Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Merry Christmas From The Shuler Family

 I always like to finish my Christmas shopping early. I always think it's going to give me a good chance to enjoy the season and spend time with family and friends. In retrospect, I feel like I should shop later so I don't take on so many commitments close to Christmas. 

One of my great ideas this year was making cinnamon rolls from scratch. Who wouldn't want homemade cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning? They turned out beautifully, and there were plenty to share with friends. We ate them for two days, and I feel like they were worth the effort. Aren't they pretty?
 The best part of the whole adventure was this... He even told me that they were yummy. God bless that boy.
For Christmas Eve, we got dressed up and headed out for Christmas Eve service and dinner with friends. Last year, my mom bought Cullen a precious blazer. This year, it finally fits. He was pretty much the cutest kid at church. He even held his own candle for the candlelight service. 

After a late dinner, James and I got Cullen into bed so we could wrap up the rest of the Christmas gifts and help the Santa gifts appear. There's a really attractive picture of me in Cullen's Power Wheels, but I opted for this one instead. 
The next morning, Cullen found his Santa gifts under both trees and got so excited. He didn't seem even remotely concerned that there were other gifts under the tree. We waited until my parents arrived to open the rest of our presents.
 For the longest time, I've been asking James to buy me a cute apron. I have no idea why I haven't just bought one for myself at this point. Needless to say, I got three precious aprons for Christmas. Two of my best friends got me aprons and so did my aunt. I can't wait to have some time to cook to make sure they all get a turn in the rotation!
 I think one of James' favorite gifts was his autographed Mike Singletary football. Cullen was pretty peeved that it couldn't come out of the box to play.
 It was really fun to host Christmas morning at our house with my parents. I've hosted Christmas dinner plenty of times before, but it was the first time I've hosted Christmas morning at our home. So fun!
Cullen is learning to be a fan of his new truck. On Christmas morning, putting the truck in reverse made him cry. Then, he wanted the car to go without him pressing the pedal. With a bit of coaxing, Cullen is successfully making the car go on his own, but he's not wanting to steer. One step at a time...
The day after Christmas, James and I ran errands and had lunch at Lupe's with friends. Cullen's favorite part of lunch was the pig on the front porch. He'll learn to appreciate those fajitas someday.
One of Cullen's other gifts was a set of Woody pajamas. When he put them on last night, he was so excited to be a real cowboy. James got him a hat and coached him on what to say. He's my little buckaroo.

xoxo ashley

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

You Can't Stop Santa

Cullen is growing up so fast these days. He speaks in sentences. He runs. He plays like a little boy. He is incredibly rough and strong. Just last night, he played Roly Poly with James for what seemed like forever. Cullen calls it Poly Poly, and his version usually involves body slams and kicks.

He loves pretty much everything about Christmas. He loves the trees and the lights. Until today, I also thought he loved Santa. Around our house, we have dozens of Santas. We tried to explain to Cullen that our wooden ones were hand carved by Papaw, so now he just thinks that Santa is Papaw. We took Cullen to see Christmas lights on Sunday night. He slept through it all. James and I enjoyed the lights and drove home.

Cullen is also in love with my new car. I remember James' cousin once telling me a story about how her then 2 or 3 year old daughter loved her new minivan. How Lauren actually sang louder and more happily. I get that feeling now. Cullen calls it the new car, the big car, or Mommy's big car. He is beyond fun, and I am loving his refreshing attitude about car time. I just hope it sticks around.

