Kristen & Benton Brown

An Unexpected Start

An Unexpected Start
Parker Trimble Brown was born April 9, 2010.

I'm One Year Old

I'm One Year Old
Parker will be 14 months old on June 9th.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Two Front Teeth

Parker's top two teeth have officially made their debut. It hasn't been a fun few weeks in the teething department - can imagine how horrible molars will be! Here is a shot of our new toofers:

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Christmas iPhone Pics

I'm way behind on blogging after spending 5 nights in Wichita Falls, one night at home, and 2 nights in Austin. I'm still working on tweaking my pictures from my good camera, so here are some from my phone for now...

Parker held his own bottle while reclined in his highchair while I loaded the car last Wednesday. Then he decided to start his nap, which meant he had a meltdown two hours later in Jolly, Texas.

Our friends, The Lukerts, hosted their first annual Tacky Christmas party last Thursday night. It was great to have a free night out (thanks mom & dad) and catch up with old high school friends.

We took Parker to the 6pm Christmas Eve service at our church. He stayed up until 8:15pm and I was really hoping Santa would let us all sleep in until 8am on Christmas morning...

Parker and daddy on Christmas morning - I should have put combs in both of their stockings!

Parker got a cute new chair for Christmas from his Mimi and Daddy B. He loves to climb up in it and then do a forward somersault out of it, hence the frog pillow pet below.

Nonnie and Pops got Parker a DVD player for the car (we had a 10 hour road trip planned to Taos, NM that was cancelled at the last minute). We went to Austin on Tuesday and Parker watched Beauty and the Beast after he woke up from his morning nap.

We shared a suite at the Omni in Austin with the Gossetts. It was great to have our own rooms for the pack-n-plays and a living room for the babies to explore. Here's a shot of Parker trying to steal Olivia's toys:

Last night we went to Eddie V's in downtown Austin. It's one of our favorite restaurants any where and it did not disappoint. We had champagne, oysters, striped bass, banana fosters, cake, and more that I won't list because we ate a ridiculous amount of food! Thanks to Clare for finding us one of her friends to babysit.

It took over 4 hours and lots of mom entertainment in the backseat to get home today. Parker only slept 20 minutes on the way home. He had two hard head bonks after we got home and passed out at 6:15. Can't wait to get back on a schedule tomorrow!

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Monday, December 20, 2010

Parker Update 8.5 Months

We're a mess these days...he can't walk, but he thinks he can climb up chairs, on top of boxes, on stairs, etc.

Parker's third tooth broke through last Wednesday (12/15), so he'll have at least one top tooth for Christmas. It must be pretty painful because he screams when he rubs something against it and he hasn't been sleeping as well.

We've also introduced yogurt melts and puffs this last week. He loves playing with them and trying to get them in his mouth. It's good that they're nutritional fluff since he ate two handfuls of sweet potato puffs tonight before dinner. He has also mastered holding his own bottle. He'll still lay in my lap with it before bed, but it's nice to give him a bottle when he's in his carseat or stroller.

His last trick is to stand up on the kitchen chairs and cruise under the kitchen table. It doesn't bother me, but it drives daddy crazy because eventually he trips over his pants, bonks his head, and screams like he's been beaten. And then he does it all over again. Lots more to learn!

Today I tried to leave Parker in his crib to see if he would take a nap on his own - HA! After 20 minutes of blabbering happily, he was pants-less and literally hanging from the cord to his monitor (it's hanging on the wall after he pulled it in the crib one morning!).

After breakfast this morning, mixed veggies were everywhere!

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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Holidays Day 12

I am lucky to have married someone form Wichita Falls, so we I've never had to spend one holiday with one family and switch the next year.  Benton is an only child, so its been pretty easy for the three Browns and the four Applings to combine holidays together over the last eight or nine years.

My favorite Apple-Brown tradition is our Christmas Eve ritual that is so fun that we did it last year despite the blizzard.  The Brown's go to the 5 o'clock Grace Church Christmas Eve Service and we go to the First Christian Church 6 o'clock service (more to come on the service in a later post).  Then we meet back at the Brown's to have tamales, chili, queso, guacamole, and 7-layer dip.  Everyone brings a $20-$25 gift - a good gift that you really want for yourself, not some white elephant garage sale crap. We draw numbers and pick out gifts, steal from others, and then argue about what we get "stuck" with.  Over the years there have been some pretty creative gifts put in the mix: lottery tickets, bottle of Crown, coolers, cookbooks, gift certificates to Comanche Red River Casino, Snuggies with a matching dog version, etc.

