Friday, January 30, 2009

Big Personality Part 2

As previously mentioned, Brenden has developed a very funny personality. Some of the things are just plain funny, others are weird, and some are scary. (His willingness to go to strangers is good and bad.) So here is a new round of unique things that we have noticed.

He has a very interesting way of eating peanut butter crackers, which he loves. He doesn't just take bites and chew them. He doesn't even stick the whole thing in his mouth, which apparently is something he reserves for nilla wafers. He's decided that he likes to pull them apart and eat the peanut butter first. He scrapes it off with his fingers or teeth, or just sucks on the cracker until it's gone. He won't even start eating the crackers until he's sure that all the peanut butter is gone from all the crackers on his tray. Even when he does start munching on the crackers, he doesn't eat all of them. Half of them end up in his lap, and the rest are distributed between the floor and Riley. I'm pretty sure Riley has gained a few pounds since Brenden figured out how to feed him.

The things that don't frighten him surprise me, especially since most of them are things that kids are supposed to be afraid of. Like loud noises, which he seems to love. I'm not sure if it's a boy thing, or just a Brenden thing, but he loves fireworks and the noise of the vacuum cleaner. Maybe it's because Tim vacuumed around him when we first brought him home so he could become accustomed to the noises. I know it's nothing to do with his ears, since his hearing is fine. He just seems to enjoy them. He also has no problem wandering through the dark dance studio at night when everyone else leaves. We noticed when he was little that he preferred a completely dark room when he fell asleep, but I didn't realize that he would be OK with it when he was running around. I hope that continues when he's older. I was terrified of the dark when I was little and I'd hate for him to inherit that from me.

He has the strange ability to figure out how electronics work, which I'm going to assume comes from having a dad that is an engineer. My brother, who is almost 25 years old, couldn't figure out how to use my cell phone so I figured Brenden wouldn't have a clue how to use it. It took him roughly 30 seconds to figure out how to unlock it and a few more minutes to realize that the pictures on the screen were buttons. I thought it was a fluke, so I handed it to him again later. He knew exactly when way to turn it and had it unlocked even faster. He's seen me use it every day so he probably picked up how to do it from seeing that. Then at Christmas he was handed several different phones from the family and he figured out how to use those as well. He has no problem turning on a TV, either with or without a remote, and learned very quickly that when he swung the Wii remote it made the picture on the TV move. I think he may like it almost as much as Tim and I do.

Pitching during a game of Wii baseball. He's a natural!

So those are the new things that have amazed me. There are several other things, but that would take at least 30 more minutes to type out. I can save a few for later. By then he may be doing something even more crazy. Never a dull moment!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

4 Years of Wedded Bliss

January 24th marked 4 years of marriage for Tim and I. It wasn't our big, fancy-shmancy, white dress and black tie wedding, but it is the one that we look at as our official wedding date. He proposed to me on January 7th, 2005, and in just a few weeks we had agreed that waiting until after he came back from Iraq was a bad idea. I had no health insurance and, as his wife, I would get much more support from the Army while he was deployed. So that morning I walked into work and asked for the afternoon off to get married. They all looked at me like I was crazy, but they went and bought me flowers, because every bride needs a bouquet. (I miss everyone at Dr. Foy's office!)

First dinner as husband and wife.

My first wedding bouquet.

Off we went to the court house, where we signed on the dotted line and that was it. Now vows, no witness, no judge, just $16 and it was legal. Then we had to start calling the family, who of course was shocked. Tim's mom finally told me later that she was a little upset by it, but that she realized it was best and that she's glad we did it. I'm really happy that she didn't tell me at first, because I love Connie to death and would have felt horrible for upsetting her. My parents were ecstatic. They have loved Tim from the moment they met him. My dad even told me that I was going to marry him that first day, which was crazy.

We planned an entire day to ourselves yesterday. Mike and Connie came to pick up Brenden and take him to the Jenks Aquarium where he fed stingrays and had a great old time. We went to the matinee showing of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, which was awesome. It didn't feel like it was a 2 1/2 hr long movie at all and the special effects and makeup they used to age the actors was amazing. Of course I cried, but more because I missed Brenden than anything. (If you see the show and have kids you may know what I mean.) After that we headed to the mall so that I could use one of my gifts, a Victoria's Secret gift card. Yay for new bras! My other gift was the rest of the Twilight books, which I am devouring. I read the 2nd book on Friday night, which is when we decided to exchange gifts, and I'm halfway through the 3rd already. (For a great review that doesn't give too much away, please see my friend Heather's blog.) Tim was very happy with his gifts. I got him a set of Perfect Push ups, a cover for his phone, an adapter to hold his Nike+iPod, and the latest Odd Thomas book, which we both love.


