Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Renaissance Woman

Another day, another dollar, another week gone by.

James spent last weekend in Alice at his company's hunting lease. It was a long weekend, and Cullen and I missed him, but we made the most of it. While collecting pictures for this week's post, I found one more precious picture from James and Cullen's zoo trip. James took Cullen on the train through Hermann Park. Cullen looks a little pensive, but I hear he enjoyed it.
On Friday night, my friend Megan came over and stayed the night. While James was out of town, I was set to run Beachpalooza with my friend Courtney. After my last 5k, I swore I would never run again. I lied. My knees hate me. I really have to stop mistreating them.

Megan and I stayed up late talking and then got up early to hit the road for Galveston. Megan was such a trooper with Cullen. She kept an eye on him while I ran. Without her, my Beachpalooza participation would not have been possible. 
Courtney with me and Cullen before the race 
Cullen adores Megan. I wish his face showed it...

My race time was not great. I don't even want to admit it. Somewhere between my knees and the sand, it was a pretty big disappointment, but I completed the course.  
Cullen Post-Race Enjoying My Water And Banana

Cullen slept the whole way home, so Megan and I got to visit more. Cullen was re-energized when we got home, so he spent some time playing in my car in the garage. Further proof that Cullen and Scout are best friends is their driving status. Scout is totally Cullen's co-pilot. When he's "driving" is the only time Scout doesn't get car sick.
Navigating The Garage Together

 On Monday, I decided to take on my first Pinterest project. The one online showed this super-easy project involving a wooden letter, a moss sheet, and a glue gun. No big deal. If you don't count the burned fingers and moss in my silverware drawer, it wasn't a big deal. I just love knowing that I made it. I feel so accomplished. Doesn't take much, does it?
Yesterday, I had lunch with Shadow. It's always great to catch up with a good friend, and I always feel compelled to mention our lunch dates, because she told me she "feels famous" when I mention her on the blog. She might be giving the blog too much credit, but I appreciate it. And I appreciate her. :)

As life has gotten busier with us no longer carpooling, I have gotten out of the habit of cooking every night. I hate that it has happened, but I think it was a little bit inevitable. Luckily, I have found some new recipes that have really given me a yearning for some kitchen time. Following a couple of nights of crock pot dinners, last night was a leftover night. With our leftovers, I made homemade mac and cheese. So easy and delicious! Tonight, I'm testing out a shrimp pasta with a tomato cream sauce. That also incorporates a test to see how Cullen tolerates shellfish. Who knows if he'll eat it...

Last night, James and I finally watched Bridesmaids. It wasn't nearly as funny as I expected, but I definitely laughed a lot. There is one thing I'm curious about. I had 6 bridesmaids. How is it that not a single one of them came up with the idea to give out puppies in berets as party favors? None of you? Really?

xoxo ashley

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Healing and Helping

The past week has been even busier than usual. We're moving to a new system at work, so I've spent upwards of 30 hours in training. Home life is it's normal level of busy, plus my mom has had two surgeries. Two successful surgeries!

Last Thursday, the doctors at MD Anderson successfully removed all of the melanoma from my mom's face. On Monday, they completed her first skin graft to get her on the road to recovery. I know it has been a lot of work for all of us and discomfort for my mom, but we are all pretty happy to know that this is behind us for now.

On Saturday morning, we went out to investigate the train sale at Toys R Us. While there, we discovered that James' mom still has all of his train stuff from when he was little. We left Toys R Us empty handed (except for an influx of Hot Wheels), because we want to see what we have coming to us before we buy anything else. It sounds like a couple of cars might be needed, and we'll be done!

After our shopping fun, we decided to take Cullen to Freebirds for lunch. He ate a huge cookie and a quesadilla. Most importantly, he sat through the entire meal. I can't remember the last time that happened. It was a fast meal, but it was still really nice to eat in one sitting.
Saturday night, we left Cullen with a sitter (gasp!) and attended a wedding. Cullen did great, and we had so much fun with our friends. The reception was at River Oaks Country Club, and I have never seen such an incredible wedding. It didn't change my mind about liking weddings, but it was still amazing to see. From the wax seals on EVERYTHING, to the personalized dinner menus, to the champagne diva, it was impeccable. Best wishes to the bride and groom. I hope their married life is just as beautiful!

