Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Here Comes Peter Cotton Tail

Easter was perfectly timed this year in connection with a mini food revolution that I staged after attending a clean eating class in February.  (Maybe I'll eventually get around to elaborating on that later, but basically, we went hardcore for us, but not hardcore like the people who eat wheat germ and applesauce birthday cake and other totally bizarre stuff like that.  No offense if you prefer to eat wheat germ birthday cake.  I just prefer chocolate, in large quantities, when celebrations are in order.  For us, hardcore was basically eliminating the purchase of products containing food dyes--which, who KNEW they are in such a terrifying amount of products lining our grocery store shelves.  We started trying to further limit the amount of processed garbage we consume, but we still consume some of it.  We have to make this a change we can live with, and not something that will lead to weeks of binge eating nothing but Oreos and french fries.  I started making all of our bread, so that's something.  And we've made a series of small changes.  The hardest change for Kaden was that I am no longer buying fruit snacks, something he used to beg for from the moment he woke up until the moment he went to sleep.  I made this decision for a couple of reasons:  1)  I was sick of hearing him ask me in the whiniest voice imaginable for something multiple times a day, having to say no and hear more whining (which then led to time out and other unpleasantries), or giving in and letting him have a billion fruit snacks a day, 2) fruit snacks are not exactly cheap, especially when your kid wants to eat them at the rate Kade does, and 3) I had to pick up at least four different brands of them in the grocery store before I found even ONE that didn't contain red #40, blue #1, or yellow #5.  So the fruit snacks got cut from the grocery list.  The second hardest change was adjusting our cereal selection in the pantry.  Chad is kind of a cereal fiend, and Kaden has followed suit.  A pretty large section of our pantry is filled with cereal, and a lot of it used to be quite colorful and sugary.  Saying bye to Fruit Loops was kind of a hard thing for Kade.  The week the Toucan's box disappeared from the cabinet was the week we caught him smuggling the brown sugar canister into the half bathroom, so it was obviously a difficult adjustment. Anyway, we still let Kaden have those things on special occasions, or when he is offered them by someone else--a friend, grandparent, etc.  We've just decided to stop spending our own money on them, which makes it much easier to have them as an occasional indulgence.  I love to bake, and I'm still baking--cookies, cupcakes, you name it--even with GASP! white flour.  You'll likely see us at the Chick-fil-A from time to time.  We're not perfect, we aren't a model "clean eating" family, but I feel like it's good to make a conscious effort, and especially to talk to Kaden about food choices.  I want to make sure he understands that what we eat affects our bodies.  I also want to point out that I in NO WAY think that because I've stopped buying fruit snacks and Fruit Loops that I am a better parent than someone who still buys them.  These are just changes we decided needed to be made for OUR family, because we were having a hard time remembering "moderation in all things."  To each his or her own.  So.  That kind of ended up being a lot more explanation than I originally intended.  Sorry about that.)  So.  As I was saying, when Easter rolled around, everyone, particularly Kaden, was pretty stoked about Cadbury Mini Eggs, Starburst Jelly Beans, and the like.  And Kaden  hit up three solid egg hunts to make sure we were fully stocked.  Then Chad and I ate most of the candy while he was sleeping, or just wasn't looking.

Our first egg hunt was by far the coolest.  It was a night time Easter egg hunt.  It almost didn't happen, but at the last minute, it pulled together.  We have an amazing friend in our ward who goes above and beyond on every holiday, and she put it together.  Kaden had an absolute blast!

I love this shot of Kaden's friend, Jack.  Someone had brought these awesome LED finger lights.

 Mark, holding the baby who is a quarter of his age, but not a quarter of his size:

 Poor Evers.  It was definitely past his bedtime.  

Not to be deterred by the fact that we already had a boatload of candy in the house, we headed to the Primary Easter egg hunt the next afternoon.  This time, Kaden hunted in the daylight:

Then it was time to head to Kinston for a fun weekend, complete with another egg hunt at Gigi and Poppy's house.  And of course the good bunny himself decided to drop in on Saturday night.

So excited to see what was in those eggs!

 The Easter bunny must have decided one box of fruit snacks was in order!  

We got all spiffed up for church and listened to Poppy speak and Gigi sing during sacrament meeting.  

 And Kaden may have gotten to drive part of the way home in Poppy's convertible, once we were in their neighborhood.  He tells me at least once a day that he's going to have a "Ferrari" like Poppy for his first car.  Or a Top Gear car (meaning the Bugatti Super Sport).  He has exceptional automotive taste for one so young.  

In true Reese fashion, we had a killer good meal to end the day. (This after already having Bruce's famous shrimp and grits the night before!  We were so spoiled!)  You know dinner's good when the sauce from the chicken ends up smeared on the water pitcher by the time the eatin' is done.  

Papa had a birthday while we were there.  We left these M&Ms (his favorite) at his place at the dinner table.  He was pretty happy to find them.  

Then we enjoyed a lovely evening drive back to Raleigh.  My favorite part about a trip to Kinston is all the time I get to visit with Chad in the car.  It's so nice to have almost a couple of hours each direction to just chat with your best friend.