After the mall we came home to wait until our reservation at 7 pm, which was all I knew. I didn't know the name of the restaurant, although I did know it was French. (Thanks Mike! hehe) I took a nap (a night of reading wore me out!) and Tim played on the Wii. Eventually we pulled ourselves together and made it out the door. He took me to The Brasserie, which turned out to be fabulous. The waiter helped us choose wine, which we both enjoyed, and the food was great. We both had salads and then Tim had a steak with Bearnaise sauce and I had duck with gnocchi. Then we shared a yummy creme brulee and coffee. By that time it was only 8:30 pm, we were dressed up, and we had no idea what we wanted to do. Eventually we agreed to get a bottle of wine and head home, where we both proceeded to get tipsy while playing the Wii. It may not sound like a perfect night to anyone else, but we had the best time. (Even if I did almost break my arm tripping over furniture.)

Tim - thank you for everything you have given me, which is more than I deserve. Thank you for our beautiful son, who brightens every corner of my life. Thank you for the opportunity to stay at home with him. I will treasure these times with him forever. Thank you for supporting me, through my silly moods as well as the awful ones. Thank you for being wonderful. I love you more than words can say. I look forward to what the future holds for us and I'm so happy to know that I will have you by my side.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

M.I.A. (the acronym, not the rapper)

We've been seriously out of the loop for the last few days. Why? The Wii. The wonderful, time consuming, absolutely awesome Wii that we bought on Saturday. I think we've spent at least 6 hours a day playing the thing, if not longer. We also got a Wii Fit, which is fabulous. My favorite part? When it told me that my BMI was at a normal level and that I should just maintain. SWEET!!!! I've been working hard to loose weight and I'm glad that a video game noticed.

So for the past few days, when we haven't been out and about, we've been bowling, playing tennis, and doing balance games. If you want to have fun and work out some muscles (my shoulder is aching!) and have some extra money lying around then I would really recommend it. Brenden even has fun watching us play, which we try to do sparingly when he's awake. (Nap time is great for a game or twelve of bowling.) He does like the Fit board and running in place with us, which cracks me up.

Working up a sweat on the Wii Fit!

So that's what we've been doing most of the time. I promise the newness will wear off soon, but until then, please understand we aren't ignoring you. (Sorry, Karen!)

We did find some time on Sunday to go to the zoo with everyone again. Everyone included: Tim, me, Brenden, Ginger, Jim, Justin, Mike and Connie. This was the first time we've used our membership card since we got it in November and I really need to use it more often. I think we decided we only have to use it 5 times in the year to make our money back, but I'd like to use it a little more than that. We all had a great time enjoying the nice day and watching the animals. Brenden has even started trying to mimic their noises, which makes me laugh. He knows what to do when I ask him what a dog says, and he's working on meowing when I ask what a kitty says. Someday soon I hope I can get him to moo. Poor kid, I'm always making him show off the funny things he does. I promise I give him crackers for it, though.

Watching the sea lions.

He loves the carousel.

Another new skill is turning around in circles really fast. He just started doing it today and it really cracks me up. I think he's picking up a lot from the dance studio, including walking on his toes and tapping, which I don't mind. Actually, I walked on my toes a lot when I was little so he's predisposed to doing it anyway. I do need to watch him since I know that it can lead to shortened calf muscles, which was a worry when I was younger, but for now it's not constant like mine was so I'm not worried.

I haven't posted a link to pictures in a long time, so here is a link to a few new ones. I hope you all had a great, fun-filled weekend, too! I think I'll go play another game of tennis.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Still aggravated, and waiting for some real answers.

Brenden woke up at 7 am today, bright and early for his last visit to the allergist. I think he may have been trying to tell me he was ready to get back on his Allegra. So we got out of the house at 8:30 am, although I definitely didn't look my best, but no one looks at me when I'm toting around an adorable toddler. (More on that later.)

