Life is a test. We are not present on earth to just exist; we are here to learn. Life is a lesson. Love one another unconditionally. Love thyself unconditionally. We spend our whole lives learning to do this. Some succeed and some never have a clue. I'm trying. Love my fellow man. Don't react and don't always have to be right. This is one I'll have to work on for the rest of my life. Appreciate each day and recognize positive and negative as a part of life's experiences. Look around me and see life at it's best. The joys of living come as you strive to achieve your dreams. Its the quality of each day that is important, not the distant dream once achieved. Teach and nurture my children. You can never give them too much love. -Randa Jex 1/1/94

Friday, August 9

Beau-T-ful Family Pics

You have to stop by my Sister-in-law's blog and check out her amazing talent...she brought our kids to life through her lens and finally captured their sweet personalities and curiosity.  I have such a hard time catching these moments and when I do it's most likely on my iPhone and one or both of the kids are just a blur.  These pictures are so special to us especially because there are so many with our sweet Sydney.

Here is the link to Rebecca Jex Photography

Here is a little update on Sydney-  we took her to the LSU Veterinary Oncology clinic in mid July, just days after we got the news of her cancer.  They ran bloodwork, biopsies, and aspirations of her organs. We decided the visit to LSU was necessary because they are able to do more intensive testing than our local vet in order to determine the severity of the cancer.  We were very prepared for the worst and although we confirmed the bad news, it could have been worse news.  She has malignant Mast Cell tumors, some external (how we discovered the cancer) and some internal.  For most dogs, the underlying cause  of the tumors is not known. Mast cell tumors have 3 grades, with grade I being the least aggressive and grade III being highly aggressive tumors. The bad news- she is Grade III.  The tumors will eventually spread to her lymph nodes, liver, spleen, and bone marrow. As of now it's only in her lymph nodes, not good but better than being in her organs. Chemo was the only option at this stage and after 12 rounds, they told us it would just be slowing down the cancer and there is no way to cure it.  She will experience pain as the tumors spread whether she does Chemo or not, basically it would just be prolonging the inevitable. So after much consideration we decided against Chemo.  We don't want her to be in pain any longer than she has to be.  I believe they told us she might have 4-6 months without Chemo and 6-12 months with Chemo.  Zach said it best, in a human you would fight for every additional day, within reason, because they are developing relationships but with a dog it's just us being selfish because we want them here with us.  I remember when Zach and I started dating they told Randa (his mom) she had 2 years to live due to the aggressiveness of her cancer....over the next 7 years she saw us graduate college, law school, and get married.  So who knows the timeline for our sweet Syd, but to help fight the secondary effects of the tumor we are giving her prednisone, Benadryl, Pepcid, and a steroid 2x daily.

I am including so much info because they say this type of cancer is very common in dogs and Mast Cell tumors account for 20% of tumors found in dogs.  So if your dog has a growth, always biopsy just in case!

Wednesday, August 7

Austin at 2 years old

Austin is our meticulous little architect that loves putting things together and figuring things out.  He remembers everything you tell don't make him an empty promise, he will hold you to it even if it's days later. He enjoys many "boy" toys like trucks, cars, tractors, balls, bats, etc. but his favorite hobby is music.  Singing, dancing, playing guitar (both real and air)...the kid can rock.  His favorite songs to play with Daddy are "Trows" (Black Crowes), "Ho Hey" (Hey Ho by The Lumineers), "Horses Song" (The General Specific by Band of Horses).  He is fascinated with golf, golfers, golf carts due to the fact that mom and did live on a green and he always watches golfers play. He is extremely affectionate but also very tender hearted.  If he sees anyone kiss, he wants one. If he sees someone sad or hurt, he immediately pokes out his lip and in a sad voice says "Austin's sad". He is the most empathetic person I have ever known, I swear he feels other's pain so deeply I think he thinks he is hurt or sad.  He hates being left out and that is actually how we trick him into doing a lot of thing like going to bed--- "Bonny and Clyde {his stuffed animals} are going to bed, let me read to them and tuck them in". Immediately he climbs up in his bed and right in-between them to go to bed. He adores his Grammy, and we have all come to terms with the fact that she is the favorite. He loves swimming and has become very confident jumping into the pool. He bosses the dogs around.  He jumps at any opportunity to "hold" his sister or "help" with her. His favorite place to go is "Dwammy-Papa's House". He thinks he is invisible when he wears sunglasses. He loves taking medicine and getting his diaper changed.  He doesn't like eat ice cream, cake, french fries, or PBJ.  He loves edamame and "om-burgrrrs" (hamburgers). He craves the outdoors and it is often really hard to get him to come inside.  He puts everything in it's place and it bothers him if something is out of place.  His different foods can't mix or touch. He is a creature of habit and does not like deviating from a routine. He has slept through the night and like a rock pretty much since he was 7 weeks old. He sleeps in a big boy bed with Bonny (a chick), Clyde (a donkey), and his blankey but leaves them in the bed, that is where they stay...don't move them, he will notice. He loves reading books, especially with Daddy or Papa.  His favorites are If you give a Mouse a Cookie and Dr. Suesses Oh the Thinks You Can Think. He loves jumping and running. When you laugh, he laughs.  If anyone has a band-aid, he needs one immediately.  You'll be his best friend if you bring him raisins, bubbles, fruit snacks, vitamins, or anything Mickey Mouse.  He pretty much freaks with excitement when he spots a big truck, tractor, or ambulance. He often uses a french accent when saying words like diaper, Mickey, and juice.  He loves stools and ladders.  He will constantly move his 2 white chairs into configurations and they have to be exactly right before he sits down. He loves Jim Hinson's movie, Emmet Otter's Jugband Christmas, year-round. He is shy upon meeting you, but warms up with a smile.  He loves when it rains. He is full of life and hilarious. The boy makes us laugh...hard.  We have never loved so much or so deeply until we knew Austin.

