group costume 2k11

sushifam was 2009. volleyfam was 2010. with this esteemed legacy to live up to, 2011 became the year of georgefam. this was the first year that judah had a say in what he would wear, and therefore how the rest of us would match him. when he said he wanted to be, "joe-gie!" the rest just sort of fell in around him.

lots of people know curious george. and most of those people would also readily recognize his friend/roomate/owner, the man in the yellow hat. but it would take a huge fan of the PBS show (we=HUGE fans...if the kids had a 3rd parent, it would be george. those little 30 minute episodes have been nuggets of sanity for us on many a day), to recognize gnocchi the cat and professor wiseman.

gnocchi is the little kitty pet of the italian chef pisghetti. she is allergic to flowers and taste tests all of the chef's new dishes.

professor wiseman works at the museum and is the man in the yellow hat's ersatz boss. he is her errand boy, researcher, and friend. they have a CUH-RAZY, ross-and-rachel style sexual tension that explodes off of the screen. these two belong together.

the man in the yellow hat, professor wiseman, george and gnocchi.

enter 2 pm today. the halloween festival we were going to started at 5:30. i had done precisely NOTHING for these costumes beyond buying a brown wig for $2 at joann and borrowing an 18 month monkey costume from our friends. i hadnt even thought about HOW to pull off the rest of the ensemble. i had to make layla a kitty, me a professor and jesse the man in the yellow hat using only what was in our house.

here's what we dug up: layla wore every piece of khaki clothing she owns right down to her khaki colored fuzzy boots.

i made her the fleece cat-ear hat in about 20 minutes using a modified pattern of a hat i once made judah and some leftover khaki fleece from my first ever joann purchase wherein i bought yards upon yard of fleece for some reason.

little fleece tail safety pinned on her pants. sharpie stripe accents. we painted a pink nose on and tried to draw on whiskers with a marker. she HATED it and the whiskers smeared everywhere, but the idea was evident. and the pink nose was adorable. strip of blue scrap fabric for gnocchi's neck ribbon.

people didnt get exactly who layla was, but they did recognize that she was a tiny adorable kitten running around smiling at the universe.

jesse's hat was tricky and utterly ghetto-rigged together. cardboard brim painted yellow, the cone of the hat sewn and stuffed with poly-fill and a black strip of fabric tied around. i made this while jesse was still at work and had to use a baseball hat of his to guess his head/hair size. it's pretty brutal in the back, but does the job up front. it is the cornerstone of his outfit and the most recognizable item in the entire group ensemble, and we pulled it off pretty well.

yellow shirt and fabric clip on tie with sharpie-d dots.

he also sported khaki pants tucked into his carhart work boots. kids LOVED jesse. so many would just run up to him going, "the man in the yellow hat! i love you!" it was unreal.

judah was not 100% comfy in his much too small costume. if the hat part was up, the crotch dug into him too much. the monkey feet were about-capri length. but he was snuggly and that curly tail was perfect.

ok. i got all of them set and then turned to my own costume. i was excited to be a real human this year and not the most ridiculous laugh-at-able person in the bunch. i wore some khakis (didnt realize until later that she wears blue pants), one of jesse's blue dress shirts buttoned up and tucked in and then one of his white dress shirts untucked and pinned strategically to look like a labcoat. i added a nametag and some pens in the breast pocket. i threw on my real glasses and the $2 wig to complete the picture. it made for quite the look.

why, oh why.

the good news is that i was literally unrecognizable. several of our good friends and even my sister in law sat there talking to jesse wondering who the creeper chick who wasnt respecting his personal space was. my sister in law, jackie, even said to jesse, "so where is keight?" after i had been trying to force her to make eye contact with me while she talked to him and pointedly didnt look my way. i slowly grabbed her and turned her toward me. she shrieked. it was AWESOME. my nieces were a little freaked at first, but then thought i was just pretty funny looking. NOBODY knew who professor wiseman was or got that i was part of the george ensemble. rock on.

the kids had a blast, i met a lovely blog reader (hi jordan!) who talked to me in public despite my outfit, judah got some great candy that jesse and i will eat in the coming weeks, and yet another home-made group halloween ensemble goes into the history books.

and i feel like this wig might really pay for itself on another holiday...i am clearly a dead sexy bobbed brunette, and will be sporting this look for valntine's 2k12.

onward to november!

the power of the pin

the sum of trying to be more deliberate with the food i stuff down my gullet, coupled with a timely publix sale and some wishful thinking left me holding the cold, stumpy green end of a broccoli bush one night and sporting a hardcore pair of skeptical eyebrows.

i HATE broccoli. the only way i have ever come close to enjoying it is in a vegetable tray, cold, and doused with some fat-based cream sauce.and even then i'd have to be really hungry. even as a kid i used to just swallow it whole like a vitamin (despite copious amounts of microwaved cheee-whiz...good try, mom) so i could get up from the table.

but dammit if that vile weed isnt really good for you. also, jesse really loves it and never gets it at home (broccoli is the only noun that fits in the previous sentence, i assure you) so i pulled out my magic wand, pinterest, and searched for a cure.

