Photo(s) of the Week

My favorite boy turned one on Friday, and he’s too cute for just one pic.

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Photo(s) of the Week, special edition

You guys – I got some new photography toys.

tripods

Thanks to the magic of Amazon and it’s amazing deals, I got all of these goodies for an awesome price. Why, you ask? To do more of this kind of thing:

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The goal is to eventually have enough to buy another camera so besides my regular photo shoot stuff, I can now add photo booth to my resume. Kinda.

We tested it out on New Year’s Eve – well, Jenn and Matt’s tripod, which inspired this purchase.

But yeah, the ability to take beauties like these had me convinced.

Money well spent

New Year’s Eve Mystery: The Case

Like I said in the last post, when I thought about wanting to do a Murder Mystery Party at some point, I knew who I was asking first – the Game Night group. I knew they’d take little to no convincing, as we tend to like dressing up to play games because that’s pretty much the only way to get us to play a full game anymore – unless it involves alcohol.

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This time, the only alcohol was a shot before the game (for the adults) and the rest was saved until the case was solved. And thank God, too, because there was a lot to keep straight. I was giggly without alcohol. I just kept looking around the room saying “My dream has come true.”

It’s really better to show you how the night went, rather than tell you. But the gist of it is, everyone has a part to play and everyone has a motive. The murderer didn’t know they were the murderer until after they’d committed the crime (which basically was us turning off the light for a second and then back on and looking at Oreo – our pretend victim – and screaming).

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(Note: No animals were harmed in the making of this post. Nor were they hurt at the event. Nor have they stopped being called Steve sometimes.)

The rest of the night we spent questioning and blaming and talking about each other – because that’s what our assignments we received said to do. However, not a single one of us guessed who the murderer was when that time came at the end. Wasn’t the alcohol’s fault – or our acting, everyone put on a good show. We just didn’t look at the provided “evidence” close enough and therefore none of us should be detectives in real life. Except maybe Brendan. He was close at one point.

Some highlights of the evening:
– Caitlin fainting after the murder
– Jennifer’s voice getting progressively deeper the further she got into character
– Jennifer helping Rachel with stretches (as seen here)

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– No one talking about it beforehand but all deciding to treat Liz the same way (as someone you don’t want to be talking to for longer than about 10 seconds). I was the only exception, because I was her lawyer.

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– Shane somehow convincing everyone to give him money.
– The dance-off

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– Rachel dancing along w/Janet Jackson on TV, but on a delay
– Sami and Austin’s in-character drama
– Shane going full guido in the middle of the game and also sounding a lot like Fonzie from Happy Days
– Shane checking envelopes and drinks for Chuckie before he handed them to him
– Brendan’s accusing of so many people
– Matt just giggling and smiling a lot
– Watching my best friends have so much fun with this party and saying how much they wanted to do it again once it was over.

So here is (part of) our night in photos. I love these kids.

New Year’s Eve Mystery: Cast of Characters

Once upon a time, I got an email from Groupon (as I do every day, sometimes annoyingly) with their daily deals. Leading the email? A $30 deal for a Murder Mystery package. Half the price it usually sells for, to get a 150+ page PDF of just about everything you’d need to host your own event.

You guys, I’ve wanted to host or attend a Murder Mystery party for a long time. Like, ever since the Clue-ish episode of Saved By The Bell. And then again when Hef and the girls did one at the Playboy Mansion on an episode of Girls Next Door (I miss that show…the original one, not the second group).

So naturally, I bought the deal. And I knew just who would go for participating and helping make my dream come true. (I aim high, y’all.) I pitched it to the Game Night Bitchezzz and they were sold immediately.

We held a sort of vote, narrowing it down from the 40 or so possible scenarios to three. The one we ultimately went with was a High School Reunion. As we enjoy having themed events (see: a future Field Day post since I forgot to post about it after it happened last summer and the summer before, whoops)

The story and craziness from that night are too much for one post, so for now I’ll give you the Reader’s Digest version as well as your cast of characters and a few other tidbits about them.

