Sunday, November 27, 2011

Black Friday

Once a year, I brave the elements and risk my life for discounts on products I don't really need.  Once a year, as I melt into a puddle of exhaustion following the aforementioned excursion, I question my sanity.  What is it about Black Friday that is so irresistible to me?  I honestly don't know.  But even last year, when I was my infant’s only source of food and could only venture out for a few hours, I didn’t miss it.  I couldn’t miss it.  I had to go. 

This year, the sales began earlier than ever before, which was a bit unsettling for a purist like me.  I don't want to sound like an old geezer telling, "Back in my day" stories in a nursing home, but honestly, I don't like this stores-open-at-midnight garbage.  Not cool.  Luckily, the biggest ticket item I was after was a Sonicare toothbrush, so I didn't have to sacrifice family time on Thanksgiving day to sleep in a tent outside of Best Buy like some loonies.  I did, however, leave my home at 9:15 on Thursday night and was chauffeured to the Goldsboro Target by one of my favorite people and shopping buddies, my sister-in-law, Lauren.

We immediately got in the line (which already reached the end of the building) and started to wait.  And wait.  And wait some more.  It was cold.  Luckily, even though my husband seemed to think it was going to be 65 degrees outside (this is the same man who once told me it never gets cold in North Carolina when I asked him what to pack for my sister-in-law's wedding in November) and that I wouldn't need a coat, I had decided not to trust his opinion on this issue.  My bright red, puffy coat kept my upper half nice and toasty, and the fact that I paired it with a bright green scarf, orange sweatshirt, and blue toboggan made it an especially stellar fashion choice.  Luckily, Lauren loved me enough to still stand next to me. 

As the line at Target grew, so did our tobacco consumption.  While I didn't puff a single cigarette, I can guarantee I inhaled a pack and a half of nicotine through second hand smoke.  We were surrounded by smokers, none of whom seemed too concerned about where their smoke was blowing.  At about 11:00, we started making a list of everything we would remember to bring next year:

1.  Lawn chairs
2.  Supplies for a hot cocoa and warm cookie stand, so we can make a killing (Seriously, why has no one maximized on this profit potential?!)
3.  Hand warmers for our pockets
4.  Long underwear
5.  Longer socks
6.  Blankets

Just about the time that I thought I might die from a cigarette smoke induced headache, we heard the huge cheer signaling that the doors were being opened.  We prepared to run.  Target uses very organized methods on Black Friday, so we had received maps while waiting in line, and we knew exactly where our items were hiding.  Lauren was going to charge for the GPS and portable DVD player on our list (luckily they were stashed in the same display in none other than the grocery department), while I hit the healthcare aisle in search of the electric toothbrush.

Target also only allows a certain number of customers to enter the store every fifteen seconds.  This also helps in containing some of the chaos.  Some, but not all.  It never fails.  Every Black Friday there are the same people, trying to sneak in line (like those of us who have frozen our tails off for the last gazillion hours are going to somehow magically not notice that they have pushed their toasty-from-the-well-heated-car behind in front of us).  A lot of the time, these people get away with their mischief, but nothing makes me happier than seeing those individuals get what they deserve.  It is like a little piece of justice in an unjust world.  This year, a blonde middle-aged woman in a pink sweatshirt had the nerve to tell the security guard that, "There is no sign saying I have to wait in line," also adding that she would, "need to speak to your manager."  No sign?  Here's your sign, Pinky!

This is when my love for Black Friday really comes into play.  Suddenly, it doesn't matter that no one in line has known each other longer than a few hours.  We are suddenly comrades, brothers in arms.  We have fought the good fight, and we're darned if we're going to let anybody reap the benefits of our hard work.  The people in front of us were linking arms to barricade the woman's attempt to pass.  The cigarette-puffing broad behind us was vocalizing the fact that her boots, "weren't made for walking, they were made for kicking *ss."  My sister-in-law and I had no problem snitching to the employee at the entrance with a walkie-talkie by saying, "It's her!  The one in the pink sweatshirt!  Don't let her in!!!"  Nothing made my heart happier than leaving the store, my desired purchases tucked neatly in my plastic bag, and seeing Pinky still being held in custody outside.  Waiting her turn like everyone else.

