frozen fractals, all around

yall know we live in atlanta, right? (some of my more metro-area friends would argue that we are actually in the atlanta-adjacent territories of east bumble, but i claim the ATL and i claim it HARRRD, so you can pry my city-zenship from my cold, dead hands, city slickers!).

and you know that we just got "slammed" with 2 inches of snow on tuesday that virtually shut down the entire city for 2 days, leaving thousands stranded for hours upon hours in the gridlocked cars. let me acknowledge that that part was HORRIBLE. my friends stories of their 3 mile commutes taking 10 hours (with screaming children in the car!) made me want to cry. hundreds of kids had to sleep over in their schools as their parents were stuck trying to come pick them up. a baby was even born IN the traffic jams when the laboring mom's car was stuck in traffic! sheeeeesh.

we were fortunate enough to not be stuck in anything like that at all (except i was fully planning to go to IKEA to get some stuff that evening and probably would have insanely attempted it had my contact there not texted me that they were closing the store due to the insanity on the roads). so we got to have a pretty fun snow experience with the kids (with a side of guilt for enjoying something causing so much stress for others).

the kids were dismissed early from school as soon as the flurries began. when they came out to me in carpool line they were losing their minds over the snow.

on the ride home we decided that this was the worlds most perfect time to blast our "frozen" sound track (buy it now. do it) i mean when else in georgia would we have the chance to sing "beware the frozen heart" in an actual snow storm. i about ripped my throat open scream-singing every song.

by the time we were home our yard was almost covered (again, this is a BIG deal in GA where we get flurries maybe every year but actual play-in-the-snow accumulation only once every 3-5). i went up into our attic hoardings where we have amassed just an obscene amount of hand me downs from unknown numbers of lovely people. all i knew was that i have never bought any snow or ski apparel for my children, but possibly somewhere in the bins and bags and piles some better-prepared soul had bestowed something appropriate unto us.

i was thrilled to find ski jackets for both kids and even a ski bib for judah (thank you unknown saviors!) layla had to make do with leggings under sweatpants.

my dope-looking lil' ski bum

after playing a bit in the building snow, i was so sad to realize that the mittens we had for both kids were (duh) not going to work in snow since they were utterly un-waterproof (think target $1 bin basics). the kids started flipping out over their freezing wet hands.


she kept licking leaves to get the snow in her mouth. and her hat was making her a little quasimodo.

so rather than just taping some plastic bags around their hands, i geniusly decided to "run to target real quick" and get them some waterproof gloves and maybe a ski bib for lay.

a few considerations here:

1. we live in georgia. targets simply do not stock these things. like EVER.

2. it is january and target has had swimsuits on sale here for a good month now. nary a mitten in sight, but oh the bikinis!

3. the snowstorm was causing a mass exodus of everyone from everywhere and already there was HUGE traffic.

so that was the stupidest thing i have done in a good fortnight. we came home empty handed and frazzled after 2 hours in the car for a trip that should have taken 30 minutes (definitely not complaining though considering the commutes of others!)

all of the excitement converging with her usual naptime plus a cozy warm jacket and an extended car trip meant this lil' inuit was done-zo when we pulled in.

after naps jesse came home and got ready to take the kids over to the grand dukes house where there are ample hills, four wheelers, sleds and fun. i was going to stay home to get some sewing done. those jokers had a BLAST (especially when our friends and the dukes' neighbors, the Denny family with their 6 awesome kids came over to play too).

judah and his hero buddy, landon

sledding down the iced driveway like bosses! (let's never discuss the fact that grandaddy appears to be wearing a beret?)