We are working more on potty training these days from the perspective that Cullen will now ask to go potty every fourteenth time he needs to go. That might even be a generous estimate. When he asks, we run to the potty and wait. The one time it wasn't a false alarm, he managed to pee all over me, himself, and the floor. All I could do was thank him for telling me he needed to go and making it to the toilet. Then I started the laundry. Now he likes to prepare for such emergencies by holding wads of toilet paper.
This week is Cullen's last week of school until after the new year. I wanted to make something cute for each of his teachers, so I decided on homemade goodies. Who doesn't love malted chocolate chip cookies? I boxed up a dozen for each of the teacher's at Cullen's school, wrapped them up, and gifted them with a handmade gift tag complete with Cullen pictures. I was pretty proud of my creativity. 
In total, I made 25 dozen cookies. All but two of those cookies left our house bundled or boxed in some form or fashion. They went to Cullen's school, my office, and James' office. From what I hear, Cullen cashed in on quite a few cookies at his school by "sharing" with the teachers.

This morning was Cullen's Christmas party at school and a Santa visit. Cullen was thrilled when I showed up. He walked me around the room and introduced me to his little friends. He was so excited that he was going to get to see Santa. He even told me he was going to ask Santa for a truck. I think James taught him that one, but I'm not sure.

Here's a little peak of Cullen dressed up for Santa in his precious sweater. He was standing in the hallway, whispering in my ear about Santa, trucks, and teddy bears.  
Then came Cullen's opportunity to see Santa. He wanted nothing to do with it. He climbed onto Santa's lap all on his own while tears poured down his cheeks. He wanted the bear Santa was offering, and I think he was willing to do whatever it took. In between sobs, he even thanked Santa for his bear.
Better luck with that picture next year. Now I'm wondering if I need to hide all of our Santas before he sees them again. I don't know if he's going to lash out or see that they're different. Cullen is also not really taking to the whole Baby Jesus story for Christmas this year. I'm hoping for better luck with both of those next year. Until then, we'll focus on smiles, family time, and presents.

xoxo ashley

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Chuck E Cheese

December rarely holds a dull moment in any household. There is decorating to be done. There are cookies to be made. There are friends and family we want to see. Not everything can be done. It just isn't possible. I think admitting that there is too much to be done is the first step to completing a positive, successful holiday season.

In the spirit of doing too much, I entered a holiday cake competition at my office last week. I didn't win. I didn't even place. I was actually told by one of the judges that they didn't believe my cupcakes were homemade. I was torn between being flattered and ticked off.
Saturday morning, we got the DVD player installed in the new car. While it was in the shop, we decided to take Cullen over to Chuck E Cheese for his first arcade-type experience. He had an absolute blast.
He and James played games together. 
They won a ridiculous number of tickets. 
And I followed them around taking blurry, clumsy-looking pictures with my iPhone.

With Cullen's 500 tickets, we came home with a tiny thing of Play-Doh and a Hot Wheels. It was completely worth it to watch him yank tickets out of the machine.

Saturday night, we got to watch on live TV as Baylor brought home it's first Heisman trophy. It was hours before we could get Cullen to stop chanting "RG3!" and get him in bed. We are a proud Baylor family, and we love it when the rest of the world gets to see why we are Baylor proud.

Here's hoping that work gives me a lunch break next week to post before Christmas. It is so fun now that Cullen "gets it." I am really looking forward to instilling some family traditions!

xoxo ashley

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Merry Christmas To Me

Every single day, we make a choice. We can let life get the best of us and be stressed, or we can appreciate what we have and make the best of things. More often than not, I let myself get stressed beyond recognition and wear myself thin. Over the past week, I let life wear me thin to the breaking point until I was reminded that things aren't so bad.

Last week, the a/c and heater in my Highlander just stopped working. The worst feeling in the world for me is when I feel like I've failed my son. When he had to tell me that he was cold last week on the drive home, I wanted to cry. On top of that my low tire pressure light was on, so my car was irritating me to say the least. On Friday morning, James took my car in to be looked at while I took his truck to work. Cullen could not have been happier about the arrangement.
He had his blankets and doggie pillow, AND he was riding in Daddy's truck! We got caught in some really bad traffic, but it didn't dampen his spirits a bit. He was just happy about being in a big truck. I felt awful that James was stuck in my car with no a/c, but I was so thankful that he is such an awesome husband and dad. He didn't want us driving around in a car that we had questions about.

