Lost and found

Five years ago this week, I signed up as a volunteer for the Special Olympics Kentucky State Basketball Tournament.

Next weekend, I’m going to be watching a team I coach participate in that tournament.

Four years ago, I was starting to get more involved with the organization – but hadn’t yet found my place. I also jumped in the freezing Ohio River that year for these guys and girls. Brrr.

It wasn’t long after that I met an athlete that got me where I am today with SOKY.

This is Dallas. He’s the first athlete I met/saw numerous times as I got more and more involved at Special Olympics events. He was/is EVERYWHERE. He’s kind of a big deal, you guys. Everyone knows him, everyone loves him.

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It was through Dallas I then met his mom, Cathy, the head of the Louisville Royals sports delegation – who heard me mention an interest in softball and brought me on to help coach the summer of the 2015 (which you all may remember as that time in my life that everything fell apart but fell perfectly together).

And the rest, as they say, is history.

I’ve said this before about Special Olympics, but it bears repeating: Have you ever found something you didn’t know you were looking for? Something you didn’t know you needed? That’s this, for me.

In the Spring of 2015, I was the unhappiest I’ve ever been. The highlight of my week was Thursday nights spent keeping the scorebook for SOKY’s basketball leagues at Fern Creek High School. It’s where I ended up talking more to Dallas, and to Cathy, and it’s because of them I am where I am today.

I quit my job that year on June 1 of 2015. Two weeks later, I became a coach for the Royals softball team. Not only was I getting to work with some amazing people, but it took me back to all those summers spent as a kid with my family at the ballpark – playing, umpiring, watching my younger sisters play… it also distracted my from my anxiety about unemployment, which was much-needed. (The distraction. And the unemployment was much-needed, actually. Not the anxiety, though. Never the anxiety).

After that I was talked into coaching football (which is hilarious because I don’t know enough about it to do anything but watch and also I suck at throwing a football). Luckily, the two guys I coached with had that covered so my job was being the sideline mom. I bandaged scrapes, gave hugs and occasionally chased/cuddled our littlest player, Griffin, who was determined to run off in the middle of the game. My presence was very important, obviously.

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Then there was basketball. Friends, if I shoot 10 baskets I’m lucky to make 2 of them. So I’m a natural choice to help coach, right? Right. Something worked, though, because our team made it to the state tournament and won gold medals.

Last year was my first time as head coach of anything. I started with softball. And just FYI, head coach can simply mean you get the practice space and do the paperwork. And get dibs on making the lineup if you want. Apparently last year it meant piss off a man who was assisting you by doing nothing more than just existing, but that’s a story for another time. Over a beer.

So many positive things have come out of my time as a coach, though. Almost too many to mention. I’ve made some great friendships with those I’ve coached with – Cathy has become an invaluable part of my life, Gus has been so awesome to coach alongside (the two of us are old pros at this point) and then I’ve also been able to spend more time with my cousin, Aaron, who lived out of town for a long time, but who has joined all of us as a Royals coach.

One of the guys in my youth group helped out during softball season and will be back as a coach this year. Several members of my youth group have volunteered at the state tournaments for basketball and bowling for a few years now. My best friend’s son, who is 13, heard about what I do with SOKY and thought it sounded like a cool way to get Beta Club service hours, and who has since come to a game and three practices and loved it as much as I do.

And that’s just the coach stuff.

I’ve also seen enough athlete moments to make my heart explode.

– Athletes scoring their first basket, run, touchdown.

– Athletes helping each other out – passing a ball to someone younger/who doesn’t always get to score so they can get a chance.

– At skills for softball last year, the entire team cheering for each other as they took turns running the bases as fast as they can.

– The smiles and hugs during and after games win or lose, because they just love to play.

– The encouragement of athletes on other teams.

Special Olympics and those involved – athletes, parents, coaches – have given me so much. More than they’ll ever know. And I cannot imagine life without any of it.

Now please enjoy some pictures. Warning: Your heart might explode.

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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!

Wild Man Charlie

So the last time I actually sat down and wrote something for this blog was in September. And it was about my family’s dog, Lucy.

The reason I haven’t really written since September also has to do with a dog. Only this time it’s my dog. That I am solely in charge of.

Yes you heard that right. Let me start at the beginning. But first, here he is, Charlie, the monster. Note the resemblance to the dog from “Up.”

