Thursday, December 27, 2012

Merry Christmas from Our Family

The time leading up to Christmas was nothing short of chaos for our little family. Between Scout orders, prepping to be out of town, and getting everything ready for Christmas itself, I was averaging less sleep than I needed for survival. Luckily, we all survived, and it was such a great time with family. 

After a particularly trying week, we found ourselves outside of Franklin's at 9:15 Saturday morning in Austin. Franklin's has some pretty famous BBQ, and we have been wanting to try it for awhile. With us finally getting some time in Austin, we decided that it was our perfect shot. 
This was the line at 9:15. It continued to steadily grow until after we were even in the restaurant, which was at 12:45. You see, Franklin's doesn't open their doors until 11am. They sell the BBQ until it's gone. They are sold out by 2pm, and the only reason it takes that long is because there's only one line. If they opened a second line, those guys would go home earlier. 
Cullen was a great sport about the whole thing. Especially considering the fact that he refused to eat the BBQ once we got it. We waited in the shade, in the cold for three and a half hours, and I would do it again tomorrow.
I'm lucky to have a husband and a brother who are both incredibly talented with BBQ. The brisket and turkey at Franklin's kind of put their work to shame. I don't even like brisket, but I love the brisket at Franklin's. I'm also in love with the vinegar-based sauce that I put on everything. Luckily, I love the ribs and pulled pork that I get at home best. You want proof of how much we loved the BBQ?


And an after lunch nap in the car for Cullen. 
James' parents rented a really neat house for us on Lake Travis so the seven of us could stay together in Austin for Christmas. It was nice to wake up and see the water outside our windows, spend time together as a family, and enjoy some down time. 

Cullen had such a great time hanging out with his Uncle Will. They shared a love of bananas and airplanes during this precious moment on the deck one morning. 
During one of Cullen's bouts of amazing patience, he sat at a sports bar with all of us while James and Wiley watched the Texans game. His only request? Big bacon. Done. 
We were also lucky to get to visit some good friends from our time in Round Rock. Jason and Stephanie have two little boys now. Parker is just a few months older than Cullen, and little Callan is just a month old. It was so sweet to hold such a new baby, and I loved watching Parker and Cullen play. If we lived closer, I am sure those boys would be the best of friends. 

Christmas Eve dinner was at Roaring Forks. It was nice to catch up with extended family, and Cullen was a mostly well-behaved three year old. For the first time in a long time, we also remembered to take a family photo of the three of us. 
After dinner, we drove home to Katy, so that Cullen could wake up to Santa at our house on Christmas morning. Cullen had a great time opening gifts, and he was blessed with plenty of new things. He is such a thankful little boy, and it was nice to have extra time with him over the past week to soak up extra hugs and cuddle time.  
This picture doesn't really do justice to the amount of tape James used to wrap my Christmas gifts. What is hilarious is that I started wrapping gifts more than a month before Christmas, but I still had a few to finish up maybe a week prior. As prepared as I am, I found it odd that I completely ran out of tape. Sorry to those of you who received gifts taped up with packing tape. It just isn't something I wouldn't normally notice. On Christmas morning, I finally figured out that I ran out of tape after James wrapped my gifts. No peeking!
Now that the bustle of the holiday season is winding down, we are focusing more on family time and relaxation. James' mom is in Texas waiting for the arrival of Corie's little girl, so she is staying with us for a bit. Cullen is loving having Grandma Lynn around!

xoxo ashley

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Santa Claus Is Coming To Town

Santa is coming. Did you know that he's coming? Despite my best laid plans, Christmas is entirely sneaking up on me. I blame Hobby Lobby for putting up Christmas decor in July and lulling me into a false sense of security. I also blame those three days leading up to Christmas with nothing in them except for family time and travel plans. Somehow, I thought that I could actually do things during that time. Oops. I know it will all get done, but I'm suffering some sleepless nights until then.

On a positive note, Scout is positively booming with business. I have gotten to be a part of so many Christmas parties and family gatherings, and it is such a blessing!
What about these precious little cupcakes doesn't make you happy?