After Target, we had a decision to make.  Belk was giving out gift cards ranging from $5 to $1,000 to the first 250 customers, and their doors opened at 3 a.m.  It was now only about fifteen minutes after midnight, so we thought we might have a shot at getting one, depending on the length of the line.  We wanted to get some hot chocolate at the Starbucks inside Target, but decided not to chance it.  What if there were already 248 people in line?  The potential for that $1,000 shopping spree was too enticing.  In hindsight, we should have gotten the hot chocolate.

The two lines at Belk looked pretty promising.  We hopped in line behind a woman who had braved Walmart for a Power Wheel jeep for her daughter.  As much as I love Black Friday, you could never pay me enough to go to a Wal-Mart for the occasion.  Have you been to Wal-Mart on a regular shopping day?  What about that experience would suggest that a $2 waffle iron is worth a trip there during a time that promises a battle to the death with thousands of other crazed customers?  It was while in line at Belk that I learned why bums sleep on cardboard.  Lauren had a piece in her car, and we plopped right down on that sucker.  Sitting in line is so much better than standing in line (see item #1 on list of things to remember for next year).

About an hour into our wait outside of Belk, we started to realize that there were way too many rule-breakers at this location.  The line in front of us wasn’t getting longer, but it was certainly getting thicker, as people came and joined their “friends” who had been saving them places in line.  The thicker the line became, the thinner our dreams of getting a gift card.  After a brief discussion, we decided to leave and go to a store that was already open, so we didn’t have to sit out and freeze for what was likely to be $5, if anything. 

Maybe I’m getting old, but when we saw the line to checkout at Old Navy, we walked straight back to the car.  Nothing in that store was worth waiting in that line.  We decided to drive back to Kinston, pick up some McDonald’s, and try our luck at the Belk there, since we knew most people had probably gone out of town to do their Black Friday shopping.  We figured we could then hit up the JC Penny at the mall there before going home.

We were devastated when the McDonald’s wasn’t open, but we met some delightful friends in the line outside of Belk.  We got to hear about the wedding plans of one line buddy’s son, shared our cardboard and airline blanket with an elderly woman, and listened to the woman in front of us recount the pepper spray incident she had witnessed at Wal-Mart a few hours earlier.  (Remember what I said about Wal-Mart?  Heed my advice people:  nothing there can possibly be worth it!)  We both got gift cards, although neither of us was the lucky $1,000 winner.  Lauren got $5 and I got $10.

We finished up at JC Penny a little before six, and after a Bojangle’s bacon, egg, and cheese biscuit, I was snuggled warm in my bed.  I woke up three hours later.  When I really stop to think about it, nothing I purchased was something I desperately needed.  The sleep-deprived stupor I spent all of Friday and part of Saturday in was not a delightful experience.  I still have to do some Christmas shopping.  I can’t justify the six hours between midnight and daylight that I spent shopping.  I don’t know why I did it.  But I will tell you this, the time I spent crumpled in a tired heap on a dressing room floor, giggling with my sister-in-law, was pretty much priceless.  There is just something about Black Friday that keeps me coming back year after year.  Maybe it’s OK that I can’t quite decide why.   

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Our Life is About to Change

In a big way.

Last night, Chad and I bought a lottery ticket.

Sinful.  I know.

We were at the gas station and the billboard next door was proclaiming in giant red letters that the jackpot had reached a whopping $245 million, and we caved.  Consider it our donation to the NC education system.  (Speaking of, WHERE is that money going to in the education system, anyway?)

It's pretty clear to me that this is the solution to our unemployment situation.  Why hasn't Chad found a job yet?  Oh, because we're about to become millionaires!  It's all making so much more sense now. 

Don't worry, I won't forget about any of you when I wake up tomorrow fabulously wealthy.  

