Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Night Time Adventures and New Looks

This past weekend, James went down to Alice, Texas with his co-workers to do some "work" at the company's lease. I have no idea how much work they actually did, but James seemed to have a lot of fun.

While he was gone, Cullen and I made the best of our weekend together. I stayed up late on Friday, so (of course) Cullen woke up at 6 on Saturday. We got in plenty of play time before heading to the children's museum where I got so many great pictures. As is to be expected, they're on the regular camera (as opposed to my iPhone), so they haven't been put on a computer yet. James has promised it will happen this weekend. I guess we'll see.

Our sad moment on Saturday was dropping off Stella at the kennel. In the not too distant future, she will be flying to Okinawa. When I agreed that we could keep Stella, it never occurred to me how attached Cullen would become. He absolutely fell in love with Stella. On Saturday afternoon, he spent the better part of three hours screaming, "Stella. Home." On Sunday afternoon, we were watching AFV, and they featured a video of a Boston terrier jumping up and down. Cullen spotted it and started screaming for Stella. This morning he asked me, "Where Stella?" I'm hoping this gets easier for him.

I was absolutely exhausted Saturday night, so Cullen decided he would stay up late and be cranky. I realize in sharing the following story that I may never be eligible for a mom of the year award, but it's honest.

As soon as Cullen went to bed, I was done. I went straight to bed. An hour later, Cullen was up screaming for Stella and Daddy. I couldn't soothe him, so I ended up bringing him downstairs to put him in bed with me. I figured the other option was me falling to sleep while holding him, and that didn't seem like the best idea.

Cullen tossed and turned in bed, but he wasn't screaming anymore, so I fell to sleep. At one point, he woke me up asking for "pets," which means he wanted to watch WonderPets. I denied his request. He hit me over the head with the remote control. I either fell to sleep or lost consciousness.

Next thing I know, I hear Cullen saying, "Mama. Bed." In my own delirious state, I couldn't figure out where in the room he was. Then I realized it was over the monitor. Cullen had climbed out of the bed, opened our bedroom door, gone upstairs, and curled up on the floor next to his crib. At least he knows where he's supposed to sleep. I think.

James came home on Sunday, and life returned to normal. Ha.

Yesterday, I took Cullen in for a haircut. I think the last one was in May, so it might have been a bit overdue. Below you see Cullen pre-haircut and his hilarious smile he gives now when he knows a picture is being taken.
Shortly after his haircut, he decided that he wanted some $5 plastic toy that I wouldn't get for him. He threw himself on the floor crying. I carried him out of the place under my arm. I have no idea what my exit strategy is going to be when he gets too big for that. 

xoxo ashley

Thursday, August 25, 2011

My Kid Is The Bully

Home life has slowed down a bit, but it's still moving along. Last night, I had time to play with Cullen in the back yard and read my book. I can't remember the last time both of those happened in one night! If I keep it up, I might actually finish one of the FIVE books I'm reading.

Over the weekend, we celebrated my mom's birthday. She made a special request for a specific birthday cake, so I stayed up late Friday night getting it together. One of the best parts of this cake was the layer of fresh whipped cream between the layers. Cullen loves "helping" in the kitchen, and this was such an easy project to let him be a part of. He was even able to pour the sugar and whipping cream into the mixer. I don't trust him with the glass bottle of vanilla yet, but we're getting there. Heck. I hardly trust myself with the glass bottle.

Usually, Cullen is really good about not actually touching the food, but I let him try it out this time. For once, I was making something that didn't have raw egg or meat and wasn't piping hot. I let Cullen clean off the mixer attachment, and we learned that Cullen loves fresh whipped cream. The little things are so much fun to share!

Cullen enjoyed his first real piece of cake on Saturday night. Thinking he would share my piece of cake with me, I gave him a fork. An entire piece of cake later, he was still holding the unused fork in his hand. I love that he knows how happy and funny he is.
We spent Sunday at home. I fell to sleep on the couch for a few hours and woke up to Cullen coloring on me with crayons. No big deal. James was watching him. :)

Monday was my mom's retirement party from the college. I took the day off of work, and Cullen and I made the trek to Lake Jackson to partake in the fun. It was a long day, but I was so happy to be able to share in the special day with my mom. She seemed really happy to have Cullen to show around. Of course, I didn't take any pictures, but I know other people did.

On Tuesday, I had lunch with a great friend. :) Hi Shadow!

Lately, Cullen has had an over-abundance of energy, and his favorite toy has been the bouncing zebra. This toy was a hand-me-down from one of my best friends, and I can't thank her enough for sharing it with us. Thanks Tera! Cullen loves bouncing and can go on for quite a while with no signs of stopping. The only issue is if his audience leaves the room. I guess no one really likes to exercise alone. I've turned this into an extra chance to burn some calories, so while Cullen bounces, I jump up and down. My knees hate me right now.

