Thursday, March 26, 2015



Birthday cuddles with my baby boy

The nap war ended in mom and dad's bed
The beginning of the end? (please, no...)

Such a smiley bug :)

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Cullen's First Birthday Party!

Last Saturday, we invited some of our closest friends and family over for a little barnyard celebration of Cullen's first birthday!

We kept it simple with a milk-and-cookie theme and got REALLY lucky with some gorgeous weather so we were able to spend most of the day outside. (there is something magical about the first really warm Saturday of the spring, it is food for the soul!)

We are so incredibly grateful to have had my brother Josh, my sister Jenna, and her friend Lexi staying with us the weekend of the party. We wouldn't have been able to pull it all off if they hadn't been here to help us prepare. THANK YOU GUYS! 
We had a few small snacks but the focus was on the cookies! We made sugar cookies, brownie cookies, cranberry/white chocolate cookies, rice krispie treats, oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, oatmeal cream pies, and strawberry cream cheese cookies (these were a last-minute addition and turned out to be my favorites- I highly recommend them!) 

I made a few pennant banners to hang, strung up all 52 of Cullen's weekly photos and got the kids some cute little milk bottles (with cow straws!) to fill with white or chocolate.  Justin and Josh created a super awesome obstacle course in the driveway for the kids to conquer and we pulled the sand table out of storage. The one organized activity I planned was a 'pig round-up game' that consisted of 13 kids gathering 24 pig-face balloons into 1 inflatable pool (thanks for creating such great pigs, Jenna!). It was pure chaos and pretty hilarious to watch. Most of the party I just wandered around watching all the little people laughing and running around thinking how grateful we are to share this life with such great friends.

Also - it seems we now have TWO boys who love to wear sunglasses!
And, of course, Cullen got his own cake to smash. It took a little convincing to get him to really dig in (probably because he'd already had plenty of cookies by the time we brought out the cake) but Avery showed him how it was done and he took over from there :)

Such a fun, fun day! It may be true that first birthday parties will never be remembered by the birthday boy/girl but any opportunity we have to get together with some of our favorite people and share some some cookies, we take it! It was even a big enough event to get a family photo - a rare occurrence indeed!

 Happy birthday, sweet Cullen. You bring so much joy to our days!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Cullen James is ONE!

A week and a half ago, this sweet boy turned a whole year old. Cullen is sweeter than ever and is learning and growing so fast these days I try really hard not to blink. He is in this really magical stage right now where he is so happy-go-lucky all the time and gets excited about pretty much everything. That being said, he is certainly growing into his own little personality and has a strong opinion about everything (and will share that opinion, usually pretty loudly.)

As is probably the case with most second children, Cullen sometimes feels like he gets the short end of the stick when big brother gets to do things that he can't (like use scissors or reach things on top of the counter). We try to involve him as much as we can which is also why this second child ingests far more Plah-Doh and paint than is probably recommended - but he's certainly getting lots of sensory learning opportunities!

Cullen's Favorites:
EATING. His current favorites are:
-graham crackers
-ice chips

Blowing raspberries on everything (especially tummies)

Chasing Avery
Mimicking Avery
Wrestling with Avery
Singing 'ba ba black sheep'
Being outside
Remotes/cell phones 
Reading books
Drinking from a straw
Smiling and laughing
Getting what he wants. Right now. (like standing in the kitchen yelling until someone hands him his cup, or a snack)

Cullen Dislikes:
•Getting dressed/changed
•Not being able to do everything big brother can do
•Being hungry or tired

Cullen currently has 8 teeth, his hair is growing longer (and curly!) behind his ears, he usually has some sort of scrape or bruise on his face (he's a brut!), has the most perfect little toddler strut and THE sweetest little scrunched-up nose when he smiles.