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

All of That Practicing Really Paid Off

Kaden actually roared like a lion after every prompt of, "What does a lion say, Kaden?" while trunk-or-treating/trick-or-treating.

His costume was a huge hit.  A huge shout out goes to my mom for making it happen. Considering my only contribution to the project was cutting out the pieces and sewing a great deal of the body with basting stitches, which had to be reinforced by her later, I owe it all to my mom.  (If you're reading this, the mane was magnificent, mom.  I'm sorry it took so long to make.) 

We took some pretty awesome videos of the lion cub in action.  Unfortunately, it is late, and they are taking forever to upload, so I'll have to post those later.  

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Kaden, 14 Months

I just realized, after writing my depressing post about my day at school, that Kadester is 14 months old today.  So, to make myself feel better, I am going to post adorable pictures of my child and write about all of the precious things he is currently doing.

At 14 months old, Kaden . . .
  • Is talking!  Is it terrible that I'm not sure what his first word was?  I'm really not sure what his first word was.  In retrospect, I'm pretty sure he was saying some words long before we realized he was saying words if that makes any sense . . . Regardless, some of the words Kaden currently says are Dada, Mama, nana (meaning banana), cheese (He has woken up in the morning screaming this one.  That's how much he loves string cheese!), shoe, dog, duck (and quack), fish, bye-bye, this (Meaning, what is this? or I want this.  He always says this as he points at things.), guck (meaning yuck), truck, tree, Gigi, and roars like a lion when asked "What does a lion say?" (We are getting ready for Halloween.)  He tries to say Tip-Top (the name of his stuffed giraffe).  He has said blue and green, but he doesn't use these that frequently.  In addition, he wanders around the house speaking in some language that we cannot understand.
  • Loves to talk on the phone.  He holds the phone up to his ear and wanders around the house babbling away in his foreign tongue.  The best part of this is he has to be walking around to talk.  One day he was in his high chair and he kept pointing at my cellphone.  He had a melt down until I took him out of the chair so he could run around the house while he talked.
  • Loves, loves, LOVES to be outside and has a meltdown at the back door when he can't go outside and wants to. 
  • Loves watching cars and trucks.  Since the hurricane, there have been lots of extra dump trucks, waste trucks, and backhoes roaming the streets of Kinston, and he can't get enough of them.  He is pure boy.  We went to a yard sale on Saturday and they were selling a go-cart.  Kaden immediately climbed right into the driver's seat. 
  • Loves spending time with our neighbors, the Howards.  Kaden is in love with Stephanie and her kids.  They steal him to go on lots of walks, to feed the fish in a friend's pond, and to jump on the trampoline.  
  • Loves animals.  He is infatuated with the dog, Ginger, that our neighbors watch.  He also likes to pet the dogs next door through the fence.  He is enamored with the YouTube video of the Welsh Corgi puppy.  It doesn't matter how sad he is, all you have to do is turn on that video, and he breaks into a HUGE grin.   
  • Loves to kick and throw whatever resembles a ball.
  • Is obsessed with shoes.  He carries them all over the house.  I am constantly looking for one of my shoes.
  • Throws things away.  All the time.  This is a dangerous one.  We have found the remote control in the trashcan before.  In keeping with his shoe obsession, I find at least one of my shoes in the trashcan daily.  Lucky are the days when we find things in a fresh, unsoiled garbage bag.  Unlucky are the days when it's the opposite.  

  • Has figured out how to lift the toilet seat and throw things into the toilet bowl.  This is a fun one.  We have sanitized a few items in boiling water due to this discovery.  He hasn't figured out how to flush...yet.  
  • Is trying to learn to jump, but can't figure it out yet.  This is hilarious to watch.  
  • Can climb up onto furniture and get down by crawling backwards.  
  • Likes to smell things, especially candles.  On our walk the other day, he spent a good chunk of time smelling the flowers.
  • Loves to wrestle and rough house with Daddy. 
  • Loves to read books by himself and loves to be read to. (This is one of the few times he'll sit still on your lap.)
  • Helps do chores around the house.  He will help me put the wet laundry into the dryer (and run away with wet onesies that I have to collect later), and he will wipe up the floor if he spills milk or juice from his sippy cup. 
  • Now has six teeth.  The two newest just popped through.  
  • Still considers Tip Top to be his best buddy.  He loves that stuffed giraffe.  It is precious watching him give Tip Top loves.  

