Wednesday, July 27, 2011

BBQ Tour de Texas (Number One)

 Is there ever a dull moment for us? I can't remember. I don't have time!

This past weekend, James decided that he wanted to do a BBQ tour in Luling and Lockhart. As we all know, I am a huge fan of ribs, so I signed on without question.

Our first stop was at City Market in Luling. They arguably had the best ribs of the day.
Next stop was Smitty's in Lockhart. I loved their ribs, too. 

After that, we made it over to Black's in Lockhart. They had some really impressive beef ribs, but those aren't my thing. Not my favorite stop, but I'm glad we can check it off the list. 
Our last stop was Kreuz. They had the best sausage. So yummy that we bought a box and brought it home with us. After that purchase, James admitted to me that the sausage at Kreuz was the inspiration for the entire tour. I like BBQ, so there were no complaints from me.  
In other exciting news, my car has hit 100,000 miles. It's hard to believe I've been driving the Highlander for almost five years. That car is the hiding spot for many a raisin thrown by Cullen, but I still love driving it. I'm so thankful for that. I love the smell of new car, but I like my broken-in, comfortable car, too.  
I love love love this video of Cullen. For a couple of weeks now, he has been singing a highly unrecognizable song that involves babbling a word twice and making a sound three times. We were guessing alphabet, but we weren't sure until we showed this video to Cullen's teacher. She told us about the alphabet song, we youtubed it, and it has been playing on repeat in my car ever since.

I think my favorite thing is the fact that he is so happy until he realizes that I'm recording him. Then he clams up. Silly boy. His vocabulary is growing with leaps and bounds. The funniest for me right now is when he says, "Oh man." So grown up.
xoxo ashley

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Remembering To Pray

It should be easier to remember to pray. I think about a lot of things I need to pray about. I try to pray with Cullen at bedtime. I pray when I see an ambulance or fire truck drive by. I pray for my family and friends. Prayer should be such an easy and constant thing, but there are some days that I just forget. How do you forget to pray?

The last week has been a stark reminder to pray. A couple that went to Baylor at the same time as we did lost their son over the weekend. In less than a month, their son went from being sick, to having a brain tumor, to being diagnosed with cancer, to dying. He was only eight months old, and it completely blows me away that God can even let something like this happen. It reminded me to pray.

I have cried so many times reading the blog of this family, because, as a parent, I can relate to the pain you feel when your child isn't feeling great. I am blessed in knowing that I cannot relate to the loss of a child, but it is a solid reminder that no one person is safe from such a loss.

I prayed for a miracle for their sweet baby James. Thousands of people across the world were praying for the same thing, but God didn't answer our prayers. Instead of being down on God about unanswered prayers, God opened my eyes to see how many lives little James touched through his situation. He brought so many of us to prayer. To pray for a miracle to erase his incurable cancer. To pray for the health of our own loved ones. To pray for peace for his sweet parents.

I am hoping that this is a new, strong habit for me. I don't want to remember to pray. I just want to always have a prayer in my heart. It is far too easy to let the simple things slide, but prayer is so much more than that. Prayer is the foundation for so many things, and I hope it can be the foundation for the way I live my life.

If you have time today, please remember to pray for this little boy's parents. They need those prayers so much. Prayers that God can bring them peace in this tough situation. Their blog is painful to read, but it is also such an inspiration on how to embrace parenthood, love, and trials.

xoxo ashley

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Soaking Up Family Time

The last week has just flown by. I am averaging four to five hours of sleep each night, and I have fallen to sleep sitting up more than once. It's hard to say no to anything right now, because we're trying to soak up every moment with family we get. Of course, we're taking on more than we usually handle, but it has all been so worth it to me.

On Saturday, I made a quick trip out to Lake Jackson for a friend's baby shower, a birthday cake with my parents, and some shopping with my mom. I'm pretty tough on my purses, so my mom decided that it would be a good time to upgrade to something without loose threads. I don't know why a new purse is such an instant pick-me-up, but it totally is.

Saturday night, my brother and his family came back to our house for a long night of talking, laughing, and BBQing. We stayed up until 2 am while the boys watched the pit, and then we were up early the next morning with the kids. By the end of the day on Sunday, we had 13 people come through the house for BBQ. Most of the list was family, and we had the best time catching up with everyone. There weren't enough chairs, but there was plenty of meat between the ribs, brisket, pulled pork, turkey, and sausage. I don't think I'll cook for the rest of this week, and I couldn't be happier.
Chris left his torch with us while he's in Japan. I can't wait for my turn to use it!

One of the things I've enjoyed most about having Chris' family around is that the kids are getting to spend time with their cousins. Cullen and Claire handle each other best when not in close quarters, but they are getting along so much more smoothly than they were just a few weeks ago! 
They put themselves in here. Love it.

On Monday morning, my brother and his family headed back home for a bit of last minute work before their overseas departure. I am sad that they had to leave for any amount of time, but it gives me something extra to look forward to. Monday night, James' mom arrived in town for a two week visit. We're looking forward to keeping her busy with lots of activities.

