Father's Day at the lake

after last week's drama and craziness with Jolie, we needed a break.  mentally and emotionally drained coupled with the exhaustion of my first week back to work + Brady's first cold (allergies!!) I was DONE and needed to decompress.

we had planned another lake trip with our Supper Club before we even left the last time- which happened to be Mother's Day weekend, but it couldn't have come at a better time.  two days of uninterrupted fun and zero plans but eating, drinking, and playing with our closest friends + the kiddos that have grown up together since birth.  the weather was perfect, not scorching hot like I was afraid of, and there was even a little breeze off the lake.  we lounged on the giant back porch, drank beer punch (which is AMAZING) and made huge pots of spaghetti for dinner + about 400 sandwiches for lunch to feed this crew of babes.  we celebrated Landon turning 6 years old with cake and ice cream and then loved on the dad's on Sunday for their special day.  looking at these pictures from the weekend makes me realize how lucky we are to be surrounded with such a core group of people to do life with.  people I trust, love, and would do anything for.  and all these kids!!  how FUN (and chaotic) life will always be. 



FIRST of all.  a GIANT thank you to everyone that has called, texted, emailed, messaged, and commented on social media since we briefly shared whats been going on with Jolie. its been the most humbling experience walking through this process of trying to figure out what in the world is going on with my child, and I've gone from crying out in hysterics to fuming angry about all this.  trying to process it all and then having to explain to those that are concerned is overwhelming because honestly I'm at a loss for words to adequately express what the plan is at this point.
I guess I'll start from the beginning?  
this started probably about 4 months ago.  Jolie had been having random fevers, virus like symptoms off and on.. and sleeping NON-stop.  she would take two or three naps/day along with sleeping about 10-12 hours at night.  since she was in preschool I chalked it up to being a stomach bug and she would get over it.. and she would.  symptoms were always short lived.  about a month ago we were visiting my parents and sweet Jolie was, once again, with diarrhea and her fever was getting up pretty high.  we were treating it with Tylenol and Motrin, rotating it every three hours or so and it would come down, but sure enough, within 3 hours she was spiking 102 once again.  we were getting ready to go to dinner and Jordan was brushing her hair and rubbed his hand across her neck and she winced in pain.. thats when we found it.. the GIANT lump on her neck. it was huge and her neck was red and it clearly hurt to the touch.  we sort of panicked and called our pediatrician to ask about taking her to the ER or seeking guidance for what we should do.. and they told us that it was not a big deal and to come in on Monday.  So, Monday, May 22nd to be exact, we went into the pedi's office and saw the nurse practitioner (that we love!). this was day 5 of persistent fever (running 102-104) and I was done. 
"check for everything, and I mean everything."
so they did. and everything came back normal.
no mono.  no strep.  no infection.. no leukemia. 
yes, I made them check THAT.  I felt like something wasn't right and I didn't want to be back there in months with terrible news being delivered when I should have listened to my gut instinct.
her labs looked relatively normal.  of course a little elevated on her white cell count because she has been constantly fighting fever.  but otherwise, nothing concerning at all.  
"its a virus."
so, assuming this lump on her neck was infection related to the virus she had, she was put on a really heavy and strong antibiotic (clindamycin). she took 14 days of antibiotics that basically tore through her GI and caused even more GI upset than she was already having in the first place.  she wasn't eating too great, but she had stopped running fever, so we were on the right track.  she finished her medicine on a Sunday and on Wednesday she spiked 102 fever (again) and I couldn't get her fever to come down below 101 for 12 hours, even with cold bath and medicine. I called the pediatrician and came in the next day.. to see Dr. Butler.  she gave her a full exam after we walked her through the last month of concern and decided that, along with more lab work, we needed to get a sonogram of her neck since it hadn't changed at all in size, even with heavy antibiotics.  
she also checked her thyroid and about a billion other labs and tests to rule out a million things as to why this could be happening.  
we sent off a stool sample and did blood and urine cultures.. we did the works.  
that night we were up all night long with Jolie.  she had started throwing up again and couldn't hold down medicine to bring down the fever that had gotten up to 104. I was trying to dress her to load her up to go to the ER at 2:30am and she was like a potato sack. she wouldn't move or respond to me because her little body was just exhausted.  finally, after several attempts we got her to hold down meds for a half hour that brought her temp down to 101.  I'll take it.
we were able to get into the hospital to do the sonogram on Friday afternoon and we were expecting to just wait and hear on Monday from the doctor about the results.  we had plans to head out of town early on Friday morning for Jordan's grandmother's celebration of life that was on Saturday afternoon.  Butler really wanted us to get this sonogram done before going out of town, so we loaded up after the test and headed out.
our HOPE was that this sonogram would show that the lymph node was fluid filled or an infection causing the fevers and could be treated with medicine.