if you dont know about/use/understand pinterest, you probably hate me and this blog by now. but rest assured, i wouldnt repeat myself post after post if it wasnt the bomb. think of it as my 3rd child: it's in my daily life and i love and treasure it, so naturally, you are going to hear it mentioned here. also: TRY IT OUT!

i found a really braggy recipe that claimed that it was like biting into steak and pinned it on my own "eat me!" board. here is the pin to the recipe.

this blogger's recipe was an adapted barefoot contessa one, but she cut corners and eliminated nonsense fancy people ingredients (julienned fresh basil? get a freaking grip, ina!), my kind of gal!

here is our batch (one stump's worth):

broccoli is not the most photogenic gal in the flora kingdom. she's more like the sturdy dependable friend you you want at the bottom your cheerleading and/or food pyramid

not gonna lie, y'all. it was really good. the key is that it just tastes like delicious roasted garlic, lemon zest, and parmesan cheese. the only broccoli features that come through are the health-benefits and the texture.

we have made this 3 times in the last 2 weeks. really easy, and really good. i cant even believe what has happened to me.

if you're listening, colon, you'd better show me some love...this is all for you!


falloween party! (and pinspiration)

today is the fall festival and halloween party at the kids' preschool. the teachers asked volunteers to come in and work each class's booth in the gym where games and candy were being offered for all of the classes. since i work, i knew i couldn't be there in person, so i volunteered to send in goodies for judah's class party.

enter pinterest. i had most of these ideas already on my holiday board from previous pin-browsing sessions so it was just a matter of pulling them up and making them happen. can we talk about what a cool resource pinterest is in situations like this?!?!

check out the fall bounty i created from these pins:

cocoa krispie spider treats, nutter butter chocolate acorns, cookie witch hats and owl cupcakes.

the hands-on time for all 4 of these projects was maybe 1 hour. i did all of them except for the spiders yesterday during the kids' naps. the spiders were the most time consuming and tricky.

a few notes if you want to tackle these for your halloween party:

the owls:

1. buy real oreos. since you need the icing to come off clean on one side, it's worth the extra 50 cents. i used walmart brand and had to slide a knife between each one to make sure the cream came off in one piece. and even then i had to piece the cream back into a circle a few times. i know from experience that brand name oreos do this cleaner and dont leave cookie specks behind which make your owls seem to have chocolate cataracts

2. since the cute little faces (seriously, how cute are they?) are the focal point, you want it to not slide off. when my cupcakes came out of the over they had risen and were really rounded and domed on top. so as soon as i took them out i put a sheet pan on top of them and stuck my heavy (and dirty) pyrex on top to smush it down as they cooled.

cupcakes getting regulated on up under in there

a much better playing field to make owl faces on. (notice i didnt use the requisite black liners. i already had balloon ones and it just wasnt worth it)

the acorns:

totally cute and so simple since the nutter butters come with the adhesive already applied (the PB) and the acorn-like texture on top. the annoying part is unwrapping all the kisses. carpal tunnel, much? the little circle nutter butters (as opposed to the peanut shaped ones) come in the boxes of individually wrapped snack packs (that you might throw in a kids lunch box)

i got regular chocolate chips instead of the more expensive mini chips that they called for and it threw off the proportions a bit, but still will look like an acorn to a 2 year old, thankyouverymuch.

i used a little glob of cupcake icing on a toothpick to adhere the chips to the cookies.

really, nutter butter inc.? yall are putting out a ridiculous percentage of inside out cookies! this was annoying because i needed the peanut-patterned side to NOT have peanut butter on it since it was the acorn top. but there were still plenty in my 4 snack packs to give me my 30 or so acorns.

the spiders:

these were the most labor intensive. confession: i have never made rice krispie treats before.

i didnt even know mallow could melt like this! bonkers.

the instructions said to push the cereal down into the pan to get it compact and level for the cookie cutter. but it just kept sticking to my hands and being awful. enter my trusty pyrex again:

i sprayed the bottom of the pyrex with pam and just ran it over the top like a steam roller. nonstick, compressed perfection!

putting the pretzle stick legs on these guys was annoying and tricky since you had to push so hard to make the holes that you could snap the pretzels. also since i made mine before hand, lots of the sticks slowly sagged and then fell out of the mallow in the 2 days that they sat in their tupperware. lame...but kind of cool and creepy for halloween.

i didnt have a 2-inch circular cookie cutter so i used some circular jagged saw-drill attachment from jesse's toolkit with menacing teeth. i honestly didnt need a cutter at all since these treats are basically modelling clay and you can just use your hands to shape them just as well.

i made my spiders' pupils with dots of nutella instead of the icing pen they suggested

the witch hats:

so easy. i just used a glob of the chocolate icing that i already had for the cupcakes and the acorns and plopped it on the bottom of the kiss and then squished it down. they recommended some special colored icing but i couldnt do it just for an orange rim around the hat.

some of the icing came through the hole in the cookies, but who cares? it's halloween! let them get covered in sugar and chocolate and damn the consequences....this one day a year.

now onto the real treats...the kids. for their school parties, we kind of phoned it in. we have set the bar pretty high with the home-made, group costumes since becoming a family (see: volley fam and sushi fam for proof) and plan to continue this tradition as long as it embarrasses us more than the kids. but that isnt until halloween.

for the kids' parties i just dug through all the hand me down costumes and clearance ones i have snagged up in the last few years. the results were underwhelming and didnt leave a lot of choice.

