Sunday, April 28, 2013

Taming a Jungle, Coping with Toddler-Onset Bibliophilia, Fostering Attachments to Stuffed Zoo Animals, and Other Adventures

We had a nice, project-filled weekend.  I'm officially in "nesting" mode, so heaven help anyone who doesn't cooperate with my mass cleaning, renovating, and organizational efforts.

A few weeks ago, when it became clear that Spring had officially sprung, Chad went out to mow the lawn, only to discover that our mower (purchased brand new last season) wouldn't start.  Great.  A friend recommended a small engine repairman, but he was swamped fixing the mowers of everyone else in the same predicament, so for the last couple of weeks our lawn has been the eye sore of the neighborhood.  I know people have been driving by saying, "What IS it with that house?  Whoever buys it never does ANYTHING to their yard."  Our next door neighbor let us borrow his mower, which Chad used to cut the front lawn once, but the backyard was a jungle.  Unfortunately, we inherited TERRIBLE grass from the previous owner, so it was pretty much a knee-high forest of weeds.    Well, Friday we finally got the mower repaired, so Saturday morning Chad set out to tame the jungle with help from his adorable assistant.

He had to take a break to repair his mower on the deck (which is still on the renovation project list, along with the fence--both need to be stained BADLY).

We spent the rest of the day working on organizing the garage, while Kaden washed his toy car, tricycle, and anything else that would stand still, while he slapped it with a washcloth soaked in water.  He was so good the entire day.  He LOVES to be outside, so he was in heaven playing in the driveway and front yard while we worked.  He often tells me, "I'm a good worker!"  I can only hope we can make the work ethic last.

Then, we had a fantastic dinner!  We grilled shish kabobs and pineapple, and even Kaden was begging for seconds and thirds.  So delicious!

By Saturday night we were all exhausted.  We tucked Kaden in with his usual three books and Chad and I watched Wreck it Ralph before we zonked out, too.  When I went to check on Kaden before I went to sleep, his bed was covered in a mountain of books.  He's sleeping in a big boy bed now (we've moved the crib into the nursery) and he'd only reserved himself a few feet of space at the top to curl up in when he finally fell asleep.  I took photos of what it looked like when he woke up this morning.  There were even more books that had slid onto the floor that you can't see in the picture.  As Chad says, "Well, at least he likes to read."

This is him demonstrating how he slept amidst his bed-time library.

Tip Top is still Kaden's good buddy.  

He had a massive meltdown the other day because I told him Tip Top HAD to take a bath in the laundry.  I don't know what kind of trauma he'd exposed the poor giraffe to, but his nose was covered in something that didn't look too pleasant.  Finally, we compromised and Kaden agreed to let Tip Top take a bath after he went to the store with us and took a nap with him.  It was hilarious because the first thing he did when he woke up from his nap was run and find me and say (in his manly-I'm-giving-orders voice), "Mommy!  Do NOT go in my room.  Tip Top cannot take a bath.  Do NOT put him in the laundry.  He is still sleeping.  He needs 5 more minutes!"  Too funny.  Eventually, he made it into the washing machine after a tearful goodbye, lots of hugs, and Kaden promising him he would be OK.  You should have seen their reunion later that night--he had to have been the happiest little boy in the entire world. He kept saying how much he loved him and squeezing him so tight.  It was unbelievably cute.  

Tip Top had to go to church with us today, because Kaden insisted he wanted to show him to his teacher.  (As an aside, he LOVES nursery now!  He runs right in without any hesitation.  So wonderful!)  During sacrament meeting, when we told Kaden it was time for a prayer, he kept saying, "Close your eyes, Tip Top!  Close your eyes!" and helped him fold his arms, too.  Very funny.  Then he said, "AMEN, Tip Top!" at the end.  

Other fun Kaden moments lately:

--I can't remember if I ever recorded this, so I'm writing it down just in case:  he knows the sounds all the letters make (thanks to all of that Leap Frog Letter Factory he was watching while I was puking during the first trimester) and points out letters and their sounds everywhere we go.  

--He LOVES to pretend to drive the car and is constantly asking to do this before we go anywhere.  

--He memorizes books like crazy.  He's done this for a while with books we own that he's read over and over, but a few times lately he's surprised us by reciting entire books we get from the library word for word, when we've only read them a few times.  It's amazing to me!  One of his favorites is I Want my T-R-U-C-K. It's about a little boy who loses his favorite toy truck.  Kaden LOVES this book.  He couldn't part with it when we went to return it to the library, and he had to check it out a second time.  

--He makes up random songs about anything and everything.  He might start singing an ode to his sippy cup, sing a song to the bath water, or sing to his car seat on the way to the store.  It's so adorable and I need to capture more of it on video, so we can always remember it.  

