Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Everett and Kaden, an Update in Words and Pictures

Everett Holden’s Six Month Stats

Weight:  19 pounds 5 ounces (81st percentile)
Length:  27.25 inches (75th percentile)
Head Circumference: 45 centimeters (91st percentile)

Three things about these stats somewhat startled me:  
1)  He seriously isn’t 20 pounds?  I thought for sure after he weighed in at almost 18 pounds at his four month visit that he’d be over 20 at his six month appointment, 2) Way to keep your noggin’ big and hold on to the 90th percentile status in one category, buddy!, and 3) There are seriously babies somewhere BIGGER than him?  How do their mothers cart those kids around?  And what kind of comments do they get when they tell people their babies are only six months old?  Most people I tell stare wide eyed and say, “Wow!  I was going to guess 9 months!”  Case in point:  when we toured a local preschool with friends, the director asked if he was the same age as the 18 month old in the stroller next to him, and she is not a petite cookie!

Things I never want to forget about Everett at this age and stage:

--This kid HATES baby food.  Seriously.  It’s been an interesting road getting him to eat real food.  Kaden took to solids right away, so I was expecting the same thing for baby number two.  This was just one more instance where I was reminded that I am raising two different kids, with distinct personalities.  We started him on rice cereal after his four month check up, and he took to it pretty well.  I decided to try some “real food” which kind of went disastrously (picture a baby, smiling in a puddle of prune vomit in his crib), so we decided to just stick with cereal and oatmeal for a couple more months.  A couple of weeks before his six month checkup, we tried baby food again.  This time, he wouldn’t even take it.  Any time I’d spoon baby food into his mouth, he would gag and spit it all out.  I tried mixing the tiniest smidgen with his cereal to trick him, but he was too smart for that.  All we got was instant gag and spit, even with the foods ALL babies are supposed to like:  sweet potatoes, peaches, bananas!  When I went in for his six month check up, the doctor suggested what I was kind of already thinking, that he may just not like the texture of baby food.  So we’ve started feeding him grown up foods mashed up, and he’s loving that.  So far he’s done applesauce, mashed banana, scrambled egg, and tonight black beans.  He’s gobbled them all up like a champ!

--He can roll from back to belly, will play quite contently, and then get super frustrated when he can’t figure out how to get onto his back again.  He did roll from belly to back on our bed tonight, but I’m pretty sure it was because we were all sitting on the bed, and the mattress was sloping to his advantage.  Just like Kaden at this age, he is far from a rolling machine.  My kids are little butterballs and pretty lazy.

--He can sit up by himself, but not for too long before he topples or his belly weight pulls him straight forward.

--He is a mommy’s boy, and I kind of love it. 

--He can definitely tell when he has 100% of your attention and eats it up.  He usually goes completely bonkers when Kaden is at Joy School.  You can tell he knows everything is about him for a few hours, and he’s super smiley and wants to play, play, play.  If you try to hold him while doing something on the computer, he won’t stop fussing until you stop.    

Here's Everett on one of Kade's Joy School days.  He seems to be saying, "You're watching me jump!  Me and only me!!!"
 Loving all the one-on-one attention from Mommy:

--His adoration for Kaden just increases as he gets bigger.  He loves his big brother! You can just see the wheels in his head turning.  He can’t wait to do everything Kade does!

--He will usually be happy in his exersaucer, bumbo seat, or one of his jumpy toys for at least a little while now.

--He still prefers to be carried around all day long. (Which is why my back can’t believe he’s not at least 20 pounds!) 

--He is sick all the time.  Seriously.  I don’t know what is wrong with my breast milk, but it clearly isn’t making enough of those promised antibodies.  The poor kid has had so many stuffy-nosed, congested-cough episodes that it’s sometimes hard to figure out when one ends and the next one starts.  He is pretty good friends with Gigi's old humidifier.  

--He will officially sleep 10 hours at night, due to our three day sleep training exercise.  Of course, due to his current sickies, we’ll probably have to go through the whole traumatic experience again.

--He will plant the biggest, open-mouthed smooches on your cheek and pats your back when being held. I swear he is giving us hugs and kisses.

--He is the world’s worst napper.  Oh, it’s so awful.  Once he’s feeling better, I know that’s something we’re going to have to tackle!  It is so hard to keep him on a schedule that also works with needing to drive Kaden places, so it’s partially my fault.    

