Wednesday, December 29, 2010

My First Call to 911, Christmas, Etc.

What a difference a day makes. Billie Holiday taught me that one. The truth of the matter is that a second can make a difference. A breath can make a difference. Boy, can it make a difference.

On the 17th, we got a call to pick Cullen up from school a little early. Since I had the following week off, I was completely fine with starting my break a little early. Cullen didn't really have a fever, but he wasn't acting like himself. We got home, and James headed back out to pick up some to-go dinner from Chili's.

I put Cullen in his high chair to get started on his dinner and walked across the kitchen to cut up some grilled chicken. As any mom knows, silence isn't that golden. It's usually a sign that something is very wrong. Cullen went completely silent and started shaking. Three seizures later, I had James headed back home with no dinner to take us to the hospital.

I was proud of myself for keeping it together while grabbing clothes for Cullen and his favorite toy to toss in the car. My hope was to have Cullen in the car seat and be waiting in the driveway when James pulled up. During my moment of togetherness, Cullen stopped breathing. His little face turned blue and his eyes rolled back in his head. And then I lost it.

I called 911. They put me on hold. On. Hold. Are you kidding me? When they finally answered the phone, they told me that it would be better if I just brought him to the hospital rather than sending an ambulance. Seriously? Why did I even call them? If I ever get shot, I'm skipping the phone call and getting in the car.

Luckily, James had the forethought to call the hospital and let them know we were on our way. After an excess of projectile vomit and more tests than I could count, they told us that Cullen had the flu. His fever got too high, too fast. No big deal. The doctor told me it was no big deal. Clearly, that guy doesn't have kids.

After a follow-up appointment with Cullen's pediatrician, we are looking at putting tubes into his tiny little ears. Cullen and I have a mother/son appointment with the ENT on New Year's Eve. Lucky us. We're hoping that stopping the ear infections will decrease the fevers and decrease the likelihood of repeat seizures. The nurse at the hospital asked if Cullen was our only child. She made me realize that I'm not strong enough to go through this again and again. Only time will tell.

We recovered from the drama of the seizures and packed our bags for South Carolina. Christmas was still coming, and we had plans. Cullen was a great sport about the long drive, and we made great progress. The trip there was split into two days so that we could stop to visit my grandmother. She had been in the hospital since October, and this was our first chance to actually visit since she was three states away.

The visit was incredibly tough, but I had no idea I would be so glad to have made it just two days later. Late on Christmas Eve, my grandmother passed away. Mammom was 87 years old and beautiful inside and out. She was tough and cheeky. She told it like it was. She made me cry. She taught me how to cook and how to knit. She taught me to value the priceless things in life. She taught me to be honest. She taught me the value of a hand-written note. Up until the very end, we exchanged snail mail letters every single week. I saved so many of them, and now I wish I had saved so many more. My life was blessed by her presence.

Christmas day was tough, because the adults in the house knew the sad news. Christmas day was beautiful, because the kids did not. There were toys everywhere and lots of laughter. Christmas is magical with children. My baby is a blessing. Truth be told, my life is full of blessings. Too many to count. I am one lucky girl. Below I have a picture of Cullen enjoying his Christmas lunch of ribs while still in his pajamas. That kid makes me laugh so much. And sometimes, I make him laugh.

video
xoxo
Ashley

Friday, December 17, 2010

I'll Be Home For Christmas

Maybe I won't be at my home for Christmas, and maybe it won't be my parents' home, but I will be with family. I think that's all that really matters. In just a few days, we'll be packing up the car and heading to South Carolina for Christmas at my brother's. I am SO excited, and I can't wait to get driving. I'm probably crazy to be so excited about a road trip with a toddler, but I'm sure it will be totally worth it!

I've completed all of my Christmas shopping. I've wrapped all the gifts. I'm almost done gifting anything that won't be gifted on Christmas day. I think I can officially enjoy what's left of the Christmas season. After one last day of work, I will have 9 glorious days with family and friends.

I hope everyone is making the most of their Christmas time and remembering the reason for the season.

xoxo Ashley

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Sick of Being Sick

Cullen missed school every single day last week. It was frustrating to have to pay for something we weren't using, but such is life. At this point, he seems to be doing just fine, but he's really catching up on sleep. He has been sleeping 11-12 hours each night plus a couple of naps tossed in during the day. I love that he's such a good sleeper, but it's sad to see him go to bed so shortly after we get home each day.

Of course, James and I ran ourselves ragged while Cullen was out of school trying to keep up with our work. It was tough and exhausting, but we made it through the week. Now we just have to make it through the next week and a half, and we'll be to our Christmas break!

As seems to be the case in our house, James and I both got what Cullen was dealing with. For anyone who is keeping track, that's 4 weeks straight of illness in our house. My fingerprints are rubbing off from the use of bleach and cleaners. I feel crummy, and so does James, but we're both trying to keep it together through today and tomorrow. Then it will be the weekend, and we can pseudo-relax.

I hope everyone else is keeping their family safe and healthy. Christmas will be here before we know it!

xoxo Ashley

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Thankful for Thanksgiving

 Thanksgiving was just a little bit busier than usual this year. We had lots of company, lots of food, and a running toddler. It was overwhelming to say the least, but we really enjoyed getting to spend the holiday with people we cared about it. And, of course, we got to eat a lot of good food. And who doesn't enjoy that?

After an incredibly busy Thanksgiving day and weekend, we got to kick back and relax on Sunday. Except we never relax. Pretty much ever. James' boss had given us free tickets to the Renaissance Festival, so we decided to check it out. It seems to be such a big deal each year and neither of us had ever been.

So we drive the long drive, we sit in traffic, and then we get there. All I wanted was a turkey leg, and I walked away realizing that a turkey leg, some life lessons, and a weak daiquiri were all I was going to get.

Life Lesson #1: We won't be attending the festival again. Never.
Life Lesson #2: Crotchless panties shouldn't be worn in public. I'm so glad Cullen isn't old enough to ask.
Life Lesson #3: There are some weird people in this world, and I've found their meeting place.
Life Lesson #4: Don't buy mixed drinks from someone wearing a princess hat.

I could go on all day, but I think #2 explains why I won't.

