yup, i am nagging. and i so hate it when bloggers incessantly rant and remind about a giveaway that i have already decided i wasn't interested in (even though i totally get it and understand why and do it myself, cough, cough). but come ON, this is different. i was supposed to end the african necklace giveaway tonight and announce a winner tomorrow, but since there have only been like 5 people to respond, i am gonna give it until monday.

because i care about comments and participation so much? no. not this time. just because i know the prospect of playing bloggy chase by having to click and read a million articles isn't fun or remotely appealing when you're life is already plenty busy, so i am going to give it until monday, in the hopes that the weekend will give some more folks time to read about katie and uganda.

i am double hoping that tons of people have already read about her and prayed and donated and just think my giveaway is too petty for such a great cause and that's why there hasn't been tons of action here. that would be awesome.

but just in case you weren't going to bother because it was too much to do and you didn't have enough time, maybe you could squeeze it in this weekend? maybe on saturday as a birthday present to me? go ahead and return those size 2 jeggings you had planned to give me and just do this instead.


which one of these...

...does not belong?

this is my son

i have spent hours studying his face

memorizing every look, expression and feature

so why does this kid look 100% unfamiliar to me:

i don't know if the action shot caught his jowls and eyes in a weird, anti-gravity place or the light made his eyes look all black and shark-like, but this does not look like judah. if i hadn't taken this pic and you showed it to me, i seriously would not think it was my son.

it looks a little like the baby alien from men in black that will smith delivers in the back of the car.

weird, right?

what to do with that wordle

2 months before judah was born i found out about the wordle website. its a really cool way to make a custom print out based on any combinations of special words. i made a bunch for judah using the colors of his room. it was so fun to play around with this and i spent like 2 hours on the website that day. here is one of them

i printed a few of these out and put them on his bottom bookshelf that week. i hadn't printed them on anything special, just a regular printer and computer paper, so i didn't have a lot of inspiration as far as featuring them in his room went since the quality was shmeh. they lived there for about 17 months attempting to decompose, collect dust, and survive increasingly violent encounters with the fetus they were created to describe as he grew into a big boy.

then when we did judah's 3 month pictures i accidentally ordered wallet sized prints of some of his black and white "details" photos: baby bum, little feet, etc. i had no idea what to do with a wallet sized pics of baby fat rolls, so i threw those on the same shelf as the wordle and vowed to figure something out later or at least wait a year or two until the sight of such forgotten inspiration infuriated me enough to trash them just to escape the tiny guilt bombs incurred every time i set eyes on them and remembered that i had, yet again, failed to follow through on a project.

around that same time i ended up with a pier one store credit thanks to a regift return. i think that place is a ripoff so i wanted to use it that same day so i never had to go back inside and be depressed about being so poor. so i bought 4 distressed chunky wooden frames that were on clearance. i thought they'd work well spray painted white with the baby detail pictures. i would take them home, paint them and frame and hang the pictures that very night!

...about a year later i did just that. the frames had joined the shelf of washed-up has been projects and i was really sick of stuffing them back on there after judah rampaged his room. they had no purpose besides giving him more clutter fodder. so a few weeks ago, i finally decided to do something with the shelf of broken dreams. turns out these 3 forgotten items had formed quite a rapport during their time together. turns out the pictures were too small to fill up the frame on their own, so i needed something to put behind them. aha! a stay of execution for the 3rd member of the shelf: the wordle, which i was finally going to throw out. i think they are the perfect perfect backing material for these little morsels of the tiny nugget judah used to be.

i put them around judah's name sign (crap! we are going to need to make one for her too at some point) over the changing table. you should be able to click to see the pics up close.

the shortest, easiest project ever that still took me 17 months to complete. and now after a poopy detox session on the changing table judah loves to stand up on and look at the pictures in fond remembrance...and then attempt to swat everything off the wall. toddzilla, i tell you.

reminder: PLEASE take a few minutes to enter the giveaway on the top right sidebar. i promise it's worth the time to be seriously inspired and moved.


16 months

like i mentioned before, since we didn't find our amazing photographer until just was 2 month old, he never got any professional newborn pictures taken. bum out. at least that's something his sister will have better than him. but we got the baby plan for him which included 5 sessions, so we scheduled a 16 month one to capture our little family right on the cusp of becoming 4, but cherishing the last moments of just our one baby. here are the first 3 "teaser" pics that brenna posted for us on facebook. more to come.

i am loving judah for blocking the extra chin action here.

so cool. he's actually in an old rust clawfoot tub peeking and poking out of the plumbing fixture holes. the one on the right looks like he's posing at a mickey mouse attraction of some sort.

tiny farmhand takes a break. he was so happy during this part of the session because of the popsicle that he tolerated the hat for 2 second increments. love the colors and textures in this one

this whole, about to have two babies thing is terrifying. there is tons of uncertainty in our lives right now as far as money, working, childcare, health care, etc. for the past 6 months, i have been prone to worrying about these issues at least every hour. thankfully, everything is so confusing and chaotic that we literally have no control over it so it has made it a little bit easier to just let god be in charge of everything. i mean, we have no solutions in our little human peabrains, so if we come out on the other side of lalya-boo's infancy alright, it will have had to have been god showing up in some hugely unforeseen way. it's him or nothing. its a scary, completely against my nature, and yet so right.