The Scene: Murder High (like, really? Couldn’t come up with a better name for it for $30?) Class of 1983 30-Year Reunion
Fun Fact: Only one person in attendance had been born in 1983. The rest of us were after.
Other fun fact: None of us could do the math right and swore this reunion was happening in 2003, therefore looked up fashion and music styles from both 1983 and 2003. #geniuses
The crime: AV Geek Steve Spielson (or Spielman, I don’t remember) who ended up a big Hollywood producer/hotshot or something gets killed at the reunion. But who did it? ‘Cause we all had motives.
THE CAST:

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Terry “T.J.” Johnson
– Former hall monitor, current crossing guard and host of this reunion
Played by: Jennifer
Snazzy accessories: Homemade hall monitor belt and police hat
Characteristics added by the actress portraying her: Butch lesbian with a girlfriend named DJ, deep voice, carries around handcuffs though she has no reason to use them. Or does she?
Quote of the night: “DJ and I lumberjack on the weekends.”

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Randy Reporter – Former newspaper editor, now works at the Wall Street Journal
Played by: Brendan
Snazzy accessories: Fedora and reporters’ notebook and pen
Fun facts: Fearless in accusing anyone and everyone, only one who had any idea who the actual murderer ended up being (wasn’t him).
Quote of the night: After he saw in his bio where he had supposedly worked previous to the WSJ, “What’s Playboy?”

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Byron P. Keaton –
Math team captain turned accountant
Played by: Matt
Snazzy accessories: Pens in his pocket, TI-83 calculator, bowtie
Fun facts: May have turned T.J. straight at the reunion, at least for a minute.
Quote of the night: We are still not sure because nobody recalls hearing him talk. Thus, the suspicion.
Side story: Byron had evidence in his possession, despite the fact that T.J. asked him several times if he had any and he didn’t know/didn’t turn it over. Again, thus, suspicion.

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Molly Ringworm – High school drama queen turned famous actress
Played by: Caitlin
Snazzy accessories: “Emmy” and “People’s Choice Award” which may or may not have actually been from elementary school sporting events, sunglasses, pearls and leather jacket (two of which were left at the party)
Fun facts: Caitlin was appreciative of this character because she said since she has had ringworm it only made sense that was her last name.
Quote(s) of the night: “I’VE MISPLACED MY ENVELOPE!” “Where is my envelope???”

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Cindy Crawfish – class flirt who now runs an online dating website
Played by: Anna
Snazzy accessories: Hotness.
Fun facts: Kept going into the other room talking to Chuckie (Class President) with whom she SOOOOOOO was having an affair! Also, at least two of us offered to keep her secrets if she gave us a free account on her dating website.
Quote of the night: “YOU SLEPT WITH STEVE????” (to Sami)

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Nick Nixon – class president who is now running for POTUS
Played by: Chuckie
Snazzy accessories: A full suit, brought home from Boston for the sole purpose of this party, and buttons that said things like, “Vote Nick.”
Fun facts: Chuckie was class president for almost all of high school so it was only right that he played this part.
Quote(s) of the night: To Anna, “It’s not you, it’s me.”

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B.A. Barricade – BA, of course, stands for Badass, which he was in high school. Now he does security for Nick.
Played by: Shane
Snazzy accessories: Earpiece like a Secret Service guy, sunglasses, neck tattoo that says “Make Good Decisions.”
Characteristics added by the actor portraying him: Ability to change accent at the drop of a hat. May or may not be related to Fonzie.
Fun facts: Ended the night with pretty much everyone’s money.
Quote of the night: “Does anybody else have more than $2,000?”
Side story Liz told me about: “Shane asked Brendan to look out for suspicious people. Later, almost at the end of the night, he approached B and asked ‘So you see any suspicious people around here?’ Brendan looked around the room, looked back at Shane and said ‘Nope.'”