Needless to say, Cullen enjoyed some turkey leg. I call this one "Cullen leg and a turkey leg." His new habit is to lift his leg no matter what he's doing. Funny kid.
On a less positive note, Cullen HATED Santa. Let's hope things go better with the mall Santa. Can't wait. 
As if our day at the festival wasn't long enough, Cullen decided that the ride home would be a good time to throw up. Everywhere. Hours of cleaning later, the car is mostly scent-free, and Cullen seems to be on the mend. He's been home all week so far. Here's to hoping for a better tomorrow!

xoxo Ashley

Monday, November 22, 2010

So Thankful

I'm updating early this week, because I'm relatively certain that things will be too chaotic for an update by Wednesday. I am so thankful for all our blessings, and I'm hoping a little reminder here and there will keep things in perspective by the end of this week. We are hosting Thanksgiving at our house this year, so it will be a busy day. Luckily, James' parents are providing the ham, and my parents are providing the turkey. I'm only responsible for sides and desserts. They're so much more fun anyway!

I've planned out this week with all the details filled in. As if things weren't busy enough, James and I are meeting with a lawyer today to get our will written in stone. I drafted one up shortly after Cullen was born, but I think I'll feel safer knowing that we have something official. We also have to squeeze it in now, because I'm only on my company's legal plan for a few more weeks. I'm getting my money out of that one.

Last week was pretty incredible with the amount of illness that passed through our home. I spent the majority of the weekend scrubbing to overcome the germs. The picture below is of Cullen's long hair and the first smile of evidence that he was starting to feel better.

Only moments later, he was in impeccable condition when he elected to use the drawers in the entertainment center as a stepping stool. I now know why there is one little hand print at the top of the screen. He'll even climb in there when the tv is off. I think it's just for shock value.
Friday night, we all went in to get my favorite boys some hair cuts. I haven't gotten my hair cut since July, but my boys were the ones who managed to get in. James' hair came out looking fantastic, while Cullen only came out with a less Beiber-looking 'do. One side was significantly less bald than the other, so I tried to amend it a bit with some safety scissors last night. It doesn't necessarily look worse than it did, but I don't know if I would call it an improvement either. All I can say is that Cullen won't be seeing me or Mallory for a trim ever again. 
Cullen has darn near refused to smile for a picture since his hair incident. I think he knows how it looks. Luckily for me, he poses for cute pictures without even knowing it. Below, Cullen and Scout are spying on the neighbors. With Cullen banging on the window with a plastic screwdriver and Scout barking, they aren't exactly discreet.  
And now it's back to work for me. I have a couple of incredibly busy days in the office, followed by a few incredibly busy days at home. I can't wait to see family and spend time with them, and I'm really looking forward to my Sunday afternoon nap!

xoxo Ashley

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Human Petri Dish

The Shulers are sick. And not like perverse crazy (although sometimes it fits). We are all ill with fun fall sicknesses. Yuck. James was sick last week and still has a lingering cough, Cullen is harboring ear infections with other fun activities, and I think I died earlier this week, but I've forgotten to stop doing things. Alas, Cullen and I are having some super fun Mommy & Me days while James goes out and mingles with the world. Lucky guy.

Tomorrow night is the annual Gobblerfest at a friends house, so tonight I will be utilizing my germs to test out a new recipe. Pumpkin creme pies. Let's hope those that try my goods have built up their immune system. More importantly, let's hope I can build up mine before everyone arrives for Thanksgiving next week. Both sets of parents, a grandparent, and our little family for Thanksgiving dinner. Let's just hope I can find a place for us all to sit since I don't have a dining room table!

xoxo Ashley

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

When A Baby Becomes A Toddler

 Cullen's first birthday was on Saturday. He is now a toddling toddler. He goes everywhere quickly, with no regard for safety or my heart rate. I love that he's walking already, and it makes me so incredibly proud. I just wish he didn't have to grow up! Sometimes I think about Cullen growing up and my heart breaks a little bit. There is so much ahead of him, and I won't be able to protect him from everything. Ah!

All that rambling to say that Cullen's birthday and party were on Saturday. We had so many great friends and family members share the day with us, and I was happy with the big picture. I spent most of Sunday recovering, and now we're just enjoying our precious little toddler.

The gift/favor table. Just moments before the party, we assembled the wagon, car, basketball goal, and workbench. Luckily, we got everything done just in time!
I wanted so much to be responsible for the food, so I made fun little cupcakes in ice cream cones for all the kids, a beautiful cheese tray, and some precious gingerbread bears. Next year, I will be ordering take out.
 Although I didn't make Cullen's birthday cake, I did design it, so that's good, right? The little bear on top was almond cake. He was so yummy!
 We have a full 15 minutes of video while Cullen stared everyone in the room down. He wouldn't touch the cake for the longest time. I gave him a spoon, and all bets were off. It got so much worse after this.
 Cullen loved the little car we got him. We took him for a long walk on Sunday morning, and he really seemed to enjoy honking the horn and propping his feet up on the dash.
Cullen's first birthday was overwhelming on so many levels. I'm disappointed that the moment has passed us, but I'm so glad to be done with the stress. This weekend, Tera comes to visit so I can have a shopping buddy at the Nutcracker Market. We can't wait!

xoxo Ashley 

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Chaos Is Good, Right?

Cullen's birthday and his party are only three days away. I cannot believe my baby will be one year old in just a few days! I am in complete and total denial. As the party draws near, we are doing everything we can to be prepared. I still have a laundry list of things to do, but it is slowly getting smaller. I'll be taking Thursday and Friday off this week to make sure Saturday is an easy day.

As is to be expected, we've had a couple of guests here and there let us know that they won't be able to make it. Sadly, James' parents are a part of that group. James' mom was assigned a case at work that absolutely requires her to attend on Friday. Since they wouldn't be able to arrive until Saturday morning, we decided Thanksgiving would be a better visit. Now we have more family time to look forward to later this month! The crummy part is that I was counting on the extra help with Cullen on Friday, and I just can't bear to send him to school when I could have him at home. So I'm taking an extra day off work. Bummer. Two days at home with my favorite little guy. :) The good news is that we can have a fabulous Thanksgiving at home with just a few people. I love quiet family time!

