Sunday, April 29, 2012


While pulling Zoobilee pictures off my camera, I noticed that I missed a few pictures from our Austin trip.

There's this awesome one I took of the capitol while we drove past it. While James was being griped at by a security guard. James blamed the whole situation on me. Of course.
After the capitol "visit," we went to dinner at Moonshine. I was trying to decide which picture I liked better out of the two below. Neither is a particularly good picture of me.
 But now I know why James asked the waitress to take a second picture. James with his chicken fried steak and Lee with a piece of meatloaf. Boys.
 This week, we introduced Cullen to ice cream sandwiches. He still doesn't understand that he needs to eat faster before it melts, but boy does he love them!
 Bath time this week has been pretty funny. Cullen has been cheerful and fun (mostly), and he loves to play with his bubbles. One night, he ended up with a shampoo mohawk. This picture is ridiculously dark and grainy, but I love this smile on his face. I can almost see a teeny tiny bit of me in that face. Maybe it's just the chin, but I'll take what I can get.

 Another night, he was being really silly. When he knows he's being silly, he laughs and says, "Silly Cullen!" I love it. That night, he took a big handful of bubbles, rubbed them on his chin and upper lip and said, "Look Mommy! I Mister Leef!" A good friend of ours named Lee (fondly referred to as Leef by Cullen) has facial hair. I love that Cullen decided that bubbles were the same as facial hair. 

On Friday, we took Cullen to Zoobilee. It was ridiculously crowded, but Cullen had fun, and we had a great chance to catch up with friends. While we were waiting for James, Cullen and I rode the train around Hermann Park. In all my years living in and around Houston, I have never ridden the train. Hermann Park is pretty nice, the train is pretty fun, and (for the first time in almost three years in Houston) I'm actually looking forward to partaking in a Houston activity again in the not too distant future. Also, my face looks fat in this picture. Geez. 

 One of the neat things about Zoobilee was all of the dancers dressed as animals. Cullen hated all of them. Including the giraffe lady on stilts. I'm shocked he got that close to her. 
 My only animal picture is of sea lions. They were napping, and I was jealous. Cullen was bored with them. So was James. 
 For Cullen, the highlight of Zoobilee was the bouncy house/slide/obstacle course. Cullen and Noah had so much fun, and James and Brian used it as an excuse for them to both get a chance to play. 
Cullen stopped for bounce breaks inside the obstacle course.
 Cullen and James had so much fun in there.
 And Noah and Cullen surprised us all with their wall climbing prowess. 
 Cullen must have climbed up and jumped down that wall a dozen times.
The boys had a great time coming down the big slide. 
 And since once is never enough, Cullen climbed to the top of the slide and slid back down a few times. Maybe more than a few.
 I love seeing Noah and Cullen grow up together. They are ridiculously cute together. I just wish they could hang out more often! 
 Watching the rhinos fight. Because that's what boys do.
Of course, Cullen's favorite part of Zoobilee was when the monkey threw poop at us. Who wouldn't love that part of a zoo visit?

Yesterday, we went to visit my friend, Kristen, and her new baby. After Cullen convinced Kristen that she doesn't ever want her son to grow up, we headed over to Peg and Andy's for play time and dinner. It's always so good to spend time with family and friends.

Last week, I started a new boot camp. I convinced Megan to join with me, so I have a little extra accountability. Then I signed up for a nutritionist consultation. Things around here are changing. I just hope James is ready for the healthier food and earlier wake up times!

xoxo Ashley

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Making Time

Every single day, we make a choice to make time for certain things. We often make time to eat and work. We don't always make time for other things that are just as or more important. There's family time, working out, quiet time, personal development... This week, I made some time.

On Monday night, I went to happy hour at Perry's with one of my neighbors. Camille is awesome and uplifting to be around, and it was so fun to celebrate her engagement and share a meal. 
The absolute highlight of my week was discussing Cullen's aptitude results with the director of his preschool. As a mom, it is almost an expectation that I will be somewhat prideful. I think he's a pretty bright kid, but there's always some other child doing a little better somewhere. Then I start to worry that I'm failing him. If only I had more time to practice reading with him. Or numbers. Or colors.