I'm so thankful for Easter and the chance it gives us to remember our Savior, Jesus Christ, and his love and sacrifice for us.  If you haven't seen it, you should go watch this video.  There really is so much good in our lives, because of Him.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

A Couple of City Boys

Last week, I took the boys to Farm Days, an event sponsored by the College of Agriculture and Life Science at NC State.  We had the BEST time.  It is so crazy looking back on last year's experience at this same event, when Kaden was still an only child and too terrified to do anything.  This year, he was so excited about everything.  He told me it was the best day ever, and I have to agree.  It was a pretty stellar outing, despite Everett choosing to poop while we were in line waiting to hold the baby chicks, which meant we got to endure that miserable part of the experience twice.  (And let's pretend there weren't two horrible teachers on field trips with their elementary classes who cut in front of us the second go around.  That's TWO groups of 20+ kids.  So.  Incredibly.  Rude.)

Anyway, I relish any opportunity to expose my kids to the country life that was once my own, although it kind of seems like a dream, since it was so long ago. 

When I was growing up, I had two sets of friends whose fathers were dairy farmers.  Milk fresh from the cow was not a foreign concept to me.  In fact, when I would go play at my friend Rachel's house, we used to climb to the top of fences like the one pictured below, spread out our arms, and wait for the cows (likely looking for some hay or grain to fall from our human hands) to flock to us.  "We're famous!"  we'd shout. We'd tell the cows a few knock-knock jokes, wave, or perform a short dance.  The cows were a captive audience and would stand there, chewing their cuds, staring.  It may not sound like a great time to you, but when you're ten and live in the middle of nowhere, it's quality entertainment.  Farm Days is nothing like that, however, because there are swarms of people.  A massive crowd you try to weave your way through to see all the various exhibits.  Even so, I'm glad we went.          

My new favorite picture of my boys:

Kaden may have asked me if this was a pretend cow.  Sheesh.  In hindsight, I guess his choosing to sport a fedora to the countryside should have indicated to me that he was no country boy.    

Everett was such a trooper the entire time.  So happy and smiley!

In Kade's defense, there were fake cows there, which he tried to "milk."

You can see a video of Kade milking a fake cow, here:

Like I said, Everett was the smiliest guy on the planet almost the entire time we were there!

Waiting in line to try out the tractors:

He chose this candy apple red number first:

And he was pleased as punch after climbing into the driver's seat:

Still smiling, even though he was too little to drive a tractor of his own!

He made sure he put on a seat belt when he climbed into the cab of this combine:

And he was a bit worried when this vehicle didn't have a seat belt (just one more red flag screaming that he's not a farm kid):

After the tractors, we found some vanilla ice cream:

Kaden was so excited to see the pigs, since we are currently reading Charlotte's Web.  We decided this little guy could definitely pass for Wilbur:

The crowning moment of the entire afternoon was definitely getting to hold this fluffy little fella:

Video footage is here:


He roped a "steer":


And what's not to love about an outing that ends in a second helping of ice cream.  We finally ran into our friend Jack, right before we left, so I decided to let Kade have "Everett's" chocolate ice cream, so we could visit with him for a bit.  

You may recall that I once lamented the fact that Kaden can't possibly enjoy the same childhood I did.  I still have moments where I yearn for some of those "country" things for him, but I like to think he's having his own taste of a golden childhood.  Two ice creams in one day?  When you're a kid, that's pretty golden. Hopefully, if I cram enough stuff like this in, it can make up for the days I botch as a mom.        

Wednesday, April 09, 2014


Heaven looks like . . . 

-Dogwood trees in bloom during a North Carolina spring.  We've had an unusually cold spring this year, but yesterday I turned into our neighborhood, after jetting to the grocery store with the boys, and audibly gasped when I saw the dogwoods in some stranger's yard.  They were that beautiful.  There's nothing like a whimsical dogwood tree.  They are one of my favorite parts of the south.  I love that they always burst into bloom right around the time some of their buddies are starting to get their actual foliage and lose their blossoms.  It makes them that much more breathtaking.

-A baby who's finally mastered hands and knees crawling and is, therefore, exploring every corner of his habitat.  A bit exhausting?  Yes, but that grin he flashes me every time I squeal, "Everett!  No, no, no, baby!" is just priceless.    

Heaven smells like .  .  .

-Baby fat rolls lathered with sunscreen for a play date at the park.  

-The scent of freshly cut grass that lingers all afternoon and evening on a Saturday.  After Chad mowed our lawn on Saturday morning, the sound of lawn mowers was a constant din until the last light faded.  One neighbor after another was completing the same chore.  I loved it.  It was the smell of summer sneaking around the corner.

Heaven sounds like . . . 

-Everett's laughter.  His sweet, little giggle fills my heart to over-brimming.   

-Hearing a big brother say, "Ev-wett!" a million times a day while he patiently includes him in his play, even in a shopping cart at Sam's Club.

-The quiet hush drifting through our house after little ones have finally succumbed to sleep, both of them still and silent, caught up in their dreams.  

Heaven feels like . . . 

-Snuggling with Kaden to read Charlotte's Web, his head nuzzled lazily against my shoulder.

-Snagging your index finger on the ridge of a first tooth that finally popped through.

-The two full nights of sleep that follow a new tooth, after several sleepless nights with a teething baby.

Heaven tastes like . . . 

-A slice of freshly baked wheat bread, warm from the oven, smothered with homemade strawberry jam.  

-Free ice cream.  On a sunny day.  With friends.

Heaven is right here:  on a drive home from the grocery store, at a park with friends, on my flour-dusted kitchen floor.  So much to be thankful for.    
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