Last night, James and I stayed up until midnight making little bear-shaped gingerbread cookies as part of the party favors. Tonight's project is assembling the favors and cupcake toppers and completing Cullen's scrapbook. Wish me luck! Hopefully, I'll have party pictures to post by this time next week!

Cullen's first Halloween was a fabulous success. He looked great, he was completely happy with his costume, and we had so much fun! I can't wait to do it again next year!
xoxo Ashley

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Sometimes Change Is A Good Thing

We haven't had much change this week. My mom is still in the hospital, we're all exhausted, and we're working on Cullen's birthday party. In just over a week, my baby will be 1!

We had a busy weekend last week full of zoo and Baylor. It was a lot to squeeze in, but we had so much fun! After only 93 seconds of playing time in the Baylor game, there was a lightning delay. James and I have encountered some pretty crummy weather at Floyd Casey, but this was the first time they actually recommended that we leave our seats. After a 1 hour, 47 minute delay, the game resumed, and the bears earned their sixth win of the season. That means we are bowl eligible and should be going to our first bowl game since 1994! It was a stressful day, but it was so worth it!

This weekend, we'll be headed back to the zoo with other friends, and we'll be taking Cullen's one year pictures on Saturday. After pictures, we're going to watch the Baylor-UT game. On Sunday, I'm planning on sleeping. Or going shopping for skinny jeans. I haven't bought anything for myself in a few months, and I think it's time. I would love to come home with something that isn't for someone else for once. We'll see how that goes! Maybe next week, I'll have some cute photos from Picture People to post! Until then, enjoy this one of Cullen being cute during dinner. He now has seven teeth!
xoxo Ashley

Thursday, October 21, 2010

When It Rains, It Pours

Isn't that the Morton Salt tag line? I'm borrowing it today. It just fits.

James and I have been keeping busy with our day to day life, a family virus, and my mom being in the hospital. We aren't really sure which one of us caught the virus first, but it knocked all three of us to our knees within a twelve hour span. It amazes me how well children can handle it. I know Cullen wasn't doing well, but it didn't slow him down as he made laps around the living room. He is really on the move now, and it amazes me everyday. He is slowly taking a few more steps consecutively each day, and he is so proud.

Our most entertaining development this week is when we sing "If You're Happy and You Know It." He laughs and claps his hands just when he's supposed to. It seems to put a smile on his face no matter what he's doing!

My mom has been in the hospital for a little over a week now. A routine surgery went poorly, and she is now in ICU for observation. It has been really hard to get to see her, because Cullen isn't allowed in ICU, and he never sits still. Today, I'm going to visit her at lunch just to keep Cullen out of there. We're hoping for some good health soon, and she should be going home by the end of next week.

Tomorrow morning, I'm taking Cullen to Zoo Boo to spend time with our friends Noah and Dana. Hopefully, I'll have some precious pumpkin and costume pictures before next week's post.

This weekend, we're loading up the car and taking a day trip to Waco. It is Homecoming, and it will be Cullen's first home football game. If things go the way we'd like, we'll also be celebrating our sixth win for the season. That means we go bowling!

We're praying for health and wellness in our home and our family. God is taking care of us; we just have to be patient!

xoxo Ashley

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Feels Like Home

At 11 months old, Cullen finally got to see Austin. We made a quick day trip to Round Rock when he was teeny tiny, but this was the first time he made it to Austin. James and I made it into town for a wedding with friends. It was a short trip, and we packed it with every single thing we could. We didn't get to see very many people, but we had a few amazing meals and soaked up what we could. Cullen really enjoyed his meals at Plucker's, Moonshine, and Taco Deli. We didn't make it to the capitol, but I'm hoping for many more trips in our future! Of course, I took zero pictures. Oh well...

Upon our return to Houston, James and I got to partake in a health review at my office. Blue Cross is offering a discount on our health insurance for participating in the review, and it's always nice to get a free checkup and flu shot. We should know in about 2 weeks how healthy or unhealthy we are, and we'll be seeing that discount on my paycheck in January. It will be like a mini raise!

Cullen's birthday is just over three weeks away, and I'm in total disbelief. How could my baby be almost one year old? I'm not okay with it, but I'm trying to make the adjustment.

In other exciting news, Cullen got a new cousin yesterday. Congrats to Jon and Erica on their beautiful little girl!

xoxo Ashley

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Eleven Months Already?

It's hard to believe my little guy is already eleven months old. He is a big-stepping, chattering, wild, little thing. Goodness! He talks non-stop, and I love every moment of it. He has a few things that he says that we actually understand, but most of it is gibberish. He says mama and dada, but I don't really believe he knows which of us is which yet. The most entertaining is when he yells at Scout when she tries to take his food. So precious!

He is also becoming slightly more proficient with the whole walking thing. Last night, we got to see him take four pretty solid steps. Of course, he refused to do anything other than crawl when we got out the video camera. Stubborn little guy.

Each day is more fun than the last, and we're soaking up every moment. Now if only I could get more than five hours of sleep per night... Maybe in another twenty years or so. :)
Here's a picture of Cullen enjoying his oatmeal breakfast.

xoxo Ashley

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Life In The Fast Lane

There is never a dull moment in our house, so we made sure to keep ourselves busy this week. I finished making Cullen's birthday invitations, thank you cards, banners, favor tags and cupcake toppers on Friday. The cramp in my hand from the scissors is just now letting up, but it's a small price to pay. Or something like that. I've even ordered most of the paper goods, and I'll be meeting with the cake lady next week. Things are coming together pretty seamlessly, and I'm so super thankful for that. We still have to figure out presents, but that can be solved with a quick trip to Toys R Us.

I can't seem to get the the picture to rotate, and I'm not really sure why it turned on it's side in the first place, but this is the picture we used for Cullen's invites. He was 10 months old that day. Wow.

On Saturday, we made a quick trip to San Antonio to see James' cousin after his Air Force graduation. We are so proud of Michael, and it was a lot of fun to take Cullen on a short trip. He was a great sport about all of the car seat time, and he really seemed to enjoy himself.