i waver wildly between worrying about judah and worrying about her. i mean, judah is gonna flip his shit when he sees jesse snuggling a little sister-nugget and he isn't going to have all of his tyrannical-pants little demands met instantaneously by 2 parents all the time anymore, but then again, layla doesn't have clothes or a crib. so at least they will both be scarred equivalently.

yup, that sure is what i look like on a friday night, after work, while grocery shopping. loud and proud, mofos. 32 weeks is a "large jicama" so publix fail here for only having what appears to be jicama of the pygmy variety. so help me if i'm this big just for something that small, we are in trouble.

she's about 4 pounds right now and sweet sassy molassy, she is moving. i was never kept up at night because of judah's swirlies, but if i dare lay on my right side with her, she lets me know all about it until action is taken. yes, your fetal highness.

i am positive that either she is head down or that my vagina has chronic hiccups, and she is facing my right side. all of her punches and kicks happen on that side and is she was gonna explode out of some side of me, it would definitely be that one. and it may actually be if her violence is any indication. she wants out and she wants to be in the passenger seat, it would seem.

6-ish weeks to go until i have a daughter. what planet am i on?


give it away

i get paid every two weeks at my work. this is almost always 2 times per month. but 2 months a year, the days of the week fall so that i get three paychecks in one month. it's not like i am actually getting paid more, but it feels that way since i do our budget on a monthly basis. the end result is an "extra" paycheck which also amounts to some extra tithe money.

september was one of these months. add to it the fact that jesse has been giving tons of guitar lessons and all the orders that people have been requesting from me for sewed stuff, and we had a tidy little surplus to give away this month on top of the regular ministries that we support. it was like christmas. and i am santa, baby. i went on a giving spree.

to start with, one of the things i knew i wanted to do with this money was to support this girl, katie, a single, early-twenty-something year old american girl who has moved to uganda and adopted 14 (yup) orphaned daughters. her ministry feed and sends to school 350 ugandan children and runs a feeding program for 1200. what she does blows. my. mind.

through her devastating post here, i found another young american girl being jesus in uganda, and so some of our september money went flying out of "our" pockets and straight there too.

and then finally, katie wrote this post about a group of 20 grown women (she helps EVERYONE of all ages...seriously, she is jesus) who had formed a group that would get together and make paper bead necklaces as a way to try to earn a legitimate, sustainable living in seriously horrific conditions.

these necklaces cost $20, which pays the women who roll each individual bead by hand and then half of the profits go to supporting katie's ministry. i bought 2 of these. i am keeping one and giving one away as our giveaway 90 (for reaching 90 followers).

colorful? yup. since they have every color of the rainbow, they go with everything. and they are suuuuuper long so you can double or triple them up

sitting on my counter

this one is actually going to require more from you than a normal giveaway might and it's on the honor system. to enter you need to read the 3 things i linked to above as well as this one and this one (which actually links to background stories on this little boy that you'll wanna read).

so, yeah, that's a lot of reading for you just to enter a blog giveaway. but that's not even all you have to do. and seriously, after reading that stuff, you'll want to do more.

after you have read these stories of real, live, hurting people please pray for katie and the people she encounters and consider donating something to her ministry (there's a paypal link on the sidebar of her blog). considering that 42 cents gives a kid in her program two solid meals a day, it is not an overstatement to say that literally anything you can give would help them.

so yeah, that's a lot to do to win a necklace. but i am pretty sure it will have way cooler and farther-reaching ramifications than anything else i've ever given away on here if just one person enters.

i hope that someday soon i will have the courage and faith that she does to be jesus in incredibly real ways in incredibly dark places.

so to enter:

1. read the posts i have linked to above on katie's blog.
2. pray for or donate to her ministry.
3. leave a comment saying that you did both (you don't have to say how much or even if you gave money, just commenting will signify that you did 1 and 2).

extra entries for (leave a comment after you've done each one, for up to 3 total comments/entries):

-becoming a follower of her blog
-tweeting or blogging about her ministry

the computer will randomly pick a winner to receive the necklace on friday morning.

y'all are awesome about supporting me and the random stuff i write about on here so i know you will show up big time for something truly awesome like this and spread the story and the love even farther. and i know there are tons of other amazing people and ministries out there who are literally being jesus' hands in some tough places on this earth, and i would love to hear about any that y'all are passionate about.


this little piggy's stye

i get a lot of pleasure out of snarkily answering people who say to us, "judah needs a haircut, are you going to get one soon?" with a snotty little, "nope!" and a mildly brutal staredown daring them to push the issue further. 95% of these times are with my mom and dad. extra pleasure.

i love little boys running around with hippie hairstyles. when he gets old enough to care, we will let judah decide what kind of haircut he wants. i am fully prepared to let him wear pigtails, a mohawk or even the DJ Paulie D (provided i'm not the one to have to work the blow dryer and gel), but odds are that he will just want whatever haircut jesse has (lady hair it is!). so this may be the only time that i can make his hairstyle whatever i want. and why else would you have kids but to mold and shape them into exactly what you want, no?

okay, no.

so judah's hair is yea long right now:

my haircolor? i call it "sugar cookie"

full of hippie goodness and getting mistaken for a girl at 50% of public outings.

up until this point we have only ever taken the scissors to his bangs. this started at around 8 months old when it was getting in his eyes. every few weeks we trim the bangs to keep them from getting all crusty and eye-gooped. well, if you extend this pattern out indefinitely, you will end up with business in the front and party in the back: mulletus maximus. right now we are on the cusp: business casual in the front and informal get together in the back, mulletus minora.