4T alligator
2T giraffe
6-9 mo hotdog (with no leg holes)
4T GI Joe man
12-18 mo buzz lightyear

judah went with buzz despite highwaters out the wazoo and crotch-snaps that bust open every time he sits down. i was laughing so hard snapping him up because he doesnt know how to suck in his belly and that thing was pushing so hard against me as i tried to get him in there.

i laughed again when i realized that he wore the exact same thing last year to halloween at school:
note how the booties fit on his feet and the pants reach the floor. i seriously cant believe he was that small a year ago when i see him in the costume now.

i had to cut open the little booties and just stick them over the tips of his sneakers as his "boots."

we did all this last night right before bed. i felt kind of bad that i would be sending him to school in an ill-fitting cheapo repeat costume. but whatever. he is 2 and i am NOT buying nice costumes. then he gave me an opportunity to make it better: he started asking for and eventually demanding wings.

got a piece of cardboard, some paints, and 2 pieces of elastic out, and one episode of wild kratts later, i had some totally rocking buzz wings.

let's just ignore the capri-pants on the spacesuit. he looks awesome!

and then he stood like this for 45 seconds no matter what we said to him. it was funny. i think he was trying to pout but then it turned into secret laughter.

naturally with NO intentional planning, judahs best buddy logan shows up as a cowboy to go with judah's spaceman. they are hive mind.

you've got a friend in me (pay no attention to the boy peeking threateningly over judah's wing. that's arsh and judah LOVES him too, he just wasnt on theme for this pic)

and then there's layla. relegated to the only thing that would fit her (though i TOTALLY should have just cut legs in the hot dog...damn that would have been funny), the 2T giraffe.

this girl could literally not be funnier. a montage:

trying to lift a 4 lb pumpkin. jesse tries to help her as she drops it a few times.

"BACK OFF! nobody help me. i GOT this!"

"told ya"

to the victor go the spoils: a mouthful of hearty pumpkin stem.

i thought this was maybe gross since who knows how many hands picked up that pumpkin by it's handle before we bought it? and plus, ew, stem!

so i got up and went over to take it back from her.

she saw me coming:


watching that little fugitive giraffe mane and tail with those chubby pale legs scurry away with a gourde weighing 1/6th of her body weight nearly ended me. this lady is sassy, and i LOVE it!

happy falloween, homeslices!


scarf winner and a discount for all!

what an awesome turnout for the double braided scarf giveaway! we had 141 comments (one of which was mine that i deleted later).

i got a bunch of questions and emails asking about a tutorial for this double braid scarf, for all you sew-babes. the answer is: yes! there is a tutorial coming. but i am learning that good, clear, comprehensive, understandable tutorials are butt-kickers to put together. i will try to get it posted before the end of the year.

i will keep the double braid for sale in my etsy shop for the non sew-ers and i am going to go ahead and add the single braid option for purchase too.

on to the winner. it was comment number 123 (easy as 1-2-3! oh, i hate/love myself for that one).

and that means the winner is:

hooray for suze! suze, please sayeth me your info in an email and what colors you would like!

and of course i HATE that that means the rest of you didnt win. my crazy heart wanted to make like 80 of these things and then make this post all oprah surprisery, "YOU get scarf! YOU get a scarf! YOU get a scarf!" but my lazy ass is sometimes the boss more than the crazy heart. also my tiny wallet.

but i will give you all something, a tiny parting gift. now through the end of october (holiday gifts, anyone?), any purchase from the shop will be 20% off! just enter the code BLOGBUDDYOCT at checkout for 20% off your entire purchase!

i just added a bunch of fabric button earrings that you could get for super cheap with your discount code.

and as always, if there is something you want me to make that isn't in the shop, just let me know and i'll see what i can do!

keep it breezy, peeps.


family planning

when we got pregnant with layla so soon after having judah i thought maybe it was the start of becoming a mom of many kids. i liked that idea. i pushed hard for having back-to-back babies (in a time sense, not a sharing a womb together sense...i'll pass on twins!) partially because being that kind of family seemed fun and, hey, we'd better get going. i never gave it much more thought than that. i love the duggars so hard, and while 19 has never been on any agenda of mine, the picture of lots of kids playing together and loving their big family really appealed to me. i only have one sibling and it was sort of lonely. i thought my parents were selfish slackers for only having two kids. ha. hahahahahaha. stupid, stupid child.

the past 3 months have put that idea to rest death. i had always just thought, "i will have the kids first, and then that will force me to be the right kind of mom to 2/3/4/5/6 kids." while i think god certainly gives grace to get through anything, and would certainly have been all up in that, i have recently realized that this might not be the wisest idea for me. i now believe that moms like michelle duggar---that is to say, any mom who can biblically, intentionally, and patiently parent that many little ones at the same time--are to a certain extent born, not self-made.

