Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Never A Dull Moment

Our little family is regularly told by others that we take on too much. We've only been given so many days, so I think we should do as much as we can. And, sometimes, I unintentionally nap while sitting up with Cullen. I'm sure part of my narcoleptic tendencies have to do with pregnancy. Where's that second trimester surge of energy?

On Friday, I was working from home, so we got to wave to the UPS guy as he delivered a box to us. With it being just short of Easter, I figured the box from James' mom was an Easter gift for Cullen. I told him we would have to wait to open it. Not much later, my day was winding down, so I decided to take a quick shower. At one point, Cullen came in to show me his "new" toy. I didn't recognize it, but it didn't look dangerous, so I kept showering. As I finished up, I realized where the toy had come from... During his fleeting moments of unsupervised activity, Cullen decided to open his Easter present a little early. I was surprised by the dexterity he used. He opened it more precisely than I would have. And boy was he proud. Happy early Easter to Cullen!
On Saturday morning, I was up bright and early to partake in the Morton Ranch Spring Craft Show. I was exhausted. Can you tell? I was so lucky to have help from one of our top babysitters and one of my favorite friends. They were fantastic with getting me set up, keeping me organized and keeping me entertained.  
So was this guy. 
I didn't sell as much as I was hoping to, but I did get a few bookings and pass out a whole lot of business cards. Some of my favorite moments were when a little girl asked her mom if I could make her birthday cake and when an older woman told me that my cake was better than Ooh La La. If you live in Katy, you know what a compliment that is. I'm not personally a fan, but it sure seems like a lot of people are. 
On Sunday, my parents came up for the afternoon with my mom's friend from high school. I pretty much never get a picture of Cullen with my parents. This action shot with my dad was the best I could manage. You know Cullen had a good time, because he dozed off at the table and talked about his Poppie all night long. 

Diana brought a precious basket of gifts for Cullen. They were all Spiderman themed, and Cullen is in love. He's never even seen Spiderman, but he has apparently heard about our webbed friend. He has slept in these fantastic jammies for three nights in a row. I'm tired of doing laundry, but Cullen is not tired of catching spiders. Because, apparently, that is what Spiderman does. 
On Monday morning, I went in for my latest OB check with Dr. S. The doctor and nurses are becoming increasingly familiar with Cullen, and he absolutely loves being there. We asked to try the gender ultrasound a bit early, and there's our sweet little boy! 
One of Cullen's teachers told him on Monday afternoon that he was going to be able to teach his new little brother how to run and play trucks and throw balls. Suddenly, he is completely okay with a little brother. We told him Baby's name yesterday, and now he is referring to the little guy as his new friend. He asked if Baby's mommy and daddy could move in when Baby does. We had a long talk that had to be repeated at 11 last night about how Cullen's Mommy and Daddy are Baby's Mommy and Daddy. Now we just have to work on preparing him for the fact that it will be a while before he gets to teach Baby all the fun things he knows.

xoxo ashley

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Baby On Board

Please bear with me as this post gets a bit long. I've been journaling here for a while now.

Our little family has been sitting on a secret. A big secret that is tiny in physical size. We found out about our secret on New Year's Eve. We shared our secret with family in mid-February. Even though I know James is ready to tell strangers in the street, I've been pretty content to not talk about it.

We had a really great time sharing the news with our family. Since we wanted to tell everyone on the same day, we decided to FaceTime everyone to show off Cullen's new shirt.
 We expected an easy time getting through to everyone that night. We were wrong. We ended up texting a few of our family members, forgetting that some of them even had FaceTime (sorry Corie!), and unintentionally not really sharing the news at all with one of the most important people. As it turns out, not everyone read Cullen's shirt. James' dad thought it was just a cute picture of Cullen and found out the next day what we were trying to share. I think the best talk was with my mom. She isn't usually great with FaceTime, so I expected her call to be the hardest to make work. Ironically, the call went right through, she was wearing her reading glasses, and we could only see her forehead for a while, because she was jumping up and down. Our delivery to family wasn't flawless, but I wouldn't change a thing.

My absolute favorite response so far? A picture of my friend, Megan, holding up a glass of wine with a text that read, "Cheers!" How cute is she?

I recently had dinner with a friend who asked how long it would be before we announced the news. I couldn't tell her, because I didn't know myself.

By the end of the summer, we should have a new little baby to hold in our arms, and we couldn't be more excited. We had to wait longer than we wanted to for this blessing, and, somehow, that makes it just that much more special.
The only unfortunate thing is that we are seeing the very worst of pregnancy this time around. My pregnancy with Cullen wasn't ridiculously easy, but this one sure makes it look like a piece of cake. I have cycled through every anti-nausea medication available for a pregnant lady. They don't help. One of them makes me sleep, one of them makes me feel better (but doesn't help with the throwing up), and one of them actually makes it all worse. 

Being sick and completely devoid of energy isn't too great. I can't even pretend it is. I try to remind myself that being sick is generally a sign that things for the baby are going well. It did a much better job of cheering me up early on. Some days are better than others. For a while, I was waiting for the second trimester, hoping and praying that things would get better. So far, not so much. Instead of gaining weight, I'm losing weight. Instead of glowing, I'm usually cold and a bit pallid. I haven't eaten meat in over two months. That, my friends, is getting so old. All I want are salads and seafood. Some might consider it a healthy diet. If Cullen and James would eat that way, it might work. They don't.