and reason #2 cropped up just last week. because his bangs tickle his eyes (since we have stopped cutting them to prevent further mulletage) he rubs his eyes all the time. he does this anyway as a cue that he is tired, but the hair makes it way worse. and since he is turning into more and more of a grubby stinky little boy who gets into everything, his hands are dirty 95% of the time. well, last week he rubbed them so much and so often that he gave himself a wicked stye. a stye is pretty much like a zit on the inside part of your eyelid. yums! they aren't serious at all and just sort of feel like a bruise every time you blink. and they look pretty rough too, all red and puffy. i used to get these all the time as a kid and then again when i started wearing waterproof mascara in college that i would never actually remove using makeup remover, but instead by just getting into a eye-rubbing and itching frenzy (such frenzies are addictive, it feels so good to rub your eyes sometimes).

see how his left eye is red and puffy?

here's a better look:

so now i am thinking we're going to have to do a real haircut for the sake of judah's optical health. i am okay with it because we just had our last installment of judah's professional baby plan pictures (we didn't get a newborn session since we found our awesome photographer at 3 months), so the hippie-ness is documented for posterity. as far as the haircut, i am leaning towards not a professional one like at "snipitz" or"kidzcutz" or any other horrifically spelled baby barbers, since judah can't STAND being messed with by strangers. he loses his mind completely when the doctor shines the light in his ear and we shall never again speak of aspirating his nasal passages.

so i am thinking that it's going to have to be a sneak attack hair-by-hair ambush by me and jesse. perhaps a bowl will be involved. a camera certainly will. at least for before and afters.

while i love that judah has always had hair, it has always taken away a little of his baby-ness. it's hard to see a little kid walking around in khakis and a polo with the same haircut as tom brady as a baby and not a big boy. some of judah's contemporaries still just have the soft downy baby fuzz. but even if judah had newborn fuzz instead of the bieber, there's no mistaking him for a baby anymore with his toxic-smelling feet, burgeoning vocabulary ("chips, " "judah," and "red cup" are new developments), and new fascination with "adjusting" himself. yup, i wanted boys.



i am newly obsessed with making these pillows. putting together fun, colorful combinations of fabrics and making them into crisp square pillow-covers is very gratifying for me. hopefully someone out on the internet will want to buy them (from my etsy shop) because that would be a supply and demand match made in heaven in my opinion. however, if no one does, we can always use more soft things for judah to land on since is new favorite activity is climbing up our furniture and jumping off into space regardless of if anyone or anything is there to catch him or break his fall. i asked for a boy...


our forever song

i did this post for jesse on his birthday that included a quillion things i loved about him and funny memories and stuff. you may have noticed that i left #10, which song best fits how i feel about him, blank. that was an accident. i racked my brains all day, but couldn't think of anything good enough to put and then i really needed to post it and totally forgot that i hadn't answered that one.

well, it turned out to be quite lucky/providential because a few days later i posted all about a rock-bottom, marriage-changing blowout that we had. one of my blog buddies/friend-of-a-friends from real life, lacey, left a comment asking whether i had heard a song called "dancing in the minefields" by andrew peterson because, based on what i have written about marriage, she thought i might really like it.

fast forward 4 youtube-spent minutes later and i am crying at my desk at work and seriously considering how much of these lyrics to get tattooed on my body.

when she gave me the tip, i looked up the video on youtube. granted, jesus-musicians don't make the most cutting edge videos (kanye would probably never interrupt tay-sweezy to defend one), but don't let that throw you. and hang in there past the first verse, which is a little cheesy and doesn't probably fit most people, because the rest is freaking gold. this is now 100% me and jesse's song.

well I was 19 you were 21, the year we got engaged
everyone said we were much to young, but we did it anyway
we got the rings for 40 each from a pawnshop down the road
we said our vows and took the leap now 15 years ago

we went dancing in the minefields
we went sailing in the storms
and it was harder than we dreamed
but I believe that’s what the promise is for

well ‘I do’ are the two most famous last words; the beginning of the end
but to lose your life for another I’ve heard is a good place to begin
cause the only way to find your life is to lay your own life down
and I believe it’s an easy price for the life that we have found

and we’re dancing in the minefields
we’re sailing in the storm
and this is harder than we dreamed
but I believe that’s what the promise is for
that’s what the promise is for

so when I lose my way, find me
when I loose love's chains, bind me
at the end of all my faith
to the end of all my days
when I forget my name, remind me

cause we bear the light of the son of man
so there’s nothing left to fear
so I’ll walk with you in the shadow lands
'til the shadows disappear
cause he promised not to leave us,
and his promises are true
so in the face of this chaos baby,
i can dance with you

so lets go dancing in the minefields
lets go sailing in the storms
oh lets go dancing in the minefields
and kicking down the doors

oh lets go dancing in the minefields
and sailing in the storms
oh this is harder than we dreamed
but I believe that’s what the promise if for
that’s what the promise is for

i can't even begin to explain how perfect this song is for how i feel about marriage. "harder than we dreamed"? damn straight. if you've ever noticed under our picture in the sidebar, i have a marriage ticker that counts how long we've been married. it let me pick the background and the icons for us and i thought it was so funny that there was a swampland available as well as disco-clad figures. so i picked those long before i ever heard this song and subtitled our ticker, "disco dancing through the mire...together." well, andrew peterson found an even better way to describe it.

