Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Blog That Writes Itself

Last Wednesday night, James told me that my blog writes itself. And sometimes, it totally does. There was no thought at all as to a subject this week. Why, you might ask? My kid got stitches last week. Five of them. Five stitches in his beautiful face.

Cullen is generally a rowdy kid. He's a boy, and he's shameless about it. If there is something that can be torn up or destroyed, he's there. If he can make a mess, he's in the middle of it. Bath time is always somewhat loud and hilarious. Cullen loves to splash the water, dance around, drink the bath water, and occasionally poop in it. I think he does the last one just to hear me scream and watch me frantically scramble around the room.

Last Wednesday, I offered to clean up the kitchen while James gave Cullen a bath. It's usually the other way around, but I feel like James is missing out sometimes. Accidents can happen to anyone, and it breaks my heart that this one happened to my kid.

During the progression of Cullen's bath, he decided to hop around the bath tub. Great idea. Great. Of course, he slipped on the non-slip mat and hit his head on the side of the tub. I'd be lying if I said this was the first time he'd fallen in the tub. It wasn't. It probably won't be the last. Unfortunately, Cullen fell JUST RIGHT and smacked his face on a completely smooth (i.e. no sharp edges) part of our garden tub. And then there was blood.
James took a picture once the bleeding had mostly stopped.

James was yelling for me to get into the bathroom. I was taking my sweet time cleaning the sink. You know. Because people clean sinks on Wednesday nights. That's totally normal, right? By the second shout, I decided I should probably make sure that everything was still intact. I get into the bathroom to find blood everywhere. In my mind, I still see some sort of murder scene. It wasn't quite that bad, but any drop of blood from your child might as well be a pint.

We packaged Cullen up and took him for his third ER visit. Seriously? Third? He's not even two yet. Meh.

We made it to Texas Children's after a couple of in-transit phone calls to our in-family doctors. Thank you Jim and Chris! After a couple hours waiting and one moment of me nearly puking when they re-opened the cut, Cullen got his first stitches. I'm not going to say it was a good experience, but it wasn't bad if you consider the circumstances.
Cullen receiving his very first stitches.

Cullen was a champ through the whole process, and he has really been enjoying showing off his eye. He is such a ham for attention. When people walked up to him for the first few days, he would tilt his face so that you were staring right at his black eye. People in public places looked at me like I was mom of the year. Might as well just hand over the trophy now.

The stitches are still in place, but they should be dissolving soon. The black eye is almost gone. Now we just have to take good care of it to reduce the scarring. I can't believe I'm already dealing with this. Maybe God is preparing me for the rest of his childhood.

I think the most frustrating part for me (surprisingly) has been how everyone assumes that James was bathing him when it happened. Maybe he was, but that's not to say that this couldn't have happened on my watch. James is such an awesome dad, and he deserves more credit for it. That being said, I'm so happy it happened while James was with him. You probably would have had to commit me if it happened while Cullen was with me. It's all part of parenting, I guess.

On a better note, I was able to enjoy my last Friday off with the company of a great friend and her little girl. Amy, Hadley, Cullen and I went to Froberg's to pick strawberries, and we had a wonderful time. I can't wait to go back. Those strawberries may have been the best I've ever eaten, and we've enjoyed fresh produce every night this week. Tonight, we're having zucchini with dinner. I can't wait!

As Cullen keeps growing, I'm enjoying each moment more and more. It is so true that each stage continues to be your new favorite. Every single day is something new. Right now, Cullen is using his first two syllable word. Baby. He also loves to say "yeah" really loudly, so James and I have been trying to teach him his first phrase. We're real live grown ups, people.

Onward and upward to our next adventure. Next week, I should have pictures to post of all of our family time. James' mom has been in town this week, James' cousin arrives on Saturday, and my brother is in the state. I just hope we can track him down before he heads home!

xoxo ashley

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Keeping It Together

This week is dragging its feet and flying by all at once. At this point last week, I had next to nothing scheduled for this week. My how things have changed. I think I just got completely overwhelmed last night, because I fell to sleep while talking to James. Mid-sentence. James let me sleep on the couch for a few hours before I had to walk downstairs and crawl into bed.