I've been searching my gift this year and haven't found the perfect something.  I'll post after Christmas and let you know what I end up getting!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Playdate with Olivia

We went over to the Gossett's last Friday for a playdate with Olivia. They grabbed each other and Parker tried to poke O in the head, otherwise they entertained themselves.

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Holidays Day 13

I collect nutcrackers each year after Christmas when they go on sale. I've also gotten a couple from my mom as Christmas presents.

They now take up two of their own storage boxes and may soon over take the mantle so that the mini trees have to go somewhere else...

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Sunday, December 12, 2010

Holidays Day 11

I think most of my readership is related to Wichita Falls, but it bears blogging about our first White Christmas last year.  I was 29 years old and I had never experienced a true snow event on Christmas in the lovely North Texas town known as Wichita.  From now to eternity, Christmas 2009 will be the Christmas that almost wasn't.

Benton and I are both from Wichita Falls, but we didn't meet until college on New Years Eve 2001.  Our parents live about 5 miles apart from each other and we bounce back and forth between their houses when we go home to visit.  As wierd as it sounds, Benton usually stays with his parents and I usually stay with mine.  We decided after we got married that it was easier to sleep in our "own" beds at our "own" houses since our parents were so close together.

Last Christmas it took over an hour to get from one house to the other because there was a 6 inch layer of ice with 6+ inches of snow on top of it all over Wichita Falls.  I have never seen or driven in such treacherous conditions - when you live in an area that expects snow, there are sand/salt trucks and snow machines.  When you live in Wichita Falls, you get stuck in your house until the ice melts.  We got snowed in at my parents on Christmas Eve after the church Christmas Eve service was cancelled for the first time ever.  We got stuck at Benton's on Christmas Day, until my Uncle Mark drove in from Arlington in a 4-wheel drive suburban and moved me from the Brown's back to my house.

We honestly spent three days with only the Browns and the Applings.  By day 3 of the ice blizzard, we trekked out to the Luckert's for a fish fry and some left-right-center dice game. At least we were all safe and we got some quality family time.  I doubt we'll see anything like it in Wichita Falls for a long, long time.  Here is a picture of me pregnant in the snow and a picture of my dad and Benton before they went to dig our car out of the snow on Christmas Eve.

Holidays Day 10

My brother and I were always allowed to open one gift on Christmas Eve before we went to bed.  Usually, we would open our gifts to each other after we got home from the 11pm Christmas Eve service at our church.  Great idea if you have two or more kids - we picked out $20 gifts for each other and always knew it would be our first gift to open.  We still do it to this day, except now we may go to the 6pm service instead!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Holidays Day 9

I haven't done any Christmas shopping at the mall this year, so far its all been online.  I need to order a few more gifts by the end of the week and I may make it my first "online only" shopping year.

One of my favorite Christmas memories growing up was going shopping with my dad on the afternoon of Christmas Eve.  I'm not sure why he always waited until the last minute, but he did have a point that by 3pm on Christmas Eve, Sikes Senter (no, that's not a typo) Mall was pretty much cleared out. We'd run into Dillards and buy my mom her Estee Lauder Oscar de la Renta (Oscar was her favorite, but if they were out, then we'd get her Beaustiful instead) perfume gift set and maybe a stocking stuffer like Isotoner Slippers or Cuddledud pajamas. Then we'd come home and I'd wrap her gifts.  Then on Christmas morning she always open the perfume and spray it in the middle of the living room.  I don't know that she was every really surprised, but she opened her gifts and acted liked it anyway.


I opened the shutters today and Parker discovered the dining room window. He was so proud of himself!

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Parker is 8 Months Old!

I know I've already posted this picture, but its my favorite for the moment, so you get to see it again.  St 8 months, our little munchkin is a crawling and pulling up machine.  He can also stand with only one hand to brace him and he can cruise from one piece of furniture to another.  He has also mastered standing up again flat items, like the glass cover on the fireplace.  We also can get up on our knees in the middle of the room without support.  He has finally flattened his feet when he stands, so I fear that walking will occur around nine months.