During lunch, ducks from the river kept walking around Cullen's high chair and picking up his scraps. Once he caught on, he was throwing quesadillas at the ducks. James took a little time to take Cullen to the river to feed the ducks tortilla chips. So healthy for the wildlife.

After lunch, we walked over to the Alamo to get Cullen a t-shirt. What's a trip without a t-shirt, right? I learned that at Baylor... This probably isn't the best family photo in the world, but Cullen sure does look excited.
After our quick trip to San Antonio, we changed attire and headed out to the Baylor game. Cullen got to enjoy the first quarter of his very first Baylor football game before they had to postpone the game due to lightning. We were all pretty bummed, but we survived.

James' dad was in town for a fishing trip, so we also got to spend some time with him. It was a short trip, but it was nice to see some out of town family. In just a few weeks, we will have lots of family and friends in town for Cullen's birthday party. I can't wait!

xoxo Ashley

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Forgiveness Is Key

I'm working really hard to forgive James right now. Forgiveness is important, right?

Cullen took his first steps last Wednesday. Of course, he took them at daycare, so I wasn't there to see it happen. When Marie told me that afternoon, I cried on the floor at the daycare. That's right, I cried. On the floor. I'm a total grown up.

If we go way back to last May and review this story from the beginning, you have to know that I never wanted to move to Houston. The weather is terrible, the traffic is awful, and (other than Lupe Tortilla and a few select people) there are very few redeeming qualities. I haven't had a "good" hair day in over a year. Except that time when I went out of town.

James has wanted to move to Houston since we graduated from Baylor. When he got laid off last April, James put effort into finding a job in Houston. Since I was pregnant, I told him I didn't care as long as I got to stay home with our wee little baby. When James accepted his job with IS&T and asked me to move to Houston, it was guaranteed that I would never have to go back to work unless I wanted to.

Now, I completely get that guarantees really aren't guarantees, and bad things do happen, but I was beyond upset when I had to go back to work. I don't want to miss milestones for my child. They only happen once! And now I've missed his first steps. Never to happen "first" again. Just thinking about it makes me want to cry again. I don't want to be upset with James that I missed those first steps, but it sure is tough.

And, of course, Cullen is becoming increasingly vocal these days. He says mama all the time, but now all I can think when I hear it is that he's trying to say Marie, since he doesn't look at me when he says it. In all honesty, he's probably just babbling, but it hurts.

I tried to contain the Houston complaints when I was at home, because I got to spend quality time with my little guy, but I'm pretty sure I gripe a little more with each passing week. I'm hoping that I'll be posting about us moving back to Austin by this time next year. I think two years here is all I can take.

xoxo Ashley

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The First Big Ouch

My baby fell on his face yesterday. I believe my pronunciation upon seeing his bruised face last night was: Mah Bay-Bee! Gimmeh Mah Bay-bee!

I worked a pretty long day yesterday, because work is completely insane. My previous workload was doubled. Uh nice. And they have shifted around responsibilities left and right. I didn't even know what I was doing before half the time, so I can honestly say I'm not too bothered by the "changes." So anyway, James gets to leave work early (la-dee-dah) and play with Cullen at home. In his pajamas. I'm stuck at work trying to make sure I complete my "tasks" for the day. Not in my pajamas.

So I leave the office and call James to get a status update. While talking about what Cullen should have for dinner, James casually tosses in, "You're not going to like what you see when you get home." Big mistake, mister. Never say that to your wife when she has an hour's drive left to go. By the time I pulled in the driveway, I was pretty sure Cullen was missing an ear and three fingers.

Cullen has been trying to walk (and conveniently forgetting that he doesn't know how) for a bit now. He's getting a lot closer these days, but we have to be on alert for the oopsies. Cullen fell across James' leg on what used to be his favorite toy. By the time I got home last night, Cullen and the snail were not on speaking terms. Of course, Cullen falls onto the only toy with a serrated edge in the whole house, and it left a pretty good little cut and bruise.

In the picture below, you can see the mark it left. You can also make note of the fact that I stopped brushing Cullen's hair earlier this week. The kid has my hair, and it's not going to stay brushed anyway. Why bother? The bruise looks a lot better this morning, but his teacher practically gasped when she saw it. It hurt my heart, but I'm sure it is the first of many bumps and bruises he'll be receiving in his lifetime.
The party planning for the big O-N-E is coming along pretty smoothly, and it's only a matter of time before it's upon us. I called yesterday and made an appointment with the lady that made my first birthday cake and our wedding cake. It's fitting, right? I'm hoping to start printing invites tonight.

On another exciting note, I've started Christmas shopping and making lists. I'm hoping to be done with Christmas before Cullen's birthday. Then I can just sit back and enjoy the holidays. I did it last year, so my hopes are high...

James is going hunting this weekend, and that means my first solo weekend with Cullen. I bet I'll be in bed by 9 every night. Wish me luck!

xoxo Ashley

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Lots of Teeth, Lots of Fun

It is almost refreshing when there isn't much to talk about. We had a fabulous weekend with family and friends, Cullen got in loads of play time, and we are officially up to 5 teeth with a few more about to peek through. At the rate he's going, he'll have a full mouth by the time his birthday rolls around. It's hard to believe how much my baby is looking and acting like a little boy.

We missed the Episcopal game due to weather and the fact that James neglected to actually read the calendar. I have a girls night with Amy this Friday, and James is considering taking Cullen to a football game on his own. I'll keep you updated on how that one turns out. Trust me, I was not too heartbroken about missing high school football.

Saturday, we watched/listened to the Baylor football game and got Cullen's birthday invitation picture done. I had a great idea in my mind, and it actually panned out. For the time being, I won't be posting the picture here, because I want it to be a super cute surprise when people see the invitation and picture in their mail in a few weeks.

Just because I'm always up for trying something new, I have ordered Cullen's invitations and all coordinating material from this precious website: Etsy.com. Each little "shop" runs by their own rules, so I found a lady who creates invitations and coordinating paper goods for you, creates a high resolution PDF, and emails it to you. I'm going to be able to print all of Cullen's invites at home for a nominal fee. If this one works out, Daina might be doing our Christmas cards, too!

As of this weekend, Cullen is standing on his own. It only lasts for a few seconds, but he's getting better each day. He's going to be walking and running before we know it!