Friday night, we found out that my car was in need of a litany of repairs. As James listed off the wrongs my car was committing, I was freaking out. The total wasn't an amount we had on hand since I've just finished Christmas shopping, and we have our recently increased HOA dues coming up at the end of the month.

We picked up my car on the way to James' company Christmas party with the intentions of dropping it off with a family friend who owns a car repair place. We knew we could get a better deal, and they would help us out where needed. While I waited for them to pull my car around, James said something he may have come to regret. "Why don't we just get you a new car?"

So I called a lady I work with over at Fred Haas and told her what I'd like and how I don't really want a new one since spending that much money on a car makes me want to puke. And then the owner's wife turned in her demo later that morning with the exact specifications I had asked for. With even lower mileage, but they were still willing to sell it to me for the used invoice price. And then we somehow got the car below invoice.
Cullen was a trooper through the whole process. He played with my wallet, he colored a wedding invitation, he made animal noises, and he threw a tantrum in the parking lot when we left "Mommy's car."

We were there as a "family" member of the lady I work with, and we were treated incredibly well. I realize we got some special treatment because of it, but I would still recommend that anyone should look at Fred Haas for their next car. It was a great experience.

All of that to say, I have a new Sequoia. It is beautiful. It is big. It is my Christmas present (and probably a birthday). Cullen now loves riding in "Mommy's Big Car," and he's going to love it even more when he finds out we have a DVD player. I love that I have leather seats. I love that they are heated. I love that my side mirrors have their own defrosters. I find it hilarious that it barely fits in the garage and will only be there in emergency situations like hail and bad storms. I am a lucky girl.

Photos to follow maybe next week. If I am ever actually home during day light.

In more important news, Cullen has become quite the vocalist. He sings along to just about anything. He breaks out into song even when you don't expect it. We were making gingerbread cookies the other day, and he was helping me stamp out the stars. When I asked him what shape it was, he told me it was a star and started singing. He knew every single word to "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star." James taught him "Jingle Bells." Last night, during the drive home, we listened to "Valerie" by Amy Winehouse on repeat. Cullen apparently loves that song, and he knows most of the words. See below for video examples of his vocal prowess. Such a verve for life. :) 
Last night, Cullen insisted on eating his dinner (an entire box of mac and cheese, an apple, AND a banana) while wearing his jacket. I pulled out this precious hand-me-down from his cousin this morning to find out that his only other jacket doesn't fit. I guess I need to do laundry tonight. Because I'm a good mom, I sent him to school in this one, because the sleeves aren't THAT short, and his shirt covered the gap between the bottom of the jacket and his jeans. I just love this picture, because it reminds me of the Gorton Fisherman. 
Tonight we have a fun Christmas party and prep work for a Christmas cake contest I entered. I'm interested to see how my cake stands up to the competition.

xoxo ashley

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Carousel

The last week has been wild per the usual. We have gotten to spend so much time with our family, with our friends, and as a family. I am ever so thankful for that!

On Wednesday (of last week), James and I both got off work early. We left later than we were supposed to, but it was still earlier than usual. James thought it would be fun to take Cullen to the zoo, and we really had the best time. A cool front had moved in the day before, and it was just enough to keep the animals out and about later in the day.

Cullen really enjoys the zoo, and he has so much fun on the carousel.The picture is a little washed out, but you can see that huge smile on his face. We even let him pick the animal he wanted to ride. After circling the entire carousel, he decided on a raccoon. He kept saying, "Good doggy" while we were riding. As long as he's happy!
The next morning, we got up and headed to my parent's house for Thanksgiving. Cullen made this precious place mat at school, but I couldn't bring myself to let him eat on it. Among the million other things I've saved, this wound up in his box of special things he may or may not appreciate later. 
 As usual, Cullen refused to nap during the drive, so he made it through the entire day with no nap. He ate an entire apple while the rest of us ate dinner, so I only felt mildly bad about letting him eat an entire piece of chocolate pie. Apparently, he loves chocolate pie. Loves it. 
Because James and I just aren't tired enough, we bribed some friends with breakfast and asked them to spend Thanksgiving night with us. Megan and Lee are too good to us. I may have to raise their first child to make it up to them. Needless to say, James and I waited in the cold at HEB Plus for two and a half hours.

