Happy birthday, best friend!

Charlie,

Today you turn ONE YEAR OLD! What?! Just yesterday you were our little baby and now you’re a big kid! It seems as if you’ve just gotten here but at the same time, as if we’ve never known life without you!

I’ve been wanting to write something to you on here, especially, to keep and look back on when you’re older and remember this time. But I’ve waited and waited because I wanted to get it right. So here’s my best effort:

Bubs, you have changed our lives. For the better. This past year has been one of the happiest and most fun times in my life, and I know the rest of your family will agree.

Watching you learn and grow and become this amazing little boy has been something I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world. You are so happy, and funny, and sweet, and I hope you never lose that as you get older.

I, for one, am pretty obsessed with you. My heart damn near explodes when I see how you react to me walking into a room, or when I can make you laugh, especially those deep belly laughs where your whole face just crinkles and we can see all your teeth.

When you reach for me to hold you, I will always pick you up because your cuddles are the very best. You are such an affectionate boy – one of my favorite things you do  is when someone is holding you, you rub their back, or their arm, or their elbow, or rest your hands on their arms. And you’re always ready to share your food with one of us. Thanks for letting me have a bite of your birthday cake!

I love how smart you are. And how much you love books. I love that you love to be in the middle of the action, and are just as content playing with your toys as you are watching the adults play a game. (Also really excited you’ve caught on to Dutch Blitz in your own little way).

I love your love of puppies and dogs and would buy you the real thing if your parents would allow it.

Little Buddy, being your aunt is without a doubt the best thing that’s ever happened to me (yes, even more than that tweet I got from Chris Pratt, which I’ll tell you about when you’re older and can watch Jurassic World with me). I love you more than words can express and I hope you and I always have the bond we do now.

You are my sunshine.

Love,

Lala

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We’re worried about you, Justin Timberlake

Now that my sisters and I are older and all out of the house, it’s harder to get the whole fam-damily together for a vacation. Schedules are all over the place and Sami and Austin are in a different city now and Rachel and Chuckie were and it’s just…life.

The last time we were all together for a vacation was 2009. The first weekend we were gone, Michael Jackson died.

Fast-forward to a couple weeks ago. We all reunited in Denver, to visit Sami and Austin for four days.

And Prince died.

We are now afraid to go on another vacation because we have this unexplainable power. Our collective energies outside of Louisville, Kentucky are too strong and a major pop star pays the price.

I think we’re going to Gulf Shores next summer and I’m genuinely concerned that if we can all go, who is in danger.

Other than the passing of sweet, talented Prince, our four-and-a-half dayish jaunt to Denver was all kinds of awesome. We visited Boulder (Hippie HQ), Golden (The Cutest) and Red Rocks (I’m in love). And climbed a mountain and ate good food and had all kinds of fun together.

And did not smoke any weed despite landing in Denver on 4.20. #regrets

I compiled a list of quotes that you’ll see pop up here and there on the blog, so stay tuned.

For now though, let me show you our trip – it’s much easier (and prettier) to do through pictures.

Enjoy!

Grandpa Kardashian and Grandmother Nollner

Sometimes when our immediate family is together, we talk about when my parents become grandparents one day, what they might be called.

Growing up, we just called all four grandparents “Grandma” and “Grandpa.” And differentiated with last names when we needed to (mainly Christmas present labels).

But now it’s a little different. And my sisters and I have talked about what we might want our future kids to call our parents. Then we have run a few by Mom and Dad.

A frontrunner for Mom is from Sami’s BFF and one of our unofficial/official adopted sisters, Kate. She calls one of her grandmas “Grandmother Nollner.” So naturally, we told Mom that’s what we’d have our kids call her. In a posh accent because how else should you say it. Let me reiterate. That name exactly. Even though our last name is not Nollner.

Dad has known he wants to be Pawpaw (sp?) for a while. That’s what his grandpa was called, and he was the only great-grandparent still living and that we got to know growing up. However, when we were debating names for Mom to go by, he wasn’t so sure he’d get his way (having a house full of girls his whole life? Can’t imagine why he’d think that).