For Labor Day, we decided to do some grilling. As it turns out, Cullen's very first birthday present arrived this weekend, so James put Cullen's new grill to use. James made 2 pizzas, scallops, and steaks. Between all of that, the sides I made, and the desserts Dana made, we slept really well that night. Here is a little snapshot showing Cullen's excitement over his present.
This weekend, we'll be watching more Baylor football, pretending it isn't 100 degrees outside, and (hopefully) starting on 2 of Cullen's birthday presents. Since he doesn't know these aren't cool items, two of his gifts this year will be a scrapbook of his first year and a precious baby afghan. Someday it might actually get cool enough out for him to use a blanket at night!

xoxo Ashley

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Healthy Baby

What a busy, busy week! I had Friday off last week, but I still managed to get up at my regular 5am wake up time to get Cullen to the doctor for his followup visit. Look at that kid! Does that look like the face of someone who had his blood drawn and just got a flu shot? Heck no! He was such a trooper, and he didn't shed a tear for either round. He actually flirted with the nurse as we were strolling out of there. My little ladies man. Most importantly, his lead base line is normal, and he is no longer anemic!
Cullen and I ran a ton of errands that day and made it home just in time for Cullen to take a nap and me to run to physical therapy for my knee. While James got to hang out at the house with a precious, sleeping baby, I got beat up by a girl half my size. After two sessions, my back hurts unbelievably, my leg is swollen, and I'm praying I start to see results soon. Yay for Cullen's doctor, boo for mine.

Of course, we stayed super busy all weekend, squeezing in dinner with Papaw, a day with my parents, a play date with precious Hadley, and a dinner with friends.

Sadly, some awful person tried to break into our house last week. After a little visit from the police, we found out some new ways to protect our house other than the alarm and big dog we already have. They're guessing that Scout scared off our would-be intruders, so I will happily feed and love her for the rest of her days. I would have done it anyway, but now there's a spring in my step.

In other interesting news, we got a new bug guy. Partially, because our old bug guy gave me the creeps. Seriously creepy. I actually made it a point to not be home when he came over. We also had to have someone come out, because there was a giant man-eating spider in our bathroom. Maybe I'm the only one who saw him, and maybe I only saw him once, but he was there. I couldn't keep my mind off his creepy little ways while I brushed my teeth, and I worried for Scout's safety while we were at work. New bug guy, no more man-eating spider. Win-win.

This weekend is Labor Day, and we are celebrating with the opening Baylor football game. We're hoping for a good season for Cullen's sake. Since it's his first full football season and all, it needs to be amazing. He has a great BU shirt for Saturday. On Friday night, we're going to the Episcopal football game to watch James' alma mater play St. Pius. I'm not sure how I got wrangled into that one, but we'll see how it goes with kickoff being right around Cullen's bedtime. Wish us luck!

xoxo Ashley

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Feeling Good Again

It is hard to believe that it's only been a week... We had an amazing weekend with friends and family in Waco, but we are so glad to be home. I am more than ready for my Friday off this week, and we're hoping for a little relaxation time over the weekend.

Last Friday, we got an early start to Waco. We wanted to squeeze as much Baylor time into our weekend as possible! We started out with a quick trip to the bookstore for some BU apparel for Cullen. It's hard to believe, but he has already outgrown almost everything he's got! After that, we headed to the bear pit so Cullen could see the bears. I loved seeing Cullen's face when he finally noticed the bear, and I really enjoyed seeing James soaking up that father-son time. Cullen kept looking at us to make sure we saw the bear, too.
Then we headed to George's. James and I spent so many Friday afternoons there in college, so it was really fun for us both. Unfortunately for James, I wasn't willing to let Cullen sit in the smoking section, so we weren't able to play with the jukebox. It was still a great time with friends, and we even let Cullen try a crazy wing (a bacon wrapped piece of chicken with cheese and jalapeno in the middle). Cullen licked the bacon and then threw it on the floor, but he seemed to enjoy those 7 seconds.
Friday night was the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner. Somehow, we managed to get Cullen to nap in his stroller while we ate dinner and visited with friends. Everyone loved getting to see him, because he was the first baby of our group and the only one in attendance. In all fairness, there is only one other baby, and she's only two weeks old.

Saturday was full of seeing old friends and prepping for the evening wedding. It was a stunning wedding and reception, and we really had a wonderful time. As usual, we forgot to take pictures until we were already back at the hotel, and there was no one available to take a picture of the three of us. I hate this picture of me, but it's pretty clear that James had both Cullen and me laughing. So sweet!
Sunday morning, we got up early to take pictures of Cullen on and around Baylor campus. Since it was his first visit, we had to take him to about a million places. Our first stop was the suspension bridge. It was right next to our hotel, and it holds a very special place in our hearts. James proposed on February 14, 2005 right next to that bridge. Naturally, I told Cullen the entire long story while we took pictures.
On campus, we got several pictures, but one of my favorites is this one of Cullen on the Baylor seal. I'm hoping we can get a similar one each year as he grows. We'll see if I actually remember that by football season next year.

After pictures, we rounded out our weekend with a lunch at Ninfa's. Cullen enjoyed a cheese quesadilla and promptly passed out in his high chair. I always feel bad when he does this, but I would be lying if I denied the frequency of it. As long as he's happy, I'm totally fine with it.
We talked at lunch about the misfortune of the bride and groom. Their limo had broken down just outside of Waco that morning on the way back to Houston. They ended up hitchhiking with some random stranger to make their flight in time. We couldn't help but laugh about that story.