there are so many things about these lyrics that rock me, but far and away, the bridge is my favorite and slays me every time. so many of our fights can be boiled down to: 1, me trying to throw off the "chains" of the promise to love jesse no matter that i made and 2, forgetting my real name.

this so goes against the american and modern idea of being free and independent and beholden to no one but yourself, but the vows we made to god on the day we got married are chains. the "old ball and chain" is a way lame way to describe your wife and in spanish the word for wife is the same as the word for handcuff. we voluntarily chose to bind ourselves to one another in love, even and especially when we really feel like we hate each other. these are the times that i try to throw off the chains for a little while and "be free." when i want the right to just get to be a bitch to jesse and not have to be answerable or held down by any vow. these times are when i need to be bound up tightly by that same love i promised him all over again. just as the yoke of christ is light, the chains of selfless love in marriage are freeing. too bad neither feels that way when we are trying to be punk-asses.

and the part about forgetting my name is just gold for me. i wrote on our "putapuredukes?" page about why i gave the blog a different address than its title and that idea of fighting my tendency to be hard and unloving is tied up in my walk with christ. i love the idea that jesus gave me my true name because he knows my real heart and my identity in him better than i ever will until he tells me face to face. he has named me as his daughter, and that is not a title to be taken lightly. it's one that crushes me beneath his grace and drowns me in redeeming love. it's one that fills up all the holes and breaks in my with his glory. this is the identity and name that i forget when the world, my pride and the devil fill up my vision instead of him. this the minefield that i am a bloodied casualty of when i go defenselessly blundering into it in anger or fear or laziness. it is a sacred and intimate role that jesse has as my husband to remind me of my name and to point my back to my inheritance of jesus. getting this role right is pretty much the hardest and best part about being married.

mostly i just love how this is a song about marriage that doesn't deify the one you love, but instead the one who first loved us. it's not a song we sit and listen to while we stare in adoration at each other. it's one that we sing side-by-side as we praise the god who gave us a partner for the small time that we have to live in this war zone, and who, more importantly, authored the story and paid the price that mean we don't have to stay in it forever.

thanks lacey, thanks andrew, thanks jesse.

thanks jesus.


kanye's the only loser here.

ok guys, you'd have to be a lunatic if you don't agree with me that my dad's phone-in entry for the captioning contest was the far and away winner. seriously, it demolished anything that i could ever think up.

yes, it's redonkulously funny on its own, but earns even more points when you realize that my dad is the least tuned-in-to-pop-culture human of anyone alive. his thoughts, meditations and interests are 100% highbrow sophistication, so the fact that he even knew about this slayed me directly out of my chair. he must have been intellectually slumming it the day he found out about the VMA drama from last year.

pop pop and judah doing something they apparently did all summer long: assisted volvo hiking up the back of the vehicle to play with the garage door motor. heartily endorsed by both triple-A and the american academy of pediatrics.

so here's what the final product looks like:

"yo... imma let you finish, but beyonce had one of the best music videos of all time"

so yeah. headmaster vincent quoting kanye wins. HOWEVER, my dad is mortified by the thought of someone crying foul, and thinks it "looks bad" that he won even though it's my blog and i can do whatever i want and it's not like internal affairs is going to investigate me. though i would have picked that caption as the winner if osama bin laden had submitted it (i WISH). PLUS i couldn't get my dad to use a cutesy keyfob if the fate of the entire western world depended on it soooooooo...

i get to pick an actual prize winner. this was hard. i definitely loved all the submissions that made judah an opera star, power-ballad diva, ringmaster, worship leader and of course the ever-inspirational lady gaga (love you, KK). yall definitely captured his entire stance, facial expression and demeanor with these gems.

a veeeeeery close runner up for the prize is miss kara n. with her eric claption (get it? clapton + caption) from the song "layla" which we actually love (acoustic version, please). she made the lyrics fit the picture and our family so perfectly. loved it!

but the ultimate winner by a photo finish (get it? i am on a roll) would have to be someone who went in the direction i thought fit the pic perfectly from the beginning: opera singer. and even though there were 3 or 4 great ones, i have to give it to TIFFANY for her "FIGAROO, IHAVEPOO, YESIDO" caption. rhyming diaper humor with high culture is always a hit in my book.

what really put her over the top besides her hilarious caption was that she actually named our new car perfectly way back when i asked yall for suggestions on that. that was supposed to have been a surprise giveaway for the best one of those, but SURPRISE! i forgot. the kia has been sirius black ever since. and YES it did come with sirus radio, not even XM or their merged lovechild, but specifically SIRIUS.

way to go tiff! congrats on being double clever. you can manage all of my projects any time. let me know which keychain you want!

thanks to everyone who played. i know it's scary putting yourself out there like that.

and speaking of putting yourself out there, there is a new blog feature, incaseyoudidn'tnotice. there are now pages at the top under our header that better break up the content of the blog and offer some basic info to anyone who's just joining us. i will be adding more to these shortly. thanks to joanna for spotting these and already commenting. the cockles of my heart are ever-warmed.


him & her

judah is starting to show interest in the belly. i don't think he knows what a baby is, so we try not to confuse him by telling him, "there's a baby in there." we figure, once the baby's out, he'll figure out what one is, loud and clear.

but he can identify, "where's the belly?" and really enjoys poking, patting and kissing my belly. also sticking his finger in my belly button. kind of weird. but cute.