i mean to say that i think it takes more than just generally wanting lots of kids to be the kind of mom who can actually thrive and be fulfilled by the calling of the day-in day-out mothering of lots of kids.

that's a dukes, not a duggar. and we're thrilled to have her.

maybe you had this moment growing up. i can remember going into my room as a 13-14 year old and saying, "i am going to put on makeup and do my hair so carefully and deliberately that i will be the most beautiful i have ever been." a total makeover to find out my potential. and i remember when i got done being kind of perplexed by the fact that cameron diaz, britney spears, and all the other hot chicks on TV were so much prettier than me still. it wasn't a feeling of insecurity or ugliness, it was just the realization that no matter how much extra stuff i tried, i would never look that good.

you cant just want your way into being starlet-pretty, you have to be born with a certain framework to start with. bummer if that's your major life's goal, but kind of a relief in another way: since it just wasn't in my particular genetic makeup, it wasnt something i needed to shoot for or run after, it was simply something that i wasn't.

like being right-handed or too short to play front row in volleyball, that's just who i am. and the realization was like when you are waiting for news and it finally comes. it may not be the news you wanted, but there is still a relief and peace that at least you aren't still waiting, with it hanging over your head, or killing yourself trying to make the good news come. i had my answer and could move on, being the prettiest me possible, and leaving the full lips, doe-eyes and mandatory institutionalizations to the famous chicks.

so these past months have led me down a similar path about what kind of mom i am. layla's early mobility coupled with judah's 2 year old boundary testing have made parenting more a display of cat herding than anything. jesse and i have looked at each other across the toy and crumb-strewn wasteland of our living room while wrangling kids and gasped, "no! more! babies!!!" we dont mean forever (i'm betting we end up with at least 3) but we just can't do them back to back anymore like i had envisioned.

instead of feeling like a sucky failure who didnt make the mom-of-many-at-once cut, i feel a great peace now that i have realized that i dont have to try my way to being zen earth mother to a brood, that that just isnt who i am. and instead of waiting for the grace that would make me this person all of a sudden (aka the magic wand that makes me look like giselle), i might already be receiving the grace that says, "it's okay, and even right, for you to not be that person."

a more immature keight might have tried to force god's hand (cause, yeah, that's possible) and just had the kids first because she liked the idea of it and then demanded that he show up and get her through it (i'm sure he loves that). but it has been really cool to instead stop looking at all those bloggy or friend or TV moms-to-many, to drop my ever-changing wants or expectations ("oh, look at that family's picture on pinterest! let's have twin boys rightnow!") and instead look to jesus for the answer to the question of, "what kind of mom am i? what kind of daughter to you am i?"

holding tight to the picket fence dream

since asking this my antennae have been up and my sensors alert. when i am with my kids i am noticing how parenting plural munchkins makes me feel. what energizes me or fills me with jesus? what stresses me out and makes me growl such frustrated noises that judah says, "mah scay-urd." and what do these observations tell me? what do they indicate that i need to work on or pray about? can i get any wisdom about what this means for planning our family and what is best for us?

fresh off my day-old epiphany, i am now qualified to give unsolicited advice (yes! let's all gather round and listen to the chick who contemplated pulling a power play on YAWEH, creator of the universe. what founts of wisdom spew forth from her bosom!). if you are feeling the itch to have a baby or have another baby, because of your age or your friends all having babies or pressure from parents, or from some mental picture of your dream family that probably came from a catalogue, try, TRY to set those feelings and motives aside and really ask yourself and jesus (if you swing that way...though he'll show up even if you don't) if that picture is true or best or realistic for who you really are and where you are.

the good news: i didnt do this before deciding to have either of my kids, and i really dont think i WAS ready for them, but, aloha? i LOVE them and they are the #3 and #4 best things to happen to me (jesus and jesse in case you were wondering about 1 & 2). but i have had to learn some really hard, ugly things about myself along the way, and i have hurt my kids hearts because i was having to do my growing on the fly instead of entering parenthood with a humbly prepared heart. if i could do it over again and be guaranteed judah and layla, i would have waited at least 2 or 3 more years before becoming a mom.

our little tools...and the amazing children playing with them (see what i did there?) please note layla's belly overhang, and judahs lush locks. dear golly, we love them.

it never occurred to me before either baby to ask for the self-awareness--and i shudder to use such a churchy word, but i think it's appropriate here too--or revelation to evaluate who i am and where my strengths are, and if they are appropriate and compatible with the family i wanted. only in the chaos and coming to the end of my mommy rope lately have i gotten the wake up call to turn this stuff back to jesus. being mommy to and authority over little kids around the clock can get me in "i'm in charge" mode so deeply that i seriously forget that i'm NOT!

thinking of some of this stuff before jumping into decisions really feels like wisdom straight from jesus. it's so counter to my normal methods and so out of the blue that i know it's his grace working sparkly magic in me.

so i ask you:

1. do you think it takes a special kind of person to be a mom to lots of kids all close in age? or does having the kids first make the mom?