A little happy Christmas note regarding Amazon: I shop on Amazon a whole lot. A ridiculous whole lot. Why go to a store when it can be on my doorstep in 48 hours at a lower price? Imagine my disappointment when a package delivered by UPS went missing, only to be discovered ripped open and discarded the next morning. Some less-than-nice individual stole a car charger for a LeapPad off my porch. I decided to check in with Amazon in case they had a program in place for this sort of thing, and they just mailed me a new one. No questions asked. It was just done. Just a little extra love from a company who clearly hasn't forgotten customer service.

On Saturday morning, we headed out as a family to get my roots done, finish up some Christmas shopping, and eat lunch with my parents and grandmother. Among a million other activities, we managed to get everything done.
After three years, I finally got a picture of Cullen with Omi. Right before this picture, an entire glass of ice water got dumped onto Cullen, so he had to change out of his super cute rugby tee into this also-cute-but-terribly fitting tee. Alas.

Clearly, I wasn't too bothered by the over-sized shirt, because I didn't make him change before dinner with friends. Cullen is such a great little guy, and I love that our friends are sweet enough to let him tag along for our dinners.  
When did this kid get so big?

And, of course, a couple of cute Cullen-isms to hold you over until our next post:

We don't have a fireplace. A while back, James and I discussed what we would tell Cullen when he asked how Santa got in. We never arrived at a real answer. Cullen pointed out the no fireplace bit over the weekend. While I was sweating and coming up with lies ideas for how Santa comes in, he asked me if Santa just used a key. And there it was. Santa uses the spare key if you don't have a chimney.

Yesterday morning, Cullen and I saw a Life Flight helicopter on our way into town. I explained to Cullen that the helicopter was giving a ride to someone who was sick and that we should pray for the sick person, their family, and the doctors treating that person. Cullen's response? "Mommy, airplanes go in the sky with the helicopters. When they run into each other, they go BOOM!" We'll works on prayers again another day.

Have a beautiful and Merry Christmas, y'all! Until next time!

xoxo ashley

Christmas Magic

Christmas is a magical time of year. It's an amazing time when we're reminded of Santa, Jesus, love, and absolute magic. I have always loved Christmas. Always. Always. Always. There's just something about the way people make an extra effort to make things prettier, nicer, and more positive.

Being a parent makes Christmas even more magical. As we struggle to teach the fine balance between Jesus and Santa, giving and receiving, and always remembering to give back, I see a new light in my son's eyes. A light that tells me that he knows this time is special. A light that tells me that he's beginning to get it.

We recently introduced Cullen to The Polar Express. He is in love with this story in both movie and book form. And who wouldn't be? I remember being in awe of the movie years ago when James and I saw it at an iMax theatre. I love seeing that same feeling in Cullen when he watches in the comfort of our living room.

I want Cullen to know that Jesus is the real celebration behind Christmas, but I also want him to know that the Santa part is important, too. I feel like there is a very important part of childhood that comes from believing in things. Sometimes you can't touch them or see them, but we believe just the same. I want to believe. I want Cullen to believe.
In the spirit of Christmas, we adopted Otis, we put up two trees, we started doing an advent calendar, and Cullen and I talk every day on the drive home about the upcoming celebration for Jesus' birthday. Maybe this won't be the year that he completely gets it, but I can't force him. I'm just going to keep talking about it, and, one day, it will be a conversation we can share together.

xoxo ashley

Monday, December 17, 2012

Date Night

 James and I don't do date nights very often. Our date nights are usually movies on the couch after Cullen is in bed. More often than not, our "date nights" are really just family nights. With both of us working full time plus running an extra business in the evenings, we just don't get to see enough of our little guy.

With all of that said, we rarely go out to dinner for a date. It's expensive and mostly wasteful to me. But on this occasion, we had a gift card. A gift card from an old boss that was about to go out of date. So we had dinner at Sullivan's. It was a great night for us, and Cullen had the best time with Peggy and Andy.

He got to eat Easy Mac in a high chair while watching some quality television.
And he wore himself out enough for a nap on the way home.

Dinner without Cullen may not be high on our priority list, but it's still good to know that he doesn't miss us much when we're gone.

xoxo ashley

Friday, December 14, 2012

But Why?

Cullen recently entered a new phase in his life. At this point, we're still finding it pretty funny, so I'm hoping we can keep our sense of humor about it. Cullen wants to know how things work and why. So anytime we say anything, Cullen asks, "But why?"