Part of Cullen's excess of energy has gotten him into trouble at school. The director of his preschool tried to defend his actions, because "he was standing up for his friend." I can't be okay with it, because I don't want my kid to be the bully, and I definitely can't have the little boy that is mean to the little girls. Apparently, one of the girls in his class hit Cullen's friend with a toy. Cullen didn't like it, so he told her no, shook his finger in her face, and pushed her down. He couldn't even have the decency to beat up one of the bigger kids. He hurt the most petite, precious little girl. Her mom laughed about it.

Since we don't have enough on our plates right now, we are introducing the idea of potty training to Cullen. He tells us now when he is dirty or ready for a new diaper, so I decided it was time to start letting him sit on the potty before bath time. So far, there hasn't been anything going on, but he really enjoys sitting on the toilet. James even took the time a couple of nights ago to teach him grunting noises. Boys are fun. 

xoxo ashley

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Change Is The Only Constant

Billie Holiday sings the song "What A Difference A Day Makes." I know there are a lot of other versions out there, but hers is my favorite. I love it. Not only is it a beautiful song, it is also an honest portrayal of how quickly life moves. A reminder of how quickly life changes.

The last week has been absolute chaos. I enjoy change, but sometimes it is all a bit too much. Last Wednesday, James went out of town for work. It was one night, so I didn't think it would affect our lives too much. Thursday morning, Cullen was sick. I didn't know how sick he was until I drove all the way into town with him. While telling the director of his school that he wasn't entirely himself that morning, he threw up on me and her. Nothing like puke in your hair at 8am.

Of course, I couldn't call in sick to work, so I got to work from home while caring for a sick and cranky toddler. By Thursday afternoon, Cullen seemed to be doing a lot better, so we went to pick James up from our local Enterprise. On the way home, Cullen threw up again. In case you're curious, that would have been the third time in the car that day. I really appreciate all of the steps Britax took to make their car seats safe for my son, but I would LOVE to write a formal letter letting them know how insanely difficult it is to clean vomit out of each little crevice. Gross.
What do you mean we have to wash the puke out of my hair?

While cleaning the car and car seat and sweating to death one drop at a time, I decided to call my mom to see how her day was going. She usually has funny stories, and I needed something funny in my life. Thursday just wasn't the day for funny. My mom was diagnosed last week with stage II melanoma. Everything should be fine, but it is really scary to think about your mom's mortality. Her initial plan was to not have the surgery, but I think we've changed her mind on that one. The next few weeks will be stressful as we wait on test results and visit with doctors. I feel pretty strongly that this will all go smoothly. Any additional prayers are certainly appreciated!

As I was reeling from that phone call, I got a text from my office counter-part. There are were only two of us on the auto team. Now there is one. She got fired. Craaaaap. That isn't to say that she didn't deserve it, but I really didn't need that one. On Friday, I had to send a less than 100% Cullen to school to help clean up the disaster at the office. If I had to guess, she knew it was coming, because she left a ton of stuff not done. My assistant has been promoted to her position, so I am now assistant-less and helping to train my assistant to do my job. Not cool.

Saturday was our last chance to see my brother and his family before they left for Okinawa. It was so tough to say goodbye, but I don't think it has really sunk in yet. I have to imagine it will be fun and exciting to have family overseas for a bit. When I want to pick up the phone to call in the middle of the afternoon (which is overnight over there), that's when I'm going to have issues. I guess I'll just have to work my way through it, and we're going to have to go visit.

Tomorrow morning is my dentist appointment with Cullen. Let me clarify: that would be my appointment with Cullen in tow. This should be so interesting. I hope the hygienist has her coffee before seeing me!

xoxo ashley

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


I posted just a couple of weeks ago about James Camden Sikes. Such a precious little boy taken too soon. Earlier this week, I bought a really awesome giraffe necklace on Etsy with Cullen's name engraved on it. Just a little reminder to be thankful for every moment. If you're interested in getting a necklace or keychain for yourself, a portion of the purchase price goes to James' foundation for research on rhabdoid tumors. I'm so looking forward to getting mine!

Also, James' parents, family and friends are campaigning for a really neat way to remember their precious baby boy. Shortly after James passed away, a new baby giraffe was born at the Dallas Zoo. The zoo asked the public for name recommendations, and so I am asking that you help out with a good cause. Please click on the link below and send it in with the recommended name of "Jamie." It would mean so much to the Sikes family to have James's life honored in this way.

I am keeping the Sikes family in my prayers. I hope you'll do the same!

xoxo ashley

More Family Time

One more busy weekend behind us with a bittersweet one up ahead.

This past weekend, my college roommate, Katie, came to visit. It was such a breath of fresh air to spend time with her. I love that we can chat about everything and nothing; I love that we can sit in absolute silence and be comfortable; I love that Katie can completely tune me out while watching tv. Some things will never ever change. :)

Saturday morning was spent at Cullen's school painting his old classroom. We were there for almost four hours, and I can't ever thank Katie enough for being willing to help out. I don't know many of my friends that would have been such a willing participant.