2. how hard will we all laugh when i turn up pregnant with twins next month?


double braided scarf + giveaway!


*update: someone purchased a cream and cranberry colored scarf so the winner of this giveaway can pick ANY colors listed in my etsy shop for their scarf (including cream and cranberry still!)*

30 million youtube viewers cant be wrong: the only thing greater than a rainbow is a DOUBLE RAINBOW! with that logic in mind, i give you the double braided scarf:

cream and cranberry. full of double braidy goodness.

when i was first trying to hack the original braided scarf, i had a fleeting thought: "what if the closure could be a braid too?" but i didn't even entertain it seriously. i couldnt begin to tackle that as i swam through dozens of photos trying to find a way to depict creating just the basic single braided scarf.

i cast it aside as impossible, an m.c. escher impossible structure in fabric form. but then a reader, brandy, asked in the comments of the tutorial if there was a way to do it. so i had to at least try. and after some brain-bending and neuron melting and considerably more effort than the single braid, it was done!

since a bunch of folks have commented or emailed about skipping the sewing and purchasing the scarves already made, i decided to make the double-braids for selling rather than doing a tutorial for them right away. you can now find the listing for your own custom double-braided scarf in my etsy shop.

but wait there's more.

in honor of this new creation i am going to give away the very scarf pictured above to one of you!

to enter:

you must be a follower of putapuredukes (click the blue button under "all of y'all" on the top right side bar or click "follow" at the tippy top left of the page)

one entry for each of the following (leave a separate comment for each):

1. be a follower (i'm checking...) and leave a comment here telling me your favorite thing about scarfy weather

2. tweet, facebook, or blog about this giveaway linking back here & leave a comment saying you did so

3. heart the putapuredukes etsy shop & leave a comment saying you did so

4. follow @putapuredukes on twitter & leave a comment saying you did so

5. follow me on pinterest, and/or pin this scarf & leave a comment saying you did so

up to 5 comments and chances per person!

yes, this is a thinly veiled attempted to lure out the lurkers (you know i love a reformed lurker!) and ensnare new folks. that's what giveaways are for, right?

good luck! giveaway will end tuesday night and i will do a reminder blast on monday for those of you who must have more of a social life than me and don't spend weekends on mommy blogs.



we ran a 15k last weekend. it wasn't as fun or as emotional as the 10k that we ran with ryan and raechel last month so i am not going to do a full blown narrative like i did for that post. instead i am going to assault you with a hailstorm of bullets. bullet points, that is.

-the deets: 15k/9.3 miles. my longest run ever by 2.3 miles. it was the peachtree city classic and it wasn't for a cause or anything (which was why i was less emotional). the majority of the race was on the shady, winding golf cart paths that wend their way all over the city.

peachtree city is a unique place because it is almost 100% accessible by golf carts and the cart paths that go under, over and around the major roads. it's really a pretty cool setup, though it SUCKS when you think you've found an awesome parking spot at the store only to see a stubby little golf cart jammed up in there hiding like a decepti-car.

-my main goal was to finish and to maintain a 9/1 interval the entire time. that's 9 minutes of running and then 1 minute of walking. my push-for-it reach-goal was to finish under 2 hours. go ahead and whip out your calculators and laugh at me. that is remarkably slow. big whoop. i already know i am the slowest chick alive, my ego shrinks by the day...but so does my ass, so i'll keep it up thankyouverymuch.

-the night before, jesse was like, "so, big race tomorrow... let's eat some pasta!" and i laughed at him because i was reminded of michael scott downing fettuccine alfredo minutes before his 5k to "carbo-load." but then i realized, that we were actually going to be burning about 1000 calories the next day and having some glycogen stored up would be filed under "prudent." carbo-loading was no longer just something i said to sound like a tool who thinks he works out hard...it was now something we legitimately needed to do.

where did i turn? pinterest, DOY! and a perfect recipe that i had my eye on already: a sauce-less pasta with garlic and breadcrumbs and lemon. firing on all cylinders, baby. see, when i was a kid (and pretty much to this day) i HATED red sauce. hate hate. so my mom would make pasta for us, but make mine with just noodles, butter, parmesan cheese and salt. i realize this is essentially nutrient-free, but it was how i rolled and i LOVED that combo. so this pin was really calling to me.

here is our version:

so easy, so simple SO GOOD.

i skipped the fresh parsley because mama didnt raise no fool. parsley isnt super flavorful to begin with, and i am not going to drop $1.25 on fresh herbs that are mostly just for color and then turn into a bag of slimey green slime when i forget about it for 2 weeks. a hearty sprinkle of the dried kind that i have a huge jar of worked just fine. we also used jarred, pre-minced garlic (CRUCIAL in my life), thin spaghetti because it's what we had on hand, and a stump of french bread i had been freezing to use for breadcrumbs (just toast some bread if you dont have "day-old hearty white bread" laying around like the recipe suggests).

confession: i got really mad at jesse for dumping the whole box of pasta in the water when the recipe only called for half. good thing he "messed up" because we ate 15/16ths of the box that night! and not even really for the race...just because it was that good and we were that hungry.

