Thursday, August 28, 2014

Goodnight Bitsy

On Monday afternoon, we laid our sweet kitty to rest.

Since Bitsy's dental surgery two weeks ago, she just hadn't been the same.

She wouldn't eat or drink.

She was lethargic (not moving or running away when Jackson grabbed her, randomly jumping into the shower with me one day, not running away when she heard the vacuum, and other things that just weren't like her).

She was obviously in pain.

I tried everything to get her to eat but she just didn't seem interested or hungry--that's when I knew we needed to get her into the vet. I'd originally planned to just take her to a vet here in Denver (versus her regular vet in my hometown--over an hour away) but had a sick feeling that something was really wrong and that I'd need somebody to help me with Jax while Brandon worked.

I'm so glad we went to her regular vet.

My mom stayed with Jackson while I took Bitsy in for her appointment. The tech weighed her (she'd lost two pounds in two weeks), took her temperature (normal), and checked her mouth (which seemed to be healing beautifully)--then the vet came in to discuss what could be causing this and recommended drawing blood and running a few tests. The vet returned a few minutes later with the diagnosis: Bitsy's kidneys were failing and she'd developed pancreatitis.

I couldn't believe it; they had ran tests on her before her surgery and she had a clean bill of health--I couldn't fathom how things had gotten so bad so quickly. After talking in depth with the vet, we decided it was a combination of different things that caused this, including her once diet of Blue Buffalo cat food (more on that in a sec), the anesthesia from her surgery, and possibly getting into our calla lily or cleaning supplies without us realizing it.

Bitsy's vet gave me the options: we could put her on IVs, a feeding tube, and give her medication every day for the rest of her life in hopes of keeping her alive for a couple more years--or we could go down the path that every pet owner dreads..

We chose the latter.

Putting Bitsy to sleep was both the hardest and easiest decision I've ever had to make.. hard in the sense that I wasn't ready to lose my sweet girl, but easy because I didn't want her to suffer anymore. Bitsy's quality of life would never be the same and I knew in my heart that euthanasia was the right decision. I called Brandon and told him in between sobs what was going on and asked what he wanted to do--he said exactly what I was thinking.

Bitsy fought long and hard enough and now it was time for her to rest.

The vet completely supported our decision and proceeded with the anesthesia. My dad came over to sit, talk, and cry with me during Bitsy's last moments--I was so happy to have him there for support. After Bitsy passed, we took her back to my parents and laid her to rest next to other family pets (my parents live in the country and had a really beautiful and peaceful spot for Bits).

I cried harder on Monday than I have in years.. Bitsy was our family and she was gone forever.

Jackson and I headed home shortly after burying Bits--on the drive home, we hit a terrible storm and pulled off the interstate to wait it out (I once hydroplaned on the interstate during a bad thunderstorm and wound up in the median; I've had terrible anxiety about driving in the rain ever since). While Jackson slept and I waited out the storm, I prayed, looked through Bitsy pictures on my phone, and reminisced about all the good times we had with our girl.

After about 10 minutes, the skies began to clear and we got back on the road. At one point, I looked in my rear view mirror and noticed to brightest, most beautiful rainbow I have ever seen in my life. It reminded me of the poem "Rainbow Bridge":

By the edge of a woods, at the foot of a hill,

Is a lush, green meadow where time stands still.

Where the friends of man and woman do run,

When their time on earth is over and done.

For here, between this world and the next,

Is a place where each beloved creature finds rest.

On this golden land, they wait and they play,

Till the Rainbow Bridge they cross over one day.

No more do they suffer, in pain or in sadness,

For here they are whole, their lives filled with gladness.

Their limbs are restored, their health renewed,

Their bodies have healed, with strength imbued.

They romp through the grass, without even a care,

Until one day they start, and sniff at the air.

All ears prick forward, eyes dart front and back,

Then all of a sudden, one breaks from the pack.

For just at that instant, their eyes have met;

Together again, both person and pet.

So they run to each other, these friends from long past,

The time of their parting is over at last.

The sadness they felt while they were apart,
Has turned into joy once more in each heart.
They embrace with a love that will last forever,
And then, side-by-side, they cross over… together.

I got teary eyed (and am right now just thinking about it) and took it as a sign.
Bitsy is okay. 