--He has become much more social and likes having a playmate now more than playing alone.  He is constantly telling me, "Mommy, let's play together," or "I need you to play with me," and talking about his friends.  He's even gotten very uncharacteristically brave about approaching kids he doesn't know and making friends.  I am so proud of him for this!  We stopped by the park on the way home from the store the other day and he made an instant friend with one little boy in the sandbox.  When that little boy went home, he ran over to the jungle gym where a little girl was playing and said, "Let's climb together!"  Pretty soon they were chasing each other all over the playground. 

--He loves to cuddle and will often give me a big bear hug during random parts of the day and say, "Mommy, I love you big much!" or say, "Let's cuddle together," while he is watching a show.  Melt my heart.   

--He loves to say "Dang it!" thanks to Chad's moment of frustration trying to get the lawn mower to start.  I've tried to convince him that is a strong word for a little boy.  We've tried getting him to say other phrases instead, but he always says, "No!  I say dang it!"  Great.  At least Chad didn't choose the full-on cuss word.  

--He is no where near ready for potty training and still hates having his diaper changed.  So not fun.  

--He is so aware of what we are feeling.  More than once he's asked me, "What's wrong mommy?  You're frustrated?" 

--He is obsessed with the "waterfall" behind our house (there's a stream that runs through the woods that drops down a few rocks) and begs to go there a million times a day.  Everywhere we go he collects rocks to take and toss in the waterfall.  

I've had quite a few sleepless nights lately, with Everett spinning around in my tummy 24-7.  Last night, Chad couldn't believe how much he was moving when he put his hand on my tummy.  We both decided he probably felt Everett move more in 10 minutes than he felt Kaden move my entire pregnancy.  The kid's a mover and a shaker for sure.  The whirling around isn't so bad, but he often feels the need to elbow me hard in the ribs, which doesn't feel too delightful.  I can't imagine what's in store as he gets bigger!  

Here we are, Everett and me, at 28 weeks and 1 day:

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Everett (Middle Name Yet to be Determined) Reese

Kaden talks in this whisper voice sometimes when he wants to tell you something really serious.  One of the most hilarious things he's whispered recently was to his Poppy when we were driving to dinner a couple weekends ago.  Chad and his dad were in the front seat, and Kade and I were in the back.  Out of nowhere, Kaden whispers, "Poppy!  I have a baby sister.  His name is Everett.  He's not ready.  He's still in my mommy's tummy."

We are really working on gender words around here.  Half the time, Kaden still refers to the baby as his baby sister, the other half of the time, he remembers it's a baby brother.  He knows it's a boy baby, but he gets confused as to which is which.  (He does the same thing with gender pronouns.  We'll be out walking, this gorgeous blonde woman will run by, and he'll say, "Oh, look!  He's running.")  

When I was pregnant with Kaden, we could never decide on a name.  We ended up naming him in the hospital after he was born.  This time, we have a first name, but we're still trying to agree on a middle name for the little man.  I feel like we're doing AMAZINGLY well to have a first name chosen.  Everett is a family name.  It was Chad's grandpa's middle name and it is also his brother, Tyler's, middle name.  Even though I had a hard time choosing a name for Kaden, this baby just feels like an Everett, so we've started calling him by his name in utero.

I got a late start with the pregnancy profile shots this time around.  This is the first one I got around to taking at 23 weeks (right after we shot a wedding in Kinston):

And, because I keep forgetting to have Chad take a more updated one, here I am today, self-portrait style, looking smashing at 26 weeks and 4 days:

I feel huge already. I have to have Chad help me put on some of my shoes, and I try to avoid bending over as much as possible.  I need a pedicure badly, but the thought of scrunching over long enough to paint my toes-ies is just a bit overwhelming.  

I have been feeling so much better!  No more puking, which is good, since Kaden was starting to pretend to throw up in the bathroom after watching me do it so much.  I'm even starting to feel less tired.  Still exhausted by the end of the day, but I feel like I can actually accomplish stuff during the day now.

Everett has got to be a billion times more active in utero than Kaden was.  I know part of it is probably because I can recognize what it feels like when the baby moves this time, but that's not all of it.  I'm slightly terrified if he's this energetic after he's born.  I feel like he never stops moving!  A lot of the time he has to be punching and kicking at once, because I feel movement from every direction.  Already you can see my whole stomach moving when he really gets going.  

I have four paint colors on the nursery wall and none of them is right.  We're going to use the same bedding we used for Kaden's nursery, and Kaden is getting a big-boy room redo.  He's not completely cool with this idea yet.  When we mentioned Everett getting his crib, he used his macho angry voice and said, "No he's not!  It's a big boy bed, and he is a baby!" (We converted his crib to a toddler bed shortly after Christmas, so he's convinced it's a big boy bed.)  I'm hoping he'll get so excited about his new room makeover that it will be an easy transition.

