Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Mama's Little Man

Cullen is such a grown up these days. He watches what we do so very closely, and he always wants to help. He likes to take things out and put them away. He even knows how to start the dishwasher. As long as he wants to learn, I am happy to instruct. It helps with the chores, and he's learning, too!

More recently, Cullen's favorite chore is feeding Scout. He knows how much to scoop out and to pour the food in her bowl. I'm working on having him make her sit before she eats. A couple of nights ago, I told Cullen he could feed Scout, and I ran out to get some groceries.

This is what I came back to. If I hadn't come in when I did, I'm pretty sure Cullen would have thrown the entire 40 pound bag of food on the floor. Some quick work by Scout with some help from the broom got it cleaned up before she made it through too much food. 
Cullen also loves being a cowboy. Basically, that only requires his donning James' cowboy hat.

Cowboy Cullen. He also responds to Woody. 
Our Saturday was absolutely packed with too many activities with lots of great people. We started out the day at The Aquarium downtown. Cullen was both intrigued by and disgusted by the huge fish. The grouper that was bigger than him was a bit off-putting. I think his favorite part was spending time with Lola.
And when they were done looking at the fish, they hopped on the walls.
After lunch, I had to duck out to a friend's baby shower. It was the first time I've gotten to see her in almost two years, and I am just so excited for her new addition!

While I was out baby showering it up, James took Cullen on some of the rides. For the first time since Cullen tried to give up naps, he actually wanted a nap. His face says it all. James said he enjoyed the rides, but there was no excitement on his face.

First Ferris Wheel Ride
He usually loves the carousel. You can tell he's just thrilled.
As soon as James got him in the car, Cullen passed out for nap time. Tired little guy.
James picked me up at the house, and we headed over to Megan and Lee's for fried shrimp. It was so ridiculously yummy. I've been working really hard to re-train myself to only eat when I'm hungry. This was my first real test. I ate more than I needed to, but not enough to make myself feel yucky.
It was such a fun night with friends. We ate, we drank, we laughed. Cullen played a little guitar. So talented. 
On Sunday morning, Cullen woke up and asked for some orange. James' Granddad has been shipping fresh oranges out for us, and Cullen is loving it. I'll have to buy oranges from the store when we run out. His little face doesn't show it, but he was in heaven here.
To help with Cullen's sad mood on Sunday, I decided to take him for a little walk to the end of the block to see the big tractors. We have a lake running through the middle of our neighborhood, and they are currently extending it. Until they are done, our beautiful lake is brown, our streets are muddy, and Cullen gets to see big tractors all the time.
I don't think Cullen realized how big the dump trucks were until we were right next to them. I'm hoping we can walk him down there a little more often. He sure does love watching them work.
Cullen's favorite part of the walk was throwing dirt clods into the lake with Daddy. These are the moments I'm especially thankful for James. I would be a total embarrassment in the rock throwing category.
The walk home turned into a jog home. I loved it when Cullen jogged ahead of James and said, "Come on Daddy. Come on." I love my boys.
This weekend, we'll be headed out to James' company lease. I'm trying to not think of it as a place I don't belong. Let's be honest. Bugs are not my thing. Here's hoping Cullen has fun!

xoxo ashley

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Bonding and Projects

James was out of town for work the majority of last week. Although I feel like it shouldn't be surprising, Cullen was really affected by it. He didn't sleep well, and there were a lot of tears. He even spent one of his entire days at school in the nursery so the director could rock him. I love that she's so caring with him, but it really broke my heart.  
This was the last morning James was gone. Cullen woke up early asking for Daddy. He cried for a couple of hours. He finally fell back to sleep on the way to school. A little milk, a couple miles down the road, and he was out. He was beyond thrilled when James came home, and he hasn't left James' side since then.

Over the weekend, James' cousin Emily was in town to run the Chevron Houston Marathon. It was Cullen's first time to meet Emily. He was in dire need of a nap and some extra love, so she really didn't get to see his precious personality on Saturday. Luckily, he was back to his old self by the time we saw her again on Sunday.
Cullen meets Emily
Charly, James, Emily (cousins) 
Cullen spent a lot of Sunday morning in the yard and outside. We spent so much time on the swing set, playing in the garage, and riding his tricycle around the neighborhood. He decided that he loved his helmet, so he wore his helmet and James' shoes around the house during dinner. It's like he looks for ways to be ready for pictures.
Of course, loads of barbecue and excessive food is never enough to fill up my kid. After dinner, we settled in for some play time, and Cullen ate an apple. Why not, right? As long as he's asking for healthy food, I'm happy to oblige.
A note on the PJs before I get chastised for having my son in Thanksgiving PJs in mid-January... I'm a fan of the particular holiday pajamas. They're cute. How could I not want to wake up to this little turkey on Thanksgiving morning? I'm also cheap, so Cullen will wear these until he has grown out of them or they are worn out. Same goes for his Halloween PJs and his Christmas PJs. 