So while we looked online for trendy names for Grandpas, he kind of complained aloud: “I’m probably gonna be Grandpa Kardashian or something.”

 

Dear Lucy

Dear Lucy,

I miss my roommate. I’m not talking the ones who lived upstairs and yelled at me sometimes for feeding you too many marshmallows.

I miss the roommate that slept at the foot of my bed for over a year and when you weren’t perched there, you were in the doorway of my bedroom, partially because I think you were a little claustrophobic and partially so you could protect me.

When I moved back in with Mom and Dad last January to save up some money for a place of my own, I anticipated it only being a couple months. I anticipated it feeling like an extended visit, but soon enough I wasn’t a “visitor,” I was back home.

I don’t remember when exactly it started, but it was pretty immediate, I think. You were glad to have me there, glad to have me back. You started waiting at the top of the basement stairs every night as I went down to my makeshift apartment, not moving until I said it was OK for you to come down.

I’m wondering if it’s because we didn’t get that time together when you were little. When you were a puppy, and really, until last January, I was the sister that visited a lot, but I always had to leave. Only now I wasn’t leaving, I was there all the time. I think you were making sure we had time together and our own memories together because you know it wouldn’t be forever.

I knew it wouldn’t be forever either, of course, I planned to move out at some point, on my own again, but you know what I mean. I thought we had more time than we did.

Before I lived with you again, I already knew you were a good dog – an old girl who still believed with all her heart that she was a puppy. Even if you got a little wobbly on the stairs those last few months and your breathing sounded a little different, you still crammed all your toys in your mouth to carry them from one place to the other. You still could take out a rawhide bone in 2 hours or less and threw your rope toy around whether someone was holding the other end or not.

You are the only dog I have ever let eat food that was sticking out of my mouth – when I’d stick one of those huge marshmallows in my mouth, stoop to your eye level and you’d slowly and gently grab the other end and take it. That was our best trick, you and me.

When it became apparent sleeping upstairs for you was going to just be for naps only, I made you a little bed, remember? That old blanket folded up all nice for you at the foot of the bed? You laid on it to humor me until I fell asleep, I think, but I saw you later, laying on my shoe or the balled up T-shirt or sweatshirt I’d left on the floor.

Sometimes you snored, but I couldn’t get mad, because I did too. I knew it meant you were comfortable and sleeping well, having great dreams about chasing squirrels and getting ice cream from Dairy Queen – two of your favorite things ever.

Sometimes you’d be upstairs when I woke up – you’d gone up to visit Mom and Dad before they went to work. If you came back downstairs, or were just too tired to go up at all, you waited for me. It was a silent communication between you and I. You’d rest until I was done with my shower and dressed and ready. And when I headed for the stairs with my bag, there you were, ready to follow me up.

Remember that time I tried to make you run with me? Sorry about that. You weren’t havin’ it, I know. I tried to make you keep going but you pulled us toward home and I had to relent. You were a 63-year-old with about 30 pounds of hair, it was a little crazy for me to ask you to run in Kentucky in the summer. I agree.

I loved that I could take you on a walk without a leash. That even if you got too far ahead you’d stop and look back and wait for me to catch up. Payback for the running, maybe?

Remember when you spent a couple nights at my apartment during the ice storm? You were probably the happiest one there, since there were four adults and you crammed into a one-bedroom apartment. And you behaved so well! (Dad will disagree because of that whole taking your time outside when it was freezing thing).

You’d love my new place. I’d have had you come visit or stay with me when Mom and Dad were out. There’s still plenty of room at the end of my bed, and a nice sunny spot by the doors to the deck, because I don’t have curtains yet.

I’m glad we got that year, you and I. I miss your company, and even your dog breath in my face sometimes when I would sleep close to the edge and you’d come over and sit, usually trying to get me to pet you.

I still look at your spot in the living room when I go back to Mom and Dads, hoping none of it was real and your bed is still there in front of the fireplace.

The day we said goodbye to you hurt like nothing I’ve ever felt before. I thought I might run out of tears. I just went numb for a while.

I take comfort in the fact that you are keeping Grandma company – I don’t think God would separate Dog Heaven from People Heaven, because that’s cruel.