Cullen outscored all of his classmates on his aptitude exam. The only portion of the exam he did not excel in was his potty training. I can handle that. I'm  mostly thankful for the reassurance that he's doing okay. It doesn't mean we don't have to work with him anymore, but it means we're working in the right direction. And who wouldn't be proud of that?

This week, I only had one order. I'm always happy to have a busy week, but it sure was nice to have a quiet weekend. My friend, Jamie, was throwing a precious bow tie themed baby shower for her sister. I made a couple dozen crinkle cookies and these awesome bow tie cupcakes.
There were blue ones and little tuxedo ones.
Of course, Cullen served as my quality control. Slate grey icing looked beautiful on him.
We spent Saturday evening at Megan and Lee's. I shopped some more Stella & Dot with Ja'Net, and then we stayed around for a few hours laughing and hanging out.

Today was a quiet family day. James got up with Cullen while I slept in, and we spent the day just playing. Family time is one of my favorite ways to spend the day. I just wish we could do it more often!

xoxo Ashley

Sunday, April 15, 2012

A Little Less Time, A Little Less Blogging

Our time lately seems to be flying by. Surprise surprise. Between my day job, Scout, and family time, it seems like my time is always running short. As such, I'm finding that I've made less time for blogging in the past few weeks.

As we all know, cooking is kind of my thing. I bake and I cook like it's nothing. When Williams-Sonoma ran a sale on their precious Easter-themed pancake molds, it seemed like a no-brainer that they would find a way into our home. Humorously enough, I don't work so well with pancake molds. Apparently. I can make carrot cake from scratch without a recipe, but bunny shaped pancakes were an epic fail. I ended up making regular pancakes and using the molds as cookie cutters. Cullen liked them...

While James' mom was in town, we tried to fit in as many activities as possible. We headed out to the Woodlands to do a little shopping at Hubble & Hudson on Saturday morning. This was Cullen's first experience with his own personal shopping cart. We had to hand each item to him to be placed in the cart as he enjoyed snacks and a leisurely stroll.
The next morning was Easter. We started out by dying Easter eggs. This was the first time we've done this with Cullen, and he really enjoyed himself. I used it as a learning time to talk about colors.  
I wrote the name of each one of our Easter guests on an egg. The only one that came out was Cullen's. Apparently, I'm not too good with a wax crayon either.
Cullen's Easter basket was books and puzzles with just a little bit of chocolate. Even though I explained the bunny and Jesus, Cullen was totally perplexed by presents. All he wanted to do was hunt eggs. So we did.
James and Lynn stuffed 70 eggs. James and Charly hid them. Not everyone enjoyed the hunt as much as James and I did, but it was a good time. 
I followed Cullen around with spare baskets to hold the extras. 
Of course, Uncle Andy taught Cullen how fun it is to "throw up" eggs. As soon as Cullen learned that it was a new way to gain laughs, he did it over and over again. He always asks me if things are funny or not. Quite the comedian. Each time, it reminds me of Kellie Little asking me if it would be funny if she showed me her bootie cheeks. I think she was three at the time.
James decided to get creative with the egg stuffing. There were eggs with animal crackers, some with candy, a couple with marshmallows, and one surprise one with Cheetos. Cheetos make my kid happy.
Cullen really enjoyed spending time with Grandma Lynn. He has recently taken on a sense of possessiveness. Lynn is HIS Grandma Lynn. My phone is HIS phone. James' iPad is HIS iPad. He also thinks that mosquito bites are "my skito bites." I'm sure it will get old, but, for now, I find it hilarious.
While Lynn was in town, we had dinner out a few nights. Each time, James managed to make it home, and Cullen and I met Lynn and James at the restaurant. In an effort to keep Cullen entertained, I let him crawl in the front seat with me while we waited. Cullen's favorite activity was opening and closing the sun roof and peaking outside. 
On Wednesday afternoon, I was offered four tickets to that night's Astros game. With really good (and free) tickets and a parking pass, it was hard to say no. Cullen's first Astros game was two years ago with Richard and Julie, so this was Cullen's first alert time at a baseball game. He was in heaven.
He loved the sounds, he loved the crowd, and he was incredibly perplexed by the loud speaker system.
The absolute highlight of the game was Cullen getting a baseball. It was hard to top that moment.
This picture has very little to do with anything, but I thought he looked cute. Cute, right?
This weekend was full of cakes and baking and crawfish and barbecue. James' company crawfish boil was yesterday. James went out on Friday afternoon to start the barbecue. I loved hearing everyone talk about how it was the best barbecue they had ever had. It made me proud.
 The crawfish boil was so much fun, and we had a really great time. James was busy working, and I was busy chasing Cullen. Cullen played multiple hours in the bounce house and running in the yard. I would  love to say that he slept late the next day, but it isn't true. Cullen even had his first Capri Sun yesterday. He was a happy, happy boy. 
On Friday afternoon, after months and months of considering it, I finally bought a professional mixer. It makes my old mixer look like a baby. A very small part of me is considering selling the old one, but the rest of me loves the convenience of having two mixers. Now I just need two ovens!