I'm trying to give the answers as best I can, because he's trying to learn. I want to be the one to teach him. And along the way, he's teaching me patience.

xoxo ashley

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Our Christmas Reminder

Christmas is a busy time of year. Even for the most organized person, there will be too much to do with too little time. Christmas time is just one of those things. It is also one of the easiest times to talk to your child about God. To remind them of their blessings.

This year we started what I hope will be a tradition for our family. We "adopted" a little boy for Christmas. A little boy who is Cullen's age. Then we took Cullen to Target and had a talk with Cullen about Otis. We talked about how Santa can bring some things for Otis, but his Mommy and Daddy can't bring him anything else.

Quick side note: We celebrate Jesus AND Santa in our house. Santa is fun, and magical, but there's a bigger reason for our Christmas season. I'll be covering this in another post.

Anyhow, we thought it would be a good opportunity for Cullen to help us pick out gifts for Otis, help get them ready to be delivered, and remember that you don't have to have a lot to help a little.
The funny thing is that I wanted to get some responsible items with the toys. I picked out a couple of pairs of pajamas, a couple of outfits, and a hooded towel. Cullen picked out almost every toy in Target.

Once we had everything together, we realized that we had literally spent double the recommended amount, even counting for the Black Friday pricing we got on most of the items we picked. Just for our budget to work, I knew that we had to put a couple of items back, so we let Cullen pick.

James picked him up, leaned him over the basket, and asked, "Cullen, what doesn't Otis want?" Without hesitation, Cullen replied, "Otis doesn't want a towel." Done. After I stopped laughing, I put the towel back and decided to get everything else for Otis anyway. If that is the only place in my Christmas budget that I go over, I'd say it's still a successful season. 
We're hoping to talk about Otis again on Christmas morning. And next year, we'll find another Otis to help. Because Christmas isn't just about us.

xoxo ashley

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


I know that being proud isn't something we should boast about. I know that pride is one of the seven deadly sins. I try to keep from being intensely prideful in the things I do, but it is so hard to not be proud of the people I love. That's why something my husband told me just makes my heart burst with happiness.

The holidays have been a crazy, busy time for Scout, and I have been surviving on less and less sleep. I don't mind doing it, because I know that I'm working hard for what I want and teaching my son the value of hard work. I know that this hard work will pay off.

Sometimes the payout is monetary, and sometimes it is just a feeling. After baking just shy of 200 cupcakes last night, my husband told me, "I'm so proud of what you've done with Scout."

I couldn't have done it all without him, and, for that man, I am so thankful. And when he says he's proud of me, it makes me think that pride isn't so bad every once in a while.

xoxo ashley

What We've Been Up To

Did y'all know that my BABY sleeps in a big boy bed? He does. He's been sleeping in the bunk beds for a little more than a month now, and he's pretty much a superstar about it. Now I just need to be a superstar about getting all of mine and James' stuff out of that room so that it's completely Cullen's. It's a process.
It isn't as frequent as we would like, but we try to get in a walk around the neighborhood with Cullen during the evening. We usually see neighbors, Christmas decorations, and the occasional cat. And sometimes James finds a four foot long snake. Luckily (?), Cullen was wearing an LED headlamp that James was able to borrow. James played with the snake. I stand by my assessment that the only good snake is a dead snake. This was not a good snake.
We went to Megan and Lee's wedding. I had a ridiculous amount of fun. So did Shadow and Michael. I should post the awesomely attractive photos Shadow took of herself with my phone, but I won't do that to her. Not yet. 
This is the closest James and I got to taking a picture together. At least the bride and groom are in it, too! 
Zoo lights was a really fun experience. It was neat to see the animals at night, and the lights were really beautiful. I'm so excited to get Cullen out to the Trail of Lights in Austin this year. My boys had fun with the animal-shaped snake light.  
I got in a little bit of early Christmas shopping with Cullen. And by early, I mean that I was finishing up before Thanksgiving. Cullen was the best little bag carrier ever. He's going to make a great husband someday. 
As a reward, I let him play at the mall playground for half an hour. Here I learned that "adult supervision required" is an easily misinterpreted statement.  
The weekend after Thanksgiving, James pulled out the pit for some BBQ. While in the front yard, we saw one of our sweet neighbors out for a walk with her four boys. Cullen took the oldest boys out for a spin. 
Y'all see a dolphin in this picture, right? Nope? Me either. But that's what Cullen was painting. The imagination he has is astounding.  
xoxo ashley

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Miss Emma Kate

I'm a little hesitant to post this blog today. You see, I don't know how I would feel about someone posting about my child. But the truth is, God has been nudging me and pushing. I need to get this out, but, even more importantly, this little girl needs our prayers.