There are lots of places to explore, fall, and bump our noggin which leads to a huge pouting lip and crocodile tears that stop as soon as you pick him up and love on him.  His balance is improving daily and he has gotten pretty good at bracing himself with one hand on the way down and his bottom is a pretty good cushion when he decides to stop standing.  He will also turn on the waterworks if you take something out of his hands that he wants, i.e. Jack's toys, his spoon, his toothbrush, electrical cords, ribbons, shoelaces, dirty socks, and anything else he shouldn't try to eat.

We've pushed bedtime back to 7 or 7:15pm, but we still usually get up between 6:30 and 6:45am.  At least we're taking 2 hour or longer naps, except like yesterday when I had the day off.  We're almost through Level 2 foods, and our favorite food continues to be applesauce.  He absolutely loves to be out in public and have people wave and tell him how cute he is - no idea where he gets it from!  Its great when he smiles and laughs at someone and they tell me how much they needed a pick me up or I hear how they don't get to see their own grandchildren often enough.  Parker is my own little community service machine spreading Christmas cheer wherever we go.

We don't have a doctor's visit until January, but we have hit 20 pounds and his top two teeth should be here in time for Christmas.  They are reading to break through any day and are getting the blame for our inconsistent napping this week.  Several people have commented how blond his hair looks in this picture.  Its coming in even lighter, almost white at the roots, so we may have a toe head on our hands by his first birthday.  

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Holidays Day 8

Christmas music and movies help get everyone in the spirit. A couple of my favorite songs:

1. Twelve Days of Christmas by Straight No Chaser
2. Carol of the Bells
3. The Nutcracker Suite
4. Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer by Ray Stevens
5. God Bless Ye Merry Gentlemen by Barenaked Ladies

And a few of my favorite movies:

1. Home Alone (the original)
2. Christmas Vacation
3. Babes in Toyland (1960s version with Annette)
4. Elf
5. Any cheesy Christmas romance on Lifetime

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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Holidays Day 7

Whew - almost caught up!  The best part of Wichita Falls during Christmas is the Burns' Fantasy of Lights display at Midwestern State University.  The Burns' family created a tradition with the Christmas lights and decorations that decorated their year each year when our parents were growing up. Eventually, the collection was donated to MSU and more scenes have been added.  The entire university is lit up during December and the decorations are lifesize.  When I was little, my favorite one was the Old Woman in the Shoe because I always thought you could live in a shoe if it was over 10 feet tall and ten feet long.  When I was older, they added a Cinderella scene with a pumpkin carriage that plays Bibbity Bobbity Boo.

If you're ever in Wichita Falls during December, I highly recommend driving by day or night to see the exhibit.

Holidays Day 6

My mother always makes sugar cookie dough from scratch during the holidays.  It usually sits in the refrigerator for a couple of days to get really cold (and so you can snack on dough while you wait), and then you bake the cookies. I could care less about eating the baked cookies - I preferred to eat the dough and decorate the cookies when they were finished.

Sometime we died the dough red or green, but usually we had fun mixing up different colors of icing.  We always had red, green, yellow, and blue, and then sometimes you ended up with some purple swirl.  Red was for the bells, green was for the Christmas trees, yellow was for the stars, and blue was just fun to make with the yellow and green food coloring.  Jason and I always competed to make the prettiest cookies, similar to our Easter-egg dying competition.  Cookies were better than eggs though, because after the icing you got to add sprinkles.  My favorite were the silver balls that probably had carcinogens in them.

I try to make sugar cookies each year, but I'm no where near as good as my mom.   The flour makes a mess, the dough doesn't stay cold, and my cookies are either too thick or too think.  Last year I tried to make Westie and Fleur de Leis cookies. They over heated and turned into one large mess of a cookie.  I'll try again this year though, in the hopes that I won't embarrass Parker as the mom who can't make him cookies to decorate for Christmas.

Holidays Day 5

Most people have lots of presents under their Christmas tree in the days leading up to Christmas Day.  We didn't have any presents under our tree until Christmas morning - a tradition my mom started for three reasons.  The first reason she always gave was that Santa brought all of the presents on Christmas Eve.  I have to admit that it was pretty cool to wake up on Christmas morning (I was always the first one up in the house) and see presents all over the living room.  All of Jason's presents were wrapped with one kind of paper and all of mine were wrapped with another.  My mother was all about equality of gifts, Easter Eggs, etc.

As we got older, we started to wonder why gifts sent from out of town or from other relatives didn't go under the tree before Christmas.  Then my mom gave us the real reason gifts didn't appear until December 25th.  When she was little, she and her three brothers would unwrap and rewrap each of their gifts under the tree so that by Christmas morning there weren't any more surprise gifts.  My mom wanted to make sure that Christmas morning was always a surprise.