3 of 4 adorable denny girls plus a layla-boo

but before jesse left with the kids, i had an idea. a chance to live out a dream that was not even fully formed yet. it would take two cell phones since i dont know how play music AND shoot video at the same time. this meant i had to do it in front of jesse (since i had his phone) though i would have MUCH MUCH rather been alone.

i would become queen elsa during her power ballad (i posted this on my instagram, but obviously it needs to live here too):

i am the least selfie-loving person ever. i hate the way i look in pictures and video and am pretty standard-girl insecure about looks in general, plus i like to make fun of serial-selfie takers and judge them as vain (i'm jesus, basically). so a selfie video was even more horrifying to me. yet my love for "frozen" and for being a stupid idiot for all the internet to observe won out. i spent a good 5 minutes spinning around our front yard video taping myself. i can only hope that lots of people drove by in this period and got a hearty chuckle out of the weirdo. 

i was so SO close to never letting a soul see this video (especially jesse, for some reason) but in the end i decided to just "let it go" and love it for the ridiculousness that it is.  i am definitely not a "conceal, dont feel" kinda chick, and here i raise my ebenezer that i can rock hard to some disney music.

next snowstorm i will be prepared with an old prom dress and a fishtail braid to shoot a full length version. i'm never going back...the past is in the past.


my eclectic mix & match gallery wall

there are many tutorials out there on how to do a pretty gallery wall (aka a bunch of stuff all next to each other on one chunk of wall space). most of the most professional of them involve cutting out paper templates of each of your elements and taping them onto the wall to get the positioning just right before you actually nail the holes and hang the real deals.

if youre anything like me, just reading "make paper templates of all your..." makes you want to take a nap. 

To Whom it May Concern, i have had the frames and elements for over a year. i have just now barely gotten it up enough to actually get them onto a wall and now you want me to make paper versions of each one?! whatha hell?"

in addition to not really wanting to have to put in very much organizational effort, i wanted a gallery wall with no actual photos. since my particular chunk of real estate is in a corner thats blocked by a chair (therefore you cant really walk up and examine closely each item), i didnt want to "waste" cute family photos over there that wouldnt be seen without moving furniture or getting all hot yoga bending over said chair. i shall save  such photos for more well-travelled and easily accessible environs.

on the other hand, i didnt want this area to just be worthless crap (a la the walls of an applebees...here an antique washboard! there a softball team photo from 1987! everywhere an inane melange!). i wanted a visually rich, texturally diverse, personal, colorful and fun little collection that would mean something to our family or spark off a great story or memory in every piece.

that sounds ambitious, but basically i made up that description after that fact.  my real "plan" as i was doing that wall was actually: "imma put whatever the flip i want on that there wall." 

my 3 guidelines

1. it has to mean something to us (our names, our roots, our kids, our travels, our mottos)
2. diversify materials/colors (frames, textures, functions)
3. spend as little as possible (DIY as much as possible)

so here's where things stand hang as of right now (with room to grow!) and a little info on my finds/process.


these silhouettes were shockingly easy and fun and quick to make. i need to update layla's with her new haircut and when i do i will post a step-by-step tutorial for how i whipped these out with 100% stuff i already had.

because layla's frame was the same type and color (IKEA ribba) as a few others already on the wall, i spray painted it gold real quick to achieve Diversity Tomorrow (because today is almost over). both images are back with a piece of fabric which will be easy to change whenever my fickle fancy pleases.

when judah first saw this he exclaimed, "but i got no ear!" my little literalist.

the K is from anthro. they have a bunch of similar and awesome versions available now...including letters made of books?!?!  OR you can find these exact ones on eBay still every now and then

  the D is from urban outfitters and relocated from my kitchen where it had been for 7 years after my mom bought it for me on a newlywed shopping trip. (urban outfitters also has some really cool unique letter styles)

the J was wooden and from michaels for like $2. i printed out some maps of spain (where jesse spent a semester doing campus ministry in college and we travelled together for a month afterward) and just modge podged them all over; making sure that a few of our most favoritest cities were included. imagine how cool i felt to discover these for sale  at the hip young people store AFTER i had made my own.

i got this from pinterest a while ago. the tree is cut out of a page i printed out of our wedding first dance song lyrics. we are so totally sittin' in a tree.

a favorite hymn with a favorite lyric. just a wood disc (which i'd love to pretend was from nature but i actually bought it at michaels) traced/painted carefully in the same style that i explained here

an inexpensive IKEA clock, spruced up by taping off the indentations at each hour and painting gold.