layla looking about 3 times bigger than judah

going for the face-planted smooch

weekly belly updates from the past 2 weeks:

30 weeks: cabbage. i kind of hate cabbage in every way and this sucker was almost 4 lbs. which would have cost about $3 and i was not going to do it just for the picture. so i had to abduct this guy temporarily and take him to a deserted aisle to take the picture. except i got so totally busted by a stock boy coming around the corner with my shirt up and camera in hand. i felt like such a perverted deviant with some kind of weird produce-fixation. please understand, random teenage boy!

week 31: she is 3.3 lbs which is as much as 4 navel oranges. weird. you'd think they could find a singular piece of produce to compare to instead of 4 oranges. those were not easy to hold. however, in my belly it actually does feel and look like 4 oranges rolling and gamboling around in there.

check out judah's full extension to reach his little sister's stand-ins. i love it.

i think a lot about how layla's birth is going to change things for judah. i know for sure that in the long run it will be 100% positive and they will be tight for life best buddies. but i worry about his little world being rocked by this new creature in the house at first. and i especially get nervous about his reaction when jesse tries to love on her. the upside of judah being such a daddy's boy is that hopefully i will be able to breastfeed her in peace without upsetting him too much or him coming over and trying to latch onto the other one out of jealousy.

it's such a miracle to me that we were made with these ever-expanding hearts and that i am going to love her as much as judah as soon as i set eyes on her. because it just seems impossible right now that anything could reach judah-status in our hearts. i go back and forth wanting to literally protect her from his toddzilla (toddler godzilla) ways and protect him mentally from her in terms of the shock. hopefully our love as parents and jesus' love for all of us will be more than enough to cover and protect everyone's little hearts and bodies through this transition.

i can't wait to have a whole extra permutation of someone to love and be loved in our little family. everyone gets an extra family member to make a relationship with. she's a lucky girl to get to have such a cool big brother as judah. and we are so fortunate to have her. about 8 weeks to go. holy flippin!



some of my favorite stuff to make comes from folks asking me if i can make them something custom. taking on projects that i never would have thought of on my own is a really cool process. so when jesse's cousin, erica, wrote me asking me to make a gift for one of her co-workers, i was totally bouty-bout it.

her friend is expecting boy and girl twins in october and she wanted to give him something one (two) of a kind and unique. the babies' names are alli and vincent and she wanted something with and A and a V on them. other than that, she kind of turned me loose. it was intimidating and empowering all at once to have full blown creative license.

i have been kind of realizing that i am more of a seamstress (using the term loosely) than a designer (yes, watching project runway this week with ivy made me think in these terms). this means that i am good at taking other people's ideas, patterns, and tutorials and completing them myself, but don't have much in the tank when it comes to just creating all by myself.

so i was pleasantly surprised when i almost instantly got the idea for these. it was something that i hadn't seen anywhere before (well, i have seen necktie appliques for boy's t-shirts before) and i came up with a plan to execute it start to finish. suck it, ivy! i'm a designer. these little onesies celebrate the fact that yes, these kids are twins, but also that one is a boy and one a girl.

a necktie and necklace pair! i love these because they are totally matching because of the dot-theme, but also completely different in color and design

they say boys are easier...

...and in this case it was definitely true. i made 2 tie-shaped cutouts, one in the dot fabric and one slightly bigger in navy blue. i interfaced them together and then topstitched both layers onto the onesie. then i cut out a "v" in the navy fabric and interfaced and stitched it onto the tie as well. lickety splickety. fairly easy and straightforward.

and then the drama of a little girl.

to make her necklace i had to cutout all those little interfaced circles in pink and again in purple and iron them on the onesie and then hand stitch the pink and purple layers down one by one. i was not confident in my machine sewing ability to navigate 20 tiny circles and risk another unintentional lace-making fiasco.

and then the font i picked for the "v" was the one i had to use for the "a" to keep them matching and, shizz o' dizzle, was that little "a" a massive doosie. the curves, the swoops, that hole! it was nearly the death of me. next time i will use a knit instead of a woven cotton because it wanted to unravel so bad while i was cutting out all those little details. but in the end it was totally worth it because it just looks so fem-chic. definitely going to have to make one for layla boo.

i can't wait for erica to send me a picture of the babes in these. because the only thing cuter than newborn baby onesies is real babies inside of newborn baby onesies.

and just a glimpse of what life might be like if i had twins:


mic check

maybe the best spontaneous moment i have ever captured on camera. i have no clue where he learned this. this was the first time he's ever been given a mic. he hasn't seen jesse do this since jesse uses a mic stand on sundays when he leads worship and not a wireless. apparently judah's been sneaking in to some operas or something.

there are too many funny ways to caption this. so how about you do it for me? best one gets a free keychain from my etsy shop?

oh man. this neeeeeeds a great caption. lay them on me, people.

so this will officially be giveaway 85 (we're doing one giveaway for every 5 followers until we hit 100.)

how to enter:

just leave a comment with your caption for this photo... feel free to leave multiple comments if you have multiple ideas, since it's merit-based and not random, it won't give an unfair advantage, so unload all of your witty, punny and ironic right here.

we'll pick the best caption on wednesday night and announce the winner thursday.