Irony about the above paragraph? Seafood has also lost its appeal. I'm becoming a vegetarian. I miss BBQ. I just wish the food aversions were consistent. I can't think of a single food item that always sits well with me.

Putting all of that aside, we are thrilled to be given the opportunity to be parents again. If you ask Cullen if he wants to be a big brother, he'll tell you no. He wants to be a Cullen. If you ask him if he wants a baby, he gets really excited. I love the light in his eyes when he talks about "his baby." For my second doctor's appointment, we let Cullen come with us. He loved playing in the doctor's office, and it was so fun to watch his face when he heard the baby's heart beat for the first time. Two days later, Cullen asked if his baby was in my belly. When I told him it was, he told me I need to keep his baby safe. He's already protective and showing ownership. I love it.

One of my favorite things so far has been remembering how awesome it is to feel the baby move. It is beyond me how I could have forgotten that feeling. And each day, the baby becomes just a little stronger; those kicks have a little more power behind them. I started feeling something around 13 weeks, but it was definitely baby by 14 weeks. One of the joys of doing this a second time is knowing what is going on every now and then. With that being said, it is absolutely amazing how one mom can have two pregnancies that are so very different. Goodness.

I'm also excited that my brother and his precious family will be so much closer to home as this baby arrives. They are due to be back from Okinawa this summer, and I love that the cousins should actually get to see one another more often! And now we know that one of James' cousins and her groom-to-be are moving to Texas this summer. Hooray for more family!

Yesterday morning, we got some more great news at the doctor. I was prepared to wait until 20 weeks for the anatomy scan, but a lot of family requests encouraged me to ask my doctor about doing the gender ultrasound a little early. Dr. S agreed to it, so we got to see our precious little one during my appointment. There is something so breathtaking about seeing that little heartbeat and seeing God's perfect little creation. And the magical news we've all been waiting for? Baby Shuler is a BOY!
I am so excited to have another little boy, and I know James released an audible sigh of relief to know that we have another little boy in our future. As James put it, more head butts and slaps to the face in our future. I love that I don't have to worry about buying much before baby arrives. I can just focus on baby!

I think the only one truly upset by the news (besides the family members looking to start shopping for pink) is Cullen. He is devastated. When we told him that he would have a little brother, he buried his face into James' shoulder. He kept saying, "I want my baby to be a girl!" When we got to school this morning, I asked Cullen if he wanted to be the one to tell his teacher. Instead of telling her that he would have a little brother, he said, "It didn't be a girl." I think the incorrect grammar just makes it that much better. I'm sure he'll bounce back eventually.

For all the tough times, we are so thankful for the blessings. I can't wait to meet this new little person, but I'm really trying to soak up and enjoy (ha) this pregnancy, as it will likely be my last. We want a bigger family, but I'm clearly not too great at being pregnant. I guess we'll just have to wait and see! 

xoxo ashley

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Mommy and Me

This past weekend, James went out of town with some friends, so Cullen and I had the weekend to ourselves. Cullen asked if he could sleep in our bed, and I agreed to it, because I knew it might actually keep him in a bed instead of playing in the middle of the night.
Obviously, he had no problems getting comfortable. He's a cute little sleeper. 
We had very little television time mixed with a whole lot of play time. Cullen was really great about keeping himself occupied while I took care of things around the house. He loves having me play with him, but he also loves his alone time. While putting away laundry, I paused to ask him what he was doing. "The dinosaurs are getting the police car." Modern day Jurassic Park. 
We also had dinosaur riding. Who doesn't want to ride a house cat sized T-Rex? 
As Easter approaches, I'm doing my best to make sure that we don't end up with more stuff we don't need in the house. Between sales and coupons, I ended up with a $10 game of Hungry Hungry Hippos for Cullen's basket. I was pretty pumped about the good deal, so I called James to share the news. He told me that he was expecting my exciting news to be that I "bought an Icee or something." Yep. I did that, too.

I'm also working on teaching the true meaning of Easter to Cullen. Despite my best intentions and our lengthy story times, Cullen has decided that Jesus is his friend who will also hunt Easter eggs. I guess it's a start.

This Saturday, I'll be out at Morton Ranch High School selling cake balls and cupcakes. If you're in need of a cupcake or twelve, stop on by!

xoxo ashley

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Big Kid and Bear

Did anyone else know that I have a big kid these days? Now that he's in a new preschool class, he has homework! James and I are probably enjoying it more than Cullen right now. I am loving having a structured evening activity to do that encourages communication and no TV time. 

I usually have Cullen use crayons to complete his homework. Let's be honest. I would always write in crayon, but it isn't appropriate at my age? Cullen came up with the idea to stick it behind his ear all on his own. Reminds me of my dad when he's building something.
I wanted rice pudding the other night. So I made some. James was impressed with the swirls of milk and vanilla. He brought Cullen in to look at the "butter-fly." 
After a whole lot of work and not enough down time, I met a friend for happy hour last week. Time with Amy is always fantastic. She is comforting to be around, and we always wind up having these thought-provoking discussions. She brings out the best in me. She inspires me. I'm lucky to call her my friend.