Even though Warrior Dash has come and gone, I'm still trying to keep up the exercise routine. I'm walking 2.4 miles in the morning and another mile or so in the evenings. It gets me active, I'm getting fresh air, and (in the evenings) I'm getting to enjoy time with my little family. If I could just kick my love for food, I'd be so thin. Carbs and I have a love/hate relationship, but I love them more than I hate my thighs.

This week, I am trying to get everything prepared for Lynn's visit. The guest room is still two-tone, but I thought two-tone was better than overwhelming paint scent. I'll fix it in a couple of weeks. I'm hoping to take care of errands and less fun items before Lynn's arrival, so I can spend extra time with family over the next week and enjoy that time. We don't get enough of it!

This Friday, I'm taking Cullen out to Froberg's to pick strawberries. I'm not entirely certain what my expectations are with a one year old, but I'm excited! Amy and Hadley will be joining us on our journey, and I'm sure we'll manage to have fun. Hopefully, we can bring home a bounty of fresh produce, and we can eat extra healthy for a few days.

I just noticed two nights ago how tall Cullen has gotten. He stretched his little arms out in the bath tub, and they just looked so very long. He's getting stronger everyday, and he's developing such a personality. We had our first mini-tantrum yesterday, and I'm sure it's just a glimpse of what we have to come. The terrible twos are on their way!

xoxo ashley

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Warrior Dash

Courtney and I ran the Warrior Dash yesterday, and we had a blast! We completed the course in a decent time frame, but more importantly, we laughed so much. We ran a 3.2 mile course complete with 13 obstacles.

Obstacle 1: A sand storm. They placed a fan boat in front of a sandy area and blew sand into our faces while we ran.

Obstacle 2: Running up a really steep hill. Seriously steep. They had ropes to hold onto while we tried to go up. I just did my best to pick up speed prior to the hill and use that to propel myself up. To my surprise, it actually worked.

Obstacle 3: Getting back down the hill. They were running a hose to make it extra muddy, so my only option was to slide down the hill. I have a pretty nice scratch up my backside.

Obstacle 4: Trash bag hut? They had set up a low-to-the-ground structure made of contractor trash bags. The ground was rocky and painful to crawl across. The bags were layered, so it was pitch black and the air was dead.

Obstacle 5: Board walls and barbed wire. We had to climb over 4 foot tall walls and then under barbed wire. Breathe and repeat.

Obstacle 6: Cargo nets. Maybe 8 feet off the ground, 30 feet across. The only tough thing about crossing was choosing to cross at the same time as a significantly larger guy. I felt like a cat on a hot tin roof.

Obstacle 7: Bungee cords. Courtney and I used team work to climb between the bungee cords. Too low to go under them, too high to go over them. We had to go in between.

Obstacle 8: More cargo nets. 25 feet almost straight in the air, over the top, back down the 25 feet almost straight down. The only scary part was going over the top.

Obstacle 9: Tires. Drill style tire hopping. I have no idea how I didn't fall down.

Obstacle 10: Swimming and logs. Swimming through chest deep water and climbing up and over logs. Again, Courtney and I used team work to press the logs down to get over them.

Obstacle 11: Hay bales. Climbing up stacks of hay bales and climbing back down. The only tough part was the deterioration of the setup from prior runners.

Obstacle 12: Fire jump. Two rows of taller-than-expected flames to be jumped over.

Obstacle 13: Mud pit with barbed wire. The barbed wire was high, but the mud pit was not as expected. It was basically a hole in the ground filled with water and mulch.

I would do this race again, but only with friends. I feel so accomplished!

xoxo ashley

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Spring Broke

So many people I know are celebrating spring break this week. I don't get a spring break. I don't get a wonderful week off to spend time with my son. I have a lot of blessings in my life, but that just isn't one of them. I guess I'll just have to be thankful for what I do have.