  • Has had his first haircut and now looks like a little boy instead of a baby.  (A longer post with video and up-to-date pictures to follow.)

I love this little guy with all of my heart!

Dear Future English Teachers of My Son,

I am not going to make a lot of false promises here.  I know the danger in pledging "my child will never."  I have been warned this phrase can come back to bite you.  Therefore, I will not promise that my child will always do his homework, or that he will never use Spark Notes as a last resort to understand early British literature, or even that he will never talk in class.  He will probably do each of these things.  For this I am sorry.

I can, however, promise you a few things:

My child will never use the f-word repeatedly in your class and then direct the f-word at you when you ask him to leave.

My child will never tell you to "get out of my face" and "mind your own business" when you ask him to put away his cell phone.

My child will never turn and walk away while you are conversing with him individually, trying to help remedy a problem situation.

Here's why I can promise you this:  I am an actual parent.  I understand that my obligations to my offspring extend beyond giving birth.  That means I am going to teach my son to respect not only his teachers but other members of the human race in general.  If my child ever does choose to behave in any of the ways outlined above, I promise you he will be afraid to come home. 

A teacher who spent her planning period in tears, while filling out discipline forms instead of grading

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Myrtle Beach Trip, September 2011

Over the second weekend in September, Joy and Bruce took all of us (that are currently living in North Carolina) on a trip to Myrtle Beach in South Carolina.

In true Kaden fashion we started out the vacation very cautious and uncertain:

Then, once acclimated, had a lot of fun:

 On this trip, I learned a few things:

1)  My child will always have a better tan than me, even though he wears three coats of SPF 50.

2)  There are perks to having a husband who isn't overly crazy about the beach.  Almost every time Kaden was napping, Chad stayed in the hotel room with him, and I got to soak up the sun.  Alone.  With a magazine.  With only the gentle sound of waves breaking on the shore disturbing what would otherwise be silence.  Heaven. 

3)  There are few things I enjoy more than playing card games late at night with family.  Even though they have to reteach me the rules every time we play, and even though I am seldom the winner, there is something therapeutic about laughing so hard I can't breathe.

4)  Vacations never last long enough.

Thanks, Joy and Bruce for taking us with you!  We had a great time!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Hurricane Irene

Once, while I was pregnant, a tornado was sighted outside of Kinston.  My mother-in-law called me to tell me this, since at the time we had no TV.  She told me to go into our tiny bathroom (the most interior part of our house), sit on the toilet, and wait until she called me to tell me it was OK to leave.  I quickly did so.  A few minutes later, the hubster called me.  Our conversation went something like this:

Chad -- Hey, where are you?

Katie -- I'm sitting in our bathroom.  Your mom just called and said there's a tornado watch for Kinston.  Where are you?

Chad -- I'm out in the parking lot watching this storm.  This is awesome!

That's when images of me as a single parent began flashing before my eyes.

The husband and I have a very different outlook on the power of mother nature.  That's why when the weather channel started covering Hurricane Irene's approach to our coastline 24/7, he relished in it, while I contemplated quitting my job, taking Kaden, and moving in with my parents until the mess blew over.

This was my first hurricane, and I've got to tell you, I don't like them.

We were very lucky.  The damage we suffered at the hands of Irene consisted mostly of an emotional kind, as we yearned for the power of electricity to restore air conditioning to our lives.  Our car took a heavy beating from the masses of shingles that fell from Bruce and Joy's house, so we will have to pay for a new paint job, but we still have a car.  The four massive pine trees on the corner of our lot were still standing when we came home to survey the damage, and our house (other than flooded air-conditioning ducting) was fine.  We are so grateful for the huge blessing this is. 