So we get there and are almost immediately taken back. The nurse looks at his back and I expected to hear that it looked better. "Uh oh, he reacted to more," she said. What?! I cannot see what she sees, because the little red dots on his back don't seem to stem from just one spot. Yes, the soy and wheat dots are still bad, I get those. But to say he's allergic to oranges when there is no difference from Wednesday? That woman seems crazy to me. So I ask if the doctor is in and if she will look at him. "No, she's not in yet." Ok, I'll just go back and sit down until she's here. That didn't seem to go over well. Maybe they aren't used to aggressive parents, although I'm pretty sure I wasn't being remotely aggressive, just asking for answers to his test. Isn't that why I went back?

So after about 30 minutes of waiting she comes back to tell me he's on a strictly rice diet: rice cereal, rice milk, rice crackers, rice cheese. (What the heck is rice cheese?) Um...didn't he react to rice, too? HELLO! That one had more of a reaction than milk! Now I'm really skeptical. I still haven't seen the doctor and I'm starting to think she isn't even in the office. I did get the OK to give him his Allegra, which was the first thing that I did when I got home. Of course I had to ask if that was alright, no one thought to tell me.

Tim was not at all pleased with the response we got and decided to call the office himself. I'm not sure if they ever called him back but at the moment he's preoccupied. Eleven people were laid off at his job today, all of them from the structural group, and it made him nervous. He is in the civil group and they had their own meeting where they explained that the civil side of things is secure and they have more than enough work to keep them all on. They are even hiring someone in the next month or so that used to be an intern. The civil group is also much smaller, which helps. But Tim feels terrible, he's the newest person in the entire office and hates that people who have been there longer are now looking for a job. I tried to explain that he shouldn't feel bad, especially since they are hiring someone new, but it didn't work. I think he is also worried that his job isn't as secure as they say. If that ever happened (knock on wood) he always has the Army to fall back on, but that's only if he can't find another job. It made me feel better to have a backup plan, but he still seems down.

On a much happier note, Brenden was a big hit at the clinic today. The nurses ate him up, from his dancing to his waving to his kisses. Yep, my son kissed a nurse today. Such a friendly baby! They thought it was great and passed him around and around. Of course I watched him the entire time, but I felt pretty secure knowing they weren't going to run off with him. He was more than happy to have an audience, and LOVED the sucker they gave him. That was a nice, sticky mess to clean up. At least the nurse gave him a light colored one that would come out of his shirt easily.

So my poor, itchy baby is still poor and itchy, just now without any kind of yummy food to eat until our review conference on February 9th. NOT happy about that long wait. He's supposed to survive on all rice products and apples until then? I still don't know why she couldn't take a few minutes to look at his chart (or his back...hello!) and let me know what we are going to do in the long run. We may even look at a different doctor who isn't so cut and dry. We'll just have to see. Until then, we'll have rice coming out of our ears...or at least stuck in Brenden's hair.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Still waiting to see

If you read the previous posts, then you know that Brenden and I have another date with the allergy clinic tomorrow. I thought I was going to have to take him in today after he got sick this morning and was running a low grade fever. I called the office to see if it could be a reaction and they said it was a virus and in no way connected to his test. I was relieved at first, but then I realized that Brenden probably has the nastiness that Tim and I shared over the holidays. It knocked us on our rears so if that's what he has then we are in for about a week of really sick baby. I think the Motrin I gave him helped with the fever, but he's cranky and seems exhausted.

He is still reacting to several of the things on his back, mostly on the side with the milk and grains. I'm surprised by this since last night we gave him a bath and I thought it would wash some of it away. We didn't wash his back, per instructions from the allergy clinic, but I still thought it'd take a little away. I'm ready to see what they say tomorrow. If he really does have to give up all sorts of things then we're going to have to overhaul our entire way of eating. I would feel terrible if I went along eating a ton of things that he can't have, especially when he's little. Let's keep our fingers crossed that the doctor thinks he's OK as long as he's on Allegra.

This is his back today. As you can see the fruit/veggies side seems to be much better. I couldn't even label them all because the redness was too faint to show up in the picture. Let's hope that's a good sign for fruit!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The results are in...

