Sunday, August 17, 2014

Happy 4th Birthday, Kaden!

Kaden turned four on August 11th.  I can't believe that four years have passed since I became a mom.  I may have cried when I told Kaden his birth story.  I told him all about how Daddy and Grandma Jensen were there, about how everyone proclaimed, "That's a big baby!" except me, because I still thought he was super tiny, and about how all the nurses would come in and peek at him during the day, because they had heard he was the most beautiful baby in the hospital.  It's true.  They did.  Because he was. His reaction was, "They should have said I was handsome!"

We opted to have an early family birthday party for Kade, since his Rankin cousins were in town at the start of August.  We had a combined party with Tanner, who turned three in July.  It was a Superhero themed shin-dig, with our interpretation of Superhero being pretty broad at best.  Basically, it was a low-stress, quickly-thrown-together bash that still made two boys incredibly happy.  It was a win-win.  

The two birthday boys loved the balloons, the only decoration splurge we made:

We had the party around lunch time.  We grilled hot dogs, and had an Italian soda bar (recycled from a baby shower I recently helped with for a friend).  

The kids LOVED blowing bubbles in their special drinks and eating outside on the back porch:

Kaden's one request had been to have a pinata.  I scored a free penguin pinata on a virtual yard sale site.  Since we were going with a "broad interpretation" of Superhero, we went with free.  We pinned a superman cape on the seabird, before letting the kids whack him with a baseball bat.

Kenzie helped hang the pinata:

Some of the spectators, enjoying the whacking from a safe distance:

It was filled with mostly "treasures" and a few candies.  The kids loved all the goods, and since there were so few party guests, everyone got at least one of everything.  

Here's Kenzie, modeling a couple of the pinata accessories:

Both boys were spoiled rotten.  I think there may be some confusion.  It looked like Christmas morning when the boys started unwrapping.  

Everett rolled around in the hallway with a balloon during most of the gift opening:

Our big gift to Kade was a collection of five Rescue Bots. He loves this show right now.  It's basically Transformers for younger kids.  He LOVES these toys, and has played with them a ton since his birthday party.  

Gigi and Poppy supplied the superhero cake.  Spiderman is Tanner's favorite, and Superman is Kaden's.  Since the bakery didn't have a Superman logo, we had to improvise:

This entire experience left me realizing this:  No four year old really cares about a Pinterest-perfected party.  All they want is cake, ice cream, and a bunch of wrapped up second hand toys to tear into.  Seriously.  Kaden LOVED his party.  I am pretty positive we're going to keep putting off "real" birthday parties for as long as possible.  

On Kaden's actual birthday, he got two surprises:

I took him to his favorite restaurant for lunch.  Considering his refined palate, we all know what that meant:

Chick-A-Lay of course.  Complete with play place.  He was in Heaven.

After we came home, we were all in for another big surprise.  My friend Jamie had mentioned she wanted to drop by with her kids to surprise him with a gift.  Imagine my surprise when three of our favorite moms and their kids showed up with balloons, cupcakes, and gifts.  It was an incredibly sweet and thoughtful gesture, and it meant the world to me.

I love this expressive bunch!  (Mark, Kade, Mia, Jack, Noah, and Liam):

I love everything about this photo:

Does this not look fun?  Are you not entertained?!

Everett loves Noah!  Here, Noah's teaching him to play the harmonica:

Mark gave Kaden a sleeping bag that looks like a fox when it's all rolled up (since Kaden's middle name is Fox).  Too cute!  Here's the crew, trying to all climb in:

Rachel made yummy cupcakes, complete with sprinkles!

I love all these sweet, preschool-penned messages:

I am so thankful for good friends.  Especially for good friends with awesome kids.

Happy birthday, Kaden Bug!  We love you!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Kinston Vacay/Reese Crew Family Time

This year we proved that you don't have to go away to have a fun family vacation.  Meredith, Adam, and their three kids drove to North Carolina from Denver, so we knew we wanted to cram in as much cousin time as possible while they were here.  Cameron's girlfriend, Jessica, was also visiting from Nevada.  We had briefly met her in Utah while we were visiting my parents at Christmas time, but we wanted to get to know her better while she was visiting NC.  Chad took off five straight days from work, and we ended up spending close to two weeks in Kinston, vegging out, basking in the Joycious' and the Brucious' hospitality, and staying up way too late playing games once the kids were in bed.