She is no longer in pain. 

I will see her again one day (and what a wonderful day that will be). 
Photo by Avery Kasper.
Adopting Bitsy was the start to our family--we will always miss her and will forever cherish the wonderful memories we have with her. 

Thank you for completing our family and being the perfect first pet for Jackson. 

We love you, Bits. 

Goodnight. 
I couldn't get a good picture since I was driving (and didn't want to crash..) but you can see the rainbow in the mirror.
 BLUE BUFFALO INFORMATION
If you're currently feeding your cat or dog Blue Buffalo brand food, I beg to STOP now--our vet literally cursed when I told her Bitsy had eaten Blue Buffalo cat food and said she'd rather animals ate the cheapest of the cheap off brand food than Blue Buffalo. Veterinarians have seen more animals sick and dying because of Blue Buffalo and are now trying to spread the word. 

I found a couple articles about Blue Buffalo online that you should read if you get a second.. I am absolutely livid with the company for being neglectful and killing our pets:

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

A Moment for Meso

If you're a regular reader here at AOCC, you're probably expecting a story about Jackson, Bitsy, or some other Sandmeier household norm--but today, that is not the case.

Today's post is about mesothelioma.

If you're like me, the extent of your mesothelioma knowledge comes from commercials for asbestos exposure lawsuits. Needless to say, there's much more to it than just that and that's what we'll be discussing today.

Every year, over 3,000 people are diagnosed with mesothelioma and are only given an average of 10 months to live--this was the case for Cameron Von St. James' wife, Heather. Here's a bit of their story from Cameron:   
How beautiful is this family?? (Source)
My wife, Heather Von St. James is a rare mesothelioma cancer survivor who beat the odds 8 years ago when she was given only 15 months to live. Heather was diagnosed just three months after giving birth to our daughter Lily. After a life saving surgery that included the removal of her left lung, Heather is thriving more than ever! 

Heather has such an amazing story (and is an amazing woman for that matter) and beat the odds--here are a few facts to help educate you about mesothelioma and asbestos exposure:
  • Asbestos exposure is the number one cause of occupational cancer in the US even more than 30 years after the peak of its use. 
  • No amount of asbestos exposure is safe. 
  • Symptoms may not appear until 30-60 years after initial exposure to asbestos. 
  • Asbestos can be found in many older homes, schools, factories, and commercial buildings. 
  • Men are four times more likely to be diagnosed with mesothelioma than women.
For more information about asbestos exposure, mesothelioma, Heather Von St. James, and other survivors, please visit the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance's website (www.mesothelioma.com). My hope in writing this post is to educate those who, like me, didn't know much about this terrible disease--what is something you learned about mesothelioma? Why did it surprise you?

Friday, August 22, 2014

Jackson's 8 Month Update

I feel like my baby grew into a little boy over this last month..

..and I don't like it!

Jackson continues to grow and amaze both Brandon and me--I know I say it every month, but Jax is seriously the perfect baby and is always so happy, laid back, and sweet! He's such a joy to be around and I thank God every day for giving us our little guy.

Here's what our boy has been up to this month:
Laying down? Ain't nobody got time for that!
I have a feeling that this is going to be as good as it gets (in terms of our monthly pictures) from here on out..
Weight: 19.5 lbs. (taken on bathroom scale)

Length: 30 inches (75%)

Nicknames: Jax, Bubbas, Fun Size Brandon, Jacksie

Wearing: Mostly 9 Month clothes & Size 3 diapers.

Sleep: Still co-sleeping; still sleeping well (9-11 hours per night, 2-3 hour nap every afternoon).

Jax likes: Bitsy, other babies, army crawling, kicking, socializing, playing, when daddy comes home from work, stuffed animals, sink baths, his new "big boy" car seat, showing off, eating grown up foods, smiling and talking to everyone, sitting up in the cart or high chair, being interacted with, story time, play group, our daily walks, Facetime (he begins to squeal whenever he hears it ring), and getting into things he isn't supposed to.

Jax dislikes: Being left alone for too long, feeling tired, when nobody sits in the backseat with him during long car rides, being hungry, sitting in one place for too long, and when mommy or daddy move him away from cords or other dangerous items.

