In the beginning of April, Chad maintained his status as best husband and father ever by letting me whisk Kaden off for two weeks to visit my family. If he asked me to take Kaden somewhere without me for two weeks I would probably say no, so I think it's pretty awesome that he didn't object.
Kaden and I flew to Utah in the evening, with my brilliant plan being that he would likely fall asleep since most of the flight time would be his normal sleeping time. He was remarkably good, but he didn't sleep much. On the first leg of the trip, he bonded with the drunk man next to us--who kept hinting that he'd like to hold him. He reminded me a lot of one of my favorite travel journalists:
After landing in Denver, we were given the unfortunate news that our flight to Salt Lake was delayed. At this point, Kaden still had not slept, and I was starving. The only food stall open was a TCBY, so I bought a smoothie and then tried to coax Kaden back into a REM cycle by moving away from the chatty mob of high school girls who camped out behind us right when he was finally asleep. He fell back asleep just as our flight began boarding, so that nap didn't last long either.
Even so, the flights went better than I expected they would. Kaden did great in the umbrella stroller in the airport, and as long as I let him shake the menu card and tear up copies of Sky Mall on the plane ride itself, he was happy. I feel so much better about traveling with Kaden alone now, although it is definitely MUCH easier with another set of hands.
We only spent a few days in Salt Lake, but we had a good time. Kaden got to bond with Uncle Jared, who is still living at home. We also got to see Bryan and Lizadel. We even went to the What Women Want! expo at the convention center with Lizadel and her mom, which was a lot of fun.
On Sunday afternoon Mom, Dad, Kaden, and I jumped in the car and drove all night to get to Prosser, Washington. Kaden did AMAZING in the car, and slept pretty much the entire ride. We stopped in Prosser to visit my Aunt Arianne and Uncle Howard and my awesome cousins Anya, Alissa, Evan, and Alissa's little boy, Brody. Kaden LOVED Brody. He is fascinated with other kids now, and Brody was so sweet to him. He was also so good about sharing all of his toys. I was very impressed! We didn't have a lot of time together, but we made the most of the time we had. We ate so much good food (thanks, Aunt Arianne!) and laughed, and laughed, and laughed some more. I love my family. They are some of the funniest people I know.
It is always sad for me to leave a visit with them, because I never know when I will see them again. The last time I saw them was in the summer of 2009. I hate being so far away from so many people that I love, and I hate that Kaden will miss out on really getting to know them. But, c'est la vie, right?
After our stop in Prosser, we drove to the metropolis of Moses Lake, my home town. Nelson Mandela once said, "There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered." I don't think there is a more fitting quotation to describe my visit home.
In Kinston, there are very few people who know me just for me. Most people know me as "Chad Reese's wife," or "Joy Reese's daughter-in-law," and that is OK. I am proud to be a Reese; it's a good thing! In Moses Lake, though, I am still Katie Jensen, and that is kind of fun, too.
In Utah, my mom is Susan, but in Moses Lake, she is Sue.
We stayed at my Grandpa Jensen's house. I love that house. There is no dishwasher in the kitchen and the cabinets are sea-foam green. There is no Internet, and there is no cable TV. It has not changed much since I was a little girl. It's a different color on the outside, and the tree that used to sit in the front yard is gone now. It still feels the same, though. It is still full of my grandma, too, even though she passed away nine years ago. When we first got to Grandpa's house, I went in the back room and cried. I think we always miss the people we love when they are gone, but there, surrounded by so many things that reminded me of her, I missed her more than I have in a long time. I so wish Kaden could have met her, but I know he will someday. We had a lot of fun watching old family home videos with Grandpa at night and sharing lots of old memories.
We didn't have much time in Moses Lake, either, but we did a few things that any Moses Lake tourist must: sampled some amazing Legacy Chocolates thanks to Nesha and Brenda, ate arroz con pollo at Inca (just as amazing as I remembered), devoured a greasy Hockstetter pizza from Chico's, and drove down a lot of country roads. We were able to see a lot of old friends while we were there, but there wasn't enough time to see everyone I would have loved to have seen. I did drive to Othello one day to visit my old high school chums Lena and Crystal. I don't know why, but for a while in high school we went through this phase where we all referred to one another by our first and last names. Even when I talk to Chad about my high school friends, I still say, "My friend, Lena Campbell" or "My friend, Crystal Montoya." They are Lena Gilbert and Crystal Harris now though. We only had a few hours to visit, but it was great to see them. I love seeing my friends as mothers. They are great moms and have terrific children.
After our visit in Moses Lake, we drove to Seattle to spend time with our family on the other side of the state. We stayed with my Grandma Joy at my Uncle Shawn and Aunt Karen's house in Marysville. Jayden and Skyler, my cousins, are so grown up now. I still think of them as tiny, little kids, but they are far from it. You know you're in for a great time when your welcome dinner consists of crab legs AND homemade fettuccine alfredo (note to self: must buy pasta attachment for Bernice). As if the welcome dinner wasn't enough, we also had a fantastic brunch later during our trip. There is nothing like Uncle Shawn's crepes and beignets. So good!
The time flew by while we were there, but we did squeeze in visits with lots of relatives in addition to the ones with whom we stayed: Uncle Mark and Aunt Jaime and their girls, McKenna and Lilah; Nicholas, for a very brief visit one morning; Aunt Maryann; and Uncle Paul and Aunt MalaRee and their crew, Chloe, Hayden, and Sterling.
Some of the highlights of our trip were the Tulip Festival in Skagit Valley, Pike's Place Market in downtown Seattle, eating fish n' chips at Ivar's on the wharf, and visiting Flower World--a giant plant palace of a nursery that I wish existed where I live.