now and then

one of the most fun parts of our trip to mexico last weekend was remembering back to our first visit on our honeymoon and comparing this trip to that one: how the resort had changed (even better!), how we have grown (in both senses), what little naive nerds we were last time who didn't know to go out early and reserve the best pool beds or to space out meals and room service just right to get the maximum intake of food compared to the cagey resort veterans we are now who reveled in telling anyone who asked, "no, it's not our first time here."

when we were taking some pictures this time, i found myself saying, "i think we took one just like that on our honeymoon." without even trying, we actually recreated to a chilling degree several snapshots. but when i went back looking at both sets it was fun to see how much has changed and how much hasn't, so i put together a bunch of pairs of then and now.

join me, won't you?

as before, the drinks are unlimited and come in all flavors and colors, but our favorite is still: red. based on jesse's scarlet pout this time though, it looks like the drinks are even redder now.

they still have roaming minstrels, armed with woodwinds, who will serenade you during dinner

we still take goober-y, towel-swathed self-portraits of ourselves after swimming, but the blue towels are way cooler looking then the old green ones they had...and bigger (which worked out well since we are too...welcome, jowls)

the beach and ocean are still amazingly gorgeous, but really hard to photograph from arm's reach away and just don't do justice to the actual tuquoisity of the water.

jesse is still happy to pound some gourmet breakfast buffet at our favorite restaurant on the resort. and the tropical flowers on the table still amplify his beauty.

they are still all about sending messages of love from the kitchen to celebrate your current events ("happy birthday kathleen" is a favorite memory from my 24th bday our first night ever at the resort). kind of cool to see your life's progress charted out in chocolate font, from "happy honeymoon senores dukes" to "congratulations" on our upcoming second born.

jesse still loves to find the most embarrassing ways to enter a body of water. i continue to be simultaneously mortified and in love with this behavior, and to remain on dry land doubled over in laughter until he surfaces, so sheepishly amused by himself for not caring what anyone thinks.

the beach beds are still the absolute shizz and we spent many an hour reading and snoozing in them. jesse read over 1500 pages of harry potter this time. we would move from the pool beds to the beach beds (the whole vacation was pretty much just moving from bed to bed and meal to meal) at about 3 pm, when the swim up bar patrons started getting drunker and louder. the ocean provides the perfect white noise to drown everything else out and the perfect steady breeze to cut the afternoon heat. (haha same purse!)

the oversized chess pieces have a new design but are still in full effect. they remain more charming as a concept than as actual game pieces that you have to pick up and move around (kind of a pain). in 2006 i showed my absence of saddlebags and in 2010 and i showed my devotion to my white knight

this is just freaking weird how identical these pics are. the 24 hour room service is still off the chain. jesse is still massively adorable with his bedhead and in his chosen jammy-jams of shorts and undershirt (hey, it looks like that shirt must have shrunk up a bit in the last 4 years. ha)

you can still lamely ask a neighboring couple to take pictures for you so they aren't all solo or self-taken shots. this can backfire if they interpret this as a desire to become "vacay-buddies" i'm looking at you, canadians. no, i do not want to go on a jungle excursion with you!

hmmm. though many things endure, abs change.

jesse is still a focused artist in the pottery hut as we make love-vase #2. (fun shameful fact. i once threw love-vase #1 at jesse's retreating butt during a first year nuclear fight and it didn't shatter when it hit the tile floor. symbolic of our love. a sign that our marriage has come a long way: i am 100% positive love-vase #2 will never be wielded as a hate-filled projectile.)

the grounds are still immaculate and we do our best to resist the squinty-eyed burn of the caribbean sun in our eyes

something that will never change: jesse is still my #1 draft-pick, best friend, hero, and love of my life who i am so incredibly lucky to get to spend all my days with. i thought all that stuff back then. but i know it now.


how it all went down

the idea: the trip was booked in april. i knew i wanted to do something for our anniversary in october and started planning early. we take turns on planning the anniversary celebration each year and mine are the evens (since i planned year 0, that's how it started). i was looking at cruises from back as early as february and march because we have never been on one, but that got shot down pretty swiftly when i realized that cruiselines don't let pregnant chicks past 24 weeks on board. that's actually a great policy; you'd be better off in an underdeveloped country probably with a preemie than on a ship in the middle of the ocean with no way out.

ever since we got back from our honeymoon we have pretty regularly relived how amazing of a trip it was. the views, the food, the room...everything. i would say at least monthly we would dreamily reminisce about our week in paradise and fantasize about a return voyage one day. but we always had in our heads that it would be way out of the question financially to go back since jesse's parents had generously given us a week of their timeshare to use towards the room fee and all we had to pay was for the flight and all-inclusive charges the first time around.

but when i looked on a wild whim at it in april, i realized it really wouldn't be that bad at all considering ALL food, drinks, tips and taxes were included. i got the resort to knock off 10% since we were return customers and the rate for september was the cheapest of the whole year because that's the carribean hurricane season. since i am the grand budgeteer of the family, allocating the funds to pay for it all without jesse noticing was super easy. we had both signed up for skymiles cards just to get the 20,000 mile bonuses when we were planning to go to NYC with lena and elliot before i got pregnant. it ended up giving us $400 off our tickets. superfly!

the surprise element of it all came in because of lena and elliot. elliot proposed to lena on a 100% surprise trip to NYC. she had no clue she was going anywhere. someone else packed her bag for her and convinced her to go to the airport for a fictional pickup and what do you know? there's elliot with tickets to new york, her favorite place on earth. shortly after they got married, lena got him back with another surprise trip to chicago. they both said that the surprises were so worth the secret keeping and work that went into them and that giving the surprise was more fun than even receiving it. so i had experienced and talented accomplices locked down.