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Joe Nebraska – The most popular guy at our high school and now, a high school gym teacher.
Played by: Austin
Snazzy accessories: Letterman’s jacket, swag.
Characteristics added by the actor portraying him: Animal magnetism. Two ladies had a dance-off over him.
Fun facts: This was Austin’s third-ever event as one of the Game Night Bitchezzz and you’d have thought the man had been there from the beginning.
Quote of the night: “Have fun on Christian Mingle!”

Natalie Nebraska – Head cheerleader who now works as a manager at a discount store, Joe’s wifey.
Played by: Sami
Snazzy accessories: Super-high ponytail, matching letterman jackets with Joe.
Characteristics added by the actress portraying her: Hair-twirling, cheerleader-ish moves in every day life, sassy attitude.
Fun facts: Participated in a dance-off against Pamela for Joe’s affections to the classic love song, “Bootylicious.”
Quote of the night: To Anna, “It was just once! In community college!!”

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Pamela Abdul – Head of the dance team, now a choreographer, in a feud with Natalie.
Played by: Rachel
Snazzy accessories: Legwarmers, obviously.
Characteristics added by the actress portraying her: General peppiness, sassy attitude, killer dance moves, choreographed for Janet (Jackson, duh).
Fun facts: Participated in a dance-off against Natalie for Joe’s affections to the classic love song, “Bootylicious.” Janet Jackson dance on New Year’s Eve choreographed by her, as evidenced by her doing the dance moves right along with Janet…with a 2 second delay.
Quote of the night: After every time she took a bite of food, “My trainer’s gonna kill me.”

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Dani Drums – Band nerd, still a musician but now more on the professional side
Played by: Liz
Snazzy accessories: Marching band wind suit and band clinic T-shirt, clarinet on which she kept only playing Hot Cross Buns.
Characteristics added by the actress portraying her: General nerdiness, super-pissed off at Steve, ability to make everyone at the reunion leave a conversation immediately.
Fun facts: At least two conversations with Dani started with the person saying “Oh hey, how are you?” and turning around and leaving as soon as she started to talk.
Quote of the night: “I’m gr…”

Bobbie Bright – Valedictorian, Most Likely To Succeed and now, obviously, a lawyer with her own practice
Played by: Me
Why there’s no photo of me right here: Because photographer.
Snazzy accessories: Graduation gown and a button that says “The Greatest.” Also, business cards and Harvard T-shirt.
Characteristics I added: Just kept telling everyone how I went to Harvard Law and was valedictorian. And how I do all kinds of law, so if anyone needed legal representation.
Fun fact: Totally didn’t go to Harvard. Also laughed most of the night so I didn’t really have any good lines.

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Steve Spielson – AV geek turned Hollywood producer or whatever he was.
Supposed to be played by: Cory
Was actually played by: Oreo

Oh, P.S.: Mugshots.

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Photo of the Week

In an effort to make myself do more photography besides when I’m paid or asked to do it, I’m making myself start a Photo of the Week feature.

This first one isn’t one I took, personally, but I’m in it – which is rare for me to post on here. It’s from our New Year’s party the other night, where we did a murder mystery, something careful/long-term/nosy readers will notice is on my list.

More about that in an upcoming post, but for now, enjoy this picture of my sisters and I after several adult beverages. And yes, I do have a marker-drawn teardrop tattoo. #tough

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Sounds familiar, special edition

A few months ago, my life was changed by an iPhone app. Not Candy Crush. GroupMe.

You used it? It was introduced to me by one of my best friends in an attempt to get us all into a group message outside the regular texts. It’s genius, really, because seriously who hasn’t wished for an opportunity to opt out or at the very least take a break from constant notifications in group texts? GroupMe lets you do that, plus you can like comments, post pics and video, have a big group in there, so naturally I pitched it to the Game Night Bitchezzz. They were apprehensive at first, but now I think we pretty much all are in agreement it’s the best thing that’s happened to our group.