 i google image searched our college stadium and just downloaded and edited the photo to be more like a sketch. then i superimposed some text over it and printed it out. nothing fancy.

this was one of the few 100% purchased elements. i saw these cool vintage looking pictured printed on dictionary pages on etsy. i asked the shop owner to print my boxing gloves in red and on the dictionary page that contained "Dukes." i love the nod to the blog, our family and our mission to fight for magic in our insane/boring lives. $12 shipped. 

another purchase. i found a bunch of these old slate numbers/letters at a vintage store in my town. i like to think they used to be for keeping score at baseball games. i was flipping through all of them and losing hope and BAM the very last one was my boy, #8. i love this guy.

anthro clearance. originally neon orange, i repainted it blue. i found an etsy seller who makes very similar ones.

as far as spacing i started with the grouping in the middle of the wall and just worked my way outward. 

it may be a gallery wall, but our home is no gallery, so i let myself off the hook (as i put everything else on hooks...BLAMMO!) on perfect spacing and styling. i think this busy, diverse, imperfect, fun wall represents and captures our Dukesy feel pretty well.

the moral of the story: GO FOR IT! dont be scurred.. i sat around for a long time not wanting to tackle this project because i didnt want to "get it wrong." as if! i cant live like that, fools. 

it's a wall. do watcha like.


echo quilt : elephant gestation

oh, hey. i once blogged about my progress on a quilt i started back in march...of 2012. 

with the ferocity of a rabid honey badger, i have just barely snatched this project back from the brink of the abyss known as "projects keight forgot about." (thanks for the patchwork scraps, stupid!).

last thursday, 22 months later, i FINISHED! in this same time frame i could have also fertilized the egg of an african female elephant and loved her through gestation and birth of her elephant...cub? pup? gosling? 

i knew it was finally time to finish the quilt when i started feeling like i wanted to change the paint in our living room. see, last summer i added two accent stripes of color (one on each gray striped wall) and i used this fabric line as my color story. i actually took the fabrics themselves to home depot and matched them. so the fact the the paint inspired by the quilt is already seeming old and in need of a change BEFORE i have ever snuggled up under the quilt itself was a red patchwork flag that i needed to [apache] jump on it and complete this queen sized beauty beast.

the pin that inspired this layout...i pretty much straight up copied!

i opted for a vertical stripe pattern for the backing with a few of my favorite prints from the line and some coordinating solids. i opted to go with a soooper simple quilting pattern of plain rectangles. i HATE the quilting portion of quilts because my machine is tiny and i just really stink at it. i *might* try my hand at free motion, but i just dont know if i can fit in to the big girl panties it would take to try it out! (is it so hard? is it worth it?)

i'm a fuzzy smitten kitten over my woven etsy labels that i commissioned from The East. all my projects now sport one of these bad boys. this is the first one to go on something i made to keep to myself. i feel excited about this.

my sexy clothesline.

family heirloom fa life. believe dat.



i love a good potpourri post. let's do one, shall we?


layla's  only correct J-sound is for judah. everything else gets a G. so when she comes in my bad to attack me it's a "MEGA GUMP!" kind of amazing. i like to picture Forrest Gump on a rampage. 

if she wants to play the game where you hide and she finds you, it's "hide n peek"

we watched "beauty and the beast" for the first time ever (the kids and i...jesse has seen in before and loves it). at the beginning when gaston is stalking belle judah insisted, "he's tryin' to kill her, mommy!" because he's holding that hunting gun the whole time. yikes. a little dark there, buddy. maybe i have a future secret service officer on my hands.

one of our friends with two kids recently had a baby so my kids were talking about what if we had another baby. they were making up names ("tickles", "banana", and "flames" were some suggestions) and such. layla said, "yeah, and i will be duh mommy!" i quickly wanted to head that off at the pass and said, "no, i would be the mommy and you would be the big sister. but one day when youre older you can have babies and then you will be the mommy." layla looked at me with this lethally sweet smile and said, "yeah, and then you will be at heaven." *insert creeped out shivers*.

