Monday, December 10, 2012

Before I Forget

There are so many little things Kaden is doing and saying right now that I never want to forget.  Sometimes, he'll look up at me with his big, brown eyes from beneath his set of gorgeous lashes, and I'll think, I want to freeze this picture forever.  I want to wrap up this moment and carry it in my pocket until I'm old and gray and wearing orthopedic shoes.

Kaden calls his toothpaste soap.  "I need more soap!" is a frequent request when he brushes his teeth, which mostly consists of him sucking the toothpaste off of the brush.

He has been speaking in full sentences for a while, but sometimes he catches me off guard with the complexity of his speech.  We were walking on the greenway one day and stopped for his favorite activity, throwing rocks into the stream.  He threw a big rock in the water and I complimented him on what an amazing splash he had made.  "That was a big rock!" I told him.  "I wish I could find some more," he said.  Seriously.  Those were his exact words.

Kaden gives a gender and emotion to almost everything we see.  We might see a little dog walking on the side of the road and he will say, "Oh, he's happy!"  While he does his farm animal puzzle, he insists that certain animals are "Daddies" and certain ones are "Mommies."  The horse is always a Daddy horse.  He also tells us how he is feeling:  "I'm sad."  or "I'm happy."  or "I'm scared."  A couple of Sundays ago, the  nursery leader brought me Kaden during Sunday school because he was inconsolable.  I was holding him in the hall, talking to a friend of mine, when he suddenly looked at her and said, "I'm sad."  When she asked him why he was sad, he gave a prompt response, in his saddest voice:  "Nursery."

He is obsessed with the garbage truck.  I know he makes our neighborhood garbage men feel like the heroes they are every time we run outside to watch them pickup our trash.  He is always so excited!  Every time he hears a noise that sounds like  a truck, he runs to the window and starts exclaiming, "Oh! Big garbage truck!  Big garbage truck!"

I recently discovered the only danger to a toddler swallowing TUMS is potential constipation.  This was after a Sunday morning call to poison control.

I am still trying to impress the importance of manners:  please, thank you, etc.  Most of the time, I feel like I've failed in this regard.  I constantly wonder if I will always have to remind him to say these words, but sometimes he will surprise me.  Nothing melts my heart as much as an unprompted, "Oh!  Thank you, Mommy!" from my little guy.

He has known the entire alphabet for a while now, and points out letters everywhere we go.  He's gotten much better at counting!  He can count from one to ten, unless he tries to go too fast--then he tends to miss a few numbers.  He doesn't necessarily recognize numerals yet, but he can count objects one by one as he points to them.

Kaden is such a good little helper.  He wants to be right in the mix of anything we are working on or doing.  He loves helping to wash the car, rake leaves, sweep the floors, you name it!  He's a little less excited about helping to clean up all of the toys he throws all over his room during the day, but we're working on it.

He is doing much better with babysitters.  He was actually excited when one stayed with him on Friday while we went to an ugly sweater party.

He has also made some great little friends since we moved to Raleigh, and he loves playing with them.  I'm proud of him for being more social.  He has always been kind of shy and cautious around other kids, so this is a big step for him.

Kaden is in love with everything Christmas.  He is in awe of all of the Christmas lights, trees, and displays in all of the stores.  We went to the youth Christmas party and when he looked into the Young Women's president's house and saw her tree, his eyes lit up, and he said, "I see Christmas!"  It is so fun experiencing the holidays with him.  Everything is extra magical this year.  I can't wait for Christmas morning, because I think he's actually going to "get" things this year at least a little bit.

He is very observant and notices things I often miss.  He will often point out a beautiful sky or birds flying by.  The other day, he brought Chad one of his toys and started excitedly shouting that it was a clue.  After an inspection, Chad saw it indeed had a tiny, blue paw print on the tag.  Kaden had found a real life Blue's Clue!

He has such a darling sense of humor and will frequently crack up at something he finds hilarious.  He is mischievous and will often do things with a little twinkle in his eye and a side smirk to let you know he is trying to get attention.

If he bites his lip, you better watch out, he's about to tackle you, jump on you, or otherwise attack you playfully.

He is independent to a fault.  He likes to do everything himself.  "I do it!" is a frequent exclamation around these parts.  He is also incredibly stubborn (can't imagine where he got this from . . . )  If I try to help him do something that he wants to do himself, he will re-do it anyway.  For example, if I lift him out of his car seat, he will climb back up and climb down again on his own.  Or, if I put his pants on, and he wants to do it, he will take them off and start again.  I've learned to pick my battles, and for the most part I let him do most things by himself, even though it is agonizingly slow at times.  If we know we have to actually be somewhere in the morning, we start getting dressed at least thirty minutes before we have to leave.