Kaden will put his hand on my tummy and pull it away really  quick and whisper, "Oh!  He moved!" even when Everett hasn't moved, and it is seriously adorable.  

Anytime he bumps into my tummy, tosses a ball at it, etc, he says, "Sorry, Everett!"  

We made muffins the other day and we were each eating one.  Kaden said, "Oh, Everett is eating one, too, Mommy!  He likes it!" and pointed to my tummy.  Then he told me the baby in his tummy was eating one, too.  

I feel like we have so much to do in the three months remaining before this baby gets here.  Where did the time go?!?!  AHHHHHHHHHHH!!!  


I took Kaden to North Carolina State University's Farm Days last week.

In true Kaden fashion, he wanted to do everything (ride the tractors, hold the baby chicks, milk the cows) after it was too late and we were back in the car.

Everything, that is, except devour his chocolate ice cream, even though he was a bit concerned about sitting on a straw bale at first.  I'm definitely raising a city boy.

Luckily, my friend advised me to go early.  We left just as buses full of preschool and elementary school children started arriving in droves.  It got way too insane for me, so I convinced Kaden to wave one last goodbye to the bunnies before we headed back to the car.

Sunday, April 07, 2013

I Give Up

Every time I think Kaden is going to be over the moon excited about an outing, he proves me wrong. We had a repeat of our fire station experience last week, when our playgroup took a tour of the Duke Life Flight helicopter and ambulance.

Yes, my son, who watches All About Helicopters religiously, knows the show's theme song by heart, frequently pretends to BE a helicopter by spinning in circles, and excitedly points to any that he sees in the sky, suddenly decided to be terrified of helicopters when he had the chance to sit in a real one.

C'est la vie.

At least he enjoyed watching Cars in my friend's minivan on the way to and from Smithfield, the picnic lunch and running around all over inside the hanger, and watching the helicopter take off.

FINALLY!  A smile!

 Immediately after the helicopter took off Kaden started lamenting that he wanted to sit in it.  We are working on understanding that we need to seize the day when opportunities present themselves . . .

Friday, April 05, 2013

Unsent Letters, April 2013 Edition

Dear Rash on the Back of My Neck,

You look suspiciously familiar.  And you're starting to itch a little.  Please, please, oh, PLEASE do not be what I think you are.  I just don't think I can handle looking like a leper this early in my pregnancy.  Last time you at least waited until the bitter end.

A Woman Who's Praying GNC Still Sells Grandpa's Pine Tar Soap

Dear NC Weather,

I think there must be some kind of confusion, so I just wanted to clarify something:  it's April.  Not January.  Not February.  Not even March.  By now, we are supposed to be basking in glorious amounts of sunshine.  Let's get with the program.

I have a lot of reasons I'd enjoy some warmer temperatures, but I think the following two sum up my necessity pretty well:

1)  All of my maternity clothes, with the exception of a few frumpy disasters, are summer pieces.  And I'm tired of wearing pants that cut off my circulation.

2)  I am 100 percent a better mom when I can take my child OUTSIDE.  Seriously.  I'd love to spare him the inevitable future therapy bill, if things in the great outdoors don't perk up pretty soon.

A Frequent Checker of

Dear Pregnancy Dreams,

Wow.  You're intense.  You've all been gems.  Especially the ones featuring random people I went to high school with.  People I didn't even consider friends during my adolescence have been showing up in my REM cycle.  Although, I've got to say, the one about us living in an Iran-occupied United States, while using wheelbarrows full of money to buy groceries was pretty spectacular.  Last night's episode, in which I was trying to dry my wedding dress at the laundromat and running out of time before I had to meet Chad at the altar, was particularly terrifying.  Good thing I always wake up to pee before things get too out of hand.

Yours Truly,
One Wishing for a Peaceful Slumber

Dear Ice,

You make every beverage taste better.  It's true, and I love you for it.  Since we don't have an ice maker right now, and because we've recently splurged and started buying you in bags from the grocery store, you've been especially chew-able.  I'm a woman who loves cold drinks and I don't care who knows it!

Never Going Back to Luke Warm Tap Water

Dear Split Ends,

I know I owe you a haircut.  I've been unfair.  I've abused you with a blow dryer.  I've damaged you further with a flat iron.  My curling iron has "kicked your trash," as my roommate Jamie used to say.  I'm going to do my best to find someone who can remedy the situation soon.

