Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Making It Work

James' new job has come with so many fun perks, so I feel awful complaining about anything related to work. The only tough thing for me is the increase in hours and travel, but those really aren't so bad when you get to hang out with this guy...
Elton John sunglasses from Target, a cheeseburger, and french fries. What's not to love?

Of course, there are moments when I just can't help but laugh. Cullen is such a little snuggle bug sometimes, and he decided it would be a good time to sneak into my bed while I was getting some work done. Knowing that he had to sneak down the stairs to get into my bed makes it even funnier. I don't know what's better: the passed out pose, his forethought to bring his favorite friends with him, or the fact that he told me, "It's okay, Mommy. Daddy's gone." So I let him sleep there. He's cute, and he probably won't want to hang out with me for the rest of his life. Let others call him spoiled. I call him loved.
While I was sharing my bed with the loudest snoring two year old I've ever met. James was in some meetings and visiting Niagara. I know he spent more time in meetings than sight-seeing, but I couldn't help but feel a tiny twinge of jealousy. I mean, look at it.
While James was gone, I tried to stay busy (har har). I did most of the laundry so that I could not worry about it for the weekend, and I made cinnamon rolls from scratch. Cullen LOVES them. And I love him.
Saturday night, we had dinner with some friends we haven't seen in months. It's always nice to get together with another family when everybody gets along. Ellen (potentially in the running for mom of the year) decided it would be fun to utilize a Pinterest idea for the little boys' dinner.
 It came out beautifully, and Cullen even got to bring his home for lunch the next day. I think the ice cube tray dinner might be making a regular appearance around our house.

After dinner, we had cupcakes. I've been testing out some new recipes, and we are blessed with adventurous friends. They never seem to question my intentions, and I can't appreciate that one enough.

I don't remember Cullen ever actually being angry about his cupcakes, but this picture sure makes it seem like he was. It really wouldn't be surprising if I had a child who was territorial about his food.  
Even Myles seemed to enjoy my foray into new cupcake territory.  
After dinner, the grown ups watched basketball, while the little ones played in the dog kennel. They took turns shutting each other in the kennel. I still don't get why that it so fun to kids, but I'm pretty sure I have a picture of myself in a dog kennel with Reese at age 19, so I guess I can't judge.
We all took part in multiple egg hunts with the boys. Myles has been practicing his hunting skills, and it really got me excited about Easter for Cullen this year. All I need now is some spare time to make it to Target, and I need to figure out what the heck to put in the eggs. I don't want to give him more candy, but there's got to be something fun I could do... Any ideas out there?

xoxo ashley

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Family and Froberg's

What a week it has been! We've gotten in lots of family time in the past week, and I am so very thankful for it. One of the biggest difficulties (for me at least) of being a working mom is that I don't always have a lot of time for my family. Now more than ever, I am working all day, a bit more each evening, and even during the weekend. Plenty of people handle the working mom thing with grace. I'm not that girl. More on that later.

Last Wednesday, we got to spend one last dinner with my brother before he headed out of town. We spent a little time at our house and then headed to Chuy's for dinner. Thanks to Megan and my mildly decent reminder to myself, I remembered to take pictures. They were all on my iPhone, and most of them are blurry, but something is better than nothing...

These are three of my most favorite boys.

Cullen gave Nana some high fives.
And a big bear hug for Uncle Chris.
Seeing my brother was such a great reminder of how important family is to me. I loved that Cullen really formed a strong bond with Chris while he was in town, and I honestly teared up a bit yesterday when Cullen asked if we could go play with Uncle Chris. I can't wait until Chris, Jess, Ben & Claire are closer to home and available for more regular play dates.

After dinner, we headed home so that I could get started on a chocolate peanut butter cake. This cake was a bit ridiculous and just like a Reese's. I don't really like peanut butter, but I have found the best chocolate cake recipe ever. EVER. I might make this chocolate cake for myself for my birthday with a different frosting. Either way, it came out beautifully, and my customers were happy. Match made in heaven for me.
Thursday night, my friend Tera came into town. Her husband was here on business, so she came in to have dinner with me. I'm really blessed to have a friend who could make the trip just for a meal. Of course, we walked the Galleria for a while where we tried on clothes and played at the Tesla display. If I could convince myself to drive a sedan, I might be happy to look at one. Until then, I'll take fun pictures of Tera in the display models.
Saturday morning, I went in for possibly the most amazing massage of my life with my friend, Camille. I came home relaxed and refreshed. Then I ate Chick Fil A for lunch and watched the Baylor game with my awesome little family and some extended family. Because... We are a Baylor family. Sic'em.