Little did we know, our car wasn't going to start when we got outside. A friend tried to jump it, but that didn't work, so we called a tow truck. If you're keeping count, that's the second time we've used roadside assistance in as many months. So worth every single penny. While James waited in the 105 heat, Charly picked me up with Cullen so we could get him into the a/c. While I struggled to get Cullen's car seat into Charly's car, James got this precious picture of Cullen standing in Charly's lap. He loved climbing on the steering wheel and honking the horn.
After an hour of waiting, the tow truck arrived and was able to jump our car. James came to pick us up at Charly's, and I got to move the car seat again. I am incredibly cautious about Cullen's car seat, so I take every single option to safely install it. Last time I got it checked, the fireman actually asked where I had gotten it installed. Awesome. One of my secrets is actually sitting in the car seat while tightening the latch belts. This picture is incredibly unattractive, but it's a great example if you're looking to install a car seat in the near future. I'll be practicing my skills again this afternoon, as I install our newest Britax. It will be so nice to be a two car seat family again!
This morning, I went in to see an orthopedic surgeon about my knee. My knee has been bothering me since June, so I thought it was about time to get it looked at. After a myriad of tests and x-rays, it was determined that I've bruised the cartilage behind my kneecap. Nice, right? Even better is how it most likely happened. Long story short, I went jogging while I was in labor. I think my jogging days may be over, but I start physical therapy on Friday. I'm looking forward to it in that not-so-much sort of way.

We have lots of little plans for our weekend, and we're hoping to rest up. Here's hoping we all get the chance!

xoxo Ashley

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Another Week, Another Tooth

As always, the Shuler home is buzzing with activity. Work is busy, but we're managing to squeeze everything into our work hours so we can have family time when we get home.

I had my Friday off last week, so I ran errands all day, squeezed in a play date and got a lot done around the house. It seems like we spent most of the weekend getting things done, but we were able to breathe a sigh of relief on Monday morning. This week, our only work is getting ready for a friend's wedding and trying to get some rest for the fun in store!

Here is a precious picture of Cullen trying to look out the front window when Amy and Hadley pulled up. He was so happy to be looking outside, so I opened the blinds for him. I'll have to remember this one next time he's bored with me!
Last Wednesday, some good friends of ours had a little girl. I had high hopes of getting a picture of Cullen with little Madison, but he was too busy climbing onto their coffee table to notice another baby. Spending a weekend in a hotel room with him is going to be super fun. I'm sure of it. *sarcasm*

Cullen is getting closer and closer to standing independently, and it will only be a matter of time before he's walking. As soon as he figures out this faster mode of transport, we're going to be busy. I'm really looking forward to him walking, but I'm sure it will be one more of those bittersweet mommy moments.

As he gets closer to walking, we are getting more serious about childproofing. We've been working our way through a pretty extensive list, and we're just about done. The only thing left is to assemble the remaining cabinet latches and to superglue the rubber ends to the doorstoppers. Cullen already found out how easily they pull off, so I'll be making that change while he's asleep.

Saturday night, we purchased and put up a blockade to keep Cullen from getting to the dog bowls quite so easily. He was really curious on Sunday morning, but that wore off pretty quickly. After the initial meltdown or five, he found out that all of his toys were on the same side of the wall as he was, and he moved on to other activities.

Do any of you parents out there have any childproofing recommendations? Things you didn't realize you would need to do? I would love to find the trouble spots before Cullen does!

Yesterday, we took Cullen in to see a new pediatrician. After a bit of pressure from family, we decided it wouldn't be a bad idea to get a second opinion about Cullen's health. He has been doing breathing treatments since he was six weeks old, and we wanted to make sure that we weren't over-medicating him.

In my usual manner of preparation, I created a list of questions for the doctor before our appointment. Mostly, we wanted to make sure he needed his medication, but I also had a long list of questions just to ease my mind about his development. As a first time parent, you can only be so sure of yourself.

Dr. Dondlinger spent almost an hour with us answering questions and telling us how wonderful Cullen is. As if we didn't already know... She said that his development is great, and his motor skills are awesome. He monkeyed his way around the room the entire time we were visiting, so she really got to see how active he is. We even got a chest x-ray done to make sure that reactive airways were the only issue for Cullen. After an afternoon of sweating, I got a call from the doctor letting us know that there are no other issues. Woohoo! We are even exchanging his nebulizer for an inhaler. Now his "breathing treatment" takes less than 30 seconds!

The best part of Cullen's appointment was when they weighed and measured him. James and I have noticed that Cullen has been eating a significantly larger amount since we started the iron supplements, but we were really shocked when we saw the numbers. In just 12 days, Cullen grew 3/4 of an inch and gained a pound! He is on target to be tall and thin, and I couldn't be happier to see my happy little guy thrive.

During the chaos of Cullen's appointment, we also noticed that he has another tooth coming in! This one is on the top. Although his teeth aren't coming in by the "normal" order, the doctor said it was completely normal and hereditary. Apparently, either James or I had teeth come in differently, too. Neither mom remembers it, but I seriously doubt I'll remember this twenty plus years from now either.

This morning, Cullen bit me with his top and bottom teeth while I was giving him his iron supplement. Not that I blame him, but it was still interesting to see the difference. I hope we can stop these vitamins before he gets too many more teeth!

xoxo Ashley

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Houston, We Have A Tooth!

I am giving away the goods at the beginning of the post today. My most exciting news to date... Cullen's first tooth popped through his gum this morning! I know for certain, because he bit me while I pried his little mouth open for iron drops this morning (more on those iron drops later). It was sharp, and I loved it!

This is exciting for multiple reasons. First, I'm tired of people telling me to not give my kid table food. He likes it, he eats it, and he doesn't choke to death. If I prepare it properly, it doesn't matter that he doesn't have teeth. I am seriously convinced that these people have never been bitten by a baby. Those gums are just as tough as teeth. My kid has jaws of steel.

I'm also happy, because I was basically accused of being a bad parent recently. "Your son doesn't have teeth? Oh... He must be malnourished." I want to blow raspberries in that person's face, but I will not. Because I'm a grown up and all. Anyway, he has a tooth. Maybe it isn't a mouthful or anything, but it's a start.

I've also started reading other people's blogs lately. Don't get me wrong here. I'm busy at work, but I now fill my breaks with blogs instead of Facebook. I guess strangers lives are more exciting than my friends? These blogs have inspired me. I want more pictures, more humor, and I want sponsors! Why not, right?