And here are the final photos to wrap up Cullen's first year. I already miss my chubby little baby, but I'm so smitten by this sweet toddler that has taken his place.
This boy came into our lives on a snowy March morning and filled a void that we didn't even realize existed. It feels like just yesterday and forever ago all at the same time. I can't imagine my life without this sweet little soul in it and I know his daddy and big brother feel the exact same way. Watching how he and Avery have bonded and continue to grow together makes all our rough days in this last year totally worth it. No joke- this smile has magical healing powers:
Avery @ 1 Year

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Avery @ 2.75

I printed all 52 of the weekly photos I took of Avery in 2014 and looking through them is priceless, I'm so glad I stuck with it all year. I've been continuing this project in 2015 but have fallen off the blogging train lately. Below are the first 8 weeks of Avery's 2015 photos along with some bits about who Avery is as a 2.75 year old.

The spitting image of his daddy.
Although I think babies become big kids much too quickly and I've been mourning Avery's growth since the day he was born, I have found that each new age and stage just gets better and better and this almost-three-year-old age is the best one yet. He gets sweeter, smarter, more creative and more funny every single day. He certainly has a mind of his own and is developing a strong opinion about everything but I stand in awe of his imagination and his creativity and am so proud of the sweet little boy he's becoming. I'm so lucky to spend my days with this vibrant spirit :)

Bedhead all day long. Every day.

Finding him hiding out in a corner reading a book out loud is just my favorite.
This boy is almost accident-free on the potty training front. He has made leaps and bounds in the last month becoming more aware of when he needs to go and being very independent in doing his business. About a month ago we switched entirely to wearing underwear (with the exception of diapers at nighttime) and he's had fewer and fewer accidents each week. We were using tractor videos on YouTube as an incentive but he doesn't even ask for them anymore, he just goes to the bathroom when he needs to and goes about his day. Yesterday, Avery got a prize for making it through a whole week accident-free, and then we headed to the store for new undies. (he chose Olaf, no surprise there!)

Superboy at mach speed.

Avery's favorite things right now:
Building forts
Vehicles. Tractors, boats, excavators, cranes, trains

'Hunting' bears, deer, snowmonsters, rabbits, squirrels, wolves,  etc etc...
Calling family members on numerous devices that may or may not resemble a phone
Cuddle time before bed
'Climbing mountains'
Dancing (and participating in Zumba :)
Frozen and Brother Bear
Bathtime (and drying his hair 'crazy')
Wrestling/chasing/tickling Cullen
Typing messages to his 'boss' while helping dad work in his office (he takes it very seriously) 
Watching 'Wheel of Fortune' and yelling out the letters
Watching tractor videos
Hiking in the woods
'Chopping down trees'


Down with the sickness.
This sickness was THE. WORST. Avery had influenza and this is the first time he has been this down-and-out sick in his whole life. It was pretty terrible to see my sweet, active little boy want to do nothing but sleep or sit still all day long- for over a week. I was never so happy to have my sweet boy back to health, sickness sure has a way of helping me appreciate all that toddler energy!

Still crazy pale... but sporting some of the first smiles in a week.
The bond these two share is something seriously magical.
This is his 'seriously mom' face. He's a tough cookie to crack some days ;)
Avery is such a kind soul. So sensitive and so polite. We toured a preschool a couple of weeks ago and it was sort of surreal to see him in that space interacting with other little people so independently. He was so excited to be there yet it was so bittersweet for me to think that in a little over a year he will be starting 'school'.

One evening we were enjoying dinner together as usual and glanced over at Avery who was giving us
^^this look. Totally out of the blue. Tears of laughter followed :)
Constable Avery
From the day Cullen was born, Avery has been such a good role model and protector over his little brother. I can tell that these two boys have a strong bond that I hope only continues to grow. Although they've started having some power struggles over toys (and Avery is quickly learning that Cullen's personality isn't quite as passive and as his own) the majority of their days are spent in harmony. Watching them run and play and laugh is like food for my mama soul and I can tell it's going to be a really, really fun summer.