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There hasn’t been a time in the past few years, that I haven’t been searching for a puppy. Especially before I moved back home with Mom and Dad, and again when I moved out. I can’t tell you how many times I visited the Kentucky Humane Society website and imaginary-adopted puppies/dogs.

I had to stop after a while because I was saving money and they were looking more and more affordable and I wasn’t ready for all that yet. Home first, then, once I figured out how to be a homeowner, I’d be a pet owner.

But life doesn’t work that way. And I’m so glad it doesn’t.

Late in the summer, I puppy-sat for my cousin, Blake, and his girlfriend, Amanda’s dog, Molly. She’s a black lab and she’s adorable and crazy and I had her for a week while they went to the beach.

Despite the two days she peed in the house and the night she tore her entire bed into tiny little pieces, I realized I really liked having some company in my house, especially the four-legged kind.

I told Amanda and Blake as much when they got back to pick Molly up, and mentioned if they knew anyone looking to give up a dog to a good home, to let me know, meanwhile, the trolling of the Humane Society site and the imaginary adoptions began again.

Fast-forward to mid-September. Amanda texted me, wanting to know if I’d be interested in a 9-month-old Golden Retriever puppy. Golden Retriever, as in the only kind of dog I’ve ever had, the kind I one day wanted, no matter how much I looked at other breeds of dogs and tried to convince myself otherwise.

The puppy was a boy, named Charlie. And he’d had a rough time. His owners, a young couple, had gotten him around the same time they had a baby. Now they’d broken up, and the girl couldn’t keep him. And she didn’t want to leave him with the guy, because he’d been beating up on Charlie with a belt.

I didn’t hear anything after that. I said I’d take him. I think she mentioned he was free, and house-trained, and they’d bring his food and a crate and his leash to me Sunday if that would work and he’d had his shots….

Gone was the idea of getting this tiny little baby puppy and naming him Hank, because I’d for some reason gotten stuck on that name, and no it’s not because of Breaking Bad.

Also these are the three pics she sent me to “try and convince me” and honestly after that one with the snow came through I may have passed out:

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So the day we met…

On our first walk, Charlie tried to choke himself. It was the scariest thing I’ve ever witnessed and I am really glad I wasn’t alone because I would have lost it.

You see, in prep for him to come live with me, I didn’t get him a new collar. I figured he had one, and he did, but it was a shitty one. It was one of those chains and since he’s a puppy and he was anxious and he didn’t know better yet, he pulled and pulled and it got too tight. He started walking like he was drunk and sat down hard on the ground and that’s when we realized it and loosened it up. That’s also when I felt like the shittiest dog owner ever. Great start, right?

We tried the crate for a while, and he hated it. It lasted approximately two weeks.

He only pooped in the house once that first week, and I blame Rachel. She got him too excited and he started going and then we yelled for him to stop and he ran, while still pooping, and like it often is with gross stuff that happens when Rach and I are together, I cleaned it up while she kept him occupied.

Those first few weeks months were more hard than not. I was dealing with a dog that had been through some bad stuff, and didn’t know how to handle it. He was taken to a new home, completely different environment. Was still a PUPPY. I think that was the hardest part. I was a kid when we’d first had both of our dogs at Mom and Dad’s. Mom handled the training and we just got to play with the puppy. I had no clue.

He chewed so much stuff. He jumped on the couch, which I first tried to stop but then gave up on. #chooseyourbattles

Like I said, he hated the crate, so when that was no longer an option, he stayed in the part of my house that has no carpet, because it was easier to clean. Then we dealt with his separation anxiety – I was in my bedroom where I wasn’t allowing him, and he was pissed and stressed. So for a while, I had to set up this elaborate thing that kept him out of the living room while I put the gate in front of my bedroom because he could PUSH IT OPEN.

Did I mention he’s just turning one this month and came to me the size of a bear? So, reallll easy to control…

Yeah.

So this all sounds like he was a pain, doesn’t it? Well, most — 98 percent — can be attributed to me, having not been a puppy owner. I had no idea how to train him. Add to that all his other anxieties and fears from his last home and, well, yeah, there were many frustrated texts to my mom.

And thennnnnn we got training. Once a week, we’d meet at the pet store with other dogs and learn manners and tricks and how to behave, kind of.

The first two nights at training I cried after. He was so scared, and I hated it for him. He doesn’t like other dogs and it took all my strength to keep him from running at them, even on his leash. He didn’t sit the entire first two classes either. He stood, and panted. I thought he’d never feel or do any better.