Others, didn't fare so well:

We moved in with my in-laws the Friday before the big storm, because we knew it was going to get ugly in the wee hours of the morning on Saturday.  Fearing the giant pine trees in the corner of our lawn, and our single-paned-stone-age windows, we packed for our weekend getaway and left our house behind.

After we lost power early on Saturday morning, we enjoyed watching the storm from the safety of the back porch.  Kaden thought it was awesome watching the trees bending back and forth.  He just kept pointing and staring. 

No power from Saturday through Tuesday meant we had a lot of time to bond as a family.  We cooked on Tyler and Lauren's camping stove, Kaden became Poppy's shadow (that boy loves his Poppy), and we played lots and lots of Fill or Bust.  Kaden got to take all of his baths with his daddy in Gigi and Poppy's jacuzzi tub, since the other tubs were mid-renovation.   

Bruce and Joy have a generator, which we used to run the fridge and freezers (we all moved groceries from our individual houses to one central location, trying to save some of our food) and an occasional lamp and fan.  They were so generous to let all of us invade their home for so long.

Power lines were down everywhere.  Driving around after the storm to survey the damage showed just how powerful Irene was.

Our house didn't get power until late Wednesday night and we didn't move home until Thursday.  School was cancelled for students until Friday, but I had to go on Wednesday and Thursday as "work days."  I have never realized how much I love being able to turn on a light switch, turn down the thermostat, and plug in a fan.     

This experience also made me realize how important it is to be prepared for a state of emergency.  We were very blessed to only have to deal with a loss of electricity.  I can't imagine how difficult this would have been without running water.

Hurricane season runs through November 30th.  I hope we don't have to get on a first name basis with any more.

For your viewing pleasure, here is Hurricane Irene, just gearing up:

Here she is with a little more zest:

And here's Kaden, composing his first concerto with the help of his uncle, while we were waiting out the storm:

Friday, August 19, 2011

Hi Ho, Hi Ho, It's . . . Back . . . to Work I Go

In January, I happily resigned from my position as a high school English teacher, so I could become a full-time mom.  I have loved every minute of it.  When I announced my intentions, I got a mixed response.  From most, I heard various renditions of, "I'm so happy for you!"  and "You're so lucky."  From others, I got a quizzical, blank stare that seemed to say, "You're going to do what?"  Having the chance to be home with Kaden has been one of the greatest blessings of my life.  It has been so much fun to see him grow and change every day.  When I submitted my resignation, I fully intended to return to teaching (a job I honestly feel I was born to do) at some point in the future.  My idea of the future was WAY in the future.  You know, like when my youngest and last child (yet to be conceived, born, or named) entered middle school.

Then Chad lost his job.

Wow.  We really are still in a recession depression, and it really can affect us.

There's nothing like experiencing the reality of unemployment.

He filled out dozens of job applications, we prayed, and we waited.

And we waited some more.

And we waited some more.

I waited for Heavenly Father to answer our prayers in the perfect package I was envisioning--a great new job for Chad, and uninterrupted stay-at-home-mommy-hood for me.  It turns out, what I really got was a reminder that I'm not in charge, and that sometimes I need a lesson in trust and patience.

I had contacted my former principal immediately after Chad was laid off to see if there was a chance there were any English teaching positions available at my old school.  He had literally filled my former position two days before I called.  I told him to let me know if anything became available, strongly doubting anything would.

In July, while I was visiting my parents in Utah, I got a call from the principal who said a position had unexpectedly come available, and if I wanted it, it was mine.  I cried when I got off the phone, because while I knew it was a great blessing, it wasn't the blessing I had really wanted.  (I know that is a really selfish way to feel, but it's how I felt.)  A lot of prayer, a Priesthood blessing, and a trip to the temple later, I accepted the position with a lot of peace in my heart. 