It also made me realize how human I am. I'm going to make a list of a few things, because I love lists. Shocking, I know.
     *I now find it okay that I made up reasons to skip baby showers after losing baby #1. Other people do that. It's part of the grieving process.
     *I now know that it is okay that I tell myself every morning that I want to go to work even though it isn't true. If that's what gets me out of bed, then so be it. I love my kid more than any career, and that will NEVER change.
     *I am not the only mom who frets over each little accomplishment. I'm proud for a split second before dividing my thoughts between pride and the next big step.
     *I am not the only mom who gets angry when people question my parenting skills or insult my kid. I am a mama bear, and I will eat you.
     *I am a lucky girl. Lucky, lucky, lucky. I have a great husband, a great kid, and a great family. Bumps in the road are to be expected, but they're no big deal!

Enough with the list making. You get the point.

In other news, we've been doing lots of fun things lately, and I made James put them all on the computer so I could share with the world. And here we go...

This picture is old as dirt. And probably older than any dust you will find in my home. Cullen is off the pacifier. Cold turkey. Done. Before he had the chance to get too attached, I yanked it. I'm sure there are times when our life would be easier with it, but I sure don't miss that Soothie. It bounced everywhere, and I was glad to see it go. Cullen sure did look precious with it though.
As we all know, Cullen has been enjoying the standing up side of playing. His favorite activity is to stand up while buckled into his stroller while we're cruising the mall. I don't know how he manages it, but I'll let him keep it up as long as he's in the straps. Mother of the year award for me.

I love this picture, because it's one of the first pictures I caught of him standing while playing. It's like he's looking at me and saying, "Look at ME! I'm standing!"
Last week, we took Cullen to James Coney Island. He had already eaten his lunch, but it didn't stop us from trying to give him a tater tot. As to be expected, he loved them. I don't think he would belong to me if he didn't. I love that little face. Nom nom nom.
This past week, we took Cullen in for his nine-month checkup. I'm sitting there proud mom style while the doctor tells me how great Cullen looks. Then they break the news to me that they're going to bleed him dry as part of his appointment. Maybe they didn't totally drain him, but it sure felt that way to me.

Somehow, I drew the short straw and got to hold him while he broke into a cold sweat. James took pictures. Cullen handled it like a champ and really enjoyed his Daffy Duck bandaid. I didn't even know Daffy Duck was around anymore. Cullen gnawed on it and enjoyed himself while in the doctor's office.
The nurse recommended that we remove the bandaid for the drive home so that he didn't loosen it and try to eat it while we couldn't see him. I won't post the picture here, but it was like a battle scene when we got home. Apparently, he managed to re-open his wound in the car, and there was blood everywhere. On him, on the car seat, on the seat of the car, on his clothes, in his hair, on Rupert. All in a ten minute drive. I could seriously go on all day. Alas, I will just let you imagine what I got to clean while James watched Sports Center.

So we get home from the doctor, and my little man is getting all grown up. He is now too tall for his infant seat, so we had to order a new fancy convertible seat for James' truck. Thank goodness we already had one in my car. We are currently accepting donations, because carseats are not cheap. I have now spent nearly $600 on car safety. Wow. Britax must love us.

 On Friday, we get a call from the doctor. That's never good. When you're healthy, they mail you a letter to let you know that you're not dying. They call when something is wrong. So Cullen is anemic. I know he isn't the first or last kid, so I'll spare everyone the woe is me speech. According to my super-extensive research, roughly 2% of all kids are diagnosed with anemia, and lots of them grow out of it. Cullen is going to be one of those kids. I can just feel it. For the next three months, we have to give him two iron-based drops after breakfast. No milk for little man until after his one-year checkup. I was so hoping we could start that. I will not miss formula at all! They will bleed him dry again at his new appointment on November 8th.

And because you kick a mom when she's down, Cullen's reactive airways are still acting up. He has to do two breathing treatments twice a day. And we're supposed to keep this up until his next check... Since one of his meds breaks my whole body out in hives, James gets to be the one to distribute the most exciting time of day.

After nine (clearly not long enough) months, Cullen has started watching television. James has found that the best way to keep Cullen still during his breathing treatments is a great little show called Wonder Pets. If you want, I can sing the theme song for you. Linny, Tuck and Ming-Ming. Silly animals with their catchy tunes.

This past weekend, Cullen got to attend a first birthday party for his good buddy, Noah. Noah's mom and I went to middle school together, and now we're raising our kiddos together after years apart. I adore Dana, and I'm super excited that her husband and James get along so well. In this picture, you see James with Cullen and Brian with Noah as they float around the lazy river at Noah's birthday party. I so need to start planning Cullen's first birthday. Ah!
Now that I look at it, it's a pretty crummy picture. But you get the idea.

Because the day hadn't been exciting enough for Cullen, he decided to explore the house in new and exciting ways that afternoon. After mastering the stairs, Cullen found Scout's kennel. Although it looks like we locked our child in the kennel, it really isn't the case. Cullen is actually the one who closed the door. He's mad, because Scout tried to open the door. I can't wait to work on sharing in a few years!
And there is my mega post. Because I am awesome. And now I've forgotten to eat lunch. Because I update this blog during my Wednesday lunch. Oh well. Another pound of baby weight down.

xoxo Ashley

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Exciting Firsts

As we all know, Cullen is growing and changing every day. He is crawling like a pro, clapping, and even pulling up. Daycare told us yesterday that he is starting to cruise on the cribs, so we're looking forward to seeing that one at home.

On Monday, they went ahead and graduated Cullen to his next classroom. I'm almost glad it happened so quickly, because I didn't have a chance to get anxious about it. From what I understand, Miss Sylvia (his old teacher) is jealous of the new teacher, because she loves Cullen so much. When I got there Monday afternoon, he was napping in his old classroom. For the time being, he has a crib in both rooms. I love that his teachers love him. It sure does make dropping him off a whole lot easier.

One of my proud mom moments for the week was when I picked Cullen up yesterday. The director of the daycare told me that Cullen is by far the most advanced kiddo in his class. Not only is he crawling around better than the other kids, he is also the only one clapping. During music class yesterday, Cullen sat with the teacher and clapped his hands. I had to stop myself from letting her know that we already knew he was the best kid there. :)  My next project with him is waving. It doesn't take too much to thrill me.

Last week was my first week with a Friday off. Three day weekends are amazing, but they are incredible when I can consider the fact that it won't be months before my next one. I get another Friday off next week! Wahoo! Of course I celebrated by spending extra time relaxing and running errands.