we were in the book store recently and i was in the history aisle along with a few other customers (senior citizen men). layla came up to me with a stuffed animal (when did book stores become toys stores, btw?! gripe!). she said the baby fox was sad. i asked what was wrong. then she decided to crank the volume and scream, "HIS PENIS IS SICK!" ladies and gentlemen of Books-a-Million: Layla Dukes! goodnight!


my former GTVB teammate and one of my all-time favorite people on earth (to know bird is to love her) is a volleyball coach at Kansas (her other life roles are: lover of the color grey, world champion at falling asleep in weird places, hater of meat with bones in it, reformed hangnail addict, best friend to dozens, despiser of cartoons) and was caught just being her amazing self; giving her one off day per week to hang out with some special olympians. classic bird.


my two most recent pregnant friends to give birth (i guess anyone who give birth was recently pregnant, so that might be a little redundant) have had ACCIDENTAL natural deliveries. as in: they had NO intention of doing anything besides having an epidural the entire time, but when they got the the hospital they were already both at 10cm and were told it was way too late for pain meds. they both, after having laughed like i was an insane person to have chosen unmedicated, got check-mated into the very same thing and both rocked their natural births, getting their babes out 30 minutes after arriving. 

besides being slightly amused (ok, VERY amused) by this i started to wonder if the ambush natural birth might be preferable to the planned one. i had months to fret and worry about the pain and if i could do it, etc. they had zero time to think and only had 30 minutes to think about it (not that you do a lot of pondering while trying to squeeze the death star out of your special place). also: you would be so very pissed and shocked by this news that maybe the rage would propel you through some contractions? 

what would you prefer?

*speaking of women warriors! i have ANOTHER mommy-of-a-newborn friend who just delivered her 3rd baby, and it was her first ever vaginal birth. her first two were C-sections. that's right, a VBA2C! did i mention her recent baby was over 10 and a half pounds? and she was in labor for over 48 hours? STUD ALERT! and the baby's name is "juniper joy" which is slightly adorable extremely.

women be warriors.


after living with them for a few weeks, i have decided what my favorite christmas gift was. not the gift given to me...just my favorite gift in the house. a lot of the stuff we gave the kids turned out to be annoying or to have a million pieces (jesse's bane) or went unused (drat!) or whatever. but this gift was RIGHT ON and i kind of knew when we bought it that it was a gift to us.

the complete series of Charlie & Lola on DVD. (minus #6 which i had already scored at goodwill and which made me know these would be winners). the series is all about a little english girl and her big brother and real life situations. it's witty and charming and adorable and hilarious.

here's why i love them:

-it's a british series. listening to british people (and children in particular) is AMAZING. it does not annoy me in the car to have to listen to these all the time (NOT SO with Bolt UGH miley cyrus's voice kills me) in the car (where we do 90% of our TV watching).

-hearing my kids try to do the accent (judah is awesome at it) and speaking the Queen's English: even better! judah now asks for "biscuits and crisps" instead of  cookies and chips.

-each disc costs $4 or $5 NEW and has an hour and a half of shows. tons of variety so i am not listening to the same episode over and over. and even when we just had the one disc that i had from goodwill: i didnt even mind hearing it over and over. but now that we have all the discs in circulation so it's always fresh and fun. 

-this show is no longer on netflix. so i couldnt get it that way. 