There are so many small things to be thankful for about this entire situation:
  • I have a degree.  Thank goodness I had a degree!
  • Chad gets to stay home with Kaden, until he finds a new job.
  • Chad is an awesome dad, so I know Kaden's in good hands.
  • I am going back to a job I enjoy. 
  • I get to use a talent I have been given to (hopefully) bless others.
  • I have two honors classes first semester.
  • I am teaching subjects I have taught before, which will help immensely with cutting down lesson planning time.
  • At least I'm off by 3:15, instead of 5:00.
  • I get to work with a department of teachers I love and respect.  
  • I am going back to a school where I already know the ropes.
  • I get my old room back, student-painted ceiling tiles and all.
  • Chad was paid through July and I get paid in August.  We won't have to go a single month without a paycheck.  That is huge.
  • I got to see Kaden reach every major milestone of his first year. (Well, we are still waiting on the blasted first word, but maybe I'll still hear it.)
I'm already in the midst of teacher work days, and I'm getting excited for the year to get started.  One thing that's wonderful about my profession is the reality that every year is a fresh new start, and you can reinvent everything about yourself and your curriculum that you want.  I love that about teaching.  It will probably be an interesting few weeks of transitioning, but I know it will all work out.     

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Kaden's Birthday Shin-Dig

We celebrated Kaden's birthday on Saturday with a small family party.  Included in the family circle were the Hills, who are our dear family friends (I cannot count the number of pedicures Madison gave me while I was pregnant with swollen ankles), and the Howards, the family Kaden adores who also happen to live right across the street from us (the day I move will be a sad day, because I will no longer have Stephanie and her kids to come randomly take Kaden on walks at the exact moment I need a break).  Call me crazy, but the kid was turning one, and I didn't feel like throwing a real party with a bunch of random munchkins tearing up our house.  So instead it was a mostly adult party with a few darling kiddos--Kaden being the youngest by far, and thus the center of attention (a place we all know he hates to be . . . cough . . . cough . . . ).   My biggest fear is that someone's feelings will be hurt over not coming to Kaden's birthday party, so I just want to set the record straight--NOBODY came, it wasn't just you.  Small  family gathering!  Please, please, please don't be offended.  OK?  Good.  Phew!  Got that one out of the way. 

I have wanted to throw a circus party ever since stumbling upon this darling party-scape from the folks here.  I fell in love with the baby blue/red color combo, and knew I had to do something with it.  Chad has been mocking me for months over my Pinterest obsession, particularly over my pinning of birthday party ideas, but it all came in rather handy when it came time to put the party together. The website even had printables to use for the cupcake toppers and invitations. Chad didn't like the idea of a circus theme at all (there must have been some terrifying moment in his past that involved a psychotic clown?), but he neglected to voice his strong disdain for the circus until I had already purchased a lot of the materials for the decorations, so I did it anyway.  It wasn't hugely circus-fied, so I think he was OK with it in the end.    

I made all the decorations, and they turned out rather cute, in my humble opinion.

We had hot dogs, watermelon, cantaloupe, chips and dip, and cupcakes to eat, while we watched the darling video Chad made to document Kaden's first year of life.  (Luckily I watched it ahead of time, so I could cry then, and not while all of the party guests watched my mascara smear.)  And as if Kaden isn't great enough, he added background music from the one and only Ray LaMontagne.  Love.  (As an aside, if you are ever having a rough day, type Ray LaMontagne into Pandora and turn up the volume.  Seriously.  Just trust me on this one.  His voice will heal your soul.)  In the meantime, Blogger is not letting me put the file directly into my blog but feel free to watch Kaden's birthday video here:

After we finished watching Kaden toddle across the big screen in his diaper, he opened all of his gifts, which resulted in some SERIOUS spoilage.  He received so many fun new toys, books, and clothes.  In addition, he received some slightly less new toys that I have been collecting over the last several months from yard sales, consignment sales, and the like.  Call me cheap, but he's not going to know the difference, so why buy all new toys for the kid?  While he opened all of his presents, Kaden's cousin, Mackenzie, Skyped with us from Denver, which was really cute. 

After presents, it was time to sing "Happy Birthday" to Mr. Kaden Cub.

Then he got to delve into that funfetti cupcake--probably the highlight of the entire birthday experience for him.

