Monday, December 15

Outfits for Three Cute Boys at Disney

About a month ago... we went to Disney. It seems crazy that we are already a month past it! We have a big trip planned in March--and when Sol realized he was going to end up with an extra week of vacation in 2014, we jumped at the chance to get an extra week of Disney. Is it ridiculous to go so often? Yes, yes it is. Do we care? Not really. It's so fun to go with these guys--to see their joy and get to experience so many special things with them.

So naturally, I tried to come up with themed outfits for them each day. I tried to keep them relatively simple and comfortable so they wouldn't mind wearing them. And of course--I wanted them to be things they were excited about. Dressing kids up for Disney increases their enjoyment exponentially--all the cast members fuss over them and everyone interacts with them!  Our first (and Braden's favorite!) round of outfits were these Mickey/Peter Pan shirts. I designed them in Photoshop and had them printed on fabric and appliqued them on. We happened to have matching hats leftover from Finley's birthday--adorable.

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Sol came up with the brilliant idea to have them be Huey, Dewey and Louie. I'm so surprised how excited they were to dress up--and very grateful that Finley still thought it was a super cool idea.

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Braden referred to them as "the boys".  I like DIE over their cuteness. Watching them meet Donald was priceless--stay tuned for that in the next post. They were a little confusing when they weren't together... their costumes really only worked in a group. And some people were still confused. What can I say--I like obscure costumes. (See Halloween as minions, breakfast foods and UP...)

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I had a full set of Peter Pan outfits for them--but Braden really wanted to be Captain Hook Mickey again, so we went with it. Anything to make that boy smile.

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Keaton did NOT like the hat. Finley liked swashbuckling. The polos were white polos we had lying around that were stained and needed to be retired... so I dyed them green!

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These were kind of lame, but still a big hit. Target Mickey shirts! I failed at getting one of all three of them together. Whoops.

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Our time at Animal Kingdom was a disaster. We went for a few hours one morning before we went to Epcot--we rode the Safari twice and stood in line to take a picture with Dug the Dog from UP--but no Russell. All three boys were dressed as Russell and they were all GRUMPY... hence the iPad and iPhone time. I remade the Wilderness Explorer outfits and they are AMAHZING. You'll just have to wait until March for better pictures of the details... but I used Spoonflower to print the WE logos and the sashes and it was awesome. Yellow polos from Children's Place and white hats I dyed yellow.

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We had a blast--I'll have a few more posts recapping more details hopefully soon. #vivadisney

Monday, December 8

Meeting Santa

Oh hey, did you miss me? Lots has gone on in the past few weeks... including letting my domain expire and having to do some internetty sleuthing and call the customer service about verifying my authority or something... but it all works now. Hooray! To celebrate, how about I blog?

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One of the local photographers (Yvette Michelle) had Santa come to her studio for some cute minisessions... I thought it would be fun to have the boys get to meet Santa in a quiet non-mall environment and get some cute pictures. Two out of the three agreed--not that you can see the joy on any of their faces.

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The boys got to tell Santa what they wanted for Christmas and he read them the Night Before Christmas. Santa was actually napping in his chair when showed up--it was cute and authentic.

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The photographer also had a cute twinkly light set up--Keaton was a lot more willing to participate in that part.

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They were still my rascally, non-cooperative boys and we didn't quite get one of them all paying attention... but that's pretty par for the course.

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We're enjoying kicking off the Christmas season by wearing short sleeves and having our neighbors make fun of the fact that we own a snow shovel. We used it already this year--to scoop our moldy pumpkin off our porch. Apparently they mold in like two days because it's so warm and humid here. #TEXAS!!!

Monday, November 17

Family K-State Game

Last weekend we made the drive up to Ft. Worth to watch K-State play TCU. It's exciting to be within driving distance of games now!

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We had a delicious Mexican meal at the tailgate--and got there right in time to see the band play! The boys were mesmerized. They also got to meet Willie, who is looking pretty good this year. #winkwink Finley IMMEDIATELY became the biggest fan K-State has ever had. It was a bit confusing since EVERYONE was wearing purple! He walked around yelling "GO CATS!" and loved to make the little Wildcat hand signal. Every time he heard someone cheer for TCU he'd go off on his little K-State cheer. It was adorable. And also intense.

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We went back and forth on whether we should bring the boys--it ended up being a 6:30 game which was pretty late for them. We came armed with fully charged iPads and the boys kept busy playing Temple Run and a Lego Ninjago game. I am not sure I understand boys. They played "Shake it Off" during halftime, and after that Braden decided he just wanted to watch Taylor Swift on YouTube over and over until the game was over. Crazy kid. Keaton took a short nap and stayed pretty happy most of the time. We say by really kind TCU fans who kept the boys entertained. When we left, the grumpiest boy was Sol--because we lost. But everyone else had fun!