--He is such a snuggle bug.  He will nuzzle right into your neck and make you feel like a million bucks. 

These pictures are old, but I can't resist including them.  Everett with his great grandparents, Nana and Papa:

--He has been blessed with gifted equipment and can pee through any diaper.  I have tried multiple brands and styles.  When we were visiting my parents, it got completely out of control.  He would go down at 8 and have peed through his diaper by 11:00.  And I'm not talking about slightly damp.  He would be soaking in a puddle of pee.  Changing a crib sheet in the middle of the night is pretty terrible.  You know what's worse?  Changing it at least THREE times. And I am not exaggerating.  It was so awful.  My mom suggested we put him in bigger diapers, so we bought some size fours.  He was not to be deterred.  We bought the special night time diapers, and he still managed to wet through those.  My mom did some online research and here's where we now stand:  We are having about an 80% success rate putting him in night time diapers lined with maxi pads.  Yes, you heard me right.  Women's feminine hygiene products.  And he still manages to occasionally wet through those.  How is that even possible?!  

--He is still such a happy, content, lovable baby.  I am so thankful he came to our family.

Mr. Kaden Fox is changing and growing so much each day, too.  I can't believe he's almost three and a half!

Here are some fun tidbits I want to remember forever about Kade at this age and stage:  

--He has started Sunbeams, and now goes to Primary on Sundays instead of the nursery.  (If you aren't a member of our church, children 18 months to three years attend nursery, where they have toys to play with, snack time, and a very short lesson.  Children three and up attend Primary.  Kaden is now in the Sunbeam class (for three year olds).  He goes to class time, where they have a scripture-based lesson, and then goes to sharing time, where they have singing time, a more interactive lesson, and children participate by giving talks, etc.)  This has been a big change for him, and he's done so incredibly well.  He was HYSTERICAL the first Sunday after this transition.  We asked him about Primary, complimenting him on how well everyone said he behaved, and he said, "I just like nursery better."  When we asked him why, he said, "You have to be really quiet."  Also, on this Sunday, one of the leaders asked if anyone would like to recite an Article of Faith, and his hand shot straight up.  Ha!  They asked him which one he'd like to say, and he said, "Number eight!"  Double ha!  Someone was nice enough to help him recite one, and he's since memorized the first one at home.  We're working on the second one.  

--When we first started prepping him for this change, I reminded him of the song, "Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam!" and we sang it a few times, trying to get him excited to go to Sunbeams.  Apparently he got the wrong impression, because the night before church he kept asking me, "Is Jesus going to be there?" And, my parenting doesn't deserve much credit, because the thought of that pretty much terrified him.

--He pretty much says every prayer around these parts.  If someone else starts to say the prayer at dinner or at family prayer before bed, he freaks out and says, "It's my turn!" and just starts praying.  His prayers are so sweet and heartfelt.  Some of my favorites lately have been when he prayed about missing Christmas time ("Dear Heavenly Father, I just really miss Christmas time, because I love our tree, and the lights are so beautiful") and when he prayed for his friend Mark ("Please bless Mark." Emotional pause. "I just miss him!")

--He has an incredibly active imagination and has been through several imaginary friends.  For a while, he played with Hiccup (think How to Train Your Dragon) every day.  We took Hiccup everywhere.  He also turned his baby riding toy into an imaginary dragon, whom he donned Groggle.  The highlight, was when he decided that, like Hiccup in the movie, he had also lost his leg and needed a prosthesis.  And he used his T-ball stand for a solid two weeks to fill the need.  He literally referred to it as his prosthesis.  How many three year olds even know what that is?  He would be downstairs and suddenly scream, "Mommy!  I can't walk!  I need my prosthesis!"  Hilarious.  I kind of insisted we didn't take that imaginary scenario out of the house.  I wasn't sure how a fabricated handicap would fly with folks in the grocery store.  Hiccup hasn't been around lately, but we've enjoyed the company of a shark for the last few days.

--He remains a complete sports fanatic and is constantly throwing or kicking anything that resembles a ball.  I'm glad he's inherited Chad's athleticism!  

With Poppy at his second Hurricane's game:

--He is such a great little helper!  