…and they aren’t pretty. I took Brenden to get his patch test removed and read this morning. I thought he’d have a few show up positive, like the jelly and tomatoes. Unfortunately I was only partly correct. They pulled the tape off, which didn’t seem to cause Brenden any kind of discomfort, and the nurse started writing down plus signs. "Yep, there’s a positive. And another. And another." Um…ok. How many things do these people think one kid can react to? Apparently, almost all of them. So according to the test this morning, Brenden is allergic to:

Cow’s Milk
Soy Milk

He didn’t react to apple or, to my surprise, the jelly. They are still trying to decide if he reacted to oranges. So I asked the lady if he wouldn’t be able to eat this stuff, or if it just meant he couldn’t touch them. She had no idea. We go back in on Friday for another check and then the doctor will call me, hopefully before next week. I have no idea what they expect me to feed him. He can’t survive on jelly, apples and water alone. Right now, we're going to keep doing what we're doing until told otherwise.

I think his Allegra does more for him than we know. They asked me if he had outbreaks of eczema when he ate those things, and I told them I didn’t ever notice, and believe me I watch out for that. To me that says that he may be allergic, but not enough to keep him away from them.

Here is the photo from his back this morning. I labeled the dots so you can see which is which. The potato left a lot of starch on him, which is why it looks so bad. I promise it didn’t react THAT badly.

Anyone know of a diet that excludes all of those things? Will get him all the necessary vitamins and minerals? That doesn’t taste like cardboard? Anyone? Yeah…me neither. :(

Monday, January 12, 2009

No Fun

Today I took Brenden to the Tulsa Allergy Clinic for a patch test. I had no idea what we were getting into. I had been assured that they weren't going to stick any needles in his poor little back, which is what they did when he was 7 months old, so I thought this would be easier. I'm not so sure that this method is any better.

After arriving on time at 8:55 am for his 9 am appointment, which is amazing for me since I had done my hair and makeup, had fed Brenden, changed him, and even let the dogs out, we waited for 45 minutes. It didn't bother Brenden too much. We had a ton of people there for him to talk to. Most of them had received allergy shots so they were stuck there for 30 minutes until they were sure to not have a bad reaction. They enjoyed his use of sign language and thought his dancing was funny. When we finally got back there the nurse showed me exactly what was going to happen. They take 2 large strips of paper tape with little pockets of different foods, slap it on Brenden's back, then tell me to come back on Wednesday. Um...ok. What do I do in the meantime? Well, we can't get it wet. We can't touch it. No Allegra for itching. If he has a reaction to anything bring him back. On Wednesday they take it off, check it, and then his back can get wet, just don't scrub. Come back on Friday to make sure nothing is still reacting. I'm staring in shock at this huge thing on Brenden's back, trying to decide just how long it will take him to tear it off, either with his hands or some random object, like the remote control. Thankfully Brenden sat quietly in my lap while all of this went on. He never cried or even whined, just gave me a look like he was confused and went along his merry way.

I'm not sure if we'll make it to Wednesday, and then to Friday for his last check up. So far, so good. Check back with us tomorrow, though.

It takes up his whole back. Poor guy.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Back To My Roots

Most of these posts center around Brenden, which is not surprising since he is constantly doing something funny and I love writing about him. However, this one is about me. Sorry to disappoint if you were hoping for some more cuteness! I promise the next blog will be filled with more stories of him showing off for people at a restaurant or putting things in his ears.

I would say 95% of the people that know me know that I have naturally curly hair. It's not a wave, it's a full on curl, much like a poodle. Since I was 20 I have been chemically straightening or flat ironing my hair religiously. If I didn't have time I usually pulled it back in a ponytail, which my husband hated. This process could take anywhere from 30 minutes to 1 1/2 hours, depending on the length of my hair and if it had been straight the day before.

Yesterday I got a haircut and the lady who did it was crazily enthusiastic about my curls. I had seen her before even though she wasn't the person that cut my hair in August, which was my last haircut. (I'm horrible, I know!) So I let her do her thing, and her thing meant she cut my hair dry, used thinning shears, and left me with a TON less hair. At first I was nervous. Even when I was younger I didn't like my curly hair. I cannot actually remember a time when I liked my hair down and curly, which is sad for being 27 years old. However, she somehow convinced me. I'm not sure if it's the cut, the product, or the fact that I finally decided to accept the fact that my hair is curly and I should get over it, even with comments about Afros and poodles.

Today it took me 2 minutes to fix my hair, which is when I officially decided I liked my hair. It is amazing to type that sentence. I know I will not always like it. I know there will be days I will cry and scream and wish for straight hair. But for now, I'm at peace, and it's a happy place to be.

The new 'do!