The conversations in that group – I couldn’t recreate them if I tried. But they generally run the gamut from almost normal to who the hell talks about this and how did we get here.

That said, this edition of “Sounds Familiar” won’t be like the others. This special edition is basically what you’d see if you got involved in our GroupMe conversations. Any one of these could have been said in there – and may have, sometimes in the same conversation.

Love those kids.

Sounds like…the GNB GroupMe

(407) Halfway through the lecture, some kid in the front row threw up IN his hands. Professor held the door for him to carry it out.

(314) Going to be a long day. Text me later. Sorry I puked in your sink.

(606) Does the room smell any better?
(859) Yeah, I sprayed perfume. It smells like Victoria’s Secret, if Victoria’s Secret was that she was homeless.

(616) Took off my bra and popcorn fell out of it. I’m gonna puke at this wedding.

(203) Are taco bell cups microwave safe? I can’t make that judgment right now.

(630) What eyeshadow color says “Yes I am at the dentist, and yes I am hungover please don’t judge my life choices.”

(406) I am drinking fireball and apple juice out of a sippy cup like a fucking toddler.

(425) I am thankful for thumbs.
(425) Because without thumbs, we would be dolphins.
(425) Land dolphins.

(314) i just tried to text you by typing “whoa” into my contacts.

(832) Get you some cowboy.
(832) In that sentence you are the cowboy. That is not saying you should get a cowboy for yourself.

(612) I got “plug” during family Catch Phrase and struggled to not make a reference to butt plug so I skipped it.

(919) All I want to do is shower, but there is a keg in there.

(312) His constant posting of “inspirational” Taylor Swift quotes over the past 3 days has me a little worried. It’s like holy shit dude, you’re almost 30.

(719) Singing high school musical songs with an old Russian woman i met on the bus. What are you doing?

(847) I was like kind of drunk but mostly just enthusiastic about Beyonce.

(541) Lying on this bed is like lying on love and marshmallows and joy.

(302) I’m training the dog to sit when I whistle the tune from the hunger games. I’m going to be the coolest parent ever.

(805) Remember when we had a keg, and then another 5 cases… and like 30 people drank it all?
(313) Everything hurts.

(856) She needs to go. She is like the Yoko Ono of our group.

(513) She’s dipping the chocolate graham crackers in marshmallow vodka for a “campfire taste”

(610) Drunk me spoon fed everyone baby food last night

(318) There is a glee singalong. It’s on random and they know them all. Like, the specific glee timings and pauses. I need to leave. I need to escape.

(586) If I ever have a kid with an outie I’m giving it up for adoption.

(518) So I’m going to regale you with a tale of someone who went out, was fed way too many shots, got super wasted and now has a date with one of the security guards from the building but has no idea what his name is. That someone is me.

(330) WHEN DO I FOLLOW THESE PEOPLE. I WOKE UP THIS MORNING & FOUND TWEETS FROM ILLUMINATI AND “hot shot 6th grader”

(585) seriously they are like going to hulk burst through. There are perks and downfalls to having big boobs.

(734) The girl next to me looks like the young version of sara (bonnie hunt) in jumanji. I wanna be like PLAY THE GAME SARA!!!

(647) I almost took a picture but it looked like he might have a shank and I’m just not a place in my life where I could handle having tetanus.

(816) I need to keep a secret stash of instant alcoholic margaritas for when I deal with people. For example, right now, I’m grading, and I just don’t fucking care anymore. My students should make a thank you card for Jose Cuervo.

(816) So apparently last weekend we taught the mascot how to shotgun beers. Am I winning college yet?

(518) I never thought wine and chicken nuggets would end up being a thing that I did, but here we are

(919) There is an alarming amount of food in my bra

(910) Well according to all the calls, texts, and Facebook messages, I threw up you guys last night.

(647) Btw…I puked in my hand last night and threw it on the floor. Don’t let me do tequila ever again.

(703) I think my cats understand what porn is. And it’s all my fault.