This past weekend, I got to spend a four day weekend with Cullen. We had the best time, and it made me even more sick over the fact that I have to work. Our time together was nothing short of perfect. There were tears shed, dirty diapers and lost sleep, but that is perfect to me.

On Thursday, we went to the zoo with Dana and Noah. It was the perfect day for the zoo, and the boys got to enjoy the animals while the moms enjoyed visiting. We even took a spin on the carousel. Cullen didn't really know what to think at first, but he seemed happy by the end of the ride. Now that he knows what to expect, I can't wait to take him again!

That night, I went out for a GNO with a good friend of mine and a group of her friends. Alamo Drafthouse was doing an '80s anthem singalong, and I had the best time. We laughed, we sang, we danced, we ate pizza. My kind of night out with friends. On our way out of the theater, we got some of our fellow singers to snap a picture of us. So happy.
Since I had time off of work, I decided to pack each day with as much activity as possible. On Friday, we had a play date with Lesley and Hunter. Cullen is 9 months younger than Hunter, but the boys seemed to enjoy each other's company. While the boys tore up the house, Lesley and I got to catch up. I'm hoping for more of those play dates in our future.

Before we got our play date started, Cullen tanked up on some breakfast. The kid seriously ate two mandarin orange cups and two NutriGrain bars. I think that would fill most adults, so I thought he was done until lunch time. Right after I got him dressed, he walked into the kitchen, opened the freezer (you read that one right), took out a frozen waffle, and proceeded to eat it. Frozen. He was happy, so I let him do it. He ate almost half of the waffle before Scout decided to help him out. It's funny how independent he's getting!
The Waffle Bandit

On Saturday, we managed to squeeze in a visit to the rodeo so Cullen could see more animals. Kristen came with us, and James got some really great (and rather lengthy) video of Cullen at the petting zoo. Before we left, I decided to get Cullen's bag all packed and ready to go. For his birthday, he received this precious lion backpack from a dear friend of ours (thanks Katie :)). Cullen loves to hug on the backpack, but it looks like he doesn't like wearing the backpack. I don't know why, but I love this picture. He just looks so grown up!
In between all of our activities, I did finally manage to finish Cullen's afghan. For the record, he hates it. SO glad I spent so much time on it. I also planted and mulched the garden and painted the guest room. Long story short on the guest room, Sherwin Williams didn't sell me enough paint. And then the second can of paint didn't match the first. We're out of paint and money for "crafts," and I just don't care anymore. I hope our guests don't mind the two tone walls. I have no intention of buying more paint in the next couple of months. Maybe years. Maybe we'll just move. Most importantly, my project list for before my mother-in-law visits is complete. I'm hoping to get to spend time with her and enjoy her company while she visits with no distractions.

On Wednesday night, James and I had our first date night in almost a year. James has been volunteering at the rodeo, and a lady he volunteers with offered us free tickets. Our only issue was child care. I still have a problem with leaving my kid with a 17 year old or a stranger. Sorry. I don't want to be the lady on the news with the missing (or any other scary issue) baby. He's too important to me.

A neighbor of ours volunteered to watch Cullen for us, so we were set to go. Free tickets, free parking, free babysitting. We spent less than $20 and had so much fun. I missed Cullen like crazy, but it was so nice to get to spend that time with James. By the end of the evening, we had three wonderful ladies keeping an eye on Cullen, and I was totally at peace with having a night out with James. Even better, they texted me photo updates. Cullen is such a big boy these days. He loves to eat in a regular chair at the table with us!
Now that the busiest week ever is almost behind me, all I have to look forward to is the Warrior Dash. By noon on Saturday, I should be donating my running shoes to a good cause. I can't wait!

xoxo ashley

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Spring Projects

I think spring has officially arrived with an onslaught of allergies and beautiful weather. I'll take it. For the first time since moving to Houston, I could actually compare what we're experiencing to Austin weather. It makes me a little bit homesick, but it also reminds me that this is supposed to be home. During a car ride a couple of days ago, James said "when we move back to Austin." When. I loved the glorious sound of it. I'll make the most of what we have, but I'll run back to Austin as soon as I get the chance.