And then he did.

Every week at that training he got better and better, learning things so fast and one week, he was the only one who went through the tunnels on the first try. I was a proud momma. We got “Most Improved” at the end of our classes.

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And things got better and better at home, too. He got more used to me and his house and what he was and wasn’t allowed to do and we worked on things.

Some days are still hard, because he’s still a puppy and still had a hard time before me. And because I’m the only one who lives with him and have to be gone some weeks more than others.

But the good outweighs the bad now and I cannot remember life before him. And don’t want to. There was one night that was particularly hard. I ended up crying on the floor of the entryway after a call to my dad about how hard it had been that day with Charlie had resulted in him saying “If it’s too hard and you need to give up, people will understand.”

So I sat on the floor, crying and petting Charlie. And he licked the tears off my face and I kept saying “I’m NOT giving up on you.”

And I won’t.

Now, he sleeps at the end of my bed – sometimes on the floor, sometimes on my feet. He doesn’t pull on walks, he listens (most of the time). He cuddles in the morning. He watches shows with me. He’s a different dog than when I first got him. But so much is still the same. I don’t want to change him, I just want him to feel better and more comfortable and happy. And we’re getting there, every day.

I miss him when I’m not home, and I kind of want to get him a vest to take him everywhere like a service dog, but he behaves NOTHING like a service dog, so that would last about 3 seconds.

He came to live with me at a time when my depression was starting to get a little bit bad again and despite the stressful parts, he helped me, so much. Nothing gets you over and distracted from your own anxieties and bullshit like having to take care of another living thing.

If you want to see an obsessive amount of pics, follow me on Instagram. And look at the pictures in the slideshow at the bottom of this post.

But for now, some important lists, because, do you remember who’s writing this?

Things Charlie has chewed up and/or chewed a hole in:
– Two comforters
– Part of a mattress pad
– Carpet
– Pair of yoga pants
– Three shirts
– A pen
– The curtain that hangs on the window on my front door and all the pieces that hold it up
– A pillow
– Two towels
– $10 cash

Nicknames he has accrued:
– Wild Man Charlie (From his training class teacher)
– Charles
– Chahles (said w/British accent)
– Charlie (also said with British accent)
– Babe
– Baby
– Bubbie
– Bubba
– Bub
– Buddy
– Turd

In all seriousness though, he’s the best. And he’s my buddy, and I will forever be grateful that I was thought of when he needed a new, good home.

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Big life changes – its about time


Ohhhhhh 2014…

(Hey there, btw. I realize I have been slacking on this whole writing in this blog that I love and miss and think about all the time but have been a little busy for. Never fear. I’m back, bitchezzz..)

OK so in 2014, a few major things happened.

Numero uno: I turned 30

Dos: I bought a friggin’ condo.

Three: I got myself a puppy.

WHAT???!?!?!

Yeah it was a bit of a busy year. So busy, in fact, that I still haven’t gotten curtains for my living room. But, the blog’s higher on the priority list right now. I can live without curtains a little longer. I’m almost never naked in my living room.

ANYWAY. Focus.

Today we’re gonna talk about home ownership. Because I know about it now. (No worries, the next entry will have the puppy pics…I know my audience).

So about this time last year I started making serious efforts to get out of the parents’ basement. It wasn’t because I didn’t want to live with them or because they did anything to make me want to go. It wasn’t because I didn’t want roommates or free Showtime… 

A personal goal I set was to not be 30 and living in the basement of my parents’ house. If my birthday came and went and I was still there, it better only be because I was waiting on closing on my new place.

And wouldn’t ya know it, third time is the charm. The third time looking for a place to live, I mean.

A family friend from church was my realtor and had been looking off and on for places for me the year I lived with my parents. My ignorant-of-real-estate self only wanted a townhouse for a long time. And I came awfully close to getting one. But then the owner wouldn’t come down on the price and then wanted me to decide on it within like two days or else he’d rent it to someone and I can’t make decisions that fast that involve that much money.

The house-hunting process itself wasn’t too eventful, really, just nothing that I really liked for a while and one townhouse that had concrete floors on the main floor and I’m pretty sure there was a seance room upstairs.

A few years ago I looked at places and fell in love with one. And then I couldn’t afford it and figured I’d never find a place I liked that much again because I am a fatalist.