-we were asleep by 10 that night. the race gun would go off at 8:50 the next morning and since we were so local, we didnt have to set alarms or anything. jesse's awesome mom was coming over to watch the kids and eventually bring them to the finish line so we just did our regular morning routine, with an undercurrent of butterflies (from jesse) and hysteria (from me). i about flipped when we were sitting around lazily and jesse divulged that he had his running shorts on under his PJ bottoms like some kid of secret superhero: "i thought we were just laid back lounging!!! you're already dressed! SHRIEK!"

-i have a HUGE aversion to food within 2 hours of waking up. i also CANNOT run on an empty stomach. so instead of force feeding myself bananas and eggs like i have done in the past, i tried a trick i found google searching "runner who hates breakfast," the answer was smoothies. i took down a yoplait mango strawberry banana one and it was perfect. not a ton of calories, but i was counting on my pasta binge to shore up the reserves.

-we got the race and it was uncomfortably cold in just our (aw, matching) shirts and shorts. i read that runners feel like it is 20 degrees warmer than it actually is, so we were actually in perfect running conditions: 50 degrees. let's talk about how sexy pale, goosebumped, not recently shorn legs look in really cold weather!

-while jesse was at the bag check i spotted a couple hugging in the middle of the street. it looked like they were just snuggling to stay warm. the girl was a little heavy and i was horrified to see the guy playfully or perhaps lovingly taking a handful of her side meat--the part that pooched out beneath her sportsbra line, and just squeezing it rhythmically. i turned around in awkward yucked-out mode, as an older man was just passing me and i got a huge face-full of his morning breath as he forcefully exhaled, seemingly directly into my mouth. i thought i might not recover. but then i saw a precious asian man performing grapevine sprints to warm up and my spirits were revived from the attack of the schmoopies and the un-listerined.

-there were no corrals for the starting line to sort yourself into mile paces, so i just did the right thing, kissed jesse goodbye to go find his middle of the throng position and i headed to the BACK.

i thought we were doing a "be afraid of the race" face. apparently jesse was doing "effortlessly hot." i missed that memo.

right before we split up. arent we presh in our matchy franklin 10k shirts?

-after the 10k, i was prepared this time for the ego-smashing that involves being a 12 minute-miler. i was even thinking it would be worse since only real runners would sign up for a 9 mile race, whereas some blustery untrained folks could sign up for a 10k and then realize they werent prepared and end up slower than even me. wasnt expecting any of those at the 15k.

-the gun went off. we shuffled in our huge pack up to the starting line and then took off running when things got spread out. i hit my nike plus timer as i crossed the start (the official time starts at the gun so it counts the time it takes while waiting for the pack to space out and get up to the real start, so it makes me a minute or two slower because i am so far away from the starting line when the gun pops) and apparated my brain to hogwarts for the final 3 chapters of harry potter and the chamber of secrets.

-the first 2 miles werent on the golf cart paths but were on the streets. it was cool and bright. it's so funny that when you have the entire road to yourself, years of driving have trained your mind to stay on the right side of the yellow line. 90% of the runners ran over there. i run on the far left (though my brain tried to make me merge back into the righthand lane, i resist or the fun of it. woo-hoo).

-once again, the pack sorted itself out and i got passed by a good chunk of people. i just shook my head and smiled as the elderly, the obese and the injured sailed by me. seriously, there was a lady who could have come straight from day 1 on the biggest loser ranch who SMOKED me. that's amazing! think of what an athlete she must be inside. good for her, but kind of embarrassing for me.

-i always think of the inner dialogue of folks who pass me. mostly i assume it goes, "she seems pretty young and isnt' too fat...what's her problem? is she injured or disabled? is one of those legs made of silly putty or something?" but the beauty of the race is that there is grace. the fact is: we are all out there doing it and that speaks way louder than the judgments on speed or form or scary noises that i may be emitting.

we the people of the back of the pack support each other silently. with red faces and soaring hearts we look the other way as our compatriots dig wedgies out of chunky butt cheeks and fist pump encouragingly as together we scale small hills as if they are everest.

-the first 3 miles were pretty rough. just morning-run rough. i realized at my first walk interval that i had some buddies who were on similar walk/run plans. there were these 2 middle aged black women who were with me the entire time, their walk interval just a few seconds ahead of mine, so we were constantly passing back and forth. i was amazed that they were talking to each other the entire time. i hardly had the lung capacity to whisper a warning, "tom riddle is behind you harry, look out!"

-since my first race was that 10k, all my expectations were based on what happened then. therefore i was expecting water at about the 1.5 mile mark. there was none. at 2.5 we turned off the street and into a neighborhood to begin to find our way to the cart paths. i starting panicking a bit and feeling like a desert-wanderer searching for an oasis. finally just before the paths and the 3 mile mark, after starting to think this was some freakish BYO-H20 race i spotted the first water station.

everyone was really spaced out at this point and i wasnt in a big clump. so i was surprised when there was NO WATER set out when i got to the table. the poor guy had run out of cups and was going and picking up off the ground the discarded empties of faster runners, dipping them in one cooler to "wash them off" and then scooping drinking water out of another cooler. but at that point i didnt even care. and obviously, i know that cup i got had been jesse's because we're soul-matey like that, so i made out with it extra hard for good measure.