As a mom, I can't even begin to put myself in Meredith's shoes. As a friend, my heart can't hurt enough. Meredith and I went to Baylor together. Her husband and mine were fraternity brothers. Even though we lived in the same dorm, just a few doors down from one another, we may never have met if it weren't for Jason and James.

I can't help but laugh when I think about how Meredith's generosity helped give us a place to live more than once in this lifetime. The few weeks prior to graduation from Baylor, my lease was up, and Reese (my dog) and I were not sure what we were going to do. In stepped Meredith with an offer to let me stay at her place with my dog. Who just lets someone stay at their condo with their dog? Someone like Meredith. So, it should come as no surprise that Meredith was the one who volunteered her home when James and Scout (the new dog) needed a place to stay for a few weeks after our Austin home had sold and our Houston home hadn't closed yet. She was beyond gracious when our closing didn't occur on time and James and Scout had to stay an extra week. And on the night we moved into our new home? Here come Meredith and Jason, asking what they can do. Not too many friends will show up on moving day. Meredith and Jason will.

And that is why I find myself asking God why He would let Meredith and Jason go through what they are going through now. They have two beautiful little girls. Maddie was born in August of 2010, and Cullen is head over heels for her. It has been nearly a year since we last saw them, but Cullen remembers Maddie. Maddie's little sister, Emma, was born in September, and Emma is struggling hard just to survive.

Emma has congenital nephrotic syndrome. Her little kidneys just aren't working the way they need to. And along the way, Emma has had one tough day after another. Tomorrow, she will be three months old. She has spent almost all of those three months in a hospital. So many days when the healing isn't happening. So many days when her mama can't hold her.

All of this to say, the Coe family needs our prayers. I pray a lot. When I pray in the car, I try to include Cullen. Just a little lesson to teach him that prayer doesn't have to be formal. We don't have to be at church. We just need to want to talk to God. So talk to God. And pray for Emma.

For more info on Emma's story and more specific ways to pray, please visit Meredith's blog:

xoxo ashley

How's Scout?

Scout is doing so well. It's right up there with some of the best things I've done with my life. I am a proud mama of my business. I couldn't have done it without an immense level of patience from my three year old and a whole lot of help from my husband. I'm a blessed girl in more ways than one.

About a month ago, I came home with a 5 pound bag of carrots. James asked me why we would ever need so many carrots.
Answer: Megan and Lee's wedding. Carrot cake cupcakes in lieu of a groom's cake. I am thrilled to be able to say that I've done work at a wedding, and I loved how smoothly everything went. We'll call it my test run before the wedding I have in January. When I don't just handle the groom's cake. Just a couple hundred cupcakes. No big deal. 
The week of Thanksgiving was absolutely chaotic. It was a meshing of pies and cakes and cake balls and cupcakes. Our entire kitchen was coated in a layer of flour. I have never been so pleased to have no Thanksgiving responsibilities. Thanks to my mom cooking our turkey day dinner, I was finally able to relax. Naps all around. 
One of my joys for the week of Thanksgiving was making these little beauties for a baby shower. Like my new "signature" cupcake wrappers? Unless something different is requested, these hounds tooth wrappers will be on all of my cupcakes from here on out. 
Oh cakes. I have a love-hate relationship with cakes. This one is a pre-cooked show of how to make a zebra print (on the inside) cake. Because I couldn't cut it open, I didn't get a picture of the final results, but the birthday girl was happy. 
I'm not good with girl things, but this is what happens when you're looking for zebra print and hot pink.  
And for James' company Christmas party, a cake with the Centre logo on it.  
For an amazing Christmas party this week, we have 150 teeny tiny star sugar cookies that were later imprinted with a tiny little paw print.  
This holiday season has been an amazing blessing for me. I love baking and spending time with my family. What girl wouldn't?

xoxo ashley

Nutcracker Market

It's been over a month since some of my blog-worthy moments, but I'm determined to catch up.