-my #1 reason: when my kids imitate some of the typical american shows "for their age", they tend to act like punks. sarcasm, rudeness, selfishness started creeping in bigtime. when we'd ask where they learned a certain phrase, it would usually be from these "age appropriate" shows. but when they are playing like charlie and lola they are SO KIND to each other. charlie is a super considerate and kind older brother. i have noticed an incredibly marked difference in how judah relates to layla since we've been watching these more than some other shows. lola is weird and hilarious and creative just like layla, so hopefully that will reinforce that too in her.

so there's my pitch. all time favorite kids show at dirt cheap. 


my child, the white girl. channelling Elaine Benes. i think she can only do move with her body after he tongue has pointed the way. 


there you have it. my potpourri for today. sniff it good. 


near death in the most magical place on earth

my in-laws had their 40th wedding anniversary in september of 2013 (can i get a whoop whoop to love's eternal flame and jesus?). they decided that for their gift they wanted to take their 5 adult children, their children's spouses, and all of their grandkids to disney for christmas. and all stay together in one house.

i love my in laws more than probably 99.9% of wives do, but clearly these people are unstable maniacs.

i'm joking. well, sort of. they arent crazy, they just arent ME. i am a homebody, introvert, theme-park hating, scrooge. when i take those personality tests, "which disney princess are you?" i usually get Ursula. i also am not overly fond of inland florida. i know that's a little bit geography-ist of me, but i just think the only really useful (to my narrow mind) bits of florida are around the edges. (sorry to natives of central florida and your alligator pets whom i have offended).

i went to disney just once as kid. i was 8 and my brother was 5. these were good ages. we did all 3 of the parks that were there at the time, stayed in a disney resort and went all out. i remember wearing floral denim,  climbing into a lego, getting alice-in-wonderland's autograph, attending a musical dinner show i think was called "hoopty doo," and being really pissed when the "beach" we were at was just a lake with large-grit sand around it. nice try, inland florida, 4th grade keight aint nobody's fool. magical. but even i, the least sympathetic and emotionally perceptive child EVER, perceived how much work it was for my parents (who are wired similarly to me with the crowd-hating and the exspensive to-do avoiding).

the dukes are not wired this way. they have a time share at disney and go once every two years. jesse's brother and their family (my kids' 3 cousins) have gone several times with the grand dukes and done like a full week of parks. the thought of these trips gives me jawline stress acne. they are amazing and love it. i tremble in fear at the very notion. 

we had previously decided to not take our kids until the money spent would be worth it. to us, this meant: they're old enough to remember it, they are big enough to not need strollers (in my head we would train for this. they would have to walk 3 miles without complaining on our home course before they could go), and they would  ideally have part time jobs to defray the costs. unrealistic? possibly. i was okay with that.

but when its for the grandparents' anniversary (and they SWEETLY offer to pay), you sack up, pack up and go with a smile.

so as we departed the morning after christmas, i was sure of only one thing: this trip wasnt FOR me. it was first for the Grand Dukes. to shower my wonderful in-laws with love and appreciation and quality togetherness in celebration of their decades of living together for jesus; and secondly it was to give the littles (5 grandkids) a taste of the magic.

*it's pretty telling how great of grandparents and humans jesse's parents are that for their ANNIVERSARY gift, they wanted to spend their time and money and sanity on making magic with their grandkids and kids. they are better humans than me, to whom the word "anniversary" comes from the latin roots anni meaning "get these" and versary meaning "snot-and-crumb-coated kids outta my face so i can mack on my boo and poop without being watched." 

the first thing i thought when i woke up on the 26th was, "uh-oh, i think i detect a sore throat." as soon as i acknowledged that it wasnt really bad enough to actually get me out of the trip (not that i would....) i shut down all recognition of that fact. i am NOT sick.

when, on hour 5 i started feeling super achy on the drive, i paid it no mind. road-trip aches!, i declared, it's only road trip soreness in these old bones! 

if you dont go into Disney strong and confident, it will eat you alive. this i know. (this is true of the body and soul. jesse and i had 3-4 power-up, come-to-jesus, "WE ARE ON THE SAME TEAM AND WILL NOT LET A CARTOON MOUSE DIVIDE US" meetings before leaving. these are CRUCIAL to your disney experience if you are not a genetic MagicMouseketeer). 

the game plan was pretty relaxed and chill: 5 days. the single park day in the middle surrounded by two hang-out-at-the-awesome-house days, and bookended by the two travel days. 