Now that I'm older, I think there was also a third reason for this Appling tradition - procrastination.  My parents hid most of the gifts in the trunks of their cars and waited until we went to sleep on Christmas Eve to do most of the wrapping, bike assembling, etc.  We always went to the late Christmas Eve service, so this meant my parents started their own wrapping party around 1am.  Who knows when they went to bed, but I think we were usually up around 8am.

For all three of the reasons stated above, I think we'll continue the Appling present tradition at our house.   Neither of our cars have a trunk though, so I'll have to get creative about where I stash Santa's loot.

Holidays Day 4

Meeting Santa and having my picture made was always a highlight of the season.  I don't know how many pictures there are of me by myself - think it was usually me and my brother on each of Santa's knees.  One of my favorite pictures is from the Christmas Magic Breakfast with Santa.  It must have been around 1986 or 87 - I was wearing an animal print sweatshirt with black stirrup pants and navy leather flats.  Nice outfit mom.  I thought I looked super cute.

Parker has now been to see two Santas, and we'll go on Saturday for third Santa at our neighborhood pancake breakfast with Santa.  Too bad we're only up to eating mixed fruits.  We'll have to wait until next year to have Deliman's yummy super-sized pancake.

Here are the pictures from Parker's most recent visit with Santa at the TCU Alumni event at Royal Oaks Country Club.  They had gingerbread house decorating stations for older kids complete with purple twizzlers and M&M's to make a TCU Rose Bowl house.  Hopefully this will become an annual event for us to do each year as Parker gets older.

Holidays Day 3

I love planning out our Christmas card picture(s) each year.  For me, it was a right of passage into married adulthood to send out couple and now family Christmas cards.  Jack makes the card every year, just like Benton's dog, Scooter, did when he was growing up.  We usually have our parents take our picture around Thanksgiving, since I think it should be a recent picture from the last few months of the year.  I've gotten around my own rule the last couple of years by making a collage of photos to include vacation pictures.

This year I used the collage of photos above and ordered post cards.  I was quite proud of my idea since it saved on envelopes, postage, and return address stamps.  Here are some more of Parker's pictures that didn't make the card this year:

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Parker's Fort Worth Firsts

Parker had his first trip to Joe T's, Bluebonnet Bakery, PS The Letter, and Coopers BBQ today.

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Thursday, December 2, 2010

Holidays Day 2

My favorite Christmas item for today is Christmas trees. I got mine finished last night with the help of my babysitter and her boyfriend!  My tree is almost all glass ornaments that I've collected over the last 7 years we've been married.  Our first Christmas after we got married, we lived on the third floor of an apartment in Las Colinas and Benton thought it was dumb to invest in a tree when we had no where to put it.  We got an 18 inch tall living Christmas tree and put in on our dining room table and I decorated it with mini glass ornaments.

I love the stories a family Christmas tree tells and how it shows the personality of the owner.  My parent's tree still has all of our homemade ornaments from our childhood and my mother-in-law's tree is a real tree with Christopher Radko Santa ornaments. The Lukert family in Wichita Falls has a nine foot tall tree with all four of their now-grown children's ornaments from the last 31 years.  They even hide a pickle ornament in the tree as an old German tradition.

I hope you have your Christmas trees up and decorated by now. I know they're a pain to put up and take down, but gosh, they're so fabulous while they're up.  I love turning it on and off each night and recalling the memories that go along with each of my ornaments.  I try to collect a new ornament whenever we take a trip, and I always buy the annual Waterford ornament at Dillard's each year.  So far, we haven't broken any yet, but its only been up a day and a half.  We put the tree in the office so it would be out of Parker's line of direct sight.  Unfortunately, he remembers where it is each morning and he makes a bee-line crawling for it as soon as you put him on the ground.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

On the Move

Parker has eight more days until he's 8 months old, and we hit another milestone today. He pulled up to standing on his toy box and moved himself over to his table an dinosaur while taking baby steps - and with no support from mom. Obviously he is very proud of himself!

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Day 1 of Holidays

When I was little, the Christmas season always started the Sunday after Thanksgiving at our church's Advent Workshop. We made gingerbread houses out of mill cartons and graham crackers, rolled mini-marshmallows in jello powder, glued acorns and pinecones on wreaths, and undoubtedly got all hopped up on sugar and Christmas cheer.

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