But then I saw the place I’m in now. Out the window went all my thoughts about only wanting a townhouse. My condo looks and feels like a house, and did from the first second I walked into it.

I was sold pretty close to immediately and made an offer, and wouldn’t ya know it, I could afford it. I could afford one I liked, a lot. Take that, pessimism.

I’ll not bore you with the rest of the process but I will say my hand felt broken from signing my name so many times and it’s really annoying to deal with mortgage companies because they want copies of every time you’ve ever used money, basically.

It’s still a work in progress to some extent to make it completely mine, but since I moved in May 10, it’s felt like home. We’ve already repainted two rooms and I’m planning on some flooring changes and more painting in the next couple of months. But for now, check out my crib (imagine the pictures with awesome zooming effects and maybe listen to your favorite rap song while you look at them so it’s just like MTV).

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.

‘Tis the season…for photo booths

There are few things more fun than a photo booth. It’s pretty much par for the course for a wedding reception to have one anymore… so being that I am trying to become more of a professional photographer that does weddings and such, I thought I should try to start getting in on it.

Plus, I just love photo booths. That’s all that is on my refrigerator right now – photo booth strips. It’s a sickness.

Earlier this spring, I was looking for things to add to my Amazon wish list (because addicted. Also poor.) and happened upon a really great deal on photography stuff. So I ordered a backpack (that was then stolen in Boston, but more on that later) and some filters and other cool stuff. The most important part of that purchase? A remote.

The first time we tried a photo booth with my camera it was at the Murder Mystery Party for New Years. It worked pretty well, but to take the picture you had to keep going over and pushing the timer on it and running back into place. No bueno. Remote solved all that.

So you better believe, that starting with the first of the several parties we were attending, I was going to test it out.

Well, correction, we tested out the props first.

And then, the day we had both Liz’s wedding shower and bachelorette party – the photo booth became very important because we used it at both.

I’m thinking it was a hit..

And some self-promotion real quick… hosting an event and looking for a photo booth? I’m your girl!

Just one more

Times Square in New York City is probably the only place I know of/have ever been that makes you want to stand in the center of it and spin around with your arms up in the air and a big smile on your face. Just like they do in the movies and on TV.

I settled for a slow spin with a smartphone. Still pretty cool.

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28 hours in NYC

We were in New York a few weeks ago for about 28 hours. And we got. shit. done.

I already told you about our first day, when we went to the 9/11 Memorial and High Line during the day and Times Square and the How I Met Your Mother bar at night.

Luckily we had an 11 a.m. checkout Sunday, so we took our time getting moving in the morning (the alcohol the night before may have played a part, but everyone actually felt really good).

We packed up and said our goodbyes to Megan and G with reminders that they’re gonna get their butts to Kentucky soon, whether they like it or not.

We had plans to meet with more of our cousins from up north for brunch, but also had a bit of time to kill before then, and our hotel was just a block or so from Central Park.

Guys, I love parks. They were some of my favorite things about England, about here in Louisville where there are a ton, and New York doesn’t disappoint.

We grabbed coffee first, obvi, then took a walk through the park.

And a seat for a few minutes.

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Then we played photo shoot, because that’s what we do.

So cold. But so cute.

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On the other side of the park we saw something else pretty cool. A small group was unloading boxes of carnations from a cab. They all had something tied to the stems.

Turns out, it was a girl’s 29th birthday, and in honor of that day, she’d be giving out 2,900 carnations she’d gotten donated from 1-800-Flowers. The notes on the stems encouraged the recipients to pass it on or in its place, an act of kindness in honor of her day.

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It was Rachel’s birthday that day, too, so we got a picture of them together.

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Such a cool idea and I may or may not be in the midst of planning my own way to pass it on.

Brunch was at a delicious restaurant in Greenwich Village, Barraca, where they had bottomless sangria brunch so really that’s all it took to sell us.

It was so great to spend time with our cousins we don’t always get to see very often, and the food was pretty amazing, too.

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After we got our money’s worth of sangria, we said our goodbyes to the fam and headed over to the Metropolitan Museum of Art – Sami’s one request for the trip.

I wish we could have spent two days just walking through that place. But due to our time schedule, we only had about two hours. Still, we saw some pretty awesome stuff.

I thought I would take more pictures then I did that weekend. Photo fail. But I think I was spending more time just taking everything in. It was a quick lil’ jaunt to the city, but we made the absolute most of it. And I can’t wait to go back.