I had a really big-for-me order this weekend for a first birthday party. A cake that served 40 with a beehive smash cake.  
 And the two dozen cake pops set up to look like daisies. It took me way longer than I expected to assemble everything, but it was a great learning experience. I really appreciated my friend, Ja'Net, hanging out with me while I coated the cake pops. The little boys played while we visited, and the work seemed so much easier. Time with friends is always a great addition to my week!
This week, I've got only one order in for now, and I'm looking forward to a quiet weekend with my boys. It's crazy that I'm looking forward to next weekend on a Sunday night, but that's how it goes!

xoxo Ashley

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Austin Trip, Six Years, Learning With Daddy

This past weekend, James and I celebrated our sixth wedding anniversary. It seems impossible that six years have already passed. Six years since we said, "I do." Six years since our nephew was born. Six years of awesome, fabulous times. We have learned together, grown together, and fallen more in love.

In lieu of gifts this year, we decided to take a trip to Austin with some really awesome friends of ours. For a month, Megan and I made a list. A very long list. Places to go, foods to eat, things to  enjoy. In a forty eight hour period, I ate more than I normally do in a week. And it shows. Lord does it show.

We got up on Friday morning with the goal of an early lunch at Homeslice. We met up with Tera and Clint and ate too much pizza. As attached as I am to my regular slices of pie, I have to admit my new favorite is definitely eggplant. And who doesn't love leftovers wrapped in foil and shaped like a swan?
After lunch was a walk down South Congress, a little window shopping, and a dozen cupcakes at Hey Cupcake. They supposedly serve the best cupcakes in Austin, so I decided it was time for some research. To be honest, they weren't that great. I think the best part for me about that was when James told me that he liked my cupcakes better. Maybe he's biased, but I'll take it. 
Cullen loved his foil swan. And he loved his cold pizza at breakfast the next morning. 
I had no intention of buying random shirts at each place we went, but I did manage to make one purchase at our very first stop. I love Austin's sense of humor. 
 After SoCo was Toy Joy. It was Cullen's first trip there, and he fell in love. He played with toy rats and sharks and Ugly Dolls. And then he found Rody. And it was all over. Boingy boingy boingy. Bouncy bouncy bouncy.
I think I want this one, please... 
 I talked James into getting me an almond milkshake from Soy Joy while I was getting a ribbon put on Cullen's new toy. It was supposed to be an Easter surprise for him. I'm going to pretend my face looks so fat because of Rody's face. Because Rody's face looks fat. Yep. That's it.
 I kept myself Cullen entertained by taking self-portraits.
 Our next stop was campus. We didn't go to UT, but some of our favorite siblings did, and I would be ridiculously proud of Cullen if he decided to go to school there. Admittedly, I want Baylor to be his first choice, but Texas is a great school.
 Is he cute or what?
 Of course, no trip to Austin is complete without a stop at Moonshine. Cullen mostly ate popcorn for dinner, but he was happy to have his awesome Dr. Seuss backpack full of toys handy. Thanks Julie!
 Dinner on the patio on a warm spring day means an awful lot of food with a Harvest Moon Tea. It feels like home all over again.
After dinner, we headed over to Tera's daughter's school for their spring carnival. It was so great to see Tera's girls, and Cullen had a whole lot of fun.
 His favorite stop was for his balloon animal. Surprisingly, he was completely okay with the clown, and he carried his balloon airplane with pride.
 We finally made it back to the hotel well after Cullen's bedtime. In between some of our stops earlier in the evening, Cullen spotted Rody in the back of the car. Because I'm terrible at saying no sometimes, Easter came early. Cullen insisted on carrying Rody from the car to the hotel room. 
 After his shower, he bounced all over the hotel room.

