reaction, we think he liked it.  Crazy is more like it.  I think it served two purposes: it was good for dinner and it probably helped the teething a little bit too.  We like to have dinner outside on our patio whenever we can.

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Monday, June 2nd
Our friends Bob and Karin from the adoption group were nice enough to share some more photos from yesterday's picnic.  Bob got some awesome shots of the little ones.  I especially love this one of Caden with their son Anthony.  He is so adorable and has the cutest giggle.

They were fascinated with each other's hats.



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Sunday, June 1st
Here comes summer!  We had an action packed weekend.  Not only did we have the park opening yesterday but we went to the Greek Festival in the afternoon and then a baseball game last night.  Caden was in party mode the whole time; we couldn't believe it.  John and I got cranky before Caden did! 

Today we went to the annual picnic sponsored by our adoption agency.  It was a lot of fun to see other parents and kids who are also part of the adoption family.  We saw a couple of friends we met in local group support meetings.  It's amazing how fast all of the babies are growing up!  I wanted to catch Caden and his two little buddies in a photo (left to right is Eoin, Anthony, and Caden).  Have you ever seen three cuter little munchkins?  It was also a great opportunity to meet some other adoptive parents from the Bay Area.

It's going to continue to be a busy summer.  We have something on the calendar every weekend until the end of July!  How did that happen?  We're usually such boring people.

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