He is so imaginative and creative.  I love watching him play!  He is very good at self-entertaining and prefers to play by himself sometimes.  We play together, too, but sometimes he just wants to be alone.

He has learned quite a few Primary songs and can sing along with most of the words to I am a Child of God and I Love to See the Temple.  He knows the actions to The Wise Man Built His House Upon the Rock and Book of Mormon Stories and knows most of the words to those songs, too.

He still loves reading (fingers crossed that this lasts forever and ever) and insists on reading some of his stories to us from memory, which is incredibly adorable.

He is still obsessed with balls and has developed a fondness for boom ball (football).

He is 110% boy and LOVES being outside.  Running, jumping, finding water to splash in, and mud to dig in, are all his favorite activities.

Almost every night Chad and I fall asleep laughing about something cute Kaden has done during the day and talking about how thankful we are that he is a part of our family.  I don't know what we did to deserve him, but he really is a wonderful little boy.  We sure love him!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Death Flu

On Saturday night, Kaden threw up.  Twice.  We were casually reading a bedtime story, a Thomas the Train adventure to be exact, all curled up in the chair in the corner of his bedroom, when he lost the contents of his stomach all over himself, me, and his "soft blankie."  Oh, and the towels that I screamed for Chad to bring.  It was not pleasant, I tell you, not pleasant at all.  He had just had a bath.  His daddy quickly rushed him into another, while I laundered all of the damaged clothing and bedding and shouted praises to the heavens that the new carpet had been spared.

There had been no sign that this nasty episode was approaching.  He was fine all day, as were we.

I went to the store to stock up on Sprite and saltines, figuring it was going to be a long night for Kaden.  He slept through the night without a hint of tummy trouble.

Chad and I didn't fare so well.  We were sick all night.

We spent all day Sunday in bed, in and out of sleep, while Kaden did who knows what all over the house and watched obscene amounts of TV.  He didn't seem to mind too much every time we suggested he watch another show.  Thank goodness for Netflix and unlimited episodes of Dinosaur Train and Thomas the Train movies.

Being sick when you're a parent is so much harder than being sick as a child.  I kind of kept wishing my mom was going to come in and check on me, bring me a glass of cold Sprite, and put her hand on my forehead.  Instead, I kept telling Kaden not to jump on me, whilst I tried to get my shaking fingers to handle the remote control for the digital babysitter.  I kept remembering scenes from the film Contagion, and hoping I wasn't going to meet the fate of Kate Winslet.

We are flu free again and eating solid food--Hooray!  Let the Clorox-ing begin!  In all honesty, I am so thankful Chad and I got the worst of it, since watching Kaden be sick is pretty much the saddest thing ever.

Here's the really traumatizing part of this story:  my in-laws spent all day with us Saturday helping lay our new hardwood flooring.  All day being exposed to germs we didn't know we had while giving up their entire Saturday to HELP us.

Brucious had to call in sick to work on Monday.  Pretty sure he's never done that before.  Like ever.  Tyler also got it bad.  There is nothing worse than being the responsible party for that.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

I Don't Remember it This Way

Have you seen this movie lately?

Please tell me all you need is a picture to know I'm talking about a classic.  A staple of the holidays.  The original Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, in all its clay-animated glory.

Well, I've watched it three times in the last two days.  Uno.  Dos.  Tres.  In dos dias, people.  And let me go ahead and tell you, I've been slightly disturbed.

I happen to adore these films.  Santa Claus is Coming to Town is my absolute favorite.  These gems were a staple of my childhood, which is why I bought the complete collection last year after the holidays.  I scored them at Costco for an unbelievable deal, and Chad practically wept when I brought them home.  He can't stand them.  After a few viewings of the movie starring a red-nosed fawn, I'm wondering if he wasn't right.  Let's just say the plot and character development don't quite align with my warm-fuzzy childhood memories.

Case in point:  Ruldoph's dad, Donner?  Crummy dad.  Not quite a dead beat, but what a jerk.  What kind of dad is so ashamed of his kid's nose that he makes him cover it up?  As if that's not bad enough, he's also a chauvinistic pig dog.  Seriously.  Chad's actually the one who pointed that out.  When Rudolph disappears, his mom wants to go help find him; Donner throws out some huffy line about it being "man's work," and runs off and leaves her to wallow at home in misery.