When I got home that night, these were waiting on the counter. My boys went to Costco and bought me flowers. Just the way I love them. Simple, beautiful, inexpensive, and in a vase that's been around since before we got married. It's absolutely the little things. 
On Saturday, we got to visit Peg and Andy. It has been way too long since we last got to see them, and it was a welcome respite. I've been awful sick lately, and it's always nice to have Peg take care of you. While I was resting, James helped Andy move some pieces of furniture and "decor" around the house to prep it for putting it on the market.
By "decor," I mean that the bear is on the move. As it turns out, some people feel like a breakfast table should be in the breakfast nook. The realtor said the bear was bad for house selling, so the bear had to go to storage. Ironically, James also got to help move the bear into the house. Cullen has to be the only three year old I know that has absolutely no fear of a bear in a house. Other than Steph's kids, of course.
James got a good opportunity for a bear hug after we got it off the stand.
 And off goes the bear...
This moment has to be in the top ten list for best moments of James' life. Riding in the back of a truck with a bear. He was disappointed that no one pulled up behind them while they were driving.
As usual, I let Cullen's hair get too unruly before taking him in for a trim. I've started taking him to see the girl who cuts my hair, and I'm pretty sure it's the best cut he's had since his first haircut she did almost three years ago. Where does the time go? 
This weekend, James is in New Orleans with friends, and Cullen and I plan on enjoying lots of quiet time interspersed with me finishing our taxes. The same taxes I started and never finished almost two months ago. It isn't like me to put off this project for so long. Wish us luck!

xoxo ashley

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Family Fun at Froberg's

We love Froberg's. Oh my word. I love their strawberries so much, and I love shopping in their little farmer's market. I love that we go every year, and I hope it's a tradition we keep forever. 

Our first year out to Froberg's was in 2011. Back when I got every other Friday off, Amy and I took Cullen and Hadley. They toddled around, Cullen pulled Hadley in the wagon, we got lost trying to find a park for a picnic, and Cullen had the now-infamous black eye. Where does the time go?
 Last year, we made it a family affair. James, Cullen and I picked five pounds of strawberries, and I made myself sick eating them all. I can't find those pictures to save my life.

This year, we decided to meet the Ernst family for a day out in the field. The boys were adorable and hilarious. Of course, there are no pictures of all three of them. There is this great one of Cullen. He tripped and fell down, so I asked him to stay down so I could get a picture. He yelled "cheese" loud enough for everyone to hear and made this face. Still perfect.
Because I have recently become ridiculously obsessed with particular food groups, I decided to pick some extra strawberries this year. With just under 12 pounds, we have enough for snacking, making preserves, making pies, and I have no idea what else. I spent a couple hours last night cleaning and hulling them. Tonight, I make pies and preserves. Anybody want pies and preserves? 
We haven't finished even a tenth of them yet, and I can't wait to go back. I think I see strawberries with pound cake in my future. Yum.

xoxo ashley

Spring Weather Calls for Outdoor Fun

This past Saturday, we didn't really have any specific plans, so we decided to head out to the rodeo to enjoy the nice weather and show Cullen the animals. On the way there, Cullen said he wanted to see lions, so we re-routed to the zoo. 

I only planned for a little bit of outside time, so none of us actually dressed too appropriately for the weather. It was cold and ridiculously windy. As long as we kept moving, it wasn't too bad. 

I love that every trip to the zoo involves something new and exciting for us. Each time, we see something we didn't notice before, or Cullen presents an interest that he didn't in the past. This time, he wanted to check out the "village" in the African Forest. The picture is ridiculously over-exposed, but Cullen had a great time ducking in and out and running around the little "huts." 
Of course, we made the requisite stop at the drums. Cullen loves the taller drum, even though he can't see over the top of it.  
The little things are the most fun.  
I'm not sure how we ended up doing this one, but it turns out that it is much cheaper to feed the giraffes than it used to be. I have never been so close to a giraffe, and it was amazing. We got to meet Miles up close and personal. Cullen kept calling him Melman. The zookeeper did not get it. 
The pictures are a bit shadowy, but I was too in awe to step back to get better pictures.  
Hungry little fella. 
No trip to the zoo is complete without a carousel ride, and off we went. Cullen made a first-time decision to sit on a bench instead of riding an animal. I think he was just worn out at that point. 
After a little second wind gained by a carousel ride and some pigeon chasing, we took a breezy train ride through Hermann Park.  
Post zoo trip, we headed to Academy for some new sneakers for Cullen, and then we were off to the Baylor baseball game at Minute Maid. 
Cullen got another new-to-him baseball (his first college ball) and got to show off his baseball with Mickey.  
He also loved the baseballs around the stadium. He couldn't climb them, but he sure tried! 
About five minutes down the road, Cullen was out for a nap. 
We got to enjoy a dinner out with friends, and we headed home for a good night's rest. Let's be honest. I needed it just as much as Cullen did.

xoxo ashley