this sweet pic was taken right after everyone got up on Saturday morning! 
we headed downstairs to eat breakfast at the hotel.. I left my phone in the room and completely forgot  about everything that had happened the day before.. aside from Jolie waking up with a fever AGAIN.
just after I got everyone situated with their plate o' pancakes Jordan got a call.  I quickly realized who it was and I just sat there in silence trying to read his face to see if I could get some kind of idea as to what was being said on the other end.
he hangs up and doesn't even say anything.  just starts crying.  
"the sonogram was abnormal.  its not fluid filled and its not an infection.  she has a large 5cm mass on her right side and the other side is abnormally small and appears that its not even functioning.."
the next several hours are a complete blur. 
we were told to leave as soon as we could and head back to Dallas for a CT scan.  we quickly packed everything back up, left Parker and Baker with BB and Papa and took sweet Jolie and Brady and booked it as fast as we could back to the hospital.  since it was Saturday we had to register through the ER and then finally made our way back to radiology.
we spent the next two hours waiting. Jolie had to drink the oral contrast, and getting a little person to drink THAT much was near to impossible.  but I attempted to make it into a game and we got enough down so she could go back for the CT. 
she had both oral and IV tests run and the preliminary results were CLEAR.  I was so thankful. 
they had basically prepared us for the absolute worst: the lump on her neck is actually lymphoma and the nausea and vomiting and repeat fevers were all a result of the cancer spreading to the nodes around her GI track and in her tummy.. and that we would leave straight from there and transport Jolie to Children's Dallas where she would be admitted to the 6th floor oncology unit.
lets just go ahead and file that under: parental nightmares you never want to experience.
after the hour long CT scans it was finally time to leave.  since the scans came back clear (read by an adult radiologist) and we were free to go home. we still felt a bit unsure about the scans because the CT showed all clear or everything.. even the lump on her neck.  no one, not even our pediatrician relaying this information to us really understood that because we can see it and feel it.  something was missing. the pedi scheduled us for 12:30pm on Monday to come in for another exam and to produce a game plan.  she also had scheduled a conference call with the pediatric radiologist at the hospital to officially walk her through Jolie's CT scans.
either way we were happy to be on our way to spoil Jolie rotten for all that she has been through that day.  we took her to build a bear, claire's for some new jewelry, and then out to dinner for chips and queso at 9pm.  it had been a long day and everyone was so exhausted.  I cried myself to sleep with Jolie in my arms.  I couldn't let her go!

Monday morning came, along with my first day back at work (talk about terrible timing for all this), and I got a call from Jordan. 
"why is he calling me."
apparently when the pediatric radiologist read the scan that morning the mass WAS there.. the scans were just really poor quality because she was moving around.
um, yes. she's four.  she's terrified.  and she was bawling her eyes out.
 the adult radiologist that read the scans on Saturday missed it.  our 12:30pm pediatrician appointment was changed to a 2 o'clock appointment with an oncologist downtown.
 once again with the emotional roller coaster of confusion and fear..  
the appointment came and I felt like I could just hurl everywhere.  I hadn't quite closed the door on the possibility of it being "the C word", but the unknown was debilitating.  I hadn't slept in like a week which felt like a month. my body hurt with anxiety and I just wanted answers.  Jolie was scared and had yet to understand what was happening or why she was there. the moment we were admitted to the exam room she started crying.
"no more doctors, daddy"
all I could think was that this was just the beginning.. 
the hematologist/oncologist came in after what seemed like an eternity of waiting and she did a full exam on Jolie, just as our pediatrician did the week before.  she mentioned that the mass was elastic and not affixed.  she also mentioned that she could feel protruding lymph nodes all over Jo's body, which she reassured us that was normal for some people.
"I am confident to say that this is benign. that doesn't give you answers about the fevers and GI issues ..but I do not believe this is lymphoma simply by the way it is presenting itself. 