As if a macho-overbearing daddy deer isn't bad enough, you should see the portrayal of Santa Claus.  Santa Claus!  The jolly old man with the big belly? Red suit?  Ho ho ho laugh?  He is the ultimate douche bag.  He's the one who tells Donner that Rudolph will never make the sleigh team with a nose that glows.  That's right!  Freaking SANTA CLAUS is crushing the hopes and dreams of his own reindeer, while simultaneously mocking their offspring.  Later in the film, after the elves try to delight him with an upbeat musical number, Santa doesn't compliment their hard work and stellar performance--no, no, no Mrs. Claus has to do that--Santa just mutters, "It needs work," and grumpily storms from the room.  Who IS this bearded impostor, I ask you?!

I'll tell you one thing:  I want to do a rewrite for the ending of this movie.  It wouldn't include Rudolph coming to the rescue with his glowing nose, that's for sure.  After his unjust treatment, the poor kid should have stuck it to the man.  "What's that, Santa?  NOW you decide the nose is great?  Well, if you think I'm going to guide your sleigh tonight, with this nose so bright, you can JUST FORGET IT!"  Yes, I think a passionate speech from Rudolph is much more in order.  That or a Quentin Tarantino blood bath.  Just kidding . . . kind of.  

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Many Faces of Kaden Reese

Dear Cranky Librarian,

Never in my million and a half visits to the North Regional Library have I ever seen you.  I usually see nice, friendly faces who think my child is adorable, even when he behaves in a some-what crazy manner.  So imagine my surprise today when I overheard you scolding him for constructing a train (by lining up all of the colorful chairs in one section of the children's area, which he has done every time we've visited the library for the last million and a half times).  I believe your words, after I apologized and said we would put them back, were, "Someone might want to sit down!"  Funny.  No one was looking for a chair.  Whatever, sister.

A Now Cranky Mommy

Dear Kaden,

The moment to have a meltdown was probably not immediately following our encounter with the not nice librarian.  Way to make a good impression, Buddy, way to make a good impression.

I still love you,

Dear Bombay House,

I fell in love with Indian food while I was living in London.  The first time I tasted curry, it was topped with shredded coconut, bananas, and mango chutney.  I was hooked.  When I returned to BYU, you quickly became my favorite Provo restaurant.  Not just because you were the only feasible place to EAT Indian food, but because you were so incredibly amazing.  I found a recipe on Pinterest that claims to, when followed, produce your Tikka Masala.  I hope it isn't lying.  That will be devastating on so many levels.

A Hopeful Cook

Dear Chadwick,

Thanks for liking Indian food even more than I do.  Sometimes, you have to remind me how much I like it, so I will actually make it.

Your Other Half

P.S.  Thanks for being talented, so you can take photos like this of our adorable offspring:

Dear Kaden,

After looking at these pictures, it's clear we need to do something about the monk shape of your haircut.  We aren't Catholic, and even if we were, this style is pretty medieval.  Good thing you're still so adorable.

The One Who Can't Bring Herself to Chop off Those Gorgeous Blond Locks  

Dear Sub Floors,

You are dusty and nasty, but I love you.  Thanks for not being water damaged.  Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you.  Our romance will be short lived.  Come Saturday, we will be covering you up with new hardwood flooring.  Not to sound insensitive, but I kind of can't wait.

A Home Renovator Extraordinaire

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Gettin' Busy With Bernice

Bernice, Kaden, and I have been having a ball the last couple of days.

Today, we mixed up some pumpkin and Nutella cheesecake muffins.

I love Nutella.  Adore it.

I fell for it hard when I spent a semester living at the BYU London center.  Breakfast and dinner were provided with our tuition, but we were on our own for lunch.  This left a couple of options for the poor and cheap:  leftovers (but you had to be quick and home to score those) or peanut butter sandwiches (which could easily be deposited in a brown bag for enjoyment at any museum or park of your choice, later in the day).  PB&J got old.  Until I started putting peanut butter on one half and Nutella on the other.  And I promptly gained at least ten pounds, despite walking a bazillion miles every day.

Anyway, today, Bernice worked her magic beating eggs, flour, pumpkin puree, cinnamon and nutmeg, and Kaden worked his by saying, "No, Mommy!  No, Mommy!  I do it!" anytime I tried to add any ingredient without his assistance.