James' mom is set to visit in just a couple of weeks and my Warrior Dash run is in just over a week. I am really looking forward to my running days officially being over. Just a few more runs and I'm going to go buy some of those fun walking sneakers. I'm throwing out my running shoes. Not even saving them for yard work. My knee can't wait.

With Lynn coming to visit, I have been able to finally give myself a deadline for all of my household projects. Things like mulching the garden, painting the guest room, and finishing that afghan I was going to give to Cullen on his first birthday. Easter is like a birthday, right? I even went out and bought new mattresses for the bunk beds. Such an inexpensive update after my Groupon. :)

I'm happy to be getting things done, but my sleep is suffering for it. I'm not willing to waste Cullen's waking hours on these projects. He's too precious to me. I'm really looking forward to my four-day weekend that starts tomorrow. Nap time for Cullen will be my most productive time of day, but I'll be squeezing in plenty of fun along the way. We're going to make it to the zoo with a wonderful friend from middle school and her little boy, we'll have a play date with a beautiful high school friend of mine and her little boy, we'll make it to the rodeo at least once (hoping for twice), I'll have an 80's sing-a-long girls night out, and I'll try to complete as many tasks as humanly possible. I should be ready for another weekend by next Monday.

Today at work, I got the best surprise I've had in a long time. I have an assistant again! This means simple things like getting to leave the office on time, eating lunch more than once a week, and not having to process letters. I hate mailing letters. Hate it. She's a real sweetie, and she's already hard at work. I just hope she sticks around!

Last weekend, we were able to make it over to Peg and Andy's for play time and a yummy dinner. The weather couldn't have been any more beautiful, so we took Cullen to the park for some time on the swings. I think we pushed him for more than 30 minutes. I caught this precious picture of father and son on the walk back to the house. Love my boys!
Dad, the house is that way...

xoxo ashley

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Spring Is Coming

And with spring, we get allergies. And being sick. Yuck. I don't remember having allergies as a kid, but they're killing me now. I'm interested to see how my run goes in just a few short weeks. I'm sure it will involve some wheezing and a very red face. On a positive note, I found out yesterday that I have actually been running further than I thought. That means my time is better, and I'm actually doing a pretty decent job with this running business. Luckily, my time and distance won't matter just a couple of weeks from now. :)

Over the weekend, the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo Cookoff was going on. With James volunteering for the rodeo, we get free parking and we get into the grounds for free. After sampling plenty of yummy food and letting Cullen see the sights, we headed home. For Cullen, the most important part of the trip was when I gave him a fun size bag of Cheetos. The only person I know who likes Cheetos more is my dad. Cullen dropped one Cheeto, escaped from the stroller, popped it in his mouth, and crawled back into the stroller. I was too amused to stop him.
Big kid in a big chair with a big bag of Cheetos. His very own dream come true.

Of course, Cullen had a fever by the time we got home. In true Cullen fashion, he has contracted hand-foot-mouth and an ear infection, while he's bringing in three new teeth. On a side note, I can't believe he's already got 16 teeth. 16 sharp teeth. He's handling the illness like a champ, but we kept him home from school on Monday. James made sure that Cullen got started on his spring training by bringing out the baseball set our friend Royce got for Cullen on his birthday. Cullen is a natural, and he loves carrying around the bat to beat Scout. Scout doesn't seem to mind too much.
Little Slugger

I am in awe every day by the advances Cullen makes. He's learning new words all the time, and he's so happy to share what he knows. Hopefully, we'll have him healthy for this weekend so he can enjoy more time in the sun. I get the feeling we're going to be buying more outdoor toys very soon.

xoxo Ashley