Helping make cookies on a visit to Gigi's House:

--One day, when his friend Liam was over, I asked them what they wanted to be when they grew up.  Kaden said, "A missionary," which kind of melted my heart.  When I asked him where he thought he might go on his mission, he said, "Hmmm . . . oh, I know!  Maybe the library!"  So cute.

--He is still fiercely independent and strong willed. This has its perks. The other morning he waltzed into our room in the a.m. wearing different pajamas than I put him down in. He had had an accident in the middle of the night on the way to the potty. Since his sheets weren't wet, he just changed his own clothes and went back to bed.  I was kind of amazed.

--He insists on wearing a particular pair of pants backwards.

--He is a champ at even our most difficult puzzles.  He can even do our cube puzzles that are six puzzles in one.  He borrowed a floor puzzle from his friend Mark and did it over, and over, and over again.

--He went around the house one morning after Christmas drilling and hammering with his new tools that Santa brought.  He told me, "I'm making our house smaller, so Daddy will have to put up lights." (We told him our house was too tall to put up Christmas lights when he asked why we didn't have lights on our house.)

--He has special names for songs and has so many songs memorized.  For example, he calls, "Abide With Me, 'Tis Eventide" "The Shadow Song" and Billy Joel's "Lullabye" "Angel Song."    

--He has inherited some of my OCD tendencies.  He loves to line things up.  He does a great job cleaning up his room all by himself.  I overheard him telling his Joy School friends, "This is out of control!  You need to clean this mess up!"  (Whoops.  Where do you think he's heard that from a time or two?)  Similarly, I overheard him telling Juliet, "Juliet!  I have had enough!"  when he was asking her not to mix the play dough colors.  (I may say, "I have had enough," when I discipline my child.)  

--He is loving Joy School, and I am loving the chance to be one of his teachers!  The last time I taught we did the letter Q and number 17.  For our craft time on the first day we painted with q-tips.  The kids loved this!

Playing a number recognition/ordering game:

 Snack time:

 Building marble towers with Juliet and Mark:

I just registered him for "real" preschool for next fall, and I can't believe he'll be gone three mornings a week!  We found the cutest Baptist preschool right down the road from us, and a couple of friends are planning to attend there, too.  When we went to tour the school, it literally took me less than five minutes to drive there.  Can we say convenient?  We are planning to give him an extra year of preschool before starting kindergarten, since he has an August birthday.  This school has a transitional kindergarten class that he can take for that year, if we like it and decide to stay.  

--He continues to amaze me with the love and attention he shows Everett.  He's always been sweet to him, but lately he will put his arm around him, hug him, kiss him, and a plethora of other things that make my heart squeal.  The other day, I was talking to Chad and said, "I need you to hold Evers," but Kade thought I was talking to him and said, "I can certainly hold him," and he did.  It was adorable.  

--Lately, he tells me about a million times a day, "I just love you so much, Mommy," or "Mommy, I love you THIS much!" (While spreading his arms as wide as they can go.)  Every time he does this, I want to freeze time.  I never get tired of hearing it!  

--After begging and begging, we signed him up for indoor soccer.  He has only been a couple of times so far, and he LOVES it.  I love the fact that he takes a stellar nap afterwards and still wants to go to bed early.  That is money well spent in my book.  It's also been a great way for him to burn a lot of energy now that we're in the coldest part of winter.  

--He LOVES to play games.  We play a lot of Candyland; Hi, Ho Cherry-o; Memory; and Bingo.  He also likes to win and already practices the Reese trait of smack talk.

--He still loves books, which makes this English teacher mommy very proud.  The other day, he and his friend Mark were playing together, when things got very quiet.  Usually, this is not a good sign, so I went upstairs to check on them, only to find them on Kaden's bed reading piles of books.  So fantastic!

--After a particularly rough day, I was joking with Chad that we were going to have to switch places, and I was going to go back to work.  I didn't even know Kaden was listening, but he got all teary, and said, "No!  You can't!  I would miss you too much!"  Which made me feel about 110% better about my day.  

--He is kind of a serious kid.  But not.  I don't know how to explain this, really.  He will be silly with us at home, or with his friends, but tricks that usually work to make kids laugh don't work for him.  When we went to have our family photos taken in Utah, the photographer had this funny monkey hat on, and was using a noise maker to get the kids to laugh.  He kept looking at her like, "What the heck, lady?"  And he usually takes awhile to warm up in a social situation where there are people he doesn't know.  When we go to story time at the library, it's pretty common for him to refuse to do the silly dance contest.  He participated today, though, and I was so proud!