(815) You said you bright chipotle into a movie and I asked you to marry me and you said yes

(559) They were arguing about who would hit the pinnate first so naturally you tore it open with your hands. You broke the pinnate and their hearts.

(317) SORRY BITCH CAN’T, TAKING SHOTS TO WHITNEY HOUSTON.

(847) My day in three words: secret purse cake.

(269) “I wasn’t planning on buying a chicken, but I bought it anyway.” — some guy on the bus with a chicken
(269) “Yeah, I only have nine toes.” – that same guy

(512) It’s just weird to think of you as a teacher since i’ve seen you throw up raspberry bacardi in my parents house

(425) So what are you going to be for halloween?
(503) A woman sitting on her couch watching Hocus Pocus

(908) In other news, last night I told somebody they made eczema look so good they should call it sexzema.

(815) I would steal a car if I knew it had wheat thins in it
(317) Is it necessary to steal the whole car?

(313) I completely forgot about the posting of partying pics shortly after adding my grandma. My dad was like, grandma says you’re all over fb but she doesn’t know how to use it. Of course I’m all over her fb. She’s got 6 friends I am her newsfeed.

(805) I wonder if a fish could survive in vodka
(714) I could

(610) Moment of the night: You were impatient while I paid for the tequila shots and proceeded to lick and salt my hand for me. This is why we’re roommates.

(512) You were exchanging tortilla chips with the guy at the next table, telling him your table was given the “big chips” because it was your 21st birthday

(203) How do you feel? I threw up in a towel. Also a lot of other things.

(202) Vodka and jameson is not a mixed drink

(678) Actually there are like 49038098 people in the bathroom for no reason. Singing My Heart Will Go On and pseudo fighting.

(902) He managed to find a wheelchair and a super mario hat, now he’s rolling around screaming “real life mario kart!”

(334) We don’t have paper towels so I microwaved a spinach/egg sandwich thingy wrapped in toilet paper. Toilet paper. So that’s how my day started.

(219) I sang Sweet Caroline with a homeless man and made him 25 bucks. Redbull vodka gives you wings!

(719) The yoga party turned into an underwear party because we are all incompetent when it comes to tying bed sheets
(719) This has been a party success story.

(812) I would take a bullet for Beyonce’s baby

(785) They have chocolate covered tequila candy at work. This is not a drill. May be drunk by noon.

(785) SOMEONE WITH THE TWITTER HANDLE “METHLAB” FAVORITED THAT PICTURE

(806) Also I’m proud of us for having an educational conversation in this group text.

(631) Whatever she smells like compost and feathers.
(508) I believe they call that patchouli.

(561) am i new drunk or am i still drunk

(219) Realized we were outta OJ, used gerber graduates mixed fruit juice as a mixer. Mother of the Year award right here.

(734) I think the only context in which I’d be comfortable being kidnapped is by a band of baby sloths

(407) I was stalking his twitter and saw that he used punctuation in a hashtag. Thank God we didn’t work out because I can’t be with someone that incompetent.

(870) Say hello to your nephew Sir Isaac Meriwether van Catsworth
(1-870) I’m going to have to start taking your phone after 10. that’s when all the cat pictures come.

(714) GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN NO RULES ICE CREAM FOR BREAKFAST WOOOOOO

(613) We are 100 percent horrible people, and I’m extremely happy we are friends

(615) It hurts to hear and I can smell shapes

(+61) I spent a good part of the night in a bear hat claiming I’d change species

(318) Learned a valuable life lesson last night. It’s titled “Tequila: Still A Bad Idea.”

(201) There is soup leaking out of my nose. Nothing in life has prepared me for this moment

(610) I have vodka and a slip n slide so if you could come over that would be great

(516) She’s been with the dude for a week saying she’s in love. Yeah so am I. I just opened this beer 5 minutes ago and I LOVE IT ALREADY

(541) Aaaand my mom is wearing jeggings.

