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

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