 Sunday morning, we headed out to Froberg's to pick strawberries. I was so excited to have another family day for our little family, and Cullen was excited to pick strawberries. James was agreeable to go on the trip. I figured that was the most I could ask for. It seemed like he had a good time with it once it was all said and done.

On the long meander out to the strawberry fields, James and Cullen sang the theme songs from "The Jungle Book" and "Toy Story." It was like I wasn't even there.
Cullen spent a lot of time holding the bucket and staring while we picked berries.
Then he suddenly got interested.
And off he went to pick his own! 
He made sure to investigate each one before putting it into the bucket. 
And he was so proud when he pulled a particularly big one from the plant! 
For those farther away berries, Cullen got a little help from Daddy. 
And he only got himself caught in the taller grass once. I'm pretty sure it was just a strawberry safari for him. 
 Cullen was even willing to take a picture with Mommy. 
And then he showed off his awesome bucket of strawberries. 
At this point, I am probably averaging an intake of one pound of strawberries per day. At this rate, I should be done with them on Friday, and none should go to waste. I also might turn into a strawberry, but how bad would that really be?

In other news, Cullen is really starting to enjoy family dinners. Even if he has already eaten, he wants to sit down when James and I eat, and he always asks for food. The other night, he ate rice during our dinner out of a tiny Mickey Mouse bowl with a huge Pampered Chef spoon. If he eats, I'm happy. If we eat as a family, I'm even happier. 
Cullen also enjoys showing off his organization skills. If you mess up his row of trucks, he will cut you. Not really, but he might throw a tantrum and scratch the heck out of James' face. Not that we know this from experience. Because my angel of a child would never do such a thing. 
In other Scout news, I feel like I'm moving on up in the business world. I am now officially requiring deposits to reserve your date. A special thanks to a wedding that cancelled on me... I hate having to require a deposit, but if people aren't going to respect my time, I have to do a little something to protect myself.

Last night, I had dinner with Amy. Amy and I always have fun when we're together, and we usually share some wine and good talks. Last night was no exception. We laughed a lot, we talked about the important things, we talked about the less important things, and we talked about fulfillment as a mom.

Something that is really tough for me is the judgement I've received from some stay at home moms. I am a huge fan of doing what works for your family when it comes to deciding to work or stay home. I have good friends who have made both choices. Some of my friends who work, work because they love what they do. Some of my friends who work, work because their family needs the second income. As moms and as women, we need to start supporting one another. Is that so hard?

Once we've made the decision to stay home or work, there are so many other decisions to be made. And, let's be honest here, I still struggle with the working mom decision every single day. As women become moms, we tend to lose our identity from our pre-mom stage. At home, we can't just be the wife anymore. We are the wife, the mom, the chauffeur, the chef, the waitress, the maid, the laundress, etcetera etcetera ad nauseum. Losing our identity becomes so difficult. Don't get me wrong. I love my son more than words. I just want my own identity. I love being known as "Cullen's mom," but like so many women out there I want more. I want to give back and contribute. I want to do more than just survive. Now that I've figured out that much, I just need to figure out what to do and how to do it.

Never a dull moment in our home.

xoxo Ashley

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Adventures In Food

 Now more than ever, I have been trying to watch what I eat. Since having Cullen, it has gotten ridiculously hard to stay at a decent weight. Pre-Cullen, I could eat what I wanted, as long as I exercised. Now, I need to exercise and watch what I eat. Insert great line here about being an adult and a role model for my child.