After covering every range of emotion, the doors opened at 4am. James took the time to scout out the store through the windows and find Cullen's Christmas present. Our next goal was to just get there before anyone else. James listened to the manager and actually went to the register like we were supposed to. I ran to the nearest truck, attempted to climb on top of it, and bear hugged it while saying, "Mine!" over and over again. I may have left my pride behind. The important things to focus on are that Cullen will have an amazing Christmas, and I saved $230. And I paid for the rest with cupcake money. God bless those cupcakes.
Saturday morning was completely and utterly lazy. Cullen made himself a home between the couch and the coffee table. I'm sure he might have been more comfortable elsewhere, but I love it when he tries to be like Daddy. 
Saturday night, James and I went on a double date to dinner out and The Nutcracker. James took me to the ballet. I'll give you a second to crawl back into your chair before I remind you that our tickets happened to fall during the Baylor game. I enjoyed the ballet, Uncle Andy texted James game updates, and we both had a great evening. It was so much fun!
As Christmas edges ever closer, I am happy to say that the majority of my Christmas shopping is done. That makes it so much easier to focus on the reason we celebrate and spending time with family. This weekend will involve a lot of quiet time as I get wound up and prepared for the general storm that is Christmas cookies in the Shuler house. If you're lucky, you just might get some for yourself!

xoxo ashley

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thankful For Life's Blessings

So many people on Facebook are taking time each day to list what they are thankful for this month. I haven't jumped on that bandwagon, and the month is almost over, but each day I am reminded of how blessed I am. Blessed to have a healthy family. Blessed to have a precious little boy. Blessed to have enough to provide for our family. Blessed to have amazing friends that will stay at home with my son while I am out battling Black Friday hell to get him the coolest Christmas present ever. Just blessed.

The past weekend has been incredibly busy, but I have just had the best time with it. James was out of town hunting with clients for the weekend, and Cullen and I had a surplus of time to spend together. It was a tiring four days, but I really enjoyed the fact that Cullen wanted to cuddle and play and read books together.

Recently, Cullen has decided that he has to sleep with a laundry list of items. We have the dog pillow (thanks Tera!), the panda pillow pet (thanks Dana!), the blue silky pillow that probably isn't meant for sleeping on (thanks Jess!), his "Pets" blanket (thanks Peg!), his Carter's blanket (thanks Janet!), and his lovey of choice (thanks Ruthie!). More things to be thankful for. Anyhow, Cullen likes to bring everything downstairs and try to take it to school. Everyday, I hope that he will drop items on the walk through the house, and there will be fewer things to argue about in the car. I'm only mildly worried about attachment issues.
A further example of Cullen's attachment. Sunday night bath required his mouse lovey (thanks Peg!) and his blue blanket. Of course, they got wet, so they had to "sleep" in the bathtub. i.e. I washed them while Cullen slept. It was beyond ridiculous, but he was so happy while they were floating around with him.
Earlier this week, our first box of Christmas presents arrived. My amazingly prepared sister in law sent over our gifts from Japan, and there were a couple of great little birthday presents for Cullen included. We told Cullen his little shirt had a dragon on it. He told us it was a dog. We read the card. He was right. There was also this awesome wooden 3D puzzle of a pig. Cullen has been carting it around the house with him. So precious! Thanks to Chris, Jess, Ben & Claire!
Last night (as with each of the past several nights), we were eating leftovers so I could fulfill another Scout order. When Cullen eats a decent amount of healthy food for dinner, we usually let him have a treat for dessert like a few bites of ice cream, a Hershey kiss, or a few mini marshmallows. Last night, James must have put 20 marshmallows on the table. Cullen shoved as many as possible into his mouth and kept the last few in his tightly clenched little fist before James even put the bag away. James kept trying to get Cullen to say, "Love you, Mommy" with all those marshmallows in his mouth. His very own game of chubby bunny. 
Yesterday, I managed to order our Christmas cards. By the time I combined our Costco discount with a couple of coupon codes, I was able to get the price down to something that didn't make me want to cry, and I paid a little extra for two-day delivery. They will be in the mail to friends and family on Friday. I can't wait to hold them in my hot little hands!