For the first time in forever, James wore a suit. I got a picture for proof. Somewhere in the evening, we also took a picture together. I have no idea where that one is.
I got up early Sunday morning to spend some time with my mom and check in on things. She was doing incredibly well. When I got there, she was waxing the floors. She is somewhat unfamiliar with the idea of resting after surgery.

As almost anyone knows, my mom loves her poodles. She'll even admit to liking them better than her actual children. Thanks, Mom. Her brother knows this, so he requested a poodle made out of carnations for her flower arrangement. The idea would never have crossed my mind before this, but I thought it was just hilarious!
We spent Sunday afternoon watching football, reading the newspaper, making cookies, and spending time with friends. I loved it when Cullen sat down next to me while reading the paper. He pulled the Toys R Us ad out of the stack and "read" quietly for a while. He seems so certain that he's a grown up these days.
I want this and this and this. Thanks.
Little Texans Fan

Because I get plenty of sleep and have lots of spare time (ha), I decided to make some cookies to thank a friend for all of her help while my mom was in the hospital. I tested a new recipe for turtle cookies, and they were an absolute hit. I think they will be making a debut on the Scout menu pretty soon. 
Most importantly, Cullen and Scout approved. How could anyone not love cookies full of chocolate, caramel, and pecans. Yum yum.

On Monday, I was still reeling from the lack of sleep and knowledge that Mom's surgeries are over for a little bit. I made a very important plan to go to bed by 9pm. Shortly after that, I received my first referral order for Scout. Two dozen triple lemon cupcakes needed for Tuesday. I couldn't turn down the order, so I wound up staying up til 11 making cupcakes and ironing James' work shirts. I showed up to work on Tuesday with jaundice hands from all of the lemon and food coloring, but I have a new, happy customer. It's so exciting to see my little business growing! Sleep isn't that important, right?

xoxo ashley

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Zoo Time

This weekend, we have a black tie wedding to attend. Part of me is excited about going to River Oaks Country Club. The other part of me hates weddings. I firmly believe in marriage, but I do not enjoy weddings.

Of course, I needed a new dress for this black tie wedding, so I made plans with two of my girl friends to go shopping on Saturday morning. I started out early spending some time reading at Starbucks and enjoyed the peace and quiet. After an excess of shopping and a couple of new pair of shoes, we all managed to find new dresses.

While I was out shopping, James decided to take Cullen to the zoo with Joey and Myles. This was James' first solo outing with Cullen. I wasn't worried about how James would handle the outing, but I was worried about what Cullen might do to James. The boys did great and had a wonderful time. I might need to start scheduling these outings more often!
When Cullen got up from his nap, we loaded back into the car for a trip to the Woodlands. One of James' clients is a really great little grocery store called Hubble & Hudson. It is incredibly small and packed with so many items you can't find anywhere else. Being the foodie I am, I had the best time walking up and down the aisles. We will be going back before Cullen's birthday. I've already come up with a fun menu. :)

Scout (my little bakery) has really taken off. I've been having so much fun making cookies and cakes for others. My most exciting order so far has been for one of my best friend's daughter's birthday party. I'm thrilled that she trusts me with something so important!

I made a practice round of cookies this weekend. Hadley's cookies have to be perfect! Cullen really appreciated my efforts, and that makes me appreciate him even more!
xoxo ashley

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Little Reminders

On a regular basis, Cullen does something that is too cute for words. He is picking up new words each day, and his  vocabulary is growing by leaps and bounds. I often think that I want to remember something, but I rarely remember to write it down. Enter the blog. My own way of remembering things later.

Cullen LOVES the Apple song. He knows all the words and sings mostly on beat. His favorite letter seems to be R. The actual lyrics say the word twice and the letter sound three times. Instead of "rabbit," Cullen says "raddit." Instead of just making the letter sound like he does for all of the letters, he says "ERRRR" really loudly like he's growling.