--I'm pretty sure he would eat at "Chick-a-lay!" every day if we would let him.  

--His favorite show right now is Transformers:  Rescue Bots.  It's like a little kids version of Transformers.  He's somewhat obsessed.  All of his cars are now robots that go around putting out fires, saving people from sharks, you name it.  

--He frequently asks, "What's next?!" during the day.  He's always ready for the next outing or adventure.  I feel so lucky to be the one who gets to join him.   

Saturday, January 25, 2014

December Craziness

The month of December, leading up to Christmas, was a bit of a blur.

At some point we decorated the tree, and I tried to control my OCD when Kaden put 3/4 of the ornaments on the very bottom.

Kaden boycotted a few naps.  On the good days, sleep still caught up with him:

 Chad snapped this cool Peter Pan-esque shot of Kade's shadow:

We enjoyed lots of snuggle time:

Jingle Bell, our resident elf, showed up and surprised us each morning with his shenanigans:

I turned 30 on the 18th.  For how much I was dreading it, it turned out to be a pretty spectacular day.  Chad went out of his way to make me feel extra special and loved all day with text messages and small gifts for me to find.  I had already bought my birthday present on black Friday:  an HD Nook Tablet, which I have fallen in love with.  Some of my sweet friends threw me a surprise brunch when I went to pick Kaden up from Joy School.  And I was very surprised.  Which is why I was in workout clothes and looked like this:

 I love that Kaden is pretending to be Gru from Despicable Me in the background.  He does that from time to time.

For my birthday entertainment, the kids acted out the nativity, which was fairly comical, since Everett starred as a baby Jesus who was almost as big as Mary and Joseph:

  It was also approaching nap time for just about everyone, so the kids were in rare form.  Hilarious.

Bernice and I spent a lot of bonding time kneading up some tasty gifts for friends and neighbors. Batches of cinnamon rolls and bread filled our kitchen with some pretty fabulous smells for a couple solid days.  These beauties were gifted to some with jars of strawberry jam I made last May:

These two love to "help" in the kitchen:

Everett packed on a few holiday pounds and had a hard time squeezing into his skinny jeans one morning:

It was nothing that the "lie down on the bed" trick couldn't fix:

We went to Kinston for a weekend to celebrate an early Christmas with Chad's family.  While we were there, I cashed in on the rest of my birthday presents from Chad.  The two of us went out for a belated birthday dinner for me (got to love free babysitting from Gigi and Poppy) at our favorite gourmet, five star restaurant in the middle of nowhere:  Chef and the Farmer.  We kind of love that A Chef's Life on PBS is highlighting how awesome it is.  Plus, it's super fun to see Chad's hometown getting some good publicity.  Oh, my, was it as tasty as ever.  I am still dreaming of these pork belly skewers drenched in blueberry barbecue sauce.

Our sage-brined pork chop wasn't too shabby either:

Then I went and had my hair cut and colored by my favorite stylist.  I figured turning 30 warranted a change, so I chopped my hair and added some highlights.  I love it!  Kaden was not a fan and immediately let me know.  Ha!

We opened gifts with Chad's family Saturday night and enjoyed listening to Joy give her traditional performance of "Oh, Holy Night" at church on Christmas Sunday.

We then headed home, got a good night's sleep, and Santa decided to stop by and deliver some more early gifts for Kaden and Everett.  We woke Kaden up on Monday morning before Chad left for work, so he could see what Santa brought, and we could have our family Christmas celebration around our tree.

This turned out somewhat anti-climactic, since we'd already had massive spoilage a couple of days before.  I've kind of learned my lesson.  Next year, we really want to stay put for Christmas morning and let that be the big gift experience of the season.  This year, we ended up with the equivalent of three Christmas mornings, by the time we got home from visiting my parents.  I'm hoping Kaden is young enough that we haven't created a spoiled brat.  It was out of complete control.

Chad went to work that Monday and I worked like a crazy person to catch up on laundry and to pack in preparation for our Christmas Eve departure to Utah the next afternoon.