The day before Cullen's birthday, we scheduled family photos with Robin Maxwell over at Life In Bloom Studios. Robin is an amazing photographer, and we are in love with her work. When I was in middle school, Robin was my "coach." I put it in quotation marks, because she honestly just let me be the manager of the basketball team so I wouldn't have to take P.E. I reminded her of this the last time we were there, and she laughed. She told me I didn't belong in P.E. Truth be told, I don't belong anywhere near any sports when I am more than a spectator. Someone could get hurt.

I don't want to ruin the surprise of our awesome card, but this one below is a little sneak peek of her work. It is actually one part of a progression of pictures. As soon as I have the prints in, I am heading straight to Hobby Lobby for a frame. Yay for more Christmas decor! 
Today, both of our offices are supposed to be closing early, so I'll be heading to pick Cullen up from school early (he is one of the 9 students there, down from the normal 65), and we'll be going to the zoo. I'm so excited to have family time!

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving with my parents, and tomorrow night our amazing friends, Lee and Megan, will be coming over to help keep an eye on Cullen while James and I head out in the middle of the night to collect discounted gifts for Cullen. Cullen is really excited about the Christmas tree and presents, and that just thrills me. Last weekend, I tried to explain Baby Jesus. He did not care. We'll just keep sharing that story. Someday, it will mean to him what it means to me.

Love to all and Happy Thanksgiving!

xoxo ashley

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Why Didn't Anyone Tell Me It Was November?

It is seriously November. As in Thanksgiving is next week. How did that happen? I know Cullen's birthday is in November, but I completely missed the holidays sneaking up on me. Maybe it's because Hobby Lobby put out their Christmas decor in June. I adore Christmas, but I can't think of any other way that I'm just now realizing how close it is.

Last week, I took off Friday to go to the Nutcracker Market. Even though I didn't sleep in, it was still a great morning to spend time with Cullen and really enjoy how much he's grown. We spent a lot of time that morning cuddling on the chair and talking about trains.
Cullen's self portrait.
I have to love the yellow bruise
on his forehead from when he
head-butted James last week.

Cullen made it a short day at school by being dropped off right before lunch and being picked up by nap time. Lucky kid. Then Tera and I headed over to the Nutcracker Market. Words cannot even describe my excitement for this. Tera and I were joined at the hip in Round Rock, and no distance will cut that. We can go weeks without having time to talk, but we fall back in like nothing was missed. You just don't find a whole lot of friends like that in life, and I feel truly blessed to know that I have a few.

Back to the Nutcracker Market. I had two tickets to the fashion show. We were late. Parking was hell. Lunch was still available. There was a cheese plate, people. A cheese plate. And we all know I love cheese. I plowed right through lunch and made it to this precious dessert. I hardly ate any of it, but it was darn cute.
After our awesome lunch, Tera and I hit the floor for some shopping. I spent less than my budgeted amount (barely), and most of my Christmas shopping is done. We made a few different trips out to the car to drop off our goodies and head back in for more shopping. We covered every booth, every snack, and every sample. As if I hadn't eaten enough lunch. The day was planned to end a little early to allow for a pedicure before Tera headed home, but we didn't even get back to the house until almost nine. Our nails will wait for another day. I couldn't be happier with how the day went. Perfect!