Cullen and James are such great play mates. I could go on all day about what a great dad James is. They play basketball, do puzzles, read books, and wrestle. Part of me wishes that Cullen wanted me around for these games. The rest of me is thankful for the quiet time on the couch at the end of a long day.

With it being January and the time for resolutions, I always feel the need to pick up some new projects. I don't like resolutions, but I like projects. My big project for the year is moving all of our family photo albums to digital as well as scrapbooking them for my own personal satisfaction. I'm also picking up some new exercise habits to switch things up a bit, and making sheets for Cullen's bed. The same sheets I bought material for months ago.

Since I'm clearly not making progress on other projects, I decided to take on one more project. After being coaxed, encouraged, and generally prodded, I have decided to take on a new writing project. I've always thought it would be fun to write a book. It's an excess of work. A time commitment I don't have time for. But I want to do it. And that's enough for me. We'll see how it goes.

 xoxo ashley

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Losing A Nap

More recently, Cullen has been making a strong effort to give up his nap. Part of me loves this. No more rushing home for nap time. No more scheduling around naps. No more cranky kid when nap time is late. Another part of me hates this. When am I supposed to clean the house, read, work out, and shower? Gah.

The funny thing is that he feels certain that he doesn't need a nap unless you basically just trick him into getting to his room. More than once over the last couple of weeks, he has dozed off on the the way home from school. I let him. I know I shouldn't, but I allow it and then soak up his awake time when we get home.
I love that he has a fistful of cereal and a fistful of craisins, but it isn't enough to keep him up.
I've been trying to exercise more regularly. I get plenty of activity in each day, but I really want it to be a more concerted effort. On Saturday morning, Cullen joined in with me. He stole my hand weights while I was doing push ups. Then he did a push up. Or a plank. But it was cute. 
Of course, Cullen has seen James wear hats on a regular basis, and has recently taken an interest in doing the same. A couple of James' hats are capable of being cinched in tight enough for Cullen to wear them, and he does. Next time we're in Waco, I'm going to have to find him a little pint sized Bears hat. Any time Cullen sees green on just about anything, he shouts, "Go Baylor!" We didn't even have to teach him that one. 
This one is just too priceless to not share. Once more, Cullen missed his nap. He passed out on the way home. He has been without a pacifier for almost two years now, and this is the first time I wondered if he missed it. I guess that truck was the closest substitute.

The most eventful part of the past week was our slow, lazy Sunday morning. We had big plans for holing up in the living room with some DVR, books, and family time. Early that morning, Cullen asked to play on the swing set. Per my usual routine before James is up, I had the back door open, so I just went into the bedroom to grab my shoes to push Cullen in his car swing.

I was gone less then thirty seconds, but trouble strikes in the shortest times. By the time I made it back outside, one of our neighbor's four dogs had broken through the fence and cornered Cullen. For a while now, I've been telling Cullen that the dogs next door are mean, because one in particular has always growled and snapped his teeth at Cullen. I don't want Cullen anywhere near that fence or that dog. Of course, that's the dog that cornered my kid. Bad idea, dog.

In the process of being a mama bear, I ran into the yard hollering at the dog. Wearing one shoe, wielding the other. I have no idea how many times I whacked the dog while running past, scooping up Cullen, and running back into the house. Scout sat like the wuss she is in the house. If she had a tail, it would have been between her legs.

After a call to the neighbor, mean dog was fetched up and taken home. By that afternoon, the fence between our houses had been removed so that it can be replaced. It was supposed to be done by the end of Sunday, but there were some delays. Now, it's been promised to be done by Saturday morning. Until then, Cullen isn't allowed in the backyard, as we really have no safeguards against the neighbor's dogs.

Just for the record, we really do like our neighbors. They are sweet people. We just aren't fans of their dogs. At all. Maybe a little less this week than usual.

In an exciting twist, James' cousin is coming into town this weekend to run the Chevron Houston Marathon. Our weekend is all set with lots of fun activities. I can't wait for Emily to finally meet Cullen!

xoxo ashley

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Celebrating The New Year With The Shuler Family

For our little family, it just isn't the holiday season without a road trip. You see, I hate to fly. I didn't like flying before Cullen. The cramped space. The cranky James. Always getting stuck in the middle seat, because James "needed" the space more than me. At least that was his argument. By the time we reached our destination, we were both irritated, and I just never really felt like it was worth it. To clarify, the destination and people are worth it, but the flight is not. We would pay extra money for the "convenience" of flying and then gripe about the inconvenience of it. Ironic, no?

The most unfortunate part of my loathe of flying is that my in-laws live in California. The last time we flew out to see them, Cullen was six months old. Thankfully, they love us enough to fly to us so that we haven't had to fly out there. One day, I will break down and fly again. I'm just not there yet.

Needless to say, we escaped travel for Thanksgiving and Christmas. It was such an incredible blessing for Cullen to be able to wake up on Christmas morning to presents under his own tree(s). And so, we had to complete our holiday tradition with New Year's Eve. We drove to Birmingham for a friend's wedding. We had so much fun, and I read so many magazines. I'm almost caught up with my pile these days!