Food: This kid loves his food and is turning into a really good little eater! I try giving him a little bit of whatever we're eating and so far he loves Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, sweet peas, avocado, bread, crackers of any kind, bananas, eggs, pancakes, dumplings, etc. I'm hoping to cut down on our nursing sessions after we return home from our Labor Day vacation.

Mom & Dad's Favorite Things: How funny & happy he always is, his laughs, how curious he is, and watching him discover the world around him. 

Teeth: Still nothing (but it sounds like that isn't necessarily a bad thing?)!

Happenings: First (of hopefully many) Taco Tuesday with Great Aunt Nancy & Marlys; first Heritage Festival; Several visits to Grammy & Papa Tony's house; House hunting; Bitsy's surgery; Kansas trip; and first time mini golfing w/mom & dad.

~I took our little social butterfly to his first playgroup on Wednesday morning and he LOVED it! He enjoyed laying in the middle of the room, chewing on a toy, and watching all the kids run and play around him. He was the youngest one there (by exactly a month) and was still the loudest.. he's definitely my son. 

~As I mentioned earlier, Jackson is quite the little eater and likes just about anything we give him (I wonder how long that will last?). He surprised me on our KS trip though when he downed a few peppernuts and a bunch of applesauce salad (which has crushed red hots in it)-- Kid likes his spicy foods! Fun fact: The night before Jax was born, I had chicken nachos with extra jalapenos and fire salsa in an effort to induce labor.. contractions started 4 hours later. Maybe that has something to do with his love of spice?

~Jax has learned a lot of new tricks over the last month including the army crawl (which he's mastered), almost clapping, picking up food/feeding himself, giving kisses, and knowing the meaning of certain words (Jackson, Jax, kitty, kisses, and eat). I can't wait to see what this month has in store for us! 

 ~It's hard to tell in these pictures, but Jax's eyebrows look like they're coming in red.. we'll see if he's a little ginger baby (which he'd get from my mom's side of the family--my Grandpa Kasten was a redhead and so is my Aunt Judy)! 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

#3genroadtrip Recap

**Have you entered Tausha's & my favorite things giveaway? There's still time!**

As you may already know, my mom, Jackson, and I just returned from our first ever three generations road trip and had such a wonderful time! We ate lots of delicious food, visited family, laughed until our stomachs hurt, and just enjoyed a few amazing days in Kansas.

As usual, our perfect weekend went by way too quickly but we made memories that we will cherish forever. It's always hard to watch a fun vacation come to an end but it was nice to come home to Brandon and Bitsy.. we sure did miss them!
Playing mini golf after arriving home Monday night--Jackson was entranced by the fountains.

Monday, August 18, 2014

This or That with Taush.O (and a Fabulous Giveaway!)

It's Monday..

..which means vacation is over and it's time to go and get back into the swing of things..

*sigh*

We've had a wonderful time with family in Kansas but it'll definitely be nice to get home to Brandon & Bitsy--we've sure missed them! I'll hopefully have a photo recap up here tomorrow or Wednesday.. so stay tuned!

In the meantime, I have some exciting news--we have a giveaway and super fun post today!!

Today my friend Tausha from Taush.O (if you don't know this girl, you're going to want to change that--love her, her sweet little girl, and her blog! It's one of my daily reads!) and I are playing "This or That" and are giving YOU awesome readers a fabulous giveaway with a few of our favorite things.

Read on!
1.) Boy band or Big Band?
Annie: Big Band (I'm an old soul!)
Tausha: Boy band all the way.....I'm top 40's charts all the way!

2.) Sweet or salty?
Annie: Sweet
Tausha: Sweet!

3.) Gossip or Home Improvement Magazines?
Annie: Ooh, toughy.. I gotta go with Home on this one (Country Living is my jam!)
Tausha: Home Improvement, although I get mad when I can't pin something I like!

4.) Tea or Coffee?
Annie: Normally tea.. but lately gourmet coffee (more caffeine=more upbeat mamma)
Tausha: Coffee. All.The.Way

5.) Beer, Wine, or Cocktail?
Annie: PJ (Pre-Jackson) days, my answer would have been whiskey and diet coke.. today, it's wine (one glass does me in!).
 Tausha: All of the above. Kidding. I'm not an alcoholic. I'm not an alcoholic.

6.) Email or Snail Mail?
Annie: Snail. 
Tausha. Snail - so much more personal!