All day Saturday (and some of Friday night) were spent with the pit. James takes this so seriously, and I am taking the task of making new leftovers seriously. Last night, I used smoked turkey to make a goat cheese macaroni dish. Let's be honest. I've been looking for an extra reason to eat goat cheese. So yummy. Needless to say, I will be all turkied out by next Thursday.

On Saturday morning, James made the traditional "butter log" he uses for poultry. I find it incredibly impressive. Somehow he makes four sticks of butter and a bunch of parsley, rosemary, etc into the thing you see on the right. Disgusting and delicious all at once. 
Saturday dinner was so fun with more friends over. We laughed so much, and it was nice to have a relatively laid back night at home.

Sunday was a slow, easy day. I got my nails done, took a nap, had dinner with friends, and got a self portrait done. James drew this picture of me with Cullen's Thomas Etch-A-Sketch. I was only mildly offended until Cullen pointed at it and exclaimed, "MOMMY!" I really need to put forth some more effort, apparently. It's hard to say, but (according to the picture), it may be time to get my braces off.
In an unusual twist, I received flowers at the office yesterday. For those keeping count, that is twice in less than a week. I was hesitant to open the card, as I was expecting news that the house might have burned down with an apology from James. Why else could I possibly be getting flowers? They actually were from a client of mine who sent flowers as a thank you for all of my hard work. My job can be stressful and irritating, and I am rarely thanked for for my efforts. It was a really awesome feeling to know that someone noticed the work I do. Even if it wasn't my boss.

Tonight, I'll be making apple pie cookies as a way to de-stress. They will make a huge mess of the kitchen my maid is cleaning as we speak, but Cullen and I are going to have so much fun. And those are the moments I look forward to most!

xoxo ashley

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Suburban Babies and Long Commutes

 I think Cullen has been given the opportunity to be a very patient baby. Poor kid. Every single day, he has to deal with a morning commute and crummy rush hour on the way home. I keep a basket full of books and small toys in the car to keep him occupied. I don't know why, but it struck me yesterday how much that has to be helping with his level of patience. Plus, it gives us time to sing songs and talk. I look forward to the day when we don't have the commute, but it sure is easier to make him talk to me when he's strapped to a seat.

Scout (my little bakery) has really been thriving. Last week, I was busy making goodies for Cullen's birthday party and an office baby shower. Cullen seemed to really enjoy my cookie making mess, so I gave him a hunk of cookie dough and his own cutter. What he "made" was not edible, but it sure was fun to spend that time with him! I wound up making cookies, brownies, and cupcakes for the baby shower and cookies and cupcakes for Cullen's birthday. It was a busy kitchen!
Cullen's birthday party has been deemed a success by me. We wound up with 47 guests. It was a bit overwhelming, but I am so grateful for each and every one of those guests. It is so awesome to know how blessed our little boy is!

Of course, work has been beyond crazy this week, so I haven't even had a chance to look at our pictures. The only two I have are credited to James' Aunt Peg. The other 200+ were taken by Lee and Megan. Thank goodness for them! They took photos and videos, and Megan helped me set up for the party. I couldn't have done it so effortlessly without her help!
My most proud moment was when Cullen didn't cry during the happy birthday song. During the last few birthday parties, we have actually had to remove Cullen during the singing to keep him from flipping out. The morning of his birthday, he told James, "Daddy, don't do that!" when James sang to him. During the party, Cullen smiled, clapped, and blew out his candles. Big kid style.
One of Cullen's favorite gifts is the three foot tall T-Rex he got from Shadow. Here's a picture of Cullen giving "dinosaur hugs." I never thought I would see a tender moment shared with a dinosaur.
Today is mine and James' 9 year anniversary. Nine years ago, we had the DTR conversation, and here we are. And here are the flowers I got today. Because he's just that good.
Tomorrow morning, I get to go to the Macy's fashion show at the Nutcracker Market and spend the day with Tera. I don't know what I'm most excited about. Fashion show? Shopping? Tera? Pedicures? It's too exciting to even think about.