on relax day one i was unconscious most of the day. i went out and got a huge bottle of advil that completely masked my sore throat and aches and gave me super powers. i was at 100% strength while on it.  the plan was to get to the park at 8 when it opened and to stay as late as physically possible to milk all we could out of Magic Kingdom in one single day. whatever my non-sickness was would be kept caged by my wonderful pharmaceuticals. MAXIMIZE THE MAGIC!!!

 heated pool in december, all to ourselves. cant complain there! sweet moment: on the drive down, i asked layla who she was most excited about seeing in disney and she instantly replied, "GANDADDY!" that's some love right there.

napping with grandaddy!

we loaded up our stroller and bloodstream with everything we would need for the mega-day, girded up our loins to HAVE GOOD ATTITUDES NO MATTER WHAT and crossed over the border into Walt's domain. 

P.S. i can be a curmudgeonly wet blanket talking about how i'm not super Disney lady, but i really was excited to enjoy the park with my kids and extended family for the first time ever and was truly grateful for the opportunity gifted to us of this trip by the dukes.

 first ride of the day: PARKING TRAM! judah was thrilled to be in charge of remembering our parking lot "simba 16!" (hint: one of these unsuspecting fools secretly has the flu right now and has no idea!)

i pranced in the faint rain with the kids while jesse bought the tickets, almost passed out when he showed me the receipt, and screeched my heart out when i caught my first glimpse of cinderella's castle. okay, so seeing Disney through my own kids' eyes is slowly changing me into RAH-RAH disney freakazoid lady. if i'm not careful soon i will have a dedicated collector's pin lanyard!

i LOVE a good monorail (simpsons, anyone?) and themed topiary.

nothing but love in the kingdom.

one day her prince will come. until then: daddy's king.

we nailed "It's a Small World" (which we weirdly loved for the first time in our lives after dreading it as required but lame) and the carousel a few times while the lines were small and the rain lifted. we got fast pass reservations for Peter Pan and decided judah (who was rapidly spiraling toward grumpsville from hunger) and i would take a snack break while jesse and layla waited in line to meet cinderella and sleeping beauty (she had to choose between those two OR snow white/rapunzel...tricky disney racket. since she has no Snow White experience whatsoever, she went with the other two). 

judah came to happy chirpy life after we downed some premade sausage biscuits we had brought in with us followed by some m&m's. i gobbled down 4 more advil and was feeling awesome that we would beat the system with our massive cooler and stroller full of needs-waiting-to-be-met (extra shoes, underwear, deoderant...you name it! it was basically a mobile room of requirement)

jesse and layla emerged 30 minutes later with NO princess pictures because layla decided once they got up to the wonderful actresses playing the princesses and they tried to engage her, that she HATED them and went all Mean Girls diss-style on them. she even yelled that she wanted snow white. right in front of cinderella. low blow. at least the royal ladies got an eyeful of my husband as a reward.

just before we boarded the teacups layla informed us "mah belly huhts." this struck fear like none other into our parenting hearts as half of the dukes had already been stricken with diarrhea/vomit sickness on the way down and leading up to this day and we brainstormed a 3 year old plus a stomach bug plus disney facilities. please, lord, no.

 please do not barf, child. or poop.

 this was before the ride started so i cannot blame my face on dizzy.

we let judah man the steering wheel, which meant we basically didnt spin at all. two birds, one stone win on this decision: no barfing, and control-happy firstborn feels in charge. we are CRUSHING disney.

first park purchase. (and an inadvertant showgirl head dress). classic kid move...he ate one bite and then wanted one of what layla got. THATS OKAY we are rolling with it. daddy eats the chocolate ice cream at 10 am!

at lunch (waffle sandwiches in sleepy hollow...shockingly really good) it randomly started to pour. this was NOT forecasted and by then the crowds were HUGE (post christmas is one of the peak periods), but we were awesome enough to already be dining at a picnic table under cover. crisis averted. the rain blew over after 10 minutes...freaking inland florida, what's your damage, dude!?!

as we were leaving lunch we noticed the park workers roping areas off. we figured it was for a parade, which jesse and i were pretty blah about (i dont find 18 girl scout troops holding banners or shriners in the back of trucks very captivating) and were going to skip it. but when we heard it was happening in like 5 minutes, we decided to just stay for it rather than fight the traffic.