(480) Grandpa just put 6 jello shots on his plate. My aunt tried to take them away; he flipped her off. Living in the retirement home has hardened him.

(330) Do you know how much wine is in a box of wine? Not so much an amount, but whether it will kill me if I drink the entire box this Xmas?

(253) I just spilled grey goose in my hair. You could say I keep it classy for the family Christmas parties.

(+49) I woke up with a russian doll attached to my necklace and a post-it note with “keep babushka safe” written on it. Fuck vodka.

(512) You kept running up to random groups of people and saying “I’m a Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader so we all have to chug our drinks!” and they all listened to you.

(973) Things I learned last night: 1. Bacardi 151 is a one-way ticket to the toilet. 2. It is possible for a human being to turn into Mount Vesuvius.

(586) It’s a good night to get drunk in my ones.

(908) HES DOING PULLUPS BE STILL MY HEART

(352) I’m walking home wearing Kermit the frog foot pajamas, carrying a monogrammed shot glass set with my name on it. It’s fucking christmas!

(301) She texted me “with freud,” which I thought was drunk for “I’m with my friend.” But nope. She was actually on a statue of the psychologist sigmund freud.

(310) Quick question, when did I develop feelings and how can I make them go away?
(626) That’s two questions.

(415) Feeling better?
(720) I can stand long enough to do the dishes finally. Been trying that all day.

(832) I mean I’m not saying I have my life together but I did just put nerds in a bottle of champagne and then drank from the bottle.

(702) God it’s like my stomach is full of drunk bees.

Unconditionally

There’s this new-ish song I like. And surprise, surprise, it’s by Katy Perry. She of the mega girl crush I have. I love her.

Anyways. I bought her new album not too long after it came out and there are a few on there I’ve kept on repeat, but none more than this one.

It’s called “Unconditionally,” and besides the fact that its a great song and so much fun to belt in the car when I’m by myself, I like what she says in the lyrics. And I can definitely relate.

Supposedly she wrote it about John Mayer and it basically says “no matter what you did or what baggage you’ve got or what faults or mistakes or anything, I will love you. And all you have to do is do the same for me.”

And if ever a song was relatable for me, it’s this one. Not in the exact same way, necessarily, but the overall message.

I’ve always prided myself on being a pretty nonjudgmental person. I give people the benefit of the doubt most of the time (sometimes when I shouldn’t) but generally, if you’re in my life and you’re someone I care about – friend, family member, boyfriend, whatever – I love you unconditionally. No matter what you’ve done or not done or been through or whatever. And all I expect is the same in return. When I haven’t gotten it, I’ve moved on (took me a while to realize it in my younger days, but we all have lessons to learn).

Basically, it’s the holidays and late at night and I’m sappy and in a good mood and want you all to hear this song. And to know I love y’all, unconditionally.

Baby steps

I’m working on this whole photo thing. And I am getting so much better, dammit. I can take a senior portrait like nobody’s business (which reminds me – a post of those is headed your way soon) and I just did my THIRD wedding photo shoot.

So while I am definitely keeping all that up, there are a few camera-related tricks and things I want to try.

I got a C in my photography class in college – it still stings a little to say – but I’ve taught myself more than I was taught in there.

Now to play with the aperture and lenses and f-stops and whatnot. That technical stuff I was supposed to learn in college, but again, I didn’t. NOT MY FAULT.

On my list of stuff I want to do in my life, a big/little thing is light painting photography.

I am NOWHERE even close to near almost kind of knowing what I’m doing, but I played with it a little when the weather was warmer and my friends/cousins volunteered to play with sparklers so I could try.

Here’s what we got.

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Like I said, it’s a work in progress….but I’m gonna keep at it.

Wherein I am either the worst chaperone or the best one

I don’t remember the first time I decided I wanted a tattoo, but I know it’s been at least about 7 or 8 years now.

The first time I remember even coming close to following through with wanting to get one was on Spring Break in college with some of my sorority sisters. Yes I was a cliche, don’t judge me.

