Sunday, November 28, 2010

Christmas Time is Here

Our house at twilight:

As you can see, Kaden is anxiously awaiting the approaching festivities:
Only 15 working days until Christmas vacation. 

Not that I'm counting . . .

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Goodnight Moon

Tonight, after I nursed Kaden and tried to put him down, he started to cry.  He was not interested in sleep.  I swaddled him up, cuddled Mr. Swaddle Bug on my lap and we read this together:

He stopped crying and stared at the pictures while I read him one of the simplest stories ever written.

Then I sang him a lullaby and rocked him to sleep (because I do naughty things like that instead of letting him "learn to self soothe" in his crib).

My mom read this book to me, and Chad's mom read this book to him.

Kaden loves to be read to, and I think that is awesome.  Some of our other favorites at three months old are If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, Corduroy, Hop on Pop, Guess How Much I Love You?, and The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (OK, so I might have lied about that last one).

On Friday, I had a conversation with one of my student's parents.  He failed my class last nine weeks, and his father is obviously concerned about his grade.  This is how my favorite line in the conversation went:

"Well, he hates to read.  I hate to read, and his mother hates to read.  There ain't nothin' we can do about that."

It's times like this that I am thankful I'm having a conversation over the telephone and not in real life.  This way, I can make whatever facial expressions I want and no one is the wiser.  Luckily, since it was only day two in my return to public education, and I have yet to reach the state of exhaustion that will likely accompany the end of the semester, I was able to refrain from making the following comments I wanted to make:

"That is an extremely sad and uneducated comment."

"Perhaps your child's lack of interest in my subject area should warrant his removal from an HONORS level course."

"Perhaps we can do something about his laziness, even if you seem to lack the skill to spark his interest in reading."

I do not know if Kaden will be a reader when he grows up.  I certainly hope so, but I also know I can't choose what my child will love.  I'm not going to deceive myself into thinking that because he will snuggle with me and enjoy a picture book now he'll be a bookworm when he's older.  Having said that, my mom certainly shaped me into the reader I am today.

I am thankful for a mom who held me in her arms while she read me Goodnight Moon.  And I'm glad it didn't stop there.  I am thankful for a mom who giggled with me while we read all of the Ramona Quimby books together, and all of the other chapter books she snuggled with me through at bedtime.  Most of all, I'm thankful that she talked to me about what I read while I was in high school.  I'm thankful she littered our house with books and that I saw her reading them.  Books on the night stand.  Books in the bathroom.  Books on the kitchen counter.  Always books.  It's still that way.  One of my favorite parts about going home is seeing what new books are hiding in various parts of my parents' house--there's always something to read and talk about. 

Mom, I am so glad you're a reader.

And I'm so glad that I get to read to my little boy.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Half Baked

This is my favorite ice cream.  It is sold in expensive pints in the freezer department of nearly every grocery store next to much more practical choices: affordable half gallons of other brands.

If you can't read the description printed below the flavor, allow me to help you.  Each pint reads:  Chocolate and Vanilla Ice Creams mixed with Fudge Brownies and Gobs of Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough.  Now I ask you, what isn't to love about a calorie fest of that variety?

I first fell for this ice cream on a late night chocolate run with my mom and I have never looked back.

When I lived in London, it was not unheard of for my friend Steph and I to occasionally brave the drunk-infested streets late at night in search of this ice cream.  The Blockbuster a few blocks away had a freezer chest stacked full of them.  We were lured there by the exceptional price of two pints for five pounds.  (Unfortunately, two pints for five pounds is not the same thing as two pints for five dollars, and even that wouldn't have been that amazing of a deal. . .)

I am thrifty, and my husband is even more so (some might venture to call him cheap).  We do not usually buy Ben and Jerry's ice cream; it is simply too expensive.   Our freezer is only graced with its presence for very important occasions, some happy and some sad.

For example, Chad might surprise me with a pint for my birthday.  Happy.

Or, Chad might surprise me with a pint after a PMS induced meltdown.  Sad.

After Kaden was born, my mother-in-law brought me a pint of Half Baked in the hospital.  It was heavenly.

Thursday, Chad brought me a pint of ice cream back with him after his grocery store run.

You see, I went back to work on Wednesday.

I pretty much cried for a week straight beforehand.  I would be playing with Kaden while I changed his diaper, and I would burst into tears and say, "I want to stay home with you all the time!" or I would watch him get this huge smile on his face, the tears would gush down my cheeks, and I would proclaim, "How can I ever leave you?!"

On Wednesday, I cried when I kissed Kaden goodbye.

I cried while I pulled out of the driveway.

I cried all the way down Cary Road.

And all the way to North Lenoir High School.

Once I made it to school, I was fine.  I taught three classes filled with wonderful students who missed me.  It felt good to be missed.  I saw all of my colleagues, people I love.  It was a good day.

Thursday was Veteran's Day.  Thank goodness, no school.

I cried Thursday night, not wanting to go back to work on Friday.

I cried Friday morning on my way to work.

I am crying now while I write this post, thinking I will have to go back on Monday.

The cycle continues . . .  

Chad has pointed out that Kaden is not going to prison.  He's not being kept from me for the rest of his life.  In fact, he is staying with his Gigi, who loves him and will spoil him rotten.

I know this.

I know he is in good hands.  I know that he is fine.  I know that he is happy.  I know all of this.