OH HOLY CRAP. that damn parade was the most amazing and magical and wonderful and impressive shit i have ever seen in my life. it BLEW MY KIDS AWAY and even i was enchanted straight to belieber-levels of screaming. the sheer organization of this spectacle was breathtaking and having all the characters some RIGHT by you without having to wait in line to see them was perfection. 

and bonus: the grand dukes just happened to land right across the way from us and were able to see our kids see the parade. i was flabbergasted by how pumped this parade made my kids.

 first glimpse of characters as the parade approaches. he had weirdly sworn that pluto was the first character he would meet as we talked about it days before, and wouldnt you know, pluto was the first in the parade and actually GAVE judah five! judah spent the rest of the time going, "i cant believe pluto gave me five with his excellent paw!" mommy dream come true. THANK YOU orlando pluto! 

 and then minnie and mickey showed up.

i will never stop watching this.

losing his marbles over buzz and woody.

ZOMG a float FULLLLLLLL of princesses and all their princes. (mommy lost it too here after despairing all morning that we'd see NONE of them up close due to crowds and lines)

like ten feet behind the parade (with its perfectly timed choreography, music, etc) the workers had un-roped everything and it was a flawless transition back to normal parkdom...mad respect! the dukes were able to cross the street (did you know in the downtown of the colonial US portion of the park that the brown center of the path is a representation of how sewage was dumped in the middle of the road in olden times? way to be historical, walt!) 

we bypassed the buzz lightyear line thanks to strategic fast passes and judah and i DESTROYED Zurg and his evil minions with our sharp-shooting laser skills. a fun candid built-in photo from a hidden camera shows you how seriously i take evil galactic tyrants. yikes.

shockingly layla was still awake after 6 straight park hours including a surprisingly enjoyable-for-all show of Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor. but she was getting less able to walk and more whiney. jesse and judah went to Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse and i parked and rocked our little-bit until she was comatose.

i was SO jealous of her at this point.

i started to feel pretty exhausted here. changing out of my flip flops (ew with the crusted disney juice all over my feet...PRESS ON!) into my running shoes (with jean capris....dont judge, fashion doesnt matter in theme parks, only SURVIVAL) and it was like sticking my feet in magic jello. i was revived. also a $6 corndog might have helped. (our bounty of brought snacks was flagging at this point even though we had planned for WAY more than we could possibly need. i swear magic disney elves steal your stash during the day so they can sell you $15 french fries come nightfall when desperation strikes).

while layla slept for about 3 hours, i chilled and followed judah and jesse around to all the rides they wanted to do (he loved pirates or the caribbean and aladdin). i also became viceroy in charge of maximum fast pass acquiring. this is an art and to someone efficiency and competition-driven (see above buzz photo) it was a challenge. i may have gone too far at one point when the fast pass dispenser was down at the bottom of some stairs and i had to choose between skipping the passes and leaving layla alone go get them.

OBVIOUSLY i made the right choice.

...and got the fast passes while leaving my sleeping child unattended in her stroller. relax, WORLD, she was 100% in sight the entire time and never more than 20 yards away during the 40 seconds i was getting them. trust me, aint nobody at disney wants MORE kids, anyway. i did have a slight panic, not for layla's actual safety, but when i imagined the news story, "Atlanta mother locked in Disney Brig for leaving child to get fast passes for Jungle Cruise. Execution by Imagineers scheduled for after Evening Parade" this is not what i wanted to be known for, and as we know, over-reactive tattle tales are far more prevalent than abductors.

we rode a million more rides, recalibrated our and judah's moods several dozen times, watched 2 more parades (seriously, i'm a fan for life) and basically were hard core awesome straight up til dinner.