My college roommate, Katie, came into town for the weekend. She arrived on Thursday and stayed until Sunday. I don't usually get to keep her for so long, so it was an extra thrilling time for me. We spent a good bit of time Friday shopping at the Galleria with Cullen. He was a really good sport for most of the trip, but his favorite part was the Nordstrom shoe department.
After purchasing his new Pedipeds (his back to school shoes for the fall that just happened to be a part of the anniversary sale), Cullen got his very first balloon. Funny how I don't recall getting a balloon when I bought my Uggs in the kids department. :) Cullen was completely enamored with the balloon, and it stayed by his side almost until bedtime that night. He really enjoyed playing with the string and teething on the balloon. I'm sure teething on a balloon is totally risk-free. I'm relatively certain that I'm not in the running for mom-of-the-year anyway. After the Galleria, Cullen had his first PF Chang's dinner provided by some of James' birthday gift cards. Thanks Lynn and Corie! Cullen really enjoys chicken fried rice, and I really enjoy his leftovers.

The next day, we went to a friends to go swimming and grill ribs. They are expecting a baby girl in the next couple of weeks, so it was fun for them to spend time with Cullen, and Cullen really enjoyed his time in the pool. I love seeing him so happy, and the day was made even better with the addition of sangria and loads of ribs. Someday in the not too distant future, Cullen will be eating ribs, too!

This weekend, Omi is coming into town. She hasn't seen Cullen since he was just a few weeks old, so we are all looking forward to her seeing the changes he's made. Maybe I can even squeeze a haircut into Saturday morning before their visit. With Omi living states away, it's nice for Cullen to look his best for his Omi. It will also be Cullen's first chance to meet one of my cousins, since Shannon will be making the trip with Omi. It is so nice to spend our time with family!

xoxo Ashley

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Little Big Guy

The last week has been so exciting in our house. Cullen is eating more and more modified table food, so we are spending less and less time spoon-feeding. I think we're all breathing a sigh of relief there! I've also decided to start making multiple meals on Sunday and freezing them. A girl in my office recommended the idea, so I decided to take it for a spin. This past Sunday, I made enchiladas, sauce, and chicken and dumplings.

Since Cullen has been eating what we're eating, I gave him a little sampler for dinner that night. He seemed to enjoy the meatball I gave him far more than anything else. It was so funny to watch him feed himself, and he's clearly very proud of this improving skill. The best part was when he got too full, too fast. I guess he thought a little catnap was a good idea, so he dozed off right there in his highchair. I'm going to have to remember that meatball night is also early bedtime night.
He slept there for a good twenty minutes before we woke him up for a bath and bedtime.

Cullen is also getting to the point where I'm starting to think he may want a pillow in his crib. I keep telling myself that it's a terrible idea, but this is how I found him sleeping on Saturday morning.
I think he actually wants something to rest his head on!

The most exciting news by far is that Cullen is crawling like a big boy now! He just seems to have gotten a full grasp of it last night, so pictures should be up by the time I post next week. He is really proud of himself, and it is really exciting for me! This morning I clapped my hands and cheered for him a bit, so when he reached his destination, he sat himself up and clapped his hands. Every single day is a new adventure!

When we got to daycare this morning, we found out that Cullen is going to be moving to a new room in a few weeks. He is apparently terrorizing the younger kids by crawling across them and under them when they're in the jumper. There are two other kids in the class that are doing the same thing, so they are all moving up together. I get the feeling that August 23rd is going to be a sad morning for me. My little man is growing up (just a teeny tiny bit).

xoxo Ashley

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Summer Fun


This summer is moving by really quickly, but I'm doing my best to not complain about that one. It's too darn hot to enjoy. I think James is even more aware of the Houston heat this summer, because I haven't stopped complaining since April. Someday we WILL move back to Austin. Until then, I will do my best to make the best of our current situation.

Most weekends, I am the early riser with Cullen. After breakfast, Cullen and I play games, practice new skills, or I supervise while he plays with his toys. Over the last couple of months, Cullen has started sitting up independently, and now we are working on pulling up and standing independently. He's getting so fast, and it is just awesome! He will be walking before we know it!

Here is Cullen pushing Scout away to show off his wonderful sitting up skills. I'm sure Scout just wanted a little bit of the breakfast Cullen left in his hand.
And then we see Scout's amazing patience with Cullen. When he falls down, she usually catches him. Sometimes it even seems to be on purpose.
One of our fun things I wrote about before was our fun trip to the zoo. We got to see the dinosaur exhibit that is only on display for the summer. We went to see if after it had been available for a month, so we were all a little surprised at how not enthused we were. I would have expected some bad press or something. I guess now we know to stick with the museum for dinosaurs. At least we got a good picture!
Last weekend we went swimming at a friend's house where Cullen got to enjoy the company of another baby his age. Hadley is just a couple of weeks older and absolutely beautiful. Cullen loved playing with someone with the same skill set, and he really seems to enjoy the water. I'll have to post pictures of that expedition when we have time to pull them off the camera!

xoxo Ashley

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

All Well Again

We are all healthy and well again! Just as Cullen was making his full recovery from virus number 2, I seemed to catch it. Of course, we didn't make our trip to Austin, and James spent the weekend feeling like a single parent while I tried to recover. I just hope that means we're all covered for illness for a while.

Last night, I went out for our monthly girls night with some awesome friends. We are always a little too loud, but we laugh so much, and it is a wonderful escape. Since my birthday is this weekend, the girls put together a little surprise party complete with cake and presents. So fun!

We are struggling to survive the Houston summer heat once more. I think I elected to forget just how bad these summers get, but Mother Nature took great care to remind me. Thankfully, we have some great friends with an awesome pool. This weekend, we will be lounging poolside and letting the babies get in some water play. Maybe I'll even sneak in a mani pedi.

I'm also going to spend some time with a good friend of mine who is expecting her little boy to arrive any day now. I'm going to take inventory in her nursery and make sure she is all set for Ayden's arrival. I personally feel like it's easier to enjoy your little one when there aren't other things to worry about. I am seriously looking forward to installing the car seat. So fun!

xoxo Ashley