She loved you, you know? Remember how she opened your stocking at Christmas for you every year?

I think about you all the time, little one, and miss you terribly.

Thank you for the year we had. I wouldn’t change a thing.

And I hope hope hope hope hope that you’re getting so many marshmallows where you are now.

I love you.

Laura

Unforgettable

I remember her singing that song around her house when we were younger. And then when we were older.

And it summed her up pretty perfectly, because, you see, my grandma is and was and always will be unforgettable.

I’ve been thinking a lot about her recently. The first weekend of this month was the annual Walk to End Alzheimer’s. And like we do every year, my family raised money for the cause. We have participated for about 4 years now, I believe, but this year we weren’t actually able to do the walking part.

That doesn’t mean she wasn’t any less on our minds and in our hearts though. That’s where she stays, these days.

It’s been about six months now since she’s been gone. Six months since she went to be with my grandpa, who she’d been looking for since he left us a few years ago.

Trying to sum my grandma up into a group of words or one post or sum her up at all is almost impossible. She was just, “Grandma.”

I got almost 30 years with the lady, and I was so lucky to have that time. My first memories of her are from when we were younger, in her and Grandpa’s old house. She’d sit with us on the couch and read us stories – I specifically remember the one about the Gingerbread Man and as I think about it now, I can hear her voice reading those words we ended up knowing by heart at one point.

She was at every Christmas that I can remember, and every ballgame and concert and graduation she and Grandpa could attend. And as their only grandchildren that lived in town, we knew we were lucky to have that special time with them and those major events they were able to be there for with us are some of my most treasured memories. She loved us – as she loved all her family – and was so proud, no matter what it was we were doing.

Memories of her come in spurts and there are some that stick out more than others.

–She loved talking to babies and little kids (it’s where I get it from). Once, on the way out of dinner at a restaurant, there was a kid standing in the corner of the lobby in time-out. Grandma, being herself, walked over and leaned down to his height and started trying to talk to him. I remember laughing and saying “You aren’t supposed to talk to him! He’s in trouble!”

–She was a fan of trouble. She’d always ask people if they were behaving themselves. When they’d say yes or that they were trying to, she’d immediately come back with “Well that’s no fun, now is it?”

–She was feisty. Even when her memory started to fail her those years ago, and up until the end, she had a great sense of humor. One of my all-time favorite pics of us with her is this one, where we got her to make faces with us for the camera.

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–She hugged Muhammad Ali in a CVS about 10 years ago. Walked right up to him and said “Ali!” and all 5 feet of her hugged that man like they were old buddies.

–She was a dancer. Whether it was with my grandpa or by herself, if there was music, she was dancing.

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–Speaking of music – she’d have a song for every phrase. You’d say something and she’d launch into a line from some older song.

–She had a sweet tooth. You could always count on dessert at her house, and when she lived in the assisted living facilities, if she ate nothing else, she always ate the dessert – or the candy we brought her.

–She always grabbed your face when she kissed you on the cheek. And God forbid if your hair was in your face. She’d push it behind your ears for you so she could see you.

–A few years ago, before Grandpa passed away, I recorded them reading “Twas the Night Before Christmas,” on one of those recordable books from Hallmark. It’s my most prized possession, and my hope is to one day be able to share it with my children and tell them about their great-grandma and great-grandpa.

–She loved my grandpa. So much. He was her world. And when he left us a few years ago, she wasn’t the same. She was always looking for him, wondering where he was and why he hadn’t visited or when he was going to pick her up. Because he was everything to her. Everyone should aspire to a love like theirs was. I know I do. In fact, one of the things that gives me peace about her passing is that she’s with him. She was talking to him that last night.

I got to talk to her a little on that last night, too. She wasn’t awake, but she was still there. And I held her hand and teased her for not having lipstick on – something she was always so concerned about when she had company, even if it wast just us. When I asked where it was, she squeezed my hand.

When I told her i loved her and that my sisters loved her and we all loved her, she moved her head towards my voice and I got to kiss her goodbye and tell her goodbye.