the plan: the first draft of the plan was to make it 100% a surprise so that jesse didn't know we were going ANYWHERE. i went ahead and requested his time off from work and arranged for someone else at church to do his part of the worship that week. i was going to pack his entire bag and somehow attempt to keep him from scheduling any youth events for 5 days straight. sometime around june i started panicking and realized this was too much to take on. i am so glad i did because there were commitments that he had that i didn't even know about and wouldn't have known to work around that would have dumped a major stressball into his lap along with a surprise.

so lena and i came up with a decoy trip. it had to be something less than ultra-glam so that by comparison, mexico would really shine. it would have sucked if he had been like, "oh, than we're not going to the lake? bummer, that was going to be the best 4 days of my life." years of being a huge antisocial flake paid off when lena and elliot invited us and i totally waffled and was like, "ugh, i hate murky water and i'm gonna be so fat at that point and i can't believe we're wasting 4 days of babysitting on a group trip where we'll eat hamburgers and sandwiches." it was awesome. because i dogged it so hard that he couldn't have been too excited. plus when he got shoulder surgery in august that totally ruled out him getting to do any tubing or wakeboarding or skiing on this fictional trip and i brought that up many times.

we set up the babysitting with our awesome moms but didn't even tell them where we were going. they knew i was planning a surprise from the beginning, but the less everyone knew, the better. the catch here was that linda has a policy that she won't keep grandkids for international trips unless we have a legal will. ugh. so i was gonna just sneak out of the country since i didn't have to tell her beforehand where we were going, but decided the day before that that was tacky and crappy. so i quickly went to legalzoom and ordered our wills. it's just good to have that any way and i am glad that i honored my mother in laws wishes and wasn't a sneaky fugitive.

so here's what jesse thought was happening. we were leaving on friday morning to head up to south carolina. we would have judah with us and meet my mom in atlanta to drop him off. a few days before departure we "found out" that lena was going to be flying in that friday morning from one of her frivolous little trips that she was so spoiled to always get to go on. jesse thought we were just picking her up at the airport as a favor and then heading out of town, dropping judah, grabbing elliot from work and heading up to the lake to meet the others. we were supposed to be going with 3 other couples total, one of total strangers from elliot's work (another chance for me to complain...i fear new people) and another couple much younger than us that we sort of know. we were going to buy groceries, cook all of our meals (jesse was NOT excited about that) and just hang out on the lake for 4 days before heading back tuesday afternoon. it was a beautiful fiction.

here's what really went down: our flight left at 11 am on friday. the "pickup" of lena was just the excuse to get jesse to the airport. "her" bag that she had with her was actually one of our big roller suitcases filled with non-lake type clothes nested inside another one so that we could transfer our stuff from the lake duffel bags we had packed after the surprise was revealed (i could really get him to pack a big square roller case to take to the lake, that might have drawn some suspicion). so i gave the bags to lena the week before and she rode marta from grad school down to the airport. with them to make it look like she had flown in with her won luggage. brilliant.

we would pull up to get her and as i was loading "her" bag in the car and jesse was clearing the backseat for her, she would casually mention my funny blog post from that morning. i would tell jesse to pull it up on his phone and rad it real quick, and therein he would read the truth and then lena would take our car until we got back, along with judah before passing him off to my mom that afternoon. we would be on our way.

the scares: i had to get a new passport in my married name since i bought the tickets under dukes because i used our skymiles cards with my married name on it instead of my maiden name, which is how my passport was still registered. that was a HUGE ordeal involving marriage certificates, trips to courthouses and the like, none of which i could tell jesse about.

sometime in july after my new one came i was trying to secure both passports and spirit them away to work to keep safe from him (i lied to him and said we had gotten a safety deposit box) when i realized his passport was missing from its normal place. i asked him ever so nonchalantly about it, and he was like, "oh i don't know, i had it when i went to mexico for work, but it's not like i'm gonna need it again for a looooong time. it will turn up." i about vomited. once again though, years of controlling type-A-ness came in handy as i said, "hmm, you should really track that down so we have it in a safe place." and then squashed the desire the next few days to ask him about it every 5 seconds. he eventually found it in the attic and it came to live at work with me for the next few months.

on the way up to atlanta to pass off the bags to lena the week before, i had convinced jesse that we should take the kia so elliot and lena could see it for the first time. this was because it has an actual trunk versus just the back area of the saturn which would have been very visible jammed with our big bag. while jesse was at church that morning, i packed up all of our nice clothes (including my home made dress which of course lena got out and tried on in the privacy of her own home later that week) and put the suitcase in the trunk. while we were loading judah into the kia, i hit the trunk release button to put in his stroller thinking it would just unlock like the volvo used to. but oh no, it fully flew open, with jesse standing right there, exposing the suitcase sitting there in the back. i just started incoherently screaming about the security of judah carseat and directing jesse to check it again. again, he didn't suspect because i am pretty spazzy and yelly on normal days. crisis averted

the day of: i had no trouble keeping the secret for the first 5 months. i planned it all, made all the reservations and put it out of my mind (except for a countdown calendar on my igoogle homepage that i passed off as "days until viable layla"). the week of when i actually had to start thinking about it was when i about lost my mind suppressing the urge to talk to him about it or say things like, "when we're at the beach..."

