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

Wednesday, August 7

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.

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