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Thursday, November 13

Breakfast Costumes for Halloween

After hand-making elaborate Halloween costumes the last two years, I was totally planning on letting the boys be whatever they wanted from the costumes we have lying around. I figured they'd love to be superheroes and I wouldn't have to do a thing. Unfortunately... my sweet Braden had a VERY strong opinion on his costume, and it was too cute for me not to indulge him.

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Whenever I'd ask Braden what he wanted to be leading up to Halloween, he'd reply, "Cinnamon Toast Crunch!" And I'd laugh and forget his answer--only to go through the same thing next time I asked him. Eventually I decided to see if we could make it work--and came up with matching outfits for the rest of the crew.

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Braden was (obviously) a box of Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Finley was a carton of milk and Keaton was a square of cinnamon toast crunch. Sol was a spoon and I was going to be a bowl, but that ended up being too much work for me to pull together, so I was just me.

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I was completely surprised how willing Finley was to go along with plan to be milk--he was excited about it and thought his costume was awesome.

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Braden, however, was not thrilled with his costume. The first time he tried it on the head hole was too small and it hurt his face--so after that he REFUSED to wear it unless I bribed him. I was not about to let him get away with not wearing his costume after we built Halloween around him... :) He also fell down a few times and couldn't get up--which was kind of funny but made him a little upset. After he got in the costume, he was happy though!

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Look at Keaton! Standing on his own! His costume cracks me up. It's basically just a large square with elastic holes on the corner. It makes me laugh and only sometimes made him cry.

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I had the boxes printed at a local sign company and they were kind enough to assemble them too! I think they are totally amazing.

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This second set of pictures was taken a week after Halloween--it was getting dark when we took pictures on Halloween and I didn't get a few of the shots I wanted, so I bribed them to get back in their costumes later! I literally made everyone cry during the second photoshoot. It was preeeeetttty impressive. Don't worry, we had candy after and everyone was much happier.

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Tuesday, November 11

Fun in NYC

Part of my stress leading up to the marathon was because we were going TO NEW YORK WITH NO KIDS and I wanted to savor every single second. And eat every delicious thing in the city. We were incredibly lucky to get to stay with one of Sol's friend's sister--in a gorgeous apartment right off Central Park. We flew out of Houston early Saturday morning--but enjoyed not hauling kids through the airport and getting to sleep or do whatever we wanted on the flight.

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Sunday was pretty much dedicated to the race--but after resting and showering we headed out to Times Square to see Rock of Ages. It was a lot of fun and the perfect choice because it appealed more to the menfolk than most shows. We ate a ton of pasta at Carmine's afterwards and were full and happy.

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On Monday we WALKED. Over 8 miles. I was hurting for some of it but think it was really helpful in getting me to recover quickly. We went to the J Crew Bridal Store for me to try on dresses, had lunch at a sweet cafe and walked to LaDuree for some authentic Parisian macarons. Of course.

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I can't even tell you how fabulous it was to spend some time with my favorite dude with no one interrupting us. SO fabulous. We did a pretty impressive job navigating the city--I think we only got on the wrong train once. I normally find New York overwhelming but I enjoyed every second this time! And Sol was a great sport--pretty much everything we did was exactly what I wanted, and he humored me in letting me take pictures of ridiculous landmarks for friends and eating all the macarons.

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Thursday, November 6

NYC Marathon 2014 (or, that time I qualified for Boston)

Ok, let's just start by saying: I QUALIFIED FOR BOSTON. It's been eight years in the making--I ran my first marathon ten years ago in Oklahoma City and just wanted to run under four hours (3:59:50, thank you very much) and ran my second in Chicago eight years ago, when I thought I could maybe run under 3:40 (I couldn't, 3:47). I've made 5 solid attempts to qualify (Chicago, Cape Cod, Pittsburgh, Chicago again, Potomac) and run 2 for fun after having F and B (Marine Corps and Richmond). Every time I've tried to qualify I've gotten faster--every time was a PR. And right when I got fast enough to break 3:40--they changed the qualifying time to 3:35. Which seemed practically unreachable. Not only that, but running a 3:35 isn't a sure bet of getting in--they let runners register based on how much they qualified by--so running a 3:34:59 probably WON'T get you in.

My goal was to run 3:33--the last two years people who ran about 1:30 faster than their qualifying time got in. I felt like being two minutes under was pretty safe and I KNEW I could do it if it was a good day. My training went so well and I felt fast. I had been training for a 3:28 (which seems insane) and if everything had lined up, I think I may have been able to do that. ANYWAYS. Let's talk about the race.