I may have let him lick the Nutella cheesecake beater to give me time to stuff the muffin tins with batter, because I thought it'd be more sanitary than letting him rub his toddler fingers all up in someone's future snack.

I wish I had a picture of his face after that endeavor.  His face was covered with Nutella goodness from his nose, to his chin, with a few choice deposits even reaching his neck.  Some decorated his pajama top (that he was still wearing at noon).  Then I had to chase him around the house to retrieve the beater before he touched anything with his hazelnut-spreaded face, hands, and clothing.  It was pretty awesome.  And I'm not being sarcastic; it really was.

I love being a mom.

Also, there's a giant pallet of pre-finished hardwood sitting on my driveway.  Can we say DEMO TIME, anyone???

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

A Trip Down Memory Lane . . . And Reunion Time

I know a lot of people who hated high school.  Like, seriously hated it.  I'm not saying I want to go back and do it again (that would be a definite NO), but I actually had a pretty stellar high school experience.  That's probably why I decided to become a high school teacher, because I was blessed with so many exceptional ones (and the occasional dud, too, but who doesn't have those?).  I also had a great group of friends.  Here are some shots of some of us at graduation ten years ago:  

Sadie Hawkins our junior year:

Not sure what we were trying to go for in this picture, but I thought Lena's fairy wings were pretty awesome, as was Lacey's nod to the thug-life:

Girls' Camp as YCLs:

The year Lena almost died while floating down the river on a tube:

People always find it odd to hear that I am still in close contact with a lot of the friends I had in high school.  I guess that is pretty abnormal.  I attribute it to how awesome we all are.  Of course we're going to defy all odds and still love each other ten years later!

My high school reunion was this summer, and I didn't go.  This was because 1) the preparation for the event seemed mediocre at best, judging from the updates I was getting via the facebook page, 2) I had no money to make the trip out there, and 3) we came up with a way better plan B.

My friend, Emily, served an eighteen month mission for our church in Brazil, and she was still there when the reunion happened in Moses Lake.  I was talking to Callie on the phone one day, and it came up that neither of us was planning on attending our ten year reunion.  I mentioned that it would have been sad to go without Emily there, anyway.  She mentioned that she was planning on trying to make it to Emily's homecoming in October, and that we should all try to get together at some point in the coming year.  That got me thinking:  why not try to make it to Emily's homecoming, too?

I immediately called my friend, Lacey, who happens to live a few miles away from me in North Carolina, despite the fact that we initially became friends while sitting next to each other in a kindergarten classroom in Washington State (AMAZING, right?).  She also happens to have an awesome brother who works for Southwest Airlines.  He hooked us up with buddy passes, and we made plans to secretly fly to Washington without Emily knowing, while Callie made her own secret plans to drive from Utah.  Luckily for us, a few of our other friends still happen to live in the area where we grew up, so we were able to have an awesome girls' weekend once we got there.

I stayed with my Grandpa Jensen, who has just started taking piano lessons.  He's 78, and learning to play piano.  Isn't that awesome?!  HE CAN PLAY WITH TWO HANDS!  I am so proud.

My grandpa looks a lot like the old man on Pixar's UP, as evidenced by this shot.  I love his suspenders.  He never goes a day without them:

I was able to spend a lot of day time with my Grandpa over the few days I was there.  I am going to start helping him type and edit the personal history he has written, which will be a super neat experience.

Lacey, her brother, and I got into Spokane by early afternoon.  That night, we pulled off the ultimate surprise.  Here we are on Thursday night, after surprising Emily at our favorite restaurant, Inca.  Such.  Amazing.  Mexican.  Food.  Oh, the arroz con pollo . . . just thinking about it makes my mouth water.  We were all just sitting at a table, waiting for Emily to show up with her mom.  Her sister was in on it, too.  When I saw her walk in, I waved, and she waved back, but I could tell she had no idea who I was.  Then, it registered that I was there, that Lacey was there, that Callie was there, and so on.  It was awesome.

We are all laughing hysterically in this shot, because Callie and Emily's moms were having such a hard time figuring out how to work each of our cameras.

On Friday, I knew my grandpa would be working at the temple all day.  Callie, Emily, and I made the drive to Tri-Cities and did a session, which was awesome.

Afterwards, we met up with my Aunt and Uncle, who were great enough to drive from Prosser, where they live, to see me.  We feasted at Olive Garden on soup, salad, and bread sticks.  So yummy!