7.) Movie or Book?
Annie: Book (when I can find the time to read!)
Tausha: Movie!

8.) Mexican or Italian food?
Annie: Mexican
Tausha: Mexican

9.) Cupcakes or Ice Cream?
Annie: Cupcakes 
Tausha: Ice cream!

10.) iPhone or Android?
Annie: iPhone
Tausha: iPhone - all day err'day!

11.) Harry Potter or Twilight?
Annie: Would you believe me if I told you that I've never read or seen either of these? With that being said, I'll go Twilight?
Tausha: Twilight. Obsessed - and proud of it!

12.) Manicure or Pedicure?
Annie: Pedi (my mani gets picked/chewed off within minutes)
Tausha: Pedicure, my manicures (unless gel) only last a day!

13.) Brad Pitt or Chris Hemsworth
Annie: Bradley Cooper.
Tausha: Both. Kidding. Chris Hemsworth

14.) Vanilla or Chocolate?
Annie: Chocolate!
Tausha: Vanilla! (With toppings of course!)

15.) Hot or Cold weather?
Annie: Cold (LOVE Christmas, snow, and scarves!)
Tausha: Hot, any day!

16.) Dog or Cat?
Annie: My answer used to be dog.. but now it's cat (I have Bitsy to thank for that)
Tausha: Dog! I love my puppy Dex!
 
17.) Drive or Fly?
Annie: Fly!
Tausha: Fly! I used to love to drive, EVERYTHING changes with a kid! Get me from A to B the fastest way possible!

18.) Silver or Gold?
Annie: Silver.
Tausha: Silver

19.)  Facebook or Instagram?
Annie: Instagram!
Tausha: Never make me choose! Okay, Instagram. 

20.) Target or Ikea?
Annie: Target (I had a really, really, really bad Ikea experience.. that story is for another time)
Tausha: Target

Now that you know basically everything there is to know about Tausha & me, it's time to give you a fun and fabulous giveaway! And what are we giving away? A few of our very favorite things! I'll be giving one lucky winner my favorite hazelnut gourmet coffee, dark chocolate, and homemade bar of goat soap (this stuff smells/feels like heaven, y'all); Tausha will be giving away (not one, not two, but) THREE fabulous fall colored Essie nail polishes.

Are you ready?!

Good luck!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

3 Generations Road Trip

Happy Thursday!

Mom, Jax, and I are getting ready to head out on our first ever 3 Generations Road Trip!
Wow, this is an awful picture.. but it's the only one I have of the 3 of us. We will have to change that this weekend!
I'm so looking forward to road tripping with two of my faves to visit family in the great state of Kansas! I'll be posting a lot of pictures and updates so be sure to follow along on Twitter and Instagram (#3genroadtrip). 

Have a fabulous weekend! I have a fun post and giveaway coming up for you on Monday (you won't want to miss it).

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Crossroads

A couple weekends ago, we had the pleasure of meeting an old friend of mine and her family for lunch. I hadn't seen Julianne in over five years and was thrilled to hear that she, her hubby, and little boy (who is only a few months older than Jax) would be vacationing in Colorado.

After meeting Julianne's husband and son and introducing my guys, we sat down and began to catch up. It wasn't 5 minutes after we started talking that Julianne and I looked at each other and said "This is so weird.. when did we grow up?" We then started reminiscing about the last time we'd seen each other and how both of our lives have dramatically changed since then.

The last time Julianne and I saw each other was in 2009; I was working at a job I hated, had problems with my personal life, and wasn't happy attending school at Colorado State University. Julianne had just graduated high school and was deciding where to go and what to do next and was facing several of the same challenges.

We were both at a crossroads and had big life decisions that needed to be made.

I won't get into too much detail about what decisions needed to be made in our lives but I will say that we have both grown up and changed dramatically since that day in 2009.

We're much happier people now.

We're where we need to be and we're with the people we need to be with.

It's funny how God works these things out for us, isn't it?

If you're reading this right now and are having to make big life decisions, take a step back, breathe deeply, and give your worries and stresses to God--He has a plan and knows what's in store for you! It might be hard to see and understand right now but He's got your back.

He definitely took care of both Julianne and me!
2008 ~ 2014
The sweetest boys in town!
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