She was 91 when she left. 91 years of love and feistiness and kids and grandkids and great and great-great grandkids. So many years filled with so many great memories – I didn’t even scratch the surface of the ones I’ve got stored when I wrote this post.

I miss her, every day. And I hold on tight to those memories of that unforgettable lady. She was a good one.

Saying goodbye, a little late

In March, some very bad things happened. My grandma, who suffered from Alzheimer’s for years, took a quick turn for the worst and, after missing my grandfather for the past two and a half years, she was finally able to go and find him.

The very hour we came home from her funeral, we got word of another impending loss – our dog Lucy, who was 10 years old and had seemed fine until the week Grandma died – was sick and wasn’t going to get any better. So, tears not yet dry on our cheeks from Grandma’s service, we went to the vet to say goodbye to our sweet Lucy girl.

I’ve written posts about both of them in my head countless times, but couldn’t bring myself to put them down on paper or on the screen for the longest time. But now I have.

I plan to share some words about them both on this blog soon, because the one thing that makes me feel better about being without loved ones is to remember them, to write about them, to think of a time when things were better and be happy and smile and not just think about how they’re gone from my every day life. Because for as long as I have the memories, they’re not.

Pets are like family, and anyone who says different is lying. That day and so many days following it, when we said goodbye to my grandmother and also to the pet we’d had for so many years, were a fog.

I don’t know that we’re even – I’m even – completely out of it yet. There have been too many reminders.

I think I’ve been afraid to write about any of it – afraid I won’t do justice. Afraid it will hurt too much to bring everything back up. But at the same time I need it. I need the release of letting my feelings out through my fingertips.

And soon I will share them with you. Soon.

Celebration Summer

As of right now, I think the parties are over for a little while. At least the major ones. I think… This is why I have a planner. Helps. Well, whenever I remember to write things in it.

But they have been pretty much nonstop since early May.

I’m not complaining – at all. I loved every single one of them. But WOW I’m worn out… So worn out, in fact, that I’m giving you the short version now. Longer versions of some of them will come later. You can see some of the photo booth-ness from them in my last post.

It started with some graduations: Baby Einstein and my cousin, Caitlin, graduated from the University of Kentucky. My cousin/little brother, Cool Ethan, graduated from University of Louisville.

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Then we had a party. Where basically every one of our family and friends did a keg stand.

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No seriously.. they did.

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We celebrated my other cousin/little brother’s beautiful wedding to the sweetest girl ever and that ceremony was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen.

We celebrated Liz’s upcoming (at the time) wedding with a 2-in-1 day…wedding shower in the morning, bachelorette party at night.

Then we went to Boston – for the last time for a while – so Charles could graduate from MIT! On account of he’s a boss. And a mega-smartie.

We moved them home to Louisville (yay!!!!!!!) a couple days later and then went right into wedding week for Liz.

After that it was one more grad party and just last weekend, the last in the string of weddings for the summer – one in Minnesota for our very good friend, Lauren, who we’ve known since she was five, when she and Rachel met in kindergarten and became BFF.

It may have been the happiest summer ever! So much to celebrate, and something going on literally every single weekend.

And now, we sleep.

They’re bound to be tired of me by now

It’s been a little over a year since I moved back in with the parents…something I should have done after college to save some cash and pay off some bills but I’m stubborn and didn’t so here I am now.

For the past year, I’ve taken over the “home theater” in the basement, and I’ve been working on paying off some bills so that when the time comes for me to get a house (which should be soon, I got REAL close about a month ago, but alas…seller sucked) I have enough money not to live paycheck to paycheck and have to eat Ramen noodles every night.

When I first moved back, there were some rules set up – had to wash my own dishes and put them in the dishwasher and had to save some money. Oh and there was the one about throwing stuff away from the coffee table so the dog wouldn’t eat it.

My only rule for them? Gimme about 20 minutes of silence when I get home. On account of I really just don’t feel like talking to anyone right after work. Especially about how work was.

I’m happy to say all rules have worked out pretty well, except for the couple times I forgot something on the table and Dad forgot not to talk to me after work.