I've been doing a really great job lately. Focusing on proteins and fruits and veggies. And then my brother came to town for a week. Lankfords, Lupes and Goode Co. The food is amazing, and we don't eat like that very often. Which is why I had mayo on my BLT, chips AND tortillas, and two pieces of that delicious jalapeno cheese bread. On top of all that, Blue Bell is on sale at HEB. Between Chris and James, I thought I should stock up. I've only had one scoop. I'm hoping to stay strong on that one. Otherwise, it's down the slippery slope we go. 
Of course, I've taken a million pictures since Chris got here, right? Nope. Cullen gets super excited about seeing Uncle Chris, and he even gives out hugs and high fives. Since tonight might be my last visit with Chris before he goes, I'm hoping to remember to take some pictures. If anyone feels like texting me a reminder tonight, I'm sure it wouldn't hurt.

In the time that I haven't taken pictures of my brother and son together, I have taken a couple dozen pictures of James wearing Cullen's pajama pants on his head.
And of Cullen wearing his own pajama pants on top of his head.  
And my boys making funny faces. 
Cullen has started taking notes at school and now likes to read to me at home. When I'm cooking dinner, he brings in an additional audience. Race Car Joe took a flying leap from his car after hearing one too many car stories. 
The time change has been especially tough on Cullen and his attitude in general. There have been so many more tears than usual. I would love to chalk it up to him being two, but I'm pretty sure it has more to do with the time change. On the ride home yesterday, Cullen passed out in the car. I read a book in the driveway for half an hour just to let him get some rest. It did nothing to improve his mood.
In an effort to keep my business fresh, I've been thinking about how awesome it might be to have seasonal flavors and/or monthly specials. So what's better at this time of year than incorporating girl scout cookies? I introduce you to the beginnings of Thin Mint Brownies. God bless 'em.  

xoxo ashley

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

All About The Boy

I think have mentioned before that Cullen had a girlfriend. Her name is Jillian, and she is precious. A few weeks ago, Cullen got in trouble at school for kissing her. On the mouth. Last week was Jillian's last day at Little Blooms. Her mom got a new job as a nanny and could take Jillian with her to work. The teachers made a fuss over it being her last day, so this is the little boy I picked up. We sat in the car for a good 20 minutes while he absolutely wailed. JILLIAAAAAAAAAAN. He bounced back the next day and has moved on to a girl named Michelle. She speaks French, and she's a brunette. I like her.
This weekend was ridiculously busy. I stayed up late Friday night getting work done, and then I got up early Saturday morning to make cookies and cupcakes. After that was done, it was time for fun.

We headed out to Angleton to see Dana and her precious family. On the way, Cullen reminded us that he hadn't been fed any lunch. Much to my chagrin, James turned into a McDonald's. And so it begins. Cullen had his first Happy Meal. He only ate the fries and the apple wedges, and I threw away the toy. I reserve no judgement for parents who regularly use McDonald's for dinner. It isn't a bad thing. It just isn't my thing.
All powered up after a healthy lunch, Cullen hit the Ernst family's back yard like a tornado. Cullen and Noah played in the playhouse, bounced in the tiny, toddler-sized bouncer, and generally destroyed the yard and each other.
Neither of the boys had taken naps, so we separated them for about 20 minutes at one point. They realized that life was more fun together and went on about their business. Cullen went through two sets of clothes in that afternoon, and garnered a few new bumps, bites, and bruises.
Dinner was a really proud moment for me when I learned that Cullen liked blueberries. And he ate a lot of them. Our fridge is now stocked with them. He also ate a cupcake. How cute is that little face?  
The fresh air and fun really threw Cullen for a loop. He slept until 9 the next morning. I would love to say that it was a productive morning for me, but I switched out the laundry around 7 and went back to bed. It's a pretty rare occasion for all three of us to get up at the same time and feel well rested.

Sunday night, we met up with Katie and Cullen for a Lupe Tortilla dinner. It is always great to spend time with them, and all five of us adore Lupe's.  

While driving in to school this morning, Cullen told me, "Mommy, look at Kermit. He so funny." Kermit and Cullen are inseparable.
Tomorrow afternoon, my brother arrives from Okinawa. I am so excited to get to see Chris. In the next week, I'm sure I will eat plenty of Lupe's and Goode Co and cash in on hugs. I just wish that Jess and the kids could come, too. I am so looking forward to a week of fun family time!

xoxo ashley