 The next morning, we met up with my friend, John, for breakfast at Juan In A Million. There aren't any pictures, but that was because I was too busy eating. Again. It was so great to catch up with John. I got really teary-eyed when he shared with  me that he and Scott are going to be expanding their family through adoption. I am so ridiculously excited for them.

After breakfast, we made a quick pit stop to visit with friends and their newborn daughter and then it was off to lunch. Because breakfast just wasn't enough.

Salt Lick. What more is there to say? Since James started barbequeing, we always wind up behind the counter when we're there. Who wouldn't want a behind the scenes photo of all of this yumminess?

James talked for a bit with the manager, and he took us into the backroom to see the smokers. Apparently, we were told to not take pictures. I missed that memo.
For lunch, we met up with James' friend, Jason and his little boy, Parker. After lunch, the little boys played in the sand while the grown-ups sat around and complained about how we ate too much.
Parker and Cullen shared this teeny tiny tender moment after play time.
Of course, no stop at Salt Lick is complete for me without a couple of bottles of BBQ Red. I'm looking forward to enjoying those. Very soon. I really love this setup outside of the winery. Future backyard idea right there. 
From the Salt Lick, we went to the Oasis. French fries and milk for Cullen and some sunshine on the lake for the rest of us.
We met Laura and Marty for dinner at Maudie's to wrap up day two of ridiculous eating.

After dinner, we headed back to the hotel to watch some basketball and test out that four hundred pound weight limit on Rody. I only got a picture of Lee trying it out, but I'm pretty sure that won't be the last time the grown ups make use of Cullen's new toy. 
The next morning we headed to Tacodeli for a quick breakfast before hitting the road. After two days with no naps and a couple of bites of potato chips, Cullen was quickly out for the ride home. I don't know why I love pictures of him sleeping in his carseat. It's just so peaceful! 
 As soon as we unloaded the car, I was back on the road to Columbia Lakes for a baby shower. The shower happened to be right across the street from the house I grew up in. The house looks exactly the same, but the yard is so completely different. It's crazy how much has changed in the last twelve years. I didn't expect to be so nostalgic about it.
By Sunday night, I was exhausted. Unfortunately, I haven't been sleeping well lately. At least I'm getting a lot done around the house and clearing out the DVR.

Our weekend away was amazing. It was such a great time to spend as a family, and I am forever thankful for Megan and Lee's patience as we drove all over Austin indulging our random whims. They are some really amazing friends, and we're really blessed to have them in our lives.

Tonight, James and Cullen spent some time working on flashcards while watching the Baylor game. Once again, James has proven how much more entertaining it is to learn with him. For the letter J, I would come up with words like juice. James uses words like Jews and jock strap. When the boys got to F, we reminded each other that Daddy is funny and Mommy is not fun. Oh well. Better luck next time.

xoxo ashley