I didn’t follow through then because I wasn’t sure what I wanted. And I also didn’t want to get it done at some random shop in Panama City – THAT’S where I drew the line at the cliche, aren’t you proud?

The idea came to mind a few other times, more often after I finished college. I even knew what I wanted and where I wanted it. A fleur de lis, on my foot.

So I did some trial runs. Temporary tattoos (especially ones at football games for some reason) were put on different spots on my foot and I thought about what I would get that I’d want to look at for the rest of my life.

I settled on a fleur-de-lis, because it represents the city I grew up in and love and no matter where I went it’d always remind me of home.

I talked about it once or twice with my parents, who didn’t seem too concerned either way, except for when my dad asked why I would even want one “Cause you don’t even wear a watch.” I’m still trying to figure out how those two things are related.

My aunt, who has several tattoos of her own, told me when I was ready to come up and visit, and her tattoo artist would take care of me. I kept saying OK, but never ended up following through for whatever reason.

I made a bet with my brother-in-law that I wouldn’t get addicted and want more and if I got more than one before I turned 60, I owed him like $100 bucks.

Ashley did a test run one night after a few too many drinks.

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That’s the night I decided it needed to be a LIL BIT smaller. But the artistry is beautiful.

Let’s change direction a little bit for a minute.

The first time I went to Jamaica was in 2004. I was 20 years old, about to be a junior in college and that summer changed all kinds of things.

We made several friends that summer, and, mind you, this was before Facebook and Twitter and iPhone apps that let you text overseas for free. But we kept up those friendships, when they visited us in Kentucky and then when two of us originals went back there in 2009, we made sure to see all our old friends, a few in particular.

When I had the chance to go back again this summer, I got greedy. I wanted to make sure I saw all of my friends when I was over there – even those who had moved away from Mandeville or weren’t involved with youth fellowship anymore. So before I left I sent some FB messages asking if I’d see them.

In keeping up with all of my friends from Jamaica on social media it was like we hadn’t left, like it hadn’t been a few years since we’d seen each other. I got to see Jason and Nick in Kingston and TJ showed up at our welcome dinner.

TJ is an artist. A pretty amazing one at that. And he does tattoos. That night when I saw him for like the first time in 4 years, the first thing that came to my mind was to ask him to do my tattoo – the one I’d been wanting for years but never sucked it up and gotten it done.

Because he’s awesome, he said yes, of course he’d do it and that was that.

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My kids were excited – they wanted to come watch (probably because they thought it’d hurt and wanted to see me in pain..I know how they are) and I reminded them that none of them were allowed to do anything like this while under my supervision. (That whole “do as I say not as I do thing.” I’m gonna be a great parent.) Spoiler alert – They didn’t get to come watch the process but they saw it and poked at it and freaked out about it the next morning.

Anyway, once we figured out that I’d get it done the last day I was there, I didn’t think too much more about it. It was gonna happen and I wasn’t going to change my mind. And my group asked about it every single day.

Fast forward to Sunday, July 14 – our last day in Jamaica and Tattoo Day. After helping lead the church service with our group and the group from Andrews, I said goodbye to the youth – who were going to a pool party and then their respective host’s houses to pack – and went to TJ’s to face the needle.

I didn’t get nervous until I texted him and asked if he was ready.

Then my hands got clammy and my heart did that really fast beating thing that it does when I’m anxious (or about to jump into 30-degree water).

Luckily, we pretty much got right to the tattooing as soon as I got there – gave me less time to freak out. However, it also gave me less time to change out of my dress from church, which wouldn’t have been a bad idea had the tattoo not involved putting my foot in his lap.

But anyways.

I asked for rum, which is apparently not allowed before tattooing cause it thins your blood and if you bleed it won’t stop and hold the hell up I’m gonna bleed?

I also had to pick a fleur-de-lis design. Did you all know that fleur-de-lis can look about 124,901,230 different ways? ‘Cause I didn’t.

But I settled on one