Cullen is also getting really handy with remembering songs I sing to him before bedtime. For some reason, I generally have a Taylor Swift song or an Addison Road song stuck in my head. The only word Cullen knows to "Mean" is the title word, and the only word Cullen knows to "This Little Light of Mine" is "shine." He's really proud that he knows those, and he belts them out when his time comes along.

As you can tell, Cullen likes music. One of his favorite afternoon activities is to turn on the iPod in the master bath and break it down. If he doesn't get to dance, he cries. One day, I will record him dancing. Best moves ever.

Cullen's favorite TV show is Wonder Pets. That is mostly because that is the only show he has ever watched on TV. I was really hoping to keep him away from TV longer, but it just became somewhat unavoidable. The funniest part is that Cullen can't sit through an entire episode, so he's never really exposed to too much. When Cullen wants to watch an episode, he'll walk up to you and say, "Pets? Pets?"

The only episodes Cullen has actually seen are a part of our On Demand TV. Each episode begins with a song and video with a little cartoon moose. Cullen gets SO excited when he hears the song. He runs to the TV and dances while it plays. By the time the actual episode begins, Cullen is usually across the room playing with something else.

Cullen loves food. Like most toddlers, he is picky about what he eats and adamant about certain requirements. He loves "peetzels" (pretzels). I keep a bag of pretzel rods in my glove box for the drive home each day. He also asks for a "nack" on a regular basis. This used to mean that he wanted a fruit snack, but now it means any kind of snack. Don't you dare offer him apple when he is asking for cheese cubes. He will hurt you. This morning, he asking for "cee-ee-al" (cereal). I love how well I can understand his gibberish.

Cullen is absolutely crazy about his daddy. On the drive to and from school each day, Cullen points out big trucks and Daddy trucks. I'm not sure how he knows the difference, but a Daddy truck is always a Tundra. When I pointed out a Ford Ranger the other day, Cullen cried and responded with, "No, BIG truck!" I guess a Ranger isn't a big enough truck to him.

In the mornings, we all leave the house at the same time. When we get to the stop light to leave the neighborhood, I try to pull up next to James. Cullen will wave to James and say, "Bye bye Daddy. Luh loo." (love you) Another morning activity (for Cullen at least) is when Cullen shouts "Mama!" over and over. I was ready to start responding with "What?!?" That just didn't seem right, so I started saying "Cullen!" Now we just go back and forth for the better part of an hour. We're both usually laughing the entire time.

Cullen has become incredibly adept at animal sounds. A few weeks ago, we were practicing while putting together a puzzle. I told Cullen that a pig says oink oink. Cullen corrected me by saying no and making the same noise the little boy makes in "The Christmas Story" when cleaning his plate. He learned that pig noise from his dad.

Cullen's little frog lovey is always there for naps, bedtimes, and drinking milk in the car. From the very beginning, James has referred to the frog as Rupert. Just like Stewie's little bear on Family Guy. Of course, Cullen has picked up on the name but can't manage to say Rupert. He says "Poopert." I laugh.

If Cullen wakes up and is ready to come downstairs, he never fails to let us know. Generally, we don't hear a peep out of him until his shout of, "Mama!" Sometimes he follows that up with "Milk!"

Cullen has a great desire to be a big boy. He wants to be independent. When we go for walks with his wagon, he usually makes it a little way down the block before getting out of the wagon and pulling it himself.

When Cullen plays with his LeapFrog toy that sings the ABCs, Cullen stands in front of the toy and points his finger. When it gets to the "LMNO" part of the alphabet, Cullen usually shouts, "Elmo!"

Cullen has zero volume control. He is loud, and he is proud of it. Most people don't appreciate the volume issue. I love that he has a voice to share.

Being the sweet (sometimes manipulative) little guy that he is, Cullen likes to tug at my heart strings. Initially, he would only tell us he loved us if we told him first. Now, Cullen will tell me, "Mama, I luh loo (love you) much." Makes me want to tear up right here. That little boy is such a blessing.

I'm sure I've forgotten a million other things, but this will have to do for now. If I start doing this more often, it might be a good record for me.

xoxo ashley

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Making Up For Lost Time

If you don't like pictures, you might want to stop reading. I finally got all of the pictures off both of our big cameras, and I'm ready to share some of them. In all honesty, James totally did the picture thing. I don't like to edit them, so I'm not allowed to do it. Or something like that.