-guzzle, guzzle and then down into the shady depths of the cart path network. the paths are set behind and in between neighborhoods, in the forest and a good 10-20 feet below street level, so it was like heading down into a secret lair. pretty cool.

-i dont remember a lot from the next few miles. i know i was excited to get to 4.5 miles as that was the approximate halfway point and i was going to eat the energy bar i had in my bra. this was good since i was starting to feel really drained. and at this point the water stations starting offering really concentrated gatorade. i force fed the bar, took an extended 2-3 minute halftime walk break and downed some gatorade and water and kept trucking for the second half.

-by 4.65 miles my time was about 55 minutes, so i was doing well to reach my goal, even though i knew i would slow down as things got longer.

-at the 6 mile marker i started getting a little nervous. up until then, i was in charted territory as i have done lots of 6 miles runs in my short experience. but i was headed into uncharted territory. what if my body has a 7.1 mile self-destruct mechanism wired in?

-at 7 miles i was fully off the map and breaking my distance record with every step. that was kind of cool. and i never did blow up or self-destruct.

-the miles started really running together after 6. up until then i could have told you to the half-mile exactly where i was (my nike + app talks to me every half mile and give me pace updates). after 6 i stopped paying attention. a whole mile would rush past and then the next tenth would take and eternity.

-i saw a few people get on race-officials' golf carts as they quit or withdrew; to be carried to the finish line. i was scared that if i got within arm's reach of one of these carts, my body would betray me and try to jump aboard, so i left a wide berth and trundled on.

-at miles 7-8 other ego-dings started in as the race officials stopping blocking off the route to non-race traffic. so i am running my heart out and now also having to dodge retired couples walking their beagle or families out for leisurely cart rides. thanks guys! um, we are still running a race here. even the slow people deserve not to have obstacles in their way.

every step was an effort and my posture was starting to suffer. by mile 8 i was really looking and feeling SLOW. i knew jesse would have finished by then and texted him an update so that he could meet his mom and kids and be at the finish line for me.

-with one mile to go i cut off harry mid-basilisk fight (dont worry, i will never have truly left hogwarts until none there are loyal to me) and jammed out to my power songs. regardless of my fatigue level, these always get me moving much faster. but this time there seemed to be kryptonite among my power songs. the spirit was willing but the body was not able. i was making the customary duck-faced dancy-faces that bruno mars and robert randolph bring out in me, but i was not running faster. but i was feeling better. so the power was still a little bit present.

-at mile 9 i knew there were only 3 tenths to go. i was going to finish, no doubt. i made the mistake of picturing jesse and the kids at the finish line cheering me on and, so help me, i starting ugly-face tearing up. i have to attribute it to the complete physical fatigue, because there wasnt anything particularly dramatic or inspiring about this race or this day. and i love my kids, but i had just seen them 3 hours ago. i laughed at myself and thought, "boy are you going to be a mess at the ST JUDE half marathon when you see the kid patients and survivors at the finish line!" whoops, another mistake. as i pictured that moment i really lost it. haha.

i pulled it together as i emerged from the path and onto the last straightaway. my emotional release moment had happened prematurely so i was all smiles when i spotted my family. wonderful jesse had the camera ready to capture my finish.

a glowing ball of slow-moving pale.

spotting the kids. i love this picture.

veering off course, and getting passed by that guy behind me, to give everyone a hug. i actually intended to grab layla and carry her across with me (like i have seen on TV), but shut it down when i considered that she is a chunk and my arms might not obey me at this point and support her weight. dropping my infant on the street would put a damper on the finish line celebrations.

the timer says 1:58:03 but my real nike+ time from starting line to finish was 1:57:10. either way, i beat my push-goal! note: the recent chicago marathon winner ran 26.2 miles in 2 hours and 5 minutes. cue insane disbelief.

hahaha i think i edged that guy out at the buzzer. granted, he is over 60. just give me this victory. (props to jesse for taking two pictures in the same second)

-and just like that, it was all over. i was MEGA annoyed to see race officials taking down the finish line and the barriers as i was crossing. seriously, guys? we are working hard here! that kind of sours the experience and is slightly insulting! i found the nearest horizontal surface and made sweet, motionless love to it.

i was pleased that an official made sure i was okay and not in self-destruct mode. they do care about us fat turtles, after all!

the kids were not as impressed as they should have been.

i am shuddering to see judah's mouth so close to jesse's armpit. jesse is a naturally VERY yummy smelling man, even when he sweats, but 9.3 miles had him giving off eau de camel grundle. it was rough. i didnt smell too much better, though, so i tried to just roll the windows down and look forward to showers.

jesse had had 30 extra minutes to recover. this curb was my friend for a long while.

he's the best.