While Katie and I painted, Cullen and James spent the morning at home. Cullen started out his morning with a farm animal puzzle and some milk with Scout. These two are the very best of friends.
Saturday night, we met up with my parents, my brother, and my brother's family for a big dinner at Lupe Tortilla. We LOVE Lupe Tortilla. A few pounds of beef fajitas and lots of margaritas later, we spent a couple of hours visiting, eating, and letting the kids play. I was so very happy to get to spend that time with Chris and Jess, and I even remembered to have Katie take a family photo of the nine of us. Of course, it's on my other camera where I may never remember to print it... At least I'm honest. :)

One of the best parts of Saturday night was Claire and Cullen playing together. It isn't very clear, but I got a precious picture of them trying to show each other their bellybuttons.  
It totally and completely breaks my heart that Chris and Jess are heading to Okinawa on Sunday, but I love that Cullen has gotten to spend so much quality time with his cousins this summer. Before we know it, their family will be home, and the kids will be together again. This weekend, we're going to try to squeeze in a little more family time before they go.

On Sunday afternoon, we made it over to Peg and Andy's for some pool time, play time, and dinner. Cullen insisted from inside the house that it was time for the pool. I love how verbal he is getting, and I love that we understand more and more everyday. After about three minutes in the pool, he was ready to swing. Although James isn't sold on the idea, I think we might be getting a swing set for the back yard. Cullen LOVES it. We kept asking if he wanted to get out of the swing and swim. He absolutely refused. When he finally did get back to the pool, he made certain to collect an audience before jumping into the pool over and over. I love my little water baby! 
We are now on week two of not carpooling, and it seems to be getting a little easier. Cullen spent the first three days screaming, "Where's Daddy?" the entire drive home. O.M.G. So stressful, and not something I could fix. His new thing is to yell "GO!" when I slow down for traffic or a red light.

Last night, Cullen was pretty insistent the he was not going to be leaving school. I finally picked him up, tucked him under my arm and put him in the car. I figured if I made it that far, I could convince him to get into the seat with promises of Stella, Scout, and Daddy. I think he figured out that it was a total ploy, and he was not buying into it.

I have no idea how long the director of Cullen's school watched me struggle, but she finally emerged with a lollipop for Cullen. She told him he could have it once he was in his seat. Like this compliant little being (that he totally isn't), he climbed into his seat and even buckled the seat belt. This was Cullen's first experience with a lollipop, and I think we could successfully call it love. By the time we got home, his hands, hair, clothes, neck, face, legs, shoes, and car seat were covered in yummy orange sugar. He was pretty ticked off when I carried him straight from the car to the bathtub.
Moments like these (while completely frustrating) absolutely crack me up. He is all boy, and I love it all. I'm a lucky mommy to get to be Cullen's mommy.

xoxo ashley

Thursday, August 4, 2011

In Brazoria County, We Celebrate The Mosquitoes

Yep, you read that one right. Every year, the last weekend of July is reserved for the Great Texas Mosquito Festival. As a teenager, it was a lot of fun to get to stay out a little later, listen to live music, and two-step in the field. Even now, it sounds a little too country.

This past weekend, our little family made the trip down to Lake Jackson to spend time with my family, visit with my grandmother, and hang out at Mosquito Fest. Regrettably, I only took one picture. Cullen still has ZERO pictures with my grandmother. Epic fail on that one. Funny enough, that one picture I took is blurry and my nephew is crying. Alas, I couldn't go on without sharing the family photo with THE mosquito. I feel like a hick just writing this.
I'm not going to lie. We had fun. It was hot. It was disgusting, but it was nice to just spend some time outside with Cullen and visit with old friends.

Of course, this was after we spent our Friday night at the Petroleum Club for an engagement party. Two very different walks of life. We got to spend a lot of time with so many friends this weekend. Following the engagement party, I found out that we will be attending a black tie wedding for this couple. What am I supposed to even wear to that? Sounds like I get to go dress shopping!

On Friday night, we made plans with friends to get together for a little BBQ on Sunday. I kept thinking there would be 6 of us, and James just kept buying more meat. When it was all said and done, James made two pork butts, 2 racks of ribs, 2 chickens, a bunch of sausage, and we had fed 15 people.
It was an incredibly busy weekend, but it was really great to get to spend time with family and friends. On Sunday morning, my brother headed "home" to help the movers pack up their house; that afternoon, my grandmother headed back to Florida; and on Monday morning, James' mom headed back to California.

We planned some down time this weekend, so my college roommate is headed into town (Hi Katie!). Katie and I (well, it was mostly just me) volunteered to help paint Cullen's school on Saturday morning. Our options were to help paint or have tuition go up so that professionals could paint. It was a pretty easy decision for me. A true sign of a best friend is the one that will get up early on her day off to help paint your child's preschool. I can't wait for the debauchery to begin.

I'm sure we'll jam in a million other things and promise to rest another time. Until then, we'll be enjoying our time with the people we love!

xoxo ashley