Nightly jam sessions with Daddy

Our confident swimmer

Savvy with technology
Invisible Austin
Loves "Baby Sister"

Roadtrip with Bonny & Clyde

Helping with "Maa-win"

Up Up and Away...It's Austin's 2nd Birthday!

Can you believe it?  Our sweet little guy turned two!!!
Where do I even begin?  Well I am a sucker for traditions and want the kids to grow up having a ton of cool things "we did every year growing up" like Zach and I had.  Zach told me when they were kids, Steve and Randa would make a HUGE deal out of Santa.  Steve would track shoe prints across the floor and the kids got a long note from Santa.  My parents were the same way, Dad and I would put on special shirts and wrestle, we made birthday cakes for Jesus on Christmas, and we had sayings and inside jokes that anyone besides the 4 of us would think were crazy. {Like Mr. Jim in the attic}

So I have a few traditions I have started for our kids:

First, a birthday wish list from the birthday boy or girl.  I totally stole this idea from Alicia.  I can't wait to see how this changes over the years.  I am sure in 15 years every blank will say "i don't care" or "whatever" but until then, we will have fun with it!

I also have all the party guests sign a mat and we frame a picture from the party.  Really cool to look back on who was there and the sweet comments they wrote.  I did this for me and Zach at our college graduation and we really treasure those comments- especially the ones from Randa and Papa Stan.

And by far my favorite tradition is the annual birthday cupcake pics on our front porch.  Becky took these awesome pics of Austin last year and I can't wait to see the ones she took this year!  

So on to the party....I really struggled this year with the, no, not the theme (I had that narrowed down to 2 options for the last 6 months) but the size.  I did just family last year so he wouldn't be overwhelmed and this year I wanted to go all out.  But after attending a lot of birthday parties this spring and summer I started to change my tune because Austin get's really shy around huge groups and takes a long time to warm up.  The thought of inviting a ton of people to the house only to have Austin sitting alone in the corner was so sad.  And after talking it over with Zach, who reminded me that at this age big parties with tons of details are for the parents not the kids, I decided to keep it small.  I followed my Grandma Marilyn's rule of child for every year.  Well I did a loose interpretation of that.  We had family + 2 friends + one to grow on! Ha.  Which made the kid count 5 including Austin and his cousin Julia Claire....and that was the perfect size.

I didn't go crazy on decor, and was really proud of myself for using supplies I already had with the exception of a few items.  I think in all I spent $60 on the party (minus the food) which I am sure is a far cry from what I would have shelled out for a big party on the golf course.  I also baked his cake and cupcakes because I am a sucker for homemade, I always felt so loved and special when mom would make my birthday cake!

Here are a few things I made, and if you know me well you know that is inevitable. Even small occasions require me to create something handmade.  I was at the pool with a friend and she said she had everything for her son's party figured out...she just got on etsy, oriental trading, and placed a giant order and in a matter of 2 hours it was done.  Although I am time poor and streched thin, I have never been able to order pre-made, hand-made party decor.  It's like a chef ordering cupcakes from a bakery...just doesn't feel right. So I made the time.

So on to Austin's Up Up and Away Party, you guessed it...when you live in Natchez you gotta do a hot air balloon themed party.
Hot air balloon bake floating through the clouds

The clouds and hotair balloon I made for the mantle.  He loves Dr. Suess books so I had to throw this in.
Hot air balloon cookies and hotair balloon I made from twine, an outdoor lantern, and a square basket.
Party favors.  Hot air balloon baskets filled with Dr. Suess DVDs, candy, and cookies. My original "vintage balloon" idea failed miserably because I didn't factor in that cute twine netting over the balloons with flags would outweigh helium.  I never was the best in science class.
I sent this invitation to all the out-of-town friends and family and requested they send a note for Austin's scrapbook.  I have gotten such awesome little notes and I am so glad he has something to look back on.

We feasted over BBQ and cupcakes at our house.  We had a blast talking, playing, and eating indoors while it rained cats and dogs outside.  Another reason I am relieved we didn't do a large party, it was going to be the same day...OUTSIDE...behind my parents house on the golf course.  It would have been a golf themed party since he is completely obsessed with "dolfers" (golfers) and "dolf tarts" (golf carts). It would have had a bounce house and tons of golf themed decor and it would have been TOTALLY RAINED OUT.

Here is Austin arranging and rearranging his chairs, we had to add felt to the bottoms because he does this constantly at our house.
Austin had to blast.  Every gift his friends brought him was totally right up his alley...tractors, blocks, microphone for singing, and a Mickey Mouse book.  He had a ball opening gifts and instead of tearing into one after the next, he would unwrap one and take it over to my dad and ask him to open it so he could play with it.  That's Austin for you, very detailed and rarely goes from one thing to the next to the next.  He likes to explore and study.  Totally not traits I handed down.  He may look like me but he is his father through and through.
Austin was so excited to open his super fratty Fedora from Mrs. Anita Bickley!  It's so cute and he loved wearing it at the party!

After the party wrapped up we went to the front porch where Grammy and Papa gave him his first bike!  A retro styled Radio Flyer trike!!!!  He loved it and even let daddy take it for a spin.  We had a great time hanging out on the porch with the family celebrating Austin.

Seeing his bike for the first time

Happy birthday to our sweet boy.