It was pretty cruel and unusual, and I honestly feel pretty bad about it. Especially since Chad was left with such a mess to deal with at home (more about the results of that mess in a later post . . . our home improvements are coming along, slowly but surely). Having said that, the Kadester and I definitely had a great time in the land of Grandma and Grandpa. I've already documented some of our Utah adventures. Here's the rest of the story:
We took Kaden to see the new Pixar movie, Brave. I honestly didn't think he'd sit still for an entire movie in a theatre, but my mom insisted it was her treat, so we went and gave it a try. He LOVED it. Eyes glued to the screen for the entire film, squealing with excitement loved it.
My cousin, Alissa, drove up from St. George with her little boy, Brody.
My cousin Evan was in town, too, after attending AFY (Adventures for Youth) in Logan. We celebrated Evan's birthday together one Sunday night with dinner, followed by brownies and ice cream. I love my cousins, and it was great to see them. Kaden and I met Alissa and Brody at the pool one day, too, before they went home. Brody is such a sweet little boy. We kept trying to get a picture of Kaden and Brody together, but they were pretty set against it. I didn't get a single one that wasn't just two blurs running in opposite directions.
I love this series of shots of us together. It clearly tells a story:
We watched the Olympics like crazy. I love the Olympics. Really love them. There's just something so wonderful about everybody being patriotic for once. The lack of patriotism in our nation astounds me. Don't get me wrong, I know some people are still patriotic, but I just think there's not the vigorous national spirit that our country deserves. When I was teaching high school, if kids didn't stand up for the pledge of allegiance, I made the entire class re-stand up and re-say it after the announcements were done. Show the flag some respect, people!!! Anyway, I love that everybody jumps on the bandwagon that I'm on all the time and starts cheering for the red, white, and blue at least once every four years (and really every two if you count the Winter Olympics). Some of the highlights of the Olympics for me were definitely the girls' gymnastics team winning the team gold, Gabby Douglas winning the all around gold medal (also in gymnastics), watching Ryan Lochte and Michael Phelps rival it out in the pool, and every time Missy Franklin was on camera (who I came to utterly adore). I also cried when Carrie and Misty won their final gold as a beach volleyball team. Throw in the fact that the Olympics were in LONDON this year, and I was even more hooked. I loved seeing all of the footage of my favorite city. London will always hold a special place in my heart. Kaden got pretty into the Olympics, too. He loved watching the diving ("Jump! Oh, big jump! Go beach!!!") and tried to vault over the top of the couch while we watched the gymnastics events. The tragedy of my life was that I missed all the synchronized swimming.
The day I left for Orlando, my baby turned two. I am still in denial. Since Kaden has no concept of his actual birth date, we celebrated the day before I left. Almost immediately upon our arrival in Utah, he became obsessed with The Lion King, which my parents had on Blu-Ray. He would wake up in the morning begging to watch it, and since all rules fly out the window when visiting grandparents, his begging usually ended in multiple viewings of "Hakuna Matata." I'd originally planned on making him an Up cake (his obsession prior to our flight across the country), but quickly realized I'd have to revamp, since he didn't even seem to remember what Up was. A quick search on Pinterest and a trip to Wal-mart later and voila! We had a Lion King cake.
I'd originally planned on just cake and ice cream (my philosophy was pretty much, "Let's keep it simple . . . the kid's two"), but pretty soon my mom had thrown together an entire spread of yummy-ness. Think chicken wings, crab and cream cheese wontons, and pineapple cheese ball--just to name a few of the appetizers we enjoyed.
My cousin Anya came over for the shindig, and my sister-in-law, Lizadel, brought my adorable niece, Addy, and her grandma. My Grandma Joy (who Kaden calls Gram) was visiting while I was home, so she got to join in the festivities, too. Chad, Gigi and Poppy, Cameron, and Nana and Papa joined us via Skype to watch Kaden open his presents and blow out his candle.
He loved his party and all of the loot he was spoiled with. Some of his favorite gifts were his toy train and Elephant and Piggy books (got to LOVE Mo Willems) from Grandma and Grandpa, his lion Beanie Baby (bet you can't guess what he's been dubbed . . . yep, Lion King) from Gram, and his light-up turtle toy from Aunt Lizadel and cousin Addy.
While I was gone, my family spoiled Kaden like crazy. He ate Captain Crunch for breakfast, went to museums, went on daily walks to admire all of the bulldozers (my parents' neighborhood is going through a new phase of development, and the construction sites were a dream come true for Kaden), and watched lots more Lion King (my mom eventually hid the DVD when she just couldn't take it anymore).
Both before I left for the cruise and after coming back, we spent a lot of time at the pool and splash pad. Kaden is a little fish this summer and is a crazy boy in the pool. He jumps in with absolutely no fear, even when he ends up plunging under water. We played at the park in my parents' neighborhood a lot, too.
I had plans to try to get together with tons of old friends while in town. Sadly, the weeks flew by, and we didn't get a chance to see everybody. I need to learn to set things up ahead of time! If we didn't get to see each other while I was in Utah this time, I am so sorry! Let's make it work next time!!!
I did get together with my friend Callie, who spoiled me with a free pedicure at the spa where she works in downtown Salt Lake. Then we went out to eat at one of my favorite restaurants in Utah, the Pi Pizzeria. So good. We got half ultimate veggie, half Hawaiian. It was fabulous. As was the company and conversation. I didn't bring a camera, so I have no photos of the great time we had.
Kaden and I met my good friend Stephanie and her little boy, Andy, at the splash pad one morning for a play date. I was thrilled to see her. Andy is adorable and soooooo happy. Steph is living in Amsterdam right now while her husband does some work for Dell abroad. You can read about their amazing life, while growing green with envy, here. Again, no photos. So sad.
A few days before the end of our trip, I met three of my old college roommates downtown for lunch at The Cheesecake Factory. I met Cindy, Debbie, and Jamie my freshman year. Jamie and I were roommates, and Cindy and Debbie lived in our hall in the dorms. We were Taylor Tootsies together. Our sophomore year, we moved into The Glenwood (affectionately termed the Glenhood) together and built tons of amazing memories (in an apartment with no central AC). Sadly, our roommate Bri couldn't join us (she's currently too pregnant to fly). After sophomore year I headed off to London, and Bri headed off to Spain, but the rest of the girls roomed together in a house south of campus. I think it's safe to say that these girls are like family to me. I love them. It's been a few years since we've seen each other, but they're the kind of friends where time apart doesn't matter. You can just pick up right where you left off and chat and laugh like crazy. They are all such amazing women, all doing amazing things. As I sat there and listened to each of them talk about all they are doing, I was a bit awestruck. I'm just not as phenomenal as they are. But they still love me. They are such examples to me, and I know I'm a better person because of the influence they have had in my life. Sadly, I look a hot mess in the only photo we have together, but I must post it. Note to self: have a plan B when the random girl in Cheesecake Factory you ask to take your picture has no idea how to work a digital SLR.
Me, Cindy (who feigned a headache on Easter Sunday nine years ago, so Chad and I would be smooshed together in the backseat of a car, and he would hold my hand for the first time), Debbie, and Jamie:
Jamie brought her little girl to my parents' house one day, so we could meet each other's kiddos. Her little girl, Alexandria, is adorable. Kaden wasn't exactly chummy with Alex, although he did toss a few toys in her general direction when instructed to share, which is a step for him.
Love this shot. Kaden was trying to escape the group photo (a typical move for him):
Kaden, hiding out in his tent instead of being in the photo:
The four weeks flew by. We had such a wonderful trip! Who knows, maybe we'll make it five weeks next time . . . what do you think, Chad?