Early in November, there is always the Nutcracker Market. And because Tera and I are suckers for crafty markets and girl time when it isn't feasible to have kids with us, we were all over it. We are every year, and I think we always will be. My mom is getting a little less irritated each year that she is not invited to go with us.
It is basically a day filled with Starbucks, tons of walking, an excess of spending, and almost enough time to get caught up with one another. Tera is one of my favorite friends, but we rarely get to see each other. We hardly ever talk on the phone, but we usually manage to text one another on a regular basis.  The Nutcracker Market is our time together, and I am beyond thankful that she makes the trip down each year and that my husband is gracious enough to take over Cullen duties while I shop. Sometimes it is just the little things.

xoxo ashley

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Everybody Is Free

Driving to work recently, this "song" came on the radio. I remember when it was first released and how wildly popular it was. All these years later, I was able to recite the complete lyrics. More importantly, I was able to apply it. So many lines touched my heart.

I think the one that most hit home was: "Don't feel guilty if you don't know what you want to do with your life. The most interesting people I know didn't know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives; some of the most interesting 40 year olds I know still don't."

You see, I just recently figured out what I want to do. It's been barely more than a year, but I know my life's dream. Some days, I wonder how much further along I would be if I had known sooner, but, realistically, I know that I'm right where God intended for me to be. One of my favorite friends is currently following her dream to become a yoga instructor. She loves it, and she's extremely talented. It doesn't matter when you discover your dream. It just matters that you follow through. 

Take a few minutes, and read it through. Time well spent.


Wear sunscreen. If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it. The long term
benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists, whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more
reliable then my own meandering experience. I will dispense this

Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth. Oh, never mind, you won't understand the power and beauty of your youth until they've faded, but trust me in 20 years, you'll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can't grasp now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked. You are not as fat as you imagine.

Don't worry about the future, or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubblegum.

The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind: the kind that blindsides you at 4pm on some idle Tuesday.

Do one thing every day that scares you.


Don't be reckless with other people's hearts; don't put up with people who are reckless with yours.


Don't waste your time on jealousy. Sometimes you're ahead, sometimes you're behind. The race is long, and in the end, it's only with yourself.

Remember compliments you receive; forget the insults. (if you succeed in doing this, tell me how).

Keep your old love letters; throw away your old bank statements.


Don't feel guilty if you don't know what you want to do with your life. The most interesting people I know didn't know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives; some of the most interesting 40 year olds I know still don't.

Get plenty of Calcium. Be kind to your knees -- you'll miss them when they're gone.

Maybe you'll marry, maybe you won't. Maybe you'll have children, maybe you won't. Maybe you'll divorce at 40; maybe you'll dance the funky chicken on your 75th wedding anniversary.

Whatever you do, don't congratulate yourself too much or berate yourself, either. Your choices are half chance, so are everybody else's.

Enjoy your body: use it every way you can. Don't be afraid of it or what other people think of it; it's the greatest instrument you'll ever own.

Dance...even if you have no where to do it but in your own living room.

Read the directions (even if you don't follow them).

Do not read beauty magazines; they will only make you feel ugly.

Get to know your parents; you never know when they'll be gone for good.

Be nice to your siblings: they're your best link to your past and the people most likely to stick with you in the future.

Understand that friends come and go, but what a precious few should hold on. Work hard to bridge the gaps and geography and lifestyle, because the older you get, the more you need the people you knew when you were young.

Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard.

Live in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft.


Accept certain inalienable truths: prices will rise, politicians will philander, you too will get old; and when you do, you'll fantasize that when you were young, prices were reasonable, politicians were noble, and children respected their elders.

Respect your elders.

Don't expect anyone else to support you. Maybe you have a trust fund, maybe you'll have a wealthy spouse, but you never know when either one might run out.

Don't mess too much with your hair or by the time you are 40, it will look 85.

Be careful whose advice you buy, but be patient with those who supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia; dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal--wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts, and recycling it for more than it's worth.

But trust me on the sunscreen.

xoxo ashley