Another dose of big personality

I've written about Brenden's personality before, how he is super friendly and seems to get handed anything he wants. It still amazes me the things that he does. The past two days we have gone out to eat, once with Tim's mom to Mexicali and then today I went out with Sean and his mom Debbie to Red Lobster. Both times Brenden has eaten very well which made me very happy, especially after he stopped eating for a few days. (Although he is back to liking bananas...hurrah!) He had a great time dipping a chip in the salsa, which he loves (thank you grandpa Kelly!) and then at Red Lobster he ate an entire chicken breast, french fries, cheesy biscuits and some broccoli. However, at the end he got restless so we let him out of his chair. This is where the fun began.

At Mexicali he weaved his way through a some empty tables over to a couple of women having lunch. He leaned through a few chairs and squealed happily in their direction until they laughed at him. He then walked up and hugged one of the ladies, who seemed quite surprised, but happy to have a hug. Then he was off to squeal at some more people until he eventually made a full circle back to the same ladies. I think he ended up going over to them 4 times, much to their delight. I'm so happy when we meet kid-friendly people. The ones that glare at him hurt my heart. We eventually got him to sit down by bribing him with his Styrofoam cup of water. He sat in dad's chair like a big boy, held his cup on his own, and drank happily for a few minutes. And then...SPLAT! He squeezed on the cup hard enough to punch a hole in it and he was instantly soaked from the waist down. I have never seen him look more shocked and I'm sure he was uncomfortable. The loss of his cup didn't seem to make him feel any better. We took him home right away to change him into something dry and then had a great time walking Promenade Mall with his grandma.

Red Lobster seems to bring the same side out of him. After eating he walked around, first stopping to talk to a little girl much younger than him who was not at all impressed with his babbling. He then made his way over to a table full of women having lunch (see a pattern?) who he tap danced for, including shuffling. (I'll make him a tapper, yet!) He found the closest lady, hugged her quickly, said "thank you" and walked off. They thought he was a hoot, especially since the sign for "thank you" looks so much like him blowing a kiss. The next table he found he decided he was ready for another biscuit, so he patted the seat next to the woman and said "please." Of course she had no clue what my child wanted, but she thought he was funny so she didn't get upset. After explaining he was begging for food even though I'm sure he couldn't possibly stuff anything else in I directed him along. On the way back to our table he found a sweeper, almost ran into a bunch of college guys because he was looking back at another lady, and stopped to beg for more food. We eventually made it out of there, but not without a stop at the lobster tank, which I'm pretty sure he called "puppies."

Tonight we spent the evening with grandma and grandpa Kelly. We had some yummy steaks and Brenden ate special spaghetti, green beans, several cheese crackers, 2 servings of mandarin oranges, and a roll. I think he may have a hollow leg. He is fascinated by the different rocks and shells that they keep on their fireplace, along with the miniature beach chair they got on their cruise. He hadn't touched the chair much, only pointed at it, but tonight he grabbed it, placed it softly on the ground, and then proceeded to try to sit on it. When I say miniature, I mean tiny. As in the size of his foot. Connie and I were rolling on the floor with tears in our eyes from laughing so hard. Luckily Brenden repeated this move later on for his dad. I'm not sure how to explain that the chair is way too small since he's not really clear on the concept of big and small yet. I guess we'll have to hide it next time. Or maybe we'll bring it out to see if he'll try again, like a comedy performance. This boy is going to be the class clown...Lord help us.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Goodbye bananas, his old friend

Brenden has had a love affair with bananas for a few months now. Tim and I have even taken to spelling out the word or whispering it around him so he doesn't go all "Nana!" crazy on us. On the way out to Colorado he ate 3 of them in the car, which is exactly what we expected. However, during our stay in the mountains he suddenly had a change of heart. He'd still point at them and say "nana" but if we offered him one he refused to eat it. Usually we can get him to eat things, like peanut butter or potatoes, by slipping some in his mouth when he's screaming, which usually helps him realize we are offering something tasty. For some reason that tactic stopped working. He snubbed bananas completely, no matter how many times we tried to remind him that just the day before he would have inhaled a whole one in 30 seconds, no exaggeration.