we started all losing a little spring in our steps at hour 10 in the park. layla turned too-cool celeb and refused to pose for photos.

and my low point so far was steering a tray of like 12 lbs of bbq piled hot dogs back to the family through literally wall to wall people JAM PACKED and staring at the castle. (oopsie, it was like the major christmas show lighting of cinderellas castle that i stepped out to grab food during). i died a little inside as i straight SHOVED and "oh my goodness, i am SO sorry, excuse me'd" my way back through, terrified my $30 of hotdogs would topple as everyone on earth got annoyed by me. 

challenging...but worth it. this pic was all Bob Dukes wanted for christmas. bless that man.

after a family picture (10 adults, 5 kids, main street disney at 7 pm...you go ahead and imagine how relaxed that was) and one last group ride we split off again. me taking judah to thunder mountain (i did NOT tell him what to expect...that kid is fearless as long as he doesnt have time to think about what's coming and how he could be afraid..in which case he is basically the most timid guy on earth).  when we had measured to make sure he was tall enough and discovered he was 42" tall he declared, "all RIGHT! i feel like a 5 year old!!!" dream big, my son.

my 4 year old rode a fairly intense roller coaster with nary a tremble! he said the worst part was the loud noises (i covered his ears).

it was on this ride that i started to realize that something was wrong with me. despite GRAMS of ibuprofen in my system, i was feeling so sore. like cant-move-my-neck sore. this is not ideal on a clap-trap railway themed rollercoaster. the noises coming out of me as we plummeted through the dark were hilarious. massively sore throat trying to scream with glee and not agony so my kid wouldnt be scared while also trying to not move my neck on a wild ride that i had no anticipation of where it would turn next. i think i mostly just sounded like a washing machine that is about to break. 

when we got off (3 out of 4 of our tickets and some fast passes had flown out of my pocket on the ride...but NOT our credit card...thanks, jesus) i officially hit my wall. the advil completely stopped being effective and i texted jesse that i was legitimately afraid that i might pass out, leaving judah unattended. (which you might figure i'd be okay with given the above story about leaving layla, but this time you'd be wrong...i'm unpredictable!)

we tried to reunite but were blocked by my erstwhile lover, A PARADE! i was devastated when jesse texted that he was on the other side of a bridge but they would let him through because the parade was beginning. HOW COULD YOU, PARADE!?!? I CHANGED FOR YOU!!!

when we finally reunited i collapsed onto jesse and started bawling. that was another red flag. i am lame and dramatic, but not, break down crying at disney at 9 pm lame and dramatic. it hit me that i had probably been pretty sick the entire time, but had ignored it until it came back to crush me.

30 seconds upon exiting the park this was the site:

again...so jealous. and despite being infected with what must be ebola, pretty proud as a mom that our little team did the magic without turning against each other.  (paci in public? oh hells yes, at disney world, all bets are off. if parents can buy $18 balloons for their kids, my 3 years old can rock a paci without me feeling an ounce of shame. THE PARK WILL NOT WIN!)

jesse was my hero and did every single hard part to get us to the car, home, and tucked in. 

the next day i woke up and wanted to end it all. i havent felt that bad in years. i dragged myself to the nearest urgent care and was told i had the flu and probably strep. i told the guy i had gone to disney on day 3 of feeling bad and he was like, "oh yeah, that kicked your butt. you probably would have been fine, but throwing that in wrecked you." and then i started to think about all the people i encountered that day and to assemble an Outbreak-style map in my head of my infection chain. the people i shared foot-juice puddles with alone numbered in the low thousands! i'm so sorry, yall. i am patient X.

overall it was an AWESOME trip. it's so-very dukes style that 75% of us had the flu or some awful diarrhea barf virus the whole time we were there (cousins and aunts), but that we also completely enjoyed each other and had a blast together. judah complained the whole way home that he just wanted to live in this zebra-themed room in the condo house forever and never go back to georgia. 

is there a collector's edition pin for "i survived magic kingdom with the flu!" because i will rock that proudly on my lanyard.