Last Friday night was Baylor's season opener for football. In years past, James and I would have been at the game in our season ticket seats. Parenthood and a move to Houston changed that for us. We watched the game from the comfort of our living room as Baylor beat TCU. It was a great game to watch.

The picture below was of Cullen's first ever Baylor football game. We played Rice. I think we won. The only thing I really remember was the incredible lightning storm and having to evacuate the stadium during the first quarter with my nine month old. I think Wiley was there with us.
Sic'em Bears!

Naturally, we still had Christmas pictures on the camera. We have taken other pictures since then, but we never took Christmas pictures off. I love this picture of Cullen and Claire playing nicely. Cullen was so interested in Claire's dollhouse, but she wasn't having any of that. They got along just as well this summer. Maybe they'll grow out of that?
In January, we traveled to Birmingham for my grandmother's memorial service. The cemetery is by far the most beautiful I have ever seen. I'm hoping to go back this December to visit again when we're in town for a friend's wedding.

In March, we took Cullen to the Rodeo to see all the animals. I love this picture of him looking over the sheep. He looks so grown up and cowboy-ish. I bet you didn't know that cowboys wore Stride Rites...
In April, we went strawberry picking at Froberg's. This was the same week as the infamous stitches and black eye. He was so sweet carrying around his bucket and picking berries for himself.
In May, we went to Port Aransas with friends from Austin. We had so much fun, and we're talking about making it an annual trip. Cullen loved the beach, and James and I enjoyed the slower pace and time with friends.
In June, we went to Garner. This past weekend I found a couple dozen pictures of my brother with his creeper mustache. I'm relatively certain he took them all himself. Every year, the guys grow facial hair for the trip. This year's theme was started by a text from one of the guys reading, "Got 'stache?"
In July, we had swim lessons. There's some rule about no pictures at the Y except for the one day of swim lessons when it's allowed. That was the night James had his going away party with IS&T, so I got the awesome luck of being photographed in a swimsuit with Cullen. At least Cullen looks good!
Later in July, we spent one of our mornings with a friend of mine and her daughter at the local splash pad and park. Cullen had very little interest in the water part, but he had a great time on the swings and rock wall. I was so proud of how brave he was. He walked up and started climbing like it was no big deal.
In August, we went out with my parents and my brother's family to Lupe Tortilla for dinner. We ended up seeing each other a couple more times before they left for Okinawa, but this was the last group picture of the summer. I'm so glad I remembered to ask Katie to take it while we were together. I'm absolutely amazed that Katie got all nine of us to look in the same direction and smile!
A couple of weeks ago, Kristen and I took Cullen to the children's museum for a morning of fun. My goal was to get a picture of Cullen for his birthday invitation. Not only did I succeed, but we had a great time, too.
I love that precious smile!
This past weekend, we went to see my parents on Saturday for my dad's birthday. Naturally, I packed everything for Cullen to swim and forgot my suit. James and Cullen had a great time swimming, and I got to spend some time visiting with my parents. 
On Sunday, we did a ton of grocery shopping. We managed to go to multiple Wal-Marts, Costco, HEB, and Randall's. In an effort to keep Cullen entertained in the cart, James and Cullen played with a lobster. Nice. 
On Monday, we had friends over for barbecue. It was a little crazy. James made pulled pork, brisket, sausage, and ribs. I did baked potatoes, a peach tart, and various appetizers. It was a ridiculous amount of food, and I won't be cooking at all this week. The lazy side of me loves leftovers. 
Our entertaining moment of the week was definitely this morning. Last night, I moved Cullen's car seat to one of the side seats in my car. During our commute into town and out of town, the sun is always in our eyes. Cullen refuses to wear sunglasses, and I was finally worn out with holding my arm up to block the sun for him. One little detail I neglected when moving his seat was locking the child safety lock on the door next to his seat. I always lock the doors, so we're good, right? Nope. Cullen opened the car door this morning while I was driving to work. I pulled over, locked the child safety lock and kept driving. Never a dull moment.

xoxo ashley