On a really cool note, a good friend of mine from Baylor and also in the blogging world is hosting a giveaway, because she has reached 200 followers. I think I have 3. Hint hint. If you want to enter the giveaway, please visit Ashleigh's blog. It is time well spent.

xoxo ashley

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Almost Two

My little baby is almost two. He isn't such a baby anymore. He acts like a big boy with occasional tantrums. He is more and more vocal every day. He asks for the things he wants. Sometimes he wants the windows rolled down, sometimes he wants you to sit down, sometimes he wants his vitamin. Rest assured, he will let you know. Unfortunately, he regularly changes his mind before you complete the initial request. We're working on that one.

Last weekend, I took my car through one of those drive through car washes at a gas station. I had single-handedly lowered the Harris County bug population, and this was my quick fix. After pulling into the wash, James and I realized that Cullen had never been through the car wash before. He kept going back and forth between getting upset and pretending to be brave. He was not a fan of the high pressure rinse cycle.
On Sunday morning, a good friend of mine asked to take pictures of Cullen for her portfolio. She has so much talent, and you can tell she really enjoys what she's doing. If you need photos in the Katy area, get in touch with me, or look for Laughery Photography. Desiree is precious and great with kids! 
On Monday morning, my iPhone decided that it didn't feel like saving photos anymore. Perfect timing for Halloween. This picture of Cullen in his costume is from a few weeks ago when I first got it. I guess I'll have to dress Cullen up again later for a mock session. The only picture James got has me in it, and that is not going on the blog. Cullen got the hang of trick or treating after two stops, but that's also when he realized that he could just say thank you and still get candy. We made four stops total and headed home. 
This Sunday is Cullen's birthday. His second birthday. We have quite a few people coming over to celebrate, and we're really looking forward to it. How could you not look forward to a child's birthday? Between Cullen's birthday and other Scout orders, I will be making 6 dozen cupcakes, 8 dozen cookies, and 2 dozen brownies over the next four days. I'm exhilarated and worn out all at once. My main goal is to make it through Friday. If I can get to Saturday morning, we'll be fine.

On a less positive note, I wanted to share a little parenting gripe. Last Friday, I sent Cullen to school with a little sweatshirt to wear during outside play time. James picked Cullen up from school, and his sweatshirt was nowhere to be found.

I check Cullen's bag before we take anything home each day to make sure that we have all of Cullen's things and only Cullen's things. Not all parents do this. More than once, something of Cullen's has gone home with someone else. Each time, it shows back up the next morning. It's the decent thing to do. You bring back the things that don't belong to you. This time, the sweatshirt didn't reappear.

So here we are on Wednesday, still with no shirt. I'm cheap. I own that. I had only planned on buying Cullen one sweatshirt this fall and planned to carry it between home and school until he grows out of it. We all know that won't take long. Not only has the school posted a sign about the missing shirt, Cullen's teacher asked each of the parents if they had seen it. One of those parents lied when they said they hadn't seen it.

I'll be the first to admit that I am really ticked off to be buying him a new sweatshirt today. They aren't expensive, but I'm a coupon gal, and I have no coupons for this one. You see, we have a cold front blowing in this afternoon, and Cullen will need a sweatshirt at school tomorrow. I'll also admit that I will totally remove a sweatshirt from a kid tomorrow if I drop Cullen off at school and see someone else wearing it. His name is on the tag, and he is the only Cullen Shuler at that school. I honestly hope it happens. I want that parent to be so embarrassed, because I will throw them under the bus. Then I will give them the evil eye.

All that being said to remind parents with kids in school to pay attention to what they take home. It might be handy to not have to buy a sweatshirt for your kid, but it's quite the inconvenience for the other parent. And that other parent might be me. And I might be tired and cranky. And I will totally call you out on it.

xoxo ashley

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Cousin Time, Daddy Time

Cullen has gotten to spend a lot of time with family over the last couple of weeks, and it makes me so happy. It also gives me even more reason to be excited about Cullen's upcoming birthday. He's going to have so much fun playing with his friends!