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As I stalked the weather forecast leading up to the race, it looked pretty good--until the forecast changed to WIND. Not just wind--like severe weather advisory wind. I was prepared for cold and was excited to run in cooler temps--but the wind threw another wrench in my plans. It's all anyone talked about leading up to the race--how much was the wind going to slow everyone down and how cold it was going to be. We went straight to the Expo from the airport and miraculously got my number right away. We also met Dean Karnazes. The Expo was not all that impressive--although I did spend a small fortune buying a jacket... I never buy the marathon clothes, but I figured a big race like NYC was the time to do it. We ate lunch at a fantastic Italian place close to the Expo. Ricotta and pesto homemade pasta--I died.

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I got up at 4:45 and caught a cab to the library--then took a bus to Staten Island. I was supposed to be on the 6:00 bus--and for some reason I assumed there'd be like, ONE bus there at 6. Um, no. There were HUNDREDS of busses. Obviously. I got to the start at 6:15... and waited. I had to be in my corral by 8:55, giving me two and half hours to sit in the cold. And it honestly wasn't too terribly cold--until the wind blew. I was one of the first people to the starting area (out of 50,000!) and decided to camp out in a cluster of trees with some other ladies, hoping the trees would break the wind (they didn't.) I did get my picture (hilariously and terribly) taken by a Runner World photographer--you can see the gallery here. I wore my race outfit (t-shirt and shorts with arm warmers) with my post-race outfit AND some Goodwill sweats over it. I also wrapped up in a sweet foil blanket that helped to cut the wind a little. I agonized about whether to race in pants or shorts and was SO glad I picked the shorts--after the first few miles I was feeling great and not cold at all.

The race starts on the Verrazano Narrows Bridge--two miles with nothing to break the wind. They ended up starting the wheelchairs three miles into the race because it was so dangerous. I was seriously SCARED the first two miles, we were being blown so hard we couldn't run in a straight line. My first mile was a TEN MINUTE MILE--and my overall average was 8:07. It was uphill and windy. ESPN was reporting that this was the slowest NYC Marathon since 1984--making me so proud that I was still able to run well... and also annoyed that I didn't get to run as fast as I probably could have in better weather. The start was a little anticlimactic--they have three different starting areas and I was on the lower level of the bridge so it kind of felt like we weren't with the main race. After we got off the bridge and turned into the city, things got fun. Everyone was gradually peeling clothes off--the whole race was littered with gloves and hats and shirts--even more so than a normal race.

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I was making a solid effort to run the first half at a 8:05 and then letting myself speed up on the back half. I always go out too fast and never run negative splits. Everything I read about this race cautioned runners about going out too fast. There are quite a few ROUGH hills and its easy to get caught up in the energy of all the crowds and go out too fast. I was able to keep myself to a slower pace--I finished the first half in 1:47:22 and the second half in 1:45:11. Negative splits!!! That's an 8:11 and 8:02 min/mile pace.

My thoughts about the race are still a big jumble, but I wanted to do my best to write them down. The hills and wind were rough--we ran into the wind for the first 21 miles and had it at our back for the last 5. Although during the last 5, it still was definitely blowing the wrong way a few times. #rude My Garmin was a little off because the bridges screwed it up--and the starting line clock wasn't working when I started, so I had no idea how close I was to being on pace. I ended up checking the runner tracking app around mile 18 to see if I was on pace--and I was. I wasn't even sure of my official time when I finished--as I was trying to check it, my friend Michelle texted it to me. Kind of a very 2014 way to find out your finish time. I also took a selfie on the Queensboro Bridge so Sol would know what I was wearing. I'm praying that I beat that guy in the tutu behind me.

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The last half I tried to push it to closer to 7:56 miles and had quite a few faster than that--and two super slow ones thanks to some pretty serious hills. I passed people pretty much the whole race and was so proud that I was able to keep racing until the end. It felt so good to be able to keep speeding up and chasing people down. Once I got in Central Park (about two miles to go) I just went as fast as I could--I was pretty sure I was going to qualify and I knew that every second mattered for actually getting into Boston. It felt like the finish line would never come--but eventually I finished--in 3:32:33.

And that was it. I qualified for Boston. I knew I could do it--and I'm so glad the wind didn't thwart my plans.