I could have kissed her! she then proceeded to schedule us for a follow up appointment in two weeks.. more blood work to see if anything has changed and assuming that if the lump doesn't reduce in size then we will be going the MRI/biopsy route.  it hasn't changed in a month, even after heavy treatment with antibiotics, so I foresee the next appointment ending with a scheduled MRI, but we shall see!  

Tuesday came and my phone rings again.. its Dr. Butler with more test results.  apparently the stool sample we sent out came back positive for EColi.  most likely picked up from a restaurant, Jolie's nausea and vomiting could be related to this.  
so, now were assuming the lymph node and throwing up and diarrhea are completely unrelated?
I guess.  can you get fever for a month from a food borne illness?  google couldn't give me a straight answer, so I dunno. to be honest I'm still trying to process everything and its all happening so very fast.  I swear everyday we are getting different explanations and plans of care.  Butler didn't want us to be sitting idle for 2 weeks, so in the meantime we are treating Jo for the EColi with more antibiotics and probiotics..AND eliminating dairy.. which totally sucks.
all I know is this girl is a freaking rockstar.  she's been such a trooper. never complained. and seems to keep her spirits even with all this mess, and while still feeling like total crap.
so, now we wait some more.  

hoping it all comes to the surface with facts and a solid treatment plan.  the lump still isn't fluid filled or infection, and I feel like no one really knows what is going on with our girl.  I admit to feeling a little silly and mislead for freaking out over something that wasn't there or is something completely different.. I wanted to scream for joy and anger when the oncologist settled our greatest fears.. but y'all I'm so relieved.  


breastfeeding in style

probably the number one question regarding fashion and my personal style has become "is that breastfeeding friendly?" or "do you have a favorite place to find stylish and breastfeeding friendly clothing?"
my initial answer to these questions has always been nope- I just wing it and make it work, ha! BUT as I've become more seasoned in my mamahood..and just keep popping them out, I've found it to be more important and easier to wear clothing that is breastfeeding friendly.  too many times I'm having to cut food at a restaurant, fix a ponytail, and even catch a flying hand to prevent one from hitting the other-  and too many times I've flashed whoever is within the vicinity- my apologies to all of those strangers that have witnessed my very own Janet + Justin moment. except WAY less sexy.
sunnies c/o (use code AMBER25 for 25% off!) // top c/o // white denim // booties (similar)
 clothing for women that are nursing has changed tremendously over the last several years. hidden zippers (I loooove these dresses!), secret slits in the side of a blouse, easy pull down necklines, and basically anything with buttons are your BFF. 

 I've also been known to wear a t-shirt with my postpartum leggings - pulling up my shirt and being able to hide my stomach is always a plus when nursing, ya know?  but the weather is heating up.. like miserable hot and I'm sweating like a teenage boy playing football just carrying groceries into the house, so shorts and breathable shirts or casual dresses and sneakers are what I'm living in right now! this shirt from Tart Collections is AMAZING.  its not chiffon, but very lightweight and super soft.
diaper bag c/o // aviators c/o (use code AMBER25 for 25% off!) // shorts
one of the items I mentioned in my mama summer essentials post (HERE) are easy breezy dresses- my go-to for breastfeeding in the summer.. because its omg-SOHOTT.  I was lucky to have a pretty mild summer after Baker was born, but its been sweltering since like February here in Texas, so we may be making up for it this year.
dress c/o // sneakers 
its taken me a couple years to figure out how to dress my postpartum body.  something that is nursing friendly and flatters my new figure can be discouraging and stressful!  but know that we have all been there in those moments.
I'm so excited to be able to offer my followers a discount code for each of these nursing friendly looks!
use code AMBER at allette boutique for 15% off your entire purchase.
use code AMBER15 at tart collections for 15% your entire purchase.
and finally, use code MASSEYA at milk made market for 20% off your entire purchase! 

thank you to tart collectionsmilk made market, and allette boutique for providing these outfits and allowing me to share your amazing brands and to Brittany for putting up with me and snapping these photos!
I've linked a few more fun and trendy nursing friendly options!


mama confessions iv

its been a bit a hot minute since I did one of these. all four of the gremlins are asleep at the same time and I just eaten my lunch in complete silence. 
no tv. no fighting. no singing. no crying!  
I'm feeling so motivated to do a million things while they are asleep, but I probably won't. its starting to rain outside and Jolie will be awake in about 13 seconds terrified about it, so we better hurry!
everyone else is to blame in Parker's world. no matter if I have literally caught her red handed in the middle of the offense, she's always got something to say about it!  
while listening to the girls bicker over barbies from the other room:
me: "do I hear y'all arguing??"
Parker: YEP! It's Jolie. 

while getting dressed to make a quick grocery run:
Parker: you're wearing those clothes AGAIN, mom?! 