Cullen, James and I spent Monday and Wednesday evening last week with the Dement and Little families (minus Charly and Jarrod). Friday night, just James and Cullen spent time over there as I was out of town. Cullen is absolutely in love with Lauren, and he really seemed to enjoy watching the twins. They are a year older than Cullen, but the three of them are about the same size, and Cullen really went searching for their attention.
 Just for the record, Cullen is holding a flute (not a beating stick), and he did not hit the girls with it. By the same token, I can't promise that it never crossed his mind. He's really a sweet kid. I swear.

Cullen really enjoyed Stephanie, and Stephanie really seemed to enjoy making Cullen giggle. It's hard to not enjoy something like that. His laughter is so contagious.
The smile on the faces of all three here are so awesome. I love it.

On Friday night, it was James' responsibility to get Cullen's things together before heading to Sugar Land. He needed a milk cup, a Rupert (Cullen's lovey), diapers, and pajamas. I don't know about everything else, but James forgot the diapers. I can't complain. I'm queen of that. I'll remember spare everything and no diapers. Now I just keep a few in my purse for emergencies. Of course, my purse was with me, and I was not with my boys, so Cullen borrowed a pull up from his cousins. I hope the twins didn't mind him running around in pink undies. In true girl fashion, the pink pull up had princesses on it. My understanding is that Cullen kept pointing at the picture and saying, "Mommy!" The boy thinks I'm a princess, and I love it!
This week has been a little tough on my stress levels, but James did something really special earlier this week to buoy my spirits. After years of dancing for the Houston ballet in the Nutcracker, James got us tickets to go see it next month. I've danced in it plenty of times, but I've never seen it, and I am thrilled. I can't wait!

xoxo ashley

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Cupcakes, Family, and More Cupcakes

Cupcakes have been consuming my life and my counters lately. I LOVE making cupcakes. Scooping out individual servings of batter to make sure they're all the same size, icing them, decorating them. It is almost soothing how well it goes. I love the consistency and creativity of baking. I love sharing my baked goods with others.

Friday night, I made 6 dozen cupcakes. 3 dozen for one birthday party, 1 dozen for another birthday, 1 dozen for James' office, and 1 dozen for a dinner we hosted on Sunday.
On Sunday, we had my parents, aunt, and uncle over for dinner. They spent the afternoon with us while we got to catch up, visit, watch football, and eat. It isn't a clear picture, but it was so nice to have these three guys together. I didn't get to have my uncle around until later in life, and we both really cherish our time together. It's so nice to be able to pick up where we left off each time as though no time has passed.
On Monday night, we went to James' aunt and uncle's house to see them and James' cousin and her kids. After Cullen's experience with all five of the Little kids, I can safely say that Cullen is not prepared for siblings. He seemed to enjoy observing more than playing, but he loved his play time with Stephanie. He is a lovable little guy, and I love seeing him spend this time with family.

I can't help but laugh at the below progression in pictures. I had the "brilliant" idea to get a picture of the six cousins together. The Little kids are used to the group photos. Cullen isn't really sure what to do. Lauren wanted to hold onto him for us, but he had other ideas. 
All six kids piled on the couch. Some smiles, some tears.  
Cullen finds an escape route and takes it. 
Cullen remembers that he has a puzzle in his lap while the other kids take pictures.
Look at my puzzle pieces...
Cullen tried to escape the frame on this one, but Peg caught them all with her camera. Granddad pointed out that Cullen is just keeping a respectful distance.
Last night was another four dozen cupcakes. 2 dozen for my office, 1 dozen for James' office, 1 dozen for the Little/Dement family. James had one for breakfast, but he's been my only taster so far. The ones for my office get opened in a couple of hours. I can't wait to see how they go!

xoxo ashley