We drove in on a Friday and headed straight to the beach when we woke up on Saturday morning.  

Kaden is as much of a fish in the sea as he is in the swimming pool.  He loves the beach so much, and I love watching him fall more and more in love with it.   

Everett spent a lot of time under the shade canopy, since he isn't so sure about the ocean yet.  It's a bit loud and scary for him, considering we're working on learning to like the swimming pool.

He did, however, like the Gatorade.

Chad laughs at me, because any chance I get to make my children's hair appear naturally curly, I take it.  A combination of salt water, sweat, and a little sand does this to even my straight-haired babies:

Our family on the pier at Emerald Isle (You can't really see Everett, but he's in the Ergo on my back):

Kaden begged anyone and everyone to go out in the waves with him.  He loves boogie boarding!

The kids passed out on the ride home:

The minivan packed with cousins arrived on Saturday night, along with Ken's BBQ that Nana and Papa had picked up earlier (the best!).  

The kids got along so incredibly well on this trip.  They didn't start fighting until the very end, and by that point they'd been together in close proximity for a good ten days.  They played together for hours at a time without even a squabble, and, with the exception of a couple of small instances, didn't even do anything naughty.  It was awesome, and it makes me so excited for when we are all together again at Christmas time this year.  

We all got to meet baby Caroline, Meredith and Adam's precious new addition.  She is sweet, perfect, and TINY.  It's an unjust world, I tell you, when my sister in law gives birth to six and seven pound babies, and I get to pop out nine-plus pounders.  

Both my boys loved their baby cousin, and Everett didn't even mind when I held her (Kaden used to freak out when I would hold other babies, when he was Ev's age).  I loved snuggling her, and I may have shed a few tears when I realized my baby is definitely not a baby any more when compared to her.  

We borrowed a couple of bikes from a friend in Kinston, and Kenzie and Kaden both worked on ditching the training wheels.  Gigi and Poppy have the perfect driveway for learning to ride!  I love that Kade is riding a My Little Pony bike in this video.  It takes me back to my childhood for sure.

While we were in Kinston, we took both boys to get haircuts by the one and only Miss Alison.  Kaden won't let anyone else cut his hair.  He adores her!  And how can you not?  She is fantastic.  Everett was so brave! He didn't shed a tear, and held pretty still, as long as I kept shoveling fruit snacks into his mouth fast enough.

I went to a consignment sale right before we left Raleigh, and scored this amazing sprinkler toy for $3.00.  It was $3.00 well spent.  The kids LOVED it.  It was a royal pain to inflate it, but oh, so worth it.

Jess was wonderful, and we were sad to see her go!  We tried to convince her to stay longer, but it wasn't meant to be.  We are hoping she will come visit us again in December!  For some reason I have no pictures of her on my phone.  Probably because I am always chasing my kids and taking pictures of them.  I stole this one from her Facebook page:

We made it to the beach a second time, this time with cousins added to the mix, making it even more fun! We went to Atlantic Beach and parked at Miss Beth's cottage.

The Reeses take sand castle construction very seriously.  Full sized shovels are involved.

And overseen slave labor.

The finished products are pretty spectacular:

Poppy played lots of bocce ball with the kiddos.

And baby Caroline was an angel the entire time, snoozing and cooing in the shade.

Meredith and Joy kept all the kids one evening, so Chad and I could go shooting with Bruce, Cameron, Jessica, and Adam.

And we tucked our kids in early one night, so all the adult kids could go out to eat at The Boiler Room. Gigi and Poppy were good enough to hold down the fort at home.

We took the kids to the nature center in K-town one day for a quick visit:

We spent quite a few mornings/afternoons at the Cutter Creek pool for some synchronized kid throwing and fun in the sun.

I got very emotional (I know, so shocking, right?!) one night as we were all going our separate ways after a dinner out.  I seriously love my Reese family members so much.  Every single one of them.

Looking forward to another reunion with the whole crew come Christmas time!
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