But it is still hard.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Kaden's Blessing Day, October 31, 2010

The main reason my family flew back to North Carolina with me was so they could be there for Kaden's blessing day.  My mom made his blessing outfit, and it was absolutely precious.  It was also the Primary program on Sunday, so I had a very busy day since I am in the Primary presidency.  Thankfully my mom and grandma were there to help get Kaden dressed (we took him to church in a different outfit in case he decided to desecrate whatever he was wearing before Sacrament meeting) and keep him happy.  Chad gave Kaden a beautiful blessing, and it was a very special day.  Thus, the picture overload:

All the family who came for Kaden's special day:
 The men who participated in the blessing with Chad:  Dad Jensen, Papa, Chad, Tyler, Uncle Craig, and Dad Reese.
 Kaden with Gigi and Poppy:
 Kaden with Grandpa and Grandma:
 With my parents:
 Four generations:
Kaden with his Gram:
Our family:
 Cousinly Love:
 Kenzie with Gigi and Mommy:
 With Chad's parents:
 Another four generations:
 Kaden talking to his Gigi:
 Chad with his siblings (minus Cameron, who's on his mission. . . tear):
 Time out for fun:
 With Lauren and Tyler:

 Sad Kaden:
 "It's OK," says Mackenzie:
 In his darling outfit:

 I am so thankful for my Kaden boy, and I am so thankful that he has a wonderful daddy who could give him a name and a blessing.  

The Cutest Pumpkin in the Patch

Chad was very disappointed when I brought home a pumpkin costume for Kaden this year.  He was hoping for something a little less generic.  My thoughts were Joy and I scored big time finding a costume for $4.99 at Once Upon a Child that didn't look raggedy.  He was a little fluff ball, and Chad kept telling him, "I'm so sorry; this wasn't my fault."

 Kaden, meet your cousin Ladybug:

 And your Aunt, The Cheshire Cat:

 Here's our Trunk or Treat trunk this year. (It actually looked way cooler in person.  We had lots of glow sticks to add to the eerie effect.)

All tuckered out in Grandma's lap after the excitement:


I spent most of the time with the primary children, trying to entertain them while their parents played Bingo and won giant cakes.  Not to bad for Kaden's first Halloween. 

Cousin Bonding

When we came back from Utah, we were also able to see Meredith and Mackenzie who had been visiting while we were away.  Luckily we caught them at the tail end of their trip.  Mackenzie was so much fun this time.  Her little personality is precious; she is at such a fun age!  Kenzie loved Kaden and was such a good helper.  She wanted to help feed Kaden his bottle, change his diaper (which one night resulted in catastrophe when he peed all over her, I screamed, and she started bawling), rock him to sleep when he was in his car seat, sing him songs, and she would tell him, "It's okay," whenever he was crying.  It was so sweet.  I know they will make great playmates some day when he's a little bigger and she can boss him around.  She was a little confused at first because Kaden sounded a little too much like Katie.  If she wasn't calling him "Bebe," she was calling him Aunt Katie (or Annnn Kayeee in Kenzie language).     

We went to the nature center one day to spend some time together.  Kaden slept through the entire outing in the stroller, but Mackenzie still had a good time (despite the broken train she wanted to ride).

It was fun spending time with them while they were here.  I wish they lived closer so we could do more things together!

Kaden's First Beach Trip

While my family was here visiting, we drove to New Bern for the day so Grandma Joy could see her old stomping grounds (New Bern is where she graduated from high school).  We had a great day window shopping and eating yummy food.  We also drove down to Atlantic Beach so they could see the ocean.  It was a beautiful day!  We still bundled up Mr. Kaden, because of the fall breeze.

Time in Utah

After Bryan's wedding weekend, Chad flew home, and Kaden and I stayed behind to spend some more time with my family.  Before the actual wedding, we did drive up the canyon on Sunday afternoon to take a few family pictures.  Aunt Arianne snapped the photos, and Chad added a few post-processing touches when we came home. 

I didn't take very many pictures during the two weeks I was there.  At all.  To me, that is a sign that we were having such fun that there wasn't time to go find the camera.  (OK, we were having fun, but really it's a sign of pure laziness on my part.  Oh, well.)

While in Utah I did a lot of eating.  Food chains I hit up while in Utah include: Cafe Rio, In-N-Out Burger, The Pie, & Panda Express.  It's amazing what you miss when you can't get it where you live.  I also devoured homemade chicken salad (It is a constant battle between Chad and myself how chicken salad should be prepared.  Being from the west coast I grew up eating a completely different variety than my hubby, and I always beg my mom to make some when I go home.), snicker doodles, and probably about five pans of brownies.  Caffeine-free Dr. Pepper was my beverage of choice pretty much the entire time I was home.  By some miracle I actually lost weight while I was there, so maybe I need to adopt a similar eating plan now that I am home . . .

We did go out shopping a few times, but mostly we just lazed about and spent time together.  It was nice.  Below are a few pictures we did capture while I was out west.

 Kaden relaxing in the tub:
 Kaden loved his Uncle Jared:

 Discovering how handsome he is in the mirror:
Luckily for me, my parents and grandma flew back out to North Carolina with me.  I say luckily because what was supposed to be a two flight trip home from Salt Lake to Denver, and then Denver to Raleigh turned into a trip from Salt Lake to Denver (delayed departure, meaning we missed our connecting flight), Denver to St. Louis, St. Louis to Nashville, Nashville to Raleigh.  We were supposed to get in a little after five in the evening, but didn't get in until after 11:00 instead.  To add interest to the experience, the airline also managed to lose all of our luggage.  It was about 2:00 a.m. by the time we made it home.  That is a long day with an almost three month old.  Kaden was still very good.  We only had one melt down while trying to get him to nurse in the Denver airport, and one blowout on the plane while the fasten seat belt sign was on.  (At that point, I waited for the flight attendant to be otherwise engaged and adopted a philosophy taught to me by my friend Steph:  "It is better to ask for forgiveness than permission.")
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