We flew across the country and didn't make it to Salt Lake until almost midnight.  Probably not the best idea, since that was closer to 2 a.m. our time.  The tickets were a TON cheaper that way, though, so that is what we did.  The kids did really well on both flights, but I honestly thought the long layover in Dallas might kill us.  Kaden was so overtired and SUPER whiny.  He kept saying, "I'm not tired!" and "I'm not going to sleep!" He then promptly passed out during take off and slept for the entire flight to Salt Lake.  Chad snapped this gem and I can't resist sharing.  This is what flying with two kids looks like:

Now that's attractive.

We are so thankful to my mom and dad who helped us come home for Christmas this year.  There's no way we could have afforded holiday ticket prices without their help.  We had a great time visiting with the Jensen side of the family.  We spent a lot of time relaxing, eating good food, and just being together.  We did go on a few outings, though, and had a lot more planned before the sickness of death attacked everyone and we had to buoy up inside.

We were super sad that it didn't snow while we were there.  We did get to play in what was left from a previous storm, but Kaden really had his heart set on making a snowman, and the snow on the ground just wouldn't cooperate.  He still loved stomping around in it, and begged to go play in it several times:

My mom was always willing to cuddle Evers to sleep, even after his 2 a.m. feedings. It was definitely a nice break for me!  That is the perk to having a family of night owls.  There was almost always someone up when I got up to feed Ev in the middle of the night.  It made being awoken two or three times almost pleasant.  I think my brother and I watched two movies while I nursed Everett on the sofa in the middle of the night.  It was awesome!

Everett learned a new trick (and I totally packed him more than one sleeper, but he obviously got a lot of use out of this Christmas one while we were there . . . ):

Kaden loves his Uncle Jared, who is nice enough to let him play all his instruments when we come to visit:

We got to spend some time with my sweet niece, Addy, who is a little spitfire of energy.  Kaden loved playing with her, and has since told me she was his favorite part of the trip.

We ate at a ton of our favorite places.  Cafe Rio got at least four good visits while we were there. Bryan treated us to In-N-Out shakes and burgers.  My mom watched the kids for us on several occasions, so we could escape the house kid-free.  Chad and I went shopping at the new City Creek Mall one day, went to see The Hobbit one night, and went out with my brother Jared, who treated us to sushi.  

I met up with some old pals from freshman year and had a great time catching up with them.  They are as lovely and beautiful as ever!  I can't believe it's been so long since our freshman year at BYU!  

We went to Temple Square and savored the beautiful light display for as long as we could handle the cold, which wasn't terribly long.  Everett spent the entire excursion passed out in the stroller, bundled up to the max.

Chad, the boys, and I took a drive to Provo one day and toured our old stomping grounds.  We visited BYU and UVU campus and saw some of the changes that have been made since we graduated.  We ate at L&L Hawaiian BBQ, where we once split a helping of chicken katsu on a weekly basis, and bought a Jamba Juice to sip while we drove around.  My favorite part was taking selfies in front of all the places we lived.

In front of our building at Glenwood Apartments, which we affectionately referred to as Glen-hood (now "The Lodges at Glenwood"), where we met:

In front of our very first married apartment (middle floor) at The Branbury, where we were also slaves RAs and worked for discounted rent.  Our friends, Keith and Janelle, lived right above us.  They were slaves RAs, too.   

Our last place in Orem, which was actually a super nice condo in the perfect location--close to the freeway when I was spending my first year teaching in Lehi and equally close to UVU, where Chad was finishing up his last year of school.  Oh, man, I loved that place.  The vaulted ceilings and extra room totally made the crazy Asian landlord worth it.  

 We took Kaden to Kangaroo Zoo, an indoor bouncy house place.  He LOVED it and burned a ton of energy.

We had family pictures taken all together on a frigid day in Midway.  They turned out great, but we haven't ordered the ones we want from the photographer yet, so I'll have to wait to post them here later.

We also had our traditional New Year's Eve feast, complete with shrimp, bacon wrapped chicken skewers, grilled pineapple, Brazilian lemonade, cheese ball, bacon tomato tarts, loaded nachos, and crab and cream cheese won tons.  So delicious.  We even let Kaden stay up to toast in the New Year.

Before we knew it, it was time to head home and back to reality.  It is always hard for me to leave my family.  I hate that they are so far away, but I feel blessed that we had such a long visit with them over the holidays.

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