After you finish you have to walk a mile and a half to get out of Central Park (I'm not even kidding a little.) I was in serious pain--everyone was walking SO MUCH faster than me. I was barely moving and freezing. After about a mile I must have looked like I was in pretty bad shape because I got grabbed by the medical people and sat in the medical tent for 5 or 10 minutes to warm up. I felt infinitely better after sitting for a bit--and finished the epically long walk to Sol. And can I just say--that dude is amazing. He's so supportive of giving me lots of time to train--and encourages me to always go faster and do more. There's no way I could have done it without Sol. So I'm planning on giving him a turn wearing my medal occasionally.

I was able to see Vic's friend Andrea at mile 12 and Sol at mile 24 ( I missed him at 18.) The crowds really were amazing--I got overwhelmed by all the cheering four or five times and had to choke back tears while I was running. It's just so amazing to be part of something so BIG and feel so supported by millions of strangers. Honestly, there's absolutely nothing like it. That being said--I don't necessarily want to run NYC again. I LOVE running Chicago and can't really think of anything that NYC has on it (except for being in NYC.) I'm so glad I did it--especially because it was the race where I finally got my BQ. And it was amazing. But it was also huge and hilly.

We walked approximately 8 miles around NYC on Monday which was tough but I think was so good for helping me to recover. I'm barely sore anymore and really feel good. No injuries--just one sore toe that should be better soon.

Thank you so much to everyone who emailed/IGed/texted. I feel so so loved and so so blessed. Everyone is invited to Boston in April 2016 (assuming I get in...) It's going to be a party that's been a long time coming. I'll bring the pasta.

Tuesday, October 28

NYC Marathon Training Update

I'm in the final weeks of marathon training which means I stay up late every night googling things about the marathon. How steep are the bridges? If I start on the lower level of the bridge, will I really get peed on by the people on the top layer? Is it possible for Sol to see me more than twice? Do I really have to walk a mile and a half after the finish line just to exit the post race area? Thanks to the internet, you can have all these answers and more for the low low price of a few hours of sleep.

My parents are coming to watch the boys and Sol and I are escaping together ALONE to NYC. It's a toss up what I'm more excited about--a few days without kids or running a world class marathon.  I really do want to ENJOY the marathon and am trying not to put too much pressure on myself, which is basically impossible.  Here's what I currently think.

I'm going to run fast because I've been training hard in very hot temperatures--I'll just be able to fly in the cooler weather. I'm going to die because of ALL THE BRIDGES and then lack of any elevation change in Beaumont. I'm going to run really fast because I love my new training schedule I'm following. I pretty much totally stopped doing Barre and lost some flexibility and strength... so my bones will probably all break as a result.

The race is Sunday--I'll be starting at 9:40 and will finish... after that some time. You can go here to track me--there's a nifty mobile app or you can use the website. I'm number 17666. 

My goal for the race? I hesitate to even type it out since I famously try to BQ and barely miss it like its my job... but this year, I need to run 3:35 to qualify for Boston. The past two years, the runners have had to be about a minute and a half faster than their qualifying time to get in. So I would hope to run a 3:33. Based on how I've been training, I could be able to run a few minutes faster than that. I'd love it if I can keep all my miles under 8:00--but I'm not sure how my legs will handle the hills and how easy it will be to run quickly in the very dense crowds. I've PRed at all but two of my previous eight marathons--the two slow ones were the ones I ran months after having Finley and Braden. I'd love to PR and maybe BQ--but really, I just want to have fun.  I'm so excited to get to be a part of it and no matter what my time is, I am pretty sure I'll be thrilled to have run those streets.

Thursday, October 23

Soccer Shots

We put both the boys in soccer this year--and it way entertaining to say the least. The soccer complex is just a few minutes from our house which is crucial--I don't think we would have been able to make it if it were much further! The boys each have practice and a game every week--sometimes they are close in time and sometimes they are two separate outings.

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Braden wasn't too sure about soccer. About half the time he'd refuse to have anything to do with it and just wanted to sit in the car--and the other half of the time he'd kind of kick the ball around if we were holding his hand. And sometimes he'd kick by himself--but rarely.

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He loved two things about soccer: laying on the field and picking grass and running through the high five tunnel at the end. Maybe next year he'll be more into it... three year old soccer is pretty hilarious.

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Finley really enjoys soccer! The first few weeks were pretty hot, but now that it's cooled down a bit he's excited about going to practice and playing. His coach is fantastic--Finley's about a head shorter than most of the kids so his coach makes a solid effort to make sure he finds a way for Finley to get the ball and participate.

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The pictures below are some of my favorites--he has a really goofy run that he does when he's "trying" to run fast and is sometimes just in his little five year old mind instead of focusing on the game.

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My marathon training has conflicted a bit with getting to see all their games--but Sol has been amazing and getting them all there and excited about playing! I was glad I got a few shots to remember how cute they are running around the field as little guys.
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