I've been known to do anything to prevent a car nap because a car nap can screw my entire day.  unless.. well unless its Brady taking a car nap.  homeboy hates (!!!) his carseat and will let you know it.  sleep away young man, by all means.  anyway.. usually it means me turning up the radio and dance/sing like a complete nutcase when other cars can only see me and assume I love T.Swift way too much.

I made the most amazing photo books (in leu of a traditional baby book) for Parker and Jolie after they turned a year old. I spent a month organizing pictures, copying monthly letters from the blog, and documented everything I could think of for these books.  I loved how they turned out!  I vowed to make one for every kiddo each year until they turned 18.. well they are four, Baker is about to be two, and I can probably attest to Brady's future in this as well.. but um, I haven't spent the time to make any more for any of my kids. 

after taking Jolie to time-out over a minor meltdown because I asked her to put on her shoes..
Parker (popping her head around the corner): mom, you just have the best heart.
..in the same moments of meltdown a'la Jolie + trying to load everyone into the car and I'm basically yelling at everyone at this point..
Parker: mom.  my teacher says we need to be KIND.  are you being kind, mom?

me: Jolie Grace! come pick up your colors and paper!  its time for dinner!
me (going to get her out of the playroom): why aren't you answering me, child?
Jolie: my name is JoJo.  I like to be called JO-JO.

after giving Parker major side eye about bouncing over the side of the couch
Parker: I'm just being a ninja, mom. 

we've attempted to take away the pacifier from Baker three times in the last three months.  all three times we've psych ourselves up and feel motivated and ready to deal with whatever the paci-less future holds.  all three times have lasted less than 24 hours.. mainly because all it takes is her singing from her crib "paci where are you?" and I'm flying in there to the rescue with 14 pacifiers.  I was SO much more firm with the twins when they were this age.  what has happened to me?? 
when Brady was fussing while trying to get the big girls out of the bath: 
Parker: "mom! Brady is saying 'gimme that boobie milk!' "

Jolie: baby brother's head smells so so good, mom. 
me: I think he kinda smells like daddy, do you think he smells like daddy?
Jolie: daddy stinks. 

Parker: mom! look! my Minnie has a peanut.
me: a what?
Parker: I colored a peanut on my Minnie Mouse picture.
..she means penis.  what.  apparently having a boy in the house sparks new imagination. 

Brady's first parenting fail:
I got a spray tan one morning a few weeks back and came straight home to feed Brady.. and then we both fell asleep with him on my chest. Jordan woke me up and Brady had spray tan all over his cheek. thankfully the rub of a baby wipe and a quick bath did the trick
when changing Brady's diaper before bedtime..
Jolie: whats that chicken, mom?
me: what chicken?
Jolie: on Brady's diaper, that chicken right there..?
it was Big Bird. My kids have never watched Sesame Street (but somehow they know who Elmo is..) I feel like I'm stripping some childhood necessity from these kids.. no?

Baker has THE WORST DIAPERS!!  this child eats like a grown man, so its no surprise..
me: Baker! why do you smell like old man poop!! 
Baker: sooorrryeeee!

Parker (in complete panic): WHERE ARE MY CRACKERS?! 
me: I thought you were done.  I tossed them when I was cleaning up after lunch. you can have a different snack! 
Parker: oh, I'm not hungry, sweetie. 