Other than that, we’ve had a pretty good year, I think. The food’s been good, I’m pretty sure the pantry is a magic closet that never runs out of tequila, we’ve watched a bunch of new shows and I’ve let them hijack my Netflix account (shhh).

They’re some of my favorite drinking partners, especially when I can convince them to get up to El Toro and have two-for-one margaritas every other week. (Or sometimes twice a week, we really don’t have a set schedule there). Also, they have like, all the TV channels.

There was that one time when Dad couldn’t open a drawer that doesn’t have any of his stuff in it anyway, so he threw out my makeup bag with a brand new eyeliner in it. Luckily I saw it about 3 minutes later and he bought me two new eyeliners for Christmas to make up for it.

I make jokes a lot about living with them but I of course am only kidding. They’re kind of the awesome-est and I’m ridiculously lucky to have them. They’re not rushing me out of here and they’re also not treating me like I’m still in high school(which was the last time I lived here full-time).

They’re helping me a lot, and I hope to be able to pay them back for it someday. But for now, they seem to be settling alright with the occasional dinner paid for by me and access to Netflix. It evens out, right?

Everything I know I learned from television

Once upon a time – at my previous job – there was talk of sending a reporter to spend the night in jail to write about the experience. It never ended up happening, but I like to think I’d have done just fine if I’d been chosen. (I had a 50/50 chance as there were only two reporters there).

In fact, not long ago, a couple of my co-workers and I were talking about Orange Is The New Black** and they told me that they both were confident I’d survive just fine in jail/prison (there are differences, people).

**If you have not watched this show, you need to. First of all, it’s awesome. Second of all, I never steer people wrong when it comes to TV show recommendations. Third of all, the whole first season is on Netflix so you can binge-watch in four days like I did.

Between OITNB and repeated viewings of Locked Up/Locked Up:Raw /Locked Up:Extended Stay /Locked Up:Abroad, a few episodes of Oz, lots of Law & Orders and those three times I watched Brokedown Palace, I feel like I’m sufficiently prepared, should I ever decide to take up a life of crime and, well, not be great at it.

Seriously. I’ve made a list of the qualifications that would make me a good prisoner (at least in terms of taking care of myself). And because I got them hooked on Orange too, I made my sisters and Mom make lists as well. Who would last long? Probably none of us, if we’re being real honest. But here we plead our case.

Me:
I would survive prison because:
1) I am tougher than I look. Like, when we were younger (and sometimes it still happens, lets be honest), my sisters have to be reminded not to hit or pinch or hurt me because I will retaliate and mine always hurt worse.
2) I am a people-pleaser. I will at least be agreeable to someone’s face. Don’t like having anyone mad at me. And I am good at sharing…comes with being the oldest. You want my lunch? Sure you can have it.
3) Due to my repeated viewings of these shows about incarceration, I have learned how to be resourceful. I can most likely make shoes, a shank and some pretty disgusting hooch if called upon to do so.
4) Since I not only watch(ed) shows about the wrong side of the law but the right/other side as well (See: Justified, Law & Order again, COPS, Dexter, Breaking Bad, The Wire), I can help my fellow prisoners work on their case/appeals. Kind of like Andy in Shawshank. And even if I can’t, I know a lot of legalese/Latin that would make it sound like I knew what I was talking about. “Objection!” “Habeus Corpus” “If it pleases the court..”
5) I’m a damn good snuggler.

Rachel:
Reasons I wouldn’t survive prison:
1) I’m really weak so I’d probably lose any fight I got into.
2) My nose is really sensitive and I imagine there’s some funky smells in prison
3) I don’t like being told when I can and can’t eat.
4) I’d spend all my money on snacks instead of necessities to barter with
5) They don’t serve donuts in prison.

Sami:
Yeah I’d make it because:
a) I’m a people pleaser, I wouldn’t piss people off
b) I’m resourceful
c) I don’t take shit from people
d) im short, I’ll go unnoticed
e) I ain’t no snitch

Mom:
I wouldn’t survive because:
1) jail is too dirty.
2) I don’t like the shower situation
3) Probably wouldn’t be able to defend myself.
4) Not good at hiding my emotions, so that would probably get me in trouble.
5) rats.