Our guests went on their merry little way with boxes of homemade caramel corn I made the night before. (And I didn't even swear when I dropped half a bottle of vanilla all over my khaki shorts in the process . . . a birthday miracle, folks!)

Later, after recuperating from his fiesta by taking a snooze, Kadester sported his seersucker trousers and snazzy red tie for an impromptu photo shoot with his birthday balloons:

The day before his party, Kaden had his twelve month checkup.

He weighed in at 21 pounds, 2.5 ounces -- 25th percentile. (Wow.  That was a shocker.  Guess we can't call him chubster anymore!  Chad and I were both shocked to find out he's underweight, considering he spends most of the day eating.)  He measured 31 1/4 inches -- 89th percentile. (Definitely long and lean.)  His head circumference was 47 centimeters--69th percentile.

At one year old, Kaden . . .
  • Has decided he's too cool for crawling.  He walks everywhere now (like a little Frankenstein--very rigid movement), and when he falls down, he stands right back up and keeps going.

  • Can give kisses, if he's in the mood.  He will also turn his cheek to let you give him a kiss.

  • Has a very refined palette.  For example, I grilled some egg plant for dinner one night and he gobbled it right up.  Reheated the next day?  Not so much.  Same with edamame. Master Reese likes his cuisine freshly prepared. He also likes food to be seasoned.  If it's too bland, he's not interested. 

  • Still nurses once a day before going to bed, and is pretty unhappy about us trying to give him whole milk.  He's self-weaned down to one feeding a day like a champ, and I'm pretty sure he's not going to keep nursing at all much longer.  He just doesn't like the whole milk at all.  We are working on it, though.  The doctor said no more apple juice until he'll start drinking the milk.

  • Sticks his tongue out all the time, especially when he's focused on something.  (Apparently this is a Reese trait.  All of them do it!) 

  • Likes to imitate Mommy and Daddy.  Chad and I clean his dad's office a few times a week, and Kaden has started to go with us sometimes in the umbrella stroller.  Last time we were there, he got out and wanted to help Chad clean the windows.  It was really cute to watch.  (Of course, Chad then had to re-clean the windows, since Kaden had covered them in new fingerprints while trying to help.)

  • Tries to share his food with anyone who might be beside him while he's eating. 

  • Babbles a lot.

  • Has started whining to get what he wants.  The doctor also told us to work on this by ignoring him when he whines or cries, and giving lots of positive reinforcement when he "talks."  Probably easier said than done, but we are trying. 

  • Is still sleeping great. (Dare we write this?)  He usually goes to bed between 7:30 and 8:00 and wakes up between 7:30 and 8:00 the next morning. 

  • Is in love with his stuffed giraffe, Tip Top.  Kaden's Gram (my Grandma Joy) sent him Tip Top when he was in utero.  He has self-selected Tip Top as his favorite stuffed animal.  He has to sleep with him, and frequently totes him around all day.  In the morning when he gets up, Tip Top has to come watch him eat breakfast.  It would be unheard of to leave him in the crib.  Here's a picture of Kaden with Tip Top from his balloon photo shoot:

And just for fun, here are some pictures of me and Chad when we were close to Kaden's age.  I am constantly hearing that Kaden is a clone of his daddy, and while he does favor him a great deal, I think there's more of me in there than people give me credit for. 

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The First Year

Dear Kaden,

The first time I really held you, swaddled in my arms, both of us wrapped in the quiet dark of a hospital room, I marveled that just a few hours before I had never met you.  I watched your dark eyes watching mine, while your tiny fist wrapped around my finger, and I thanked my Heavenly Father for sending you to me. 

 It's hard to believe that a year has passed.  That you--the tiny, swaddled bundle I once snuggled to sleep in my arms-- can now giggle and crawl, babble and walk.

 Watching you grow this year has been the greatest joy of my life.  With each new thing you learn my heart soars and cries--soars because I am so proud of you--cries because I hate that you are growing up so fast.  Thanks for being my little boy, Kaden Cub.  Happy Birthday!  I love you.
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