that morning we were all packed for the "lake" and i had put myself on verbal lockdown. i forgot about 6 different things before we got out of the driveway and had to keep running back inside. the worst was when i forgot my fleece socks to wear on the plane and i made something up about forgetting vitamins as i ran inside. once i had the socks i realized i couldn't just go out there with them and no pills, so i shoved the socks down my underwear and grabbed a bottle of advil. then jesse tried to get me to log into my gmail account on his phone to look up some address we needed and i about lost it since my gmail and blogger accounts are linked and i couldn't risk him seeing the blog post that was scheduled to go live at 9 am just as we hit the airport. he asked me what my new password was and why i had changed it and i babbled some nonsense and all of a sudden "remembered" the address we needed without needing to login. it was not smooth. he actually said, "wow, somebody had an extra helping of crack for breakfast" before we were even out of the driveway. cue nervous spastic laughter from me. i was unraveling.

on the way up i realized we were about 10 minutes early so i fabricated a bathroom emergency and had him stop a few exits ahead of time. i sneaked his phone into my pocket so he wouldn't go internetting around and realizing that i had also revoked his blog privileged to keep him away from the surprise post. by the time i went inside, i was so twisted up and nervous that i really did have a bathroom emergency. i was frantically texting lena from my stall that i was losing it and she was trying to say how nervous she was and that marta was scary or some other nonsense. i had to textually shake her and remind her that i had way more at stake in this and she needed to be "my rock." drama was high in the mcdonalds bathroom that day, my friends.

so we got back on the road, jesse wondering why i had taken his phone AND mine inside (oopsie, again). we had the most boring conversation of our existence about the composition of hay versus straw (at least i knew it was a safe topic) and then we rolled up to the airport. at this point i am refreshing his phone's internet browser like crazy because the clock says 9 am and everything is contingent upon him reading the letter that i blogged to him. it was supposed to be up AT 9 am and it wasn't showing. i told him to pull over and slow down because lena wasn't out of baggage claim yet and we didn't want to have to circle around again as i am sweating and freaking out that the post hasn't published. then he goes, "oh, there's lena." i about died. she was going to start talking about a post that wasn't there and everything would come crashing down. bowel cramps of fear and dread. one more desperate refresh and, at the buzzer, there it is. nick of flipping time.

as we pull up lena is videotaping. jesse was like, "okay, and shes filming for some reason," and i was like, "yeah, she said she was going to do this all weekend with her fancy new flip camera...you know how she is." (it must be said that many of the weird things got explained by just throwing lena under the bus "she's so spoiled and gets to travel all the time," "she has a nice new camera," "she and elliot have to invite people we don't know," etc. she is uber trooper.)

as we pull up, jesse goes to just put the car in park and let lena throw her bag in and then hop in next to judah. i was like, "dude, get out and help her with her bag, be a gentleman." then he gets the bag, but i needed him to be talking to her so i took it from him and went and hid in the trunk, transferring our stuff while i told him to clear out the backseat to make room for her. that's when lena started reciting her lines flawlessly as i cringed in dread and watched the endgame unfold.

so here's the footage. i must say, i was expecting an extreme home makeover type of reaction, and mostly just go obstinate disbelief from jesse. watching this video makes me so stressed because that was the tensest moment of my life. because he was so disoriented about the lake, he was unable to really absorb the mexican happy part of the whole deal while his little matrix was crumbling around him. some tears and jumping would have been nice, but i can't blame him.

my absolute favorite part is hearing lena talk like a parent videotaping on christmas morning getting the kids to open up something awesome from santa, "oh what does it say?" like, "oh what's that gift over there in the corner, timmy? santa must have put it there." freaking priceless. a big part of getting him to really believe it was that i handed him our boarding passes and passports right as he looked up. i seriously think that he just though i was messing with him and being mean in that post.

so we emptied the duffel bags into the big suitcases while blubbering about how hard it was to keep a secret and how he totally didn't suspect anything, turned the keys over to lena, kissing a sleeping judah goodbye and headed off to our adventure.

i have no idea what happened in the next hour because i was having a physical reaction of relief to unloading this secret. i couldn't think or speak clearly, i may have tried to check my luggage at a shoe shining station and i was seriously shaking. jesse took a good 40 minutes before he actually believed what was happening so we just zombied our way around the airport for a bit. jesse told me i could totally cheat on him for years without him having a single clue and i was like, "yeah right, that was a happy wonderful blessing of a secret i was keeping and it nearly destroyed me, i could never keep a bad one from you." we both agreed that he is so go with the flow and unquestioning that it made it very easy, whereas he NEVER could have pulled this off on me because i am such a nosy fact-checker by nature.

i am so glad we were able to pull this off for him and that the surprise lasted for so long. it was a huge payoff once he truly believed and getting to hear jesse tell everyone we met in mexico about the surprise really made me feel awesome. i am so glad it is all over though. i am not cut out for subterfuge and deceit. i am the most hopelessly transparent and honest to a fault person alive and i have zero bluffing skills, so this took years off of my life. thank god i can now go back to living with no filter or censoring.

that is more detail than anyone could have ever wanted, but after all that work and planning and stress, i wanted to record every detail for posterity. pictures from the trip coming soon. though there aren't many. free at last, free at last, hallelujah, i am free at last!

**look how much we've changed in four years: pictures from both trips side by side!**