god bless linda dukes for taking the kids to her house after the race. our nieces' birthday parties were at the dukes house later that day so she just kept them until then so we could go home and shower. i could NOT have parented at this point. the kids could have physically overpowered me and plundered gummy vitamins until they OD'ed on riboflavin. i love how over it judah and layla look in the picture.

the end finish

after the race we went down to get our race shirts (long sleeve technical tees!) and...they were out of mediums and larges. there was much gnashing of teeth and rubbing my BO on everything in sight to show my displeasure. i wrote our names and bib#'s down on some super official looking piece of loose leaf legal paper and they said they'd figure it out. inspiring!

no cookies, no energy bars: just apples and white bread bagels for post race snackies. again: not awesome.

as we headed to the car about 45 minutes after my finish we saw people still finishing despite the finish line being almost entirely disassembled and unmarked. to show my support for them and my disdain for the race not hanging around to support them, we stopped and cheered and clapped super loud for these folks. i understand they only had the road blocked off for a certain amount of time, but i feel like they should have had a cutoff time for finishers if they were just going to abandon the site before everyone was done. bummer.

i am sounding like a complainer here. no. alas, the franklin 10k had more spirited volunteers and a more inspirational tone, but that was largely thanks to the fact that all the money went to a children's clinic. this was was just a bunch of people paying $30 for a shirt (or NOT a shirt in our case) and the chance to run 9.3 miles with no (or SOME in my case) traffic to worry about. i have a feeling st. jude and memphis are going to rock my world in every possible race category.

as much as finishing this race was a defining moment, it was a little deflating to realize we have to run this same distance 3 or 4 more times (some even longer) in the course of our training up to the 13.1. eleven miles is the most we will run before the big day, and i cant imagine doing that with no one to cheer, block traffic, hand me water, inspire my shame-avoidance when i think of quitting.

if you know anyone who has run a full marathon (pretty much three times what we ran saturday) go give them a big french kiss, because, by golly, that is a serious physical accomplishment. one that i dont think i will EVER aspire to do myself.

i saw a mug in a running shop one time. it said, "i'm a half-marathoner; i don't go all the way." that's my motto!

my next race recap will be in december after the half. enjoy your time off.


front door pin project

this has been the front of our little homestead since we moved in 5 years ago:

gray with black shutters. and the firetruck has not been there for all 5 years.

there are about 7 other houses on our street with similar layouts built by the same builder (we dont live in an actual neighborhood) and our color combo is by far my favorite. i even loved the bold (for our old-fashioned, conservative area) color they used on the front door:

red! with yuckster gold hardware.

but the hamster got really spinning in his wheel when i saw this on pinterest:

hey! that house is gray and black like ours. and that yellow door looks so cool!

there are so many house projects out there that we cant do just because, doy, all houses are different. so when i saw a cool, modern looking update that we might actually be able to apply to our lil' old house, i was pretty excited to try it out.

desert glow by behr. its a little golder than the one in the pinterest photo, but i'm down with that

primed and started. maybe i should have left it like this. its very "cadbury creme egg."

and the final after with an all-yellow door and oil-rubbed bronze spray painted hardware from this DIY pinspiration bonanza:

"oh, hi! i'm a very yellow front door. does my enthusiasm turn you off?"

and the whole new frontal look.

it was at this point that i started fretting. my brain starting spinning off into the creative space i fondly know as, "controlled progressive hysteria." the progression: it is too yellow. it is too trendy. it's too "forward" for our town. people are going to hate it. they are going to think we're whacko hippie freaks. they are going to laugh at us. they are going to throw rocks at our house. they are going to beat us up.

jesse eye-rolled me back to planet earth. but i still thought it was a lot of uninterrupted yellow. so i put on our green year-round wreath:

better, but not the AWESOME i was going for at the onset of this adventure.

enter etsy. i did a search for "metal address numbers" and found the wonderfully helpful and talented folks at dropmetal. i chose from their many font, size and finish options and commissioned these guys for $18. (if you buy from them, tell them putapuredukes sent you, because they might hate me because i was so over-involved and specific...but they were amazing to work with!)

perfectly cut 6" high metal numbers. smooth edges. pre-drilled holes for hanging- by request. LOVE!

we screwed them onto the center of our door and stood back to admire the view

i LOVE this. i think it looks so cool and contemporary but also informative and friendly

it also is perfect because our mailbox is across the street from our house and people sometimes have a hard time figuring out which house is actually #56. well, no more! this is some incredibly clear labeling.

the happy new view as i come home each day:

i feel like a pretty unique and fun family lives behind a door like that.

the bright yellow paint and oversized house numbers may not be for everyone, and i know i can and will do better in the wreath department (ours is SO old and busted up), but painting the front door was a quick little DIY project that made a big impact (you could even just stencil-paint the numbers on yourself...the possibilities are endless). bonus points for the fact that you could un-do it yourself in a flash since the door is such a small surface area and requires so little paint and effort.

if your front door is to your house what your smile is to your face, a new paint job is like a round of crest white strips. our house now has a polished, sparkly and inviting grin.