One Who Remains Loyal to a Stylist Two Hours Away, and is a Bit Terrified to Branch Out

Dear Cadbury Creme Eggs,

I never even liked you, until I tried one of you that my husband had stashed in the freezer.  It was a moment of desperation.  I needed chocolate and you met that need.  It was love at first taste.  It also further proved that my husband's strange obsession with freezing things that aren't meant to be frozen is usually right on the money.  (With the exception being Oreos . . . I hate it when that man hides my Oreos in the freezer.)  I apologize for my hasty judgement in the past.  I hope my new found love will heal any wounds you  may have suffered.

The One Who's Been Hoarding Her Son's Easter Candy

Dear Refrigerator Still Leaking in My Garage,

Wow.  We bought this house in July.  Not to state the obvious, but you are still there.  Leaking.  In the garage.  Either freezing foods that are meant to be merely refrigerated, or soaking them in pools of water.  There's something really uncool about that, no pun intended.

The Woman Who Knows She Should Be Grateful You Work at All, but is Kind of Really Sick of You

Dear Kaden,

Today, when you comforted your friend Mark's little sister, Mia, with a toy helicopter, I had a renewed hope that you are going to make the best big brother ever.  Let's put aside all those earlier comments you've made about leaving your brother to live at the airport.


Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Waiting for Spring and Easter Weekend

My friend Callie took a trip from Utah to visit the East Coast last week.  We got to spend a few days with her while she was here, which we mostly spent eating tons of greasy Southern food at various restaurants and fast food establishments (so nice to have an excuse to indulge in a calorie fest!).  

This is Kaden and me with her at Pullen Park on the ONLY day we had sunshine.  This Spring has been CRAZY here in North Carolina.  We usually have such beautiful weather in March, and it just hasn't happened this year.  It's been pretty cold and rainy, which means we've been going stir crazy.  Kaden was SO brave and decided he wanted to ride the train AND the boats while we were there (last time we tried it was a no-go).  I was so proud of him!  He LOVED the train ride.

Since Callie left, he has walked around the house saying, "I want my friend," which is how he referred to her the entire time she was here, even though I kept reminding him her name was Miss Callie.  

We headed to Kinston for Easter weekend.  We had shot a wedding in Kinston the weekend before Easter, so we almost decided to stay in Raleigh, rather than making a return visit.  Thinking about missing out on an Easter Sunday feast with the Reese clan was too traumatic, however, and I convinced Chad we should wear out our welcome by going two weekends in a row.  Because seriously, let's face it.  If left to our own devices, we would have eaten something lame like microwavable chimichangas instead of ham and deviled eggs.  

On Saturday, Kaden went to an Easter egg hunt at Cutter Creek.  I was a little worried about taking him, since it started right when he should have been going down for a nap.  He was super cranky, but he made it through.  We opted to skip the games and rush him home for a rest afterwards.  There weren't very many kids there, so he ended up with quite the haul!

On Saturday night, Gigi and Poppy kept Kade, and Chad and I went out to dinner at Chef and the Farmer, which was incredibly yummy.  We've been wanting to eat there forever and finally decided to splurge.  It did not disappoint. 

Funny side story:  I have long said that we Reeses should have a reality TV show.  I'm telling you, Duck Dynasty has nothing on us.  As we were leaving for dinner, Kaden was on the porch with his uncle and Poppy saying, "I wanna HEYYYLLLLPPP you!" Meaning he wanted to help shoot a BB gun at a target in the yard.  Yes, my two year old has a Southern accent and pronounces the word help with at least three syllables, despite having moved to Raleigh where no one else has one. We're not sure how that happened.  Maybe you can take the boy out of Kinston, but will never get the Kinston out of the boy?  It's pretty hilarious.  

On Sunday morning, Kaden was thrilled to discover the goods the Easter Bunny had brought him.

He absolutely LOVED the airplane that was tucked inside his basket.  Later he fell in love with the bubble gun, too.  The Bunny went a little easy on the candy, because he'd already received an Easter box from his Grandma and Grandpa, gone on two egg hunts, and there was another Gigi hunt on the horizon.  Some serious sugar rationing was already going to need to happen without additional contributions.

I wanted to get some family photos before we headed to church, but Kaden refused to let me sit by him on the swing.  Then he promptly burst into tears after we put the camera away, because he wanted his picture taken.  Life is hard when you're two and a half.  At least we got a couple of cute shots of Chad and Kade together.

Sunday dinner did not disappoint.  There was homemade German chocolate cake for dessert.  I think I made the right call.

Then, Kaden went on ANOTHER egg hunt, dressed as a ragamuffin, because I was too lazy to change him out of his chocolate-stained, nap time PJs.

  And had a sugar-crash induced meltdown when it was time to get in the car to go home . . .

And our car battery was dead, so he got to continue his temper tantrum while Brucious jumped our car to get the battery going.

 Oh, my, it was highly entertaining.  

It was a great weekend filled with all the things I adore:  beautiful weather, fabulous food, and family we love.  It doesn't get much better than that.  
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