I loved seeing them!  They have been such a huge part of my life, and I love them to pieces. Living so far away, I don't get to see them very often, so it was nice to give each of them a big hug.

Then, Callie and I dropped Emily off at her house, since she had to work, and we went on a driving tour of Moses Lake, which I'm not going to lie . . . took less than 30 minutes.  I made Callie stop the car to get a picture of me with this tumbleweed.  I couldn't believe she didn't want a photo taken with a Moses Lake tumbleweed!  She was completely uninterested, and wouldn't even get out of the car to take the picture!  She snapped this from the driver's side, out the passenger window:

This is when things took a disappointing turn.  The highlight of the entire trip was supposed to be going to our Alma mater's football game.  I had even spent some time rekindling the memory of various cheers to bust out while watching from the stands.  (Chiefs!  Don't take no UH!  JIVE!  Chiefs!  We are alive!)  I even tried to remember the fight song, but I kept getting it mixed up with the BYU fight song, and eventually gave up.  Anyway, devastation struck, when Callie and I showed up at the 6th Ward potato bar, only to have Sister Bergeson tell us that the game had been rescheduled as an away game.  In Wenatchee.  Thanks for updating the high school website, folks!  There went that!  So, we made new plans.  Which is more difficult than it may sound when you are visiting Moses Lake, Washington.  It's not the most happening spot.  We went to Shari's for dessert, then hit up the local bowling alley.  Luckily for us, it was black light bowling night!!!  Even though the parking lot was packed with cars, they were all casino customers apparently, because we were one of the only groups in the bowling alley.

I happen to loathe bowling.  I am so bad at it, that I pretty much don't even try anymore.
That's why I'm so excited about actually hitting two pins in this photo:

On Saturday, Grandpa cooked me a great breakfast and we went to the Farmer's Market together.  Can I just say that it is RIDICULOUS how cheap Honey Crisp apples are in my home state?  And they are giant beauties!  I kept trying to figure out how to get a box of them home with me.  I didn't succeed in coming up with a master plan, but I did help Grandpa lug his box of Fugi apples to the car. Grandpa gave me the extended driving tour of Moses Lake, and we stopped at the Goodrich house for a nice visit on the way home.  Callie met us there, and I could tell I was cramping Grandpa's style.  He went home, but Callie and I stayed and chatted with Brenda for hours, which is always a delight.  We even got to see our friend Elliott and meet his adorable wife, Kayla, while we were there.  That night we went to Crystals, drank sparkling cider, overdosed on lots of chocolate, talked, reminisced over old photos, and laughed until it hurt.  We also had a dance party with a little assistance from Lena's Kinect.  It was awesome.

Sunday was Emily's homecoming talk in the 8th ward, so we went and listened to her speak.  She did a beautiful job.  I am so proud of her.  I know she touched so many lives in positive ways while she was serving in Brazil.

Emily and her Mom:
Grandpa came with me.  Then we went to 6th ward together, and afterwards went to lunch at his friend Emily's house (same name, different friend).

On Sunday night we all got together one last time to say goodbye.  We pledged to make these get togethers happen at least every five years . . . but we're going to start in 2015 in North Carolina.

Lena and Crystal's awesome kids were there.  I wish we lived closer, so Kaden could be their buddy.  They have great personalities and are a lot of fun.

Here they are jumping:

Showing me some ninja skills:
Isak and Aubrey showing off their tricks:
Baby Edyn just being awesome.

We left at 3 a.m. on Monday morning.  Needless to say, we were looking hot.  I would not have wanted to be stuck in an airport for a million hours with anyone but Lacey.  I love that girl.  We got stuck in Las Vegas (the consequence of flying on a buddy pass), but we still made it home in time for Chad to go to work Tuesday morning.  Here we are, starting to show the effects of being in an airport for too long:

One of my biggest hopes for Kaden is that he chooses good friends.  I know mine have certainly played an important role in who I am today.  Having worked with adolescents for the last several years, it's become more and more apparent that who your friends are really does determine a lot.  Peers can be a tremendous influence on a teenager for good or for bad.  I was so blessed to have such wonderful friends while I was growing up.  I am still so thankful for each of them.

I am so glad I had this chance to go spend time with family and friends.  A big thanks goes to my mother-in-law who came to Raleigh and watched Kaden on Thursday and Friday, and to Chad who also had to play mommy and daddy for an entire weekend to a pretty crazy toddler.  It meant so much to me that they were willing to do that to give me an awesome weekend away.
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