Eventually we figured out his new fruit fondness is grapes, especially the red seedless variety. Grandma Karen had a huge bag of fruit with grapes, pineapple, mandarin oranges, and strawberries and when Brenden refused to eat anything she just held the bag out for him to pick from. His little fingers landed on a grape and from that point on he has been obsessed. I'm pretty sure he ate grapes with every meal for 2 days. He also requested them constantly on the drive home, although since he lacks the sign language for the word "grape" we didn't know what he meant. I really need to look that up on the American Sign Language website. I have a feeling that soon I will be explaining some random sign to strangers as my child runs from one person to the next begging for food. Ah the joys of having a toddler with a grumbling stomach and no patience. Maybe I should look up the sign for those, too.

And speaking of random strangers, Brenden again showcased his ability to get people to hand him things they normally wouldn't let their own mother use. On Monday I took him to the Tulsa Allergy Clinic for a check up and, as usual, he ran around charming people. One person he babbled at was a Pharmaceutical Rep with a very expensive looking laptop, the kind that has a screen that flips around so it can be a tablet. I ended up talking to him for a little while, I found out he and his family had lived near Tim and I's apartment in Colorado Springs and that he had a son near Brenden's age. Then my lovely son started saying "please" and pointing at that crazy expensive laptop....and the man handed it to him. I stood in shocked silence for a little while, watching Brenden poke and prod at it, all the while keeping a firm grip on it myself. There is no way we could afford to replace it, especially since we are still in the process of getting another computer at home. The man kept reassuring me that Brenden couldn't hurt it, but I'm pretty sure if my son tried to he could. I finally pried it from his tiny fingers, handed it back and made Brenden say "thank you", which he now signs and says. (Sounds a lot like "dad-du".) I think I'm going to invest in a shirt that says "Please hand your electronic equipment to me at your own risk." Think it will work?

Monday, January 5, 2009

And A Happy New Year

So much to say about the last week or lets get right to it!

On the 29th we celebrated Christmas with the Kelly side of the clan, with Tom, Debbie, Megan and Ryan flying in from Pennsylvania, and Jessica, Dan and Ginny, too. Brenden was spoiled like crazy, as usual, and had a great old time playing with Ryan's phone and getting pushed around on his new Thomas the Train toy. Unfortunately we only had the chance to see them the one day since they were flying back in the morning and we were starting our trek to Colorado early in the am the next day.

Tuesday morning began much earlier than the anticipated 4:30 am, with Brenden and his molars waking us up at 2:30 am. Some rocking and those awesome teething tablets got him back to sleep in about an hour, but seeing how we waited until the night before to pack we didn't get much sleep before or after that. I actually started getting really sick the week before and this lack of shuteye made me go from feeling kind of icky to feeling like complete garbage. Thankfully we got up on time and were out of the house by 5:30 am with Tim driving first, giving me a chance to sleep all the way through Wichita. 10 1/2 hours, 679.1 miles, 3 bananas, 5 books, 72 children's songs, ZERO meltdowns and one stop at a McDonald's play place later we were safely in Colorado. We were all really excited to see Grandma Karen, Grandpa Rick and Great-grandma Pat, along with Chrissy and Jason and their new puppy, Remy. The first thing we did was open presents, and of course Brenden's favorite was his new slide/swing combo. I was a little nervous at first that he wouldn't understand how to climb up the "rock wall" part but I forgot that he has no fear and he pulled and kicked his way up like a pro. After driving all day and then watching a terrible Oklahoma State bowl game we called it an early night.

The next day I'm not sure exactly what happened before 11 am. I was in a stuffy-headed coma and didn't get out of my pajamas until at least 5:30 pm. When I finally heaved myself out of the fluffiness of the comforter I found that Karen and Pat had already made meatloaf and all day potatoes. (If you haven't had Karen's meatloaf, you are missing out! I'll share the recipe on here someday. I think it feeds 10 people...or 2 people for a week, both lunch and dinner.) I did get up in time to help make a few perogis, both potato/cheese and cabbage/sausage, which were delicious. However, I missed my child's first time gambling on grandpa's slot machine, and beginner's luck seems to have been on his side. He hit a 600 nickel jackpot! Apparently he was still so worked up about his new found love of levers that he didn't want to go to sleep for his nap. Instead he found a way to start taking apart the crib by pulling out the slats. He won't climb it, he'll just tear himself a hole! Down came the crib, up went the pack and play. After an already eventful day we still had New Year's Eve to look forward to. Karen and Rick's friends Kim and Mark came over to celebrate and we all stuffed our faces on the previously mentioned foods and some yummy crab legs that Jason brought over. Halfway through Rainman Brenden woke up and when I went back to put him back to sleep, I fell asleep as well. Only 27 years old and falling asleep at 10:30 pm on New Year's. So sad! Tim didn't make it until midnight either, which made me feel slightly better.