We got on the road early in the hopes of Cullen falling back to sleep while we drove. Visions of naps danced through my head. Lying little monsters. Cullen didn't nap until we were almost to Birmingham. At one point, I leaned my seat back enough to maybe nap while Cullen watched a movie, and Cullen kicked me in the head. Kids are cute, aren't they?

Cullen fell in love with the DVD player on this trip. L.O.V.E. Here he is watching Toy Story.
Mesmerized doesn't even cover it. It's too bad it only lasted about 10 minutes before he was ready for another toy.

Then we played peekaboo for a while. Cullen was playing long before I joined in. At least he was making good use of his props! 
After an entire day of no volume control, little decency, and no rules on diet, Cullen passed out with a chocolate covered donette in his hand. You don't know what a donette is? Don't find out. They will ruin you. 
We finally arrived in Birmingham (chocolate smears and all) just in time to grab a quick bite (one of three BBQ stops of the weekend) to eat before James met up with the guys to watch the Alamo Bowl. Luckily, Meredith and Madison were hotel bound, too. We spent lots of time visiting with Grandma Lynn, Meredith, and Madison before bedtime. Madison is incredibly petite. She is at least a head shorter than Cullen, and she has the tiniest little feet. Cullen gave her a big hug and kiss goodnight. After they left for the evening, Cullen kept asking, "Madison play?"
I got up early the next morning to go get my oil changed. It was already due. Ah. What I didn't know was that the boys had taken my car out the night before. After searching the front parking lot (not knowing there was a back parking lot), I went in to the front desk to call the cops to report my brand new car as stolen. I'm pretty sure they laughed at me the next three days each time I walked past them.

 After the oil change, we did a full tour of Birmingham with James' parents. At this point, you're probably wondering where the pictures are of Cullen with James' parents. I'm wondering the same thing. Every single time we are together, I fail to take pictures. The ones I took during Cullen's birthday were so out of focus, it was ridiculous. I digress. Birmingham tour. Beautiful. Fabulous. Lots of family history.

Then we ate lunch at another awesome BBQ joint where we found this little gem. 
Sic 'em indeed.

That night was the rehearsal dinner. Cullen started out in khakis, a button down, a tie, a sweater vest, and a blazer. By the time we left, he was barely wearing the shirt and pants. I got one picture of his cuteness before his total spastic meltdown. As it turns out, toddlers just aren't quiet.
The wedding day arrived with minimal fuss. I made it out to Elmwood to visit my grandparents, and James, Cullen and I stopped by to see my Great-Aunt Mimi. I absolutely adore her. She is such a fabulous lady, and she reminds me so much of my grandmother. The visit seemed too short, but I was so happy to have that morning.

For lunch, we wound up with the majority of the groomsmen and their spouses/families. To eat BBQ. Again. It was such a great time. I wish we could eat good BBQ more often.

James and Royce (the groom) were fraternity brothers and college roommates. They didn't jump up and down like girls or anything, but I'm pretty sure they were really glad to see each other.
During lunch, Cullen got more Madison time. He flirted shamelessly. I think he's in love.
But then Madison spent some time with James. Cullen decided he liked Daddy more than Madison, and Madison would have to go. For now.
The evening of the wedding. Groomsmen.
Daddy and Cullen.
Mommy and Cullen. Cullen got a good taste of Sprite that night. He thought it was "yummy water."
Cullen decided to forgive Madison for hugging James, and he shared his raisins with her. Later, they danced.
We made it until 11:45. Cullen decided he was completely done and there was no other option. I was driving back to the hotel when the clock struck midnight.

The next morning, it was time for our drive home. We had so much fun, but I was so ready to be back in my own bed.

We all know what a car seat aficionado I am. I am an expert installer. I know more about car seats than the average mom. Cullen is stuck in that car seat in ways you can't even imagine. Except when he managed to squeeze his entire arm and shoulder out. I have NO idea how he managed it, but he sure did find himself funny.
I got him back in. I tightened the belt further. I tried to clean his gross little hands. He stuck his hands into the harness to keep me away. When I went to tighten the belt further, I couldn't. It's like he sucked in his little rib cage just to fit his hands in there.
And of course, he finally decided to take a nap at 6pm. With a Milano cookie in his hands. Mom Of The Year. Whatever. 
All weekend long, Cullen slept in his own bed. It was a huge success, so it made me think that maybe he was ready for his crib to be converted. While James was bathing Cullen, I got out the Allen wrench and got to work. Cullen loves it. He has been sleeping really well, and naps are even going smoothly. I'm a proud mama.
I am so happy to be home with no foreseeable trips for our little family. Now we can just enjoy our time together and get things done around the house! My big project for this year is putting over 100 years of photos into digital files and re-scrapbooking them. This could get interesting.

xoxo ashley