Last night was Cullen's first swim lesson, and it was a total success. While the other kids were crying about getting splashed, Cullen jumped right in. We let the teacher know that he is fearless around water, so we're trying to get him to learn to kick and paddle. I'm pretty sure I won't trust him around water for the next twenty years or so, but it would still be good to let him play. Tonight, we're getting there early so that Cullen can play in the pool before his lesson. Maybe he'll even wear himself out enough to sleep through the night. I know James and I could both use that one.

xoxo ashley

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Fun Times and Changes

The past week has been fast-paced, fun, and nerve-wracking. We are making some big changes in our life, but we'll talk more about that later. Let's look at the fun stuff first.

Last Saturday, Cullen was invited to two birthday parties. I don't recall ever being that cool or so highly in demand, but I'm proud to be the mom of a kid that is that cool. Unfortunately, the birthday parties fell at the same time across town from each other, so we went to the first party we committed to.

(This isn't to say that we would have preferred to have been at one over the other. I just let my sense of etiquette take over and tell me to do what I already said I would. This is starting to sound awkward. Back to the fun...)

We headed over to the Chaney's new house for Myles's 2nd birthday. I babysat Myles the week I had Cullen, so I find it incredibly hard to fathom that he is already two. Honestly, I don't know that I like all of this growing up business. So, Ellen wins the fun mom of the year title with her outdoor birthday party with a moonwalk, ball pit, and baby pool. The boys had an absolute blast, and it's so fun to see them actually laughing and interacting with one another.
Don't try to tell me how to get into this thing. I'll make my own way.
We ended up staying at the Chaney's for hours after the other guests had left. We ended up with both families in the moonwalk bouncing all over the place. For a while, their precious dog Kobe even joined in the fun. On a super sad note, Kobe was hit by a car the next day. I've spent a lot of this week praying for their family, because Myles was close to Kobe the way Cullen is close to Scout. I can't imagine ever having to tell Cullen that his playmate is gone.

After the boys sweat it out bouncing around, Myles decided that it was time to swim. We didn't have swim diapers in the backyard, so we let the boys run around naked for a while. Somewhere between the nudity and the water, I'm pretty sure it made for Cullen's favorite day EVER. I got enough pictures to royally embarrass the boys 10-20 years from now.
Swimming naked is the way to go!

The next day, we met up with my sister-in-law, her dad, my niece and my nephew at the children's museum. A special thanks to James' mom for buying us the membership. We all got in free with it, and the kids had so much fun. There are always new places to explore, and Cullen just has the best time running around. I think the most entertaining part for me was the old beat up van in the Mexico exhibit. I'm not entirely sure what the point was, but Cullen loved pretending to drive it. His arms are blurry, because he was rapidly turning the steering wheel and yelling, "Beep Beep!"
Beep Beep

Outside there was a new splash pad set up with dozens of different water toys and activities. Per Cullen's usual love of water, he wasn't ready to go inside when the adults started suffering from heat exhaustion, but he bounced back once we walked into the next exhibit. 
Steve, Ben, and Cullen keeping an eye on things

Of course, Cullen kept up with his cousins in the bigger play areas that I might not have ordinarily taken him to. His growing skills amaze me each and every day. 
You're embarrassing me! Stop taking pictures!

Alas, we were back to work on Monday. At least the week is on the downhill slope now!

And now for the big change...

I am NOT pregnant.

This morning, James turned in his two week notice to IS&T. James wasn't looking for a new job, but a new job found him. Long story short, James will be starting a new sales job on August 1st that has the potential to open a lot of new doors for us. The most exciting for me is that we can start thinking about expanding our family and having me at home again. I don't want to sound lazy, but I would love to have more time with Cullen. I'm crazy about that kid.

xoxo ashley

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Garner 2011

Last week was our annual trip to Concan, Texas. As always, we had an amazing amount of fun with friends and family. I was hoping for this to be Cullen's first year to float the river, but the water was a bit low for floating. Luckily, we had an amazing pool to spend time in, and I managed to get my annual tan.

On James' birthday, my brother and his family arrived in Texas. Since it was my last day in the office before a ten day vacation, I wasn't able to leave early, but we made up for lost time as soon as I got home. The next morning, we headed out for Concan. The kids all got to play, and so did the grown ups. We took in a lot of activities and a lot of rest. I think I managed to get more rest than most since Cullen took three hour naps each day, but I can't complain. It made up for the hours I've been losing by getting up at 4am for boot camp.

Speaking of boot camp, I made it! It was a tough month, but I worked hard, and I feel like I really did well. Now I am back at the Y working out and changing it up a bit. I'm still losing weight, and it feels awesome to be wearing pants I wore in high school. With a little more work, maybe they won't be skin tight. A girl has got to have goals. 

Of course, my relaxing week off would not have been complete without a girls night and wine with Amy. We had some fabulous wine and wonderful cheeses. I'm surprised I still lost weight last week. It's always nice to connect with a mom outside of our regular "mom hours." A healthy reminder of what life was like before kids and why it is even better now.

This week I am back to work, but I'm keeping in mind how blessed I am. It makes it easier to keep up with the excess from my week off. Even if work isn't my favorite place to be, I'm lucky to have a job when I need it. And even luckier to have a husband and son that make it all worthwhile!

xoxo ashley
 Car naps are the best. 
 Playing Basketball with Daddy 
Long naps in the big boy bed. :)
Dirty Face Cullen Playing With Mommy's Phone