I never shower alone.  if they aren't in the shower with me they are sitting outside the glass talking my ear off. while shaving my legs in the shower recently they both became SO concerned with what I was doing and why. in four years the twins have apparently never seen me shave my legs.  I should probably do that more often..

hearing Baker cry from the other room while nursing Brady..
me: what is going on in there??!
Parker: well, Baker tried to take my book and I just hit her a little bit. 


five on Friday | life lately

so theres a bit more than five items on the agenda for this Friday edition of life lately, but ya'll - we have been SO busy!  my days are running together and my babies are changing by the second.. especially Brady that basically gains a neck roll every 24 hours and Baker clearly has bear hands compared to her little brother.  its all the "buttah" (peanut butter!) we've got a lot to cover, so lets hop right to it!

one. school's out
the big girls had their last day of preschool last week!  it was the fasted year if our life and looking back, those girls have grown, changed, learned, and loved so much since last September.  the end of this year was extra special/emotional/sentimental because their preschool (mothers day out program) is transitioning to a private preschool academy.  it was the final school year as CT Kids, and I'll admit to tearing up at drop off that morning when I hugged their teachers, Ms. Sarah and Ms. Stacey.  for that and many other reasons, Jordan and I decided to keep them out of a preschool program for this last year before they go into kindergarten.  it may seem so backwards to some, but this is the last year of these two being home all day everyday for the next 14 years!  I am still working part time and my days off are days that they would be in school- I just don't want to miss anything, you know? we have hired a nanny to help when myself and Jordan are not there and this sweet girl is working towards becoming a kindergarten teacher and she's agreed to tutor them for a couple hours everyday she's there!
sunnies HERE + suits HERE + shoes HERE

 two. bootcamp
so. I started back to working out last week.. bootcamp has left me pretty sore, but at the end of my second week of camp gladiator I am feeling pretty good! trying to figure out a schedule with Brady on all this has been a challenge but we are working it out!  I am doing CGFit, which is similar to what I did in my first camp that I ever completed last June (see my progress HERE) and I'm excited to get back into the swing of it!  its amazing how out of shape I have become. I plan to do a recap in the next couple weeks!
 three. summer supper club
last weekend we met the supper club crew for pizza (and lots of wine!!).  after dinner the adults passed around a pint of ben + jerry's and a spoon and watched all our babies run and play together in the fountains.  this was just a couple days before we welcomed number 19 to our group!

four. memorial day
we posted up in our usual spot at a family friend's pool and played the day away in the water.  the weather was perfect and the girls were DARLING in their matching suits.  I bought the twins these exact suits in purple last year and I snatched them up as fast as I could when I saw them online again this season. AND- that poolside hairwrap?! give me all the Shelby Chic!!  she's started to release her poolside line and I love it all!  use code PBANDJ for a discount that never expires :)
 the cutest yellow suits HERE

five. summer hair + baker's first!
mama went blonde for summer.. even with a bit of silver mixed in!  my oldest and dearest friend, Angela has been doing my hair since I was 14 years old after I went to Florida with some family friends and poured about four bottles of sun-in on my hair- anyone remember sun-in?? not to mention she did up-do's for four proms, three homecomings, a couple firefighter balls.. my wedding + all my bridesmaids.  and now she been giving my baby's their first cut.  Baker got the last of her baby hair trimmed out this week.  
baker's onesie HERE + shorts HERE
 girlfriend was being such a stinker.. throwing a fit over nothing at all, and therefore cried through the entire thing.  Jo was trying to comfort her.. and Parker stuck a half eaten dum-dum sucker in her mouth.. still with all the tears.

 in the end we both are loving our summer hair!  if you are local give her a shout HERE

six. hello, carter grant
I can't believe Carter is here!!  one of my best friends, Ashley, also known as Auntie to my kiddos (and the blog), had her second baby boy this week! I made my way up to the hospital on Tuesday just a couple hours after Carter was born to get in some baby snuggles and to hug her neck.  I always get so emotional about stuff like this! the next day we brought the girls up to meet the newest little guy. they loved him just as they love Brady!   Baker is so baby obsessed- she claims, Carter as her own! sorry Auntie, but this girl is convinced that she needs this baby more than you do. 
 Parker + Jolie's top HERE and clip HERE

 these dads and their boys!  so many years to come with these babies growing up together.  I can't wait!! how amazing is it that our babies are so close in age? love it.

seven. take me out to the ballgame
we took Brady out to his second Rangers baseball game this week! we celebrated Brittany's birthday at the ballpark and Brady tagged along while the girls had a sleepover with their BB and Papa.  this time he was awake for the majority of the game and finally passed out when I wrapped him up in the Solly.

 Brady's onesie HERE and similar shorts HERE
he's such a HAM.  I love every inch of this boy and I basically want about 4 more just like him!  who wants to sign my petition to present to Jordan in support of baby number five?

its the weekend! lets see what we can get ourselves into- see ya Monday! XO!
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