On New Year's day we were all ready to get out of the house. We wanted to drive by our home in Colorado Springs and I wanted to catch up with my friend Michelle, so we all loaded into the car for a jaunt down I-25. After a short stop in Castle Rock at the outlets (Yay for spending $20 and getting 4 pairs of pants, a pair of shorts and a shirt for Brenden!) we headed to Old Chicago's to meet Michelle. It was awesome to get to see her and Brenden had a great time watching videos on her cell phone of their new puppy. After a quick drive by of the house, which looks great, we headed back to Parker for movies and hot chocolate.

Friday we planned a trip to the Children's Museum of Denver and then dinner at Magianno's. We weren't sure how much Brenden would be able to do at the museum, but we were pleasantly surprised to find that most of the lower floor was dedicated to babies and toddlers. Brenden enjoyed running around on the various obstacles, going down the slide by himself, and the little town with all sort of things to push, pull, twirl, and carry. After almost 2 hours of nonstop fun, we decided to head to the restaurant. I would definitely recommend everything we had to eat, from the fried zucchini to the stuffed mushrooms, to the clams that I was able to sample off of Pat's plate. What I wouldn't recommend is mentioning that we hoped the stuffed mushrooms were seafood free since Tim is allergic to the crab they sometimes shove in there. They were totally fine, but the humongous, bald chef that came barrelling out at us to loudly exclaim that we needed to let him know beforehand about allergies scared us to death. He was worried that something may have been cross-contaminated and that Tim would be out in the restaurant having a fit after eating his pasta. We eventually explained that he was not THAT allergic, but that he couldn't eat most shellfish and we thanked him for his concern. FYI: if you have an allergy please tell them. They take it seriously.

Saturday we had planned on going to Park Meadows mall to meet up with my friend Leigh and then to the Botanical Gardens to see their Festival of Lights. By the time we headed toward the mall the first snowflakes of many had already began to fall and we figured we would just spend more time wandering aimlessly inside where it was warm. Even though it was a short visit it was great to see Leigh, who Brenden took to immediately. She definitely gives off a "grandma" vibe, or maybe he remembers she was the first person to let him use a straw. We spent the rest of the afternoon shopping, with Karen and I finding a few very cheap, very cute purses and some more clothes for Brenden. By the time we were done most of Denver was a winter wonder land. The roads weren't icy, but we were concerned about the long drive the next day.

Sunday morning we woke up at 4:45 am with Brenden's feet wedged between my shoulders. I guess he woke up in the middle of the night and just came to bed with us. Since we packed the car the night before we were out the door at 5:15 am to brave the foot of snow and all of the drivers that think 4 wheel drive means they don't need to go any slower. By the time we got on the main road it was clear and Tim said that the roads were dry after we hit Burlington, CO. (I wouldn't know...I was yet again passed out.) We made it all the way to Salina, KS, before Brenden got too restless and we found another McDonald's play place to let him stretch his legs at. This one was not nearly as nice as the one in Hays, which is where we stopped on the way out. It had a stench of dirty diapers and a ton of unsupervised children, one of which was a little 4 year old girl who decided Brenden was part of the toys. She kept trying to lift him up but only succeeded in falling over with him a few times, which he was not enjoying. If another child came near them she would scream at them that SHE was his only friend and they couldn't touch him. We saved him from her clutches and strapped him back into the car to make the rest of the trip home. It took 11 hours on the way back, which is still an improvement over the 13 hours it took to get to Oklahoma in May. The most important part was another meltdown free drive. Hallelujah!

Somehow we managed to find the energy to unload the car and even unpack some of the suitcases that night, which made me feel extremely productive. That is until one of our circuit breakers blew up. It seems half the house is on the one breaker, so while Tim went to Lowe's I gave Brenden his bath with a candle and 2 flashlights pointed at the ceiling. It wasn't until we went to put Brenden on our bed to read him a story that Tim realized we had NO milk, not even 2%, in our fridge. We thought we could fool Brenden with some water for one night, but he's not dumb and refused it completely. So back out Tim went to Walgreen's for some milk. It was a crazy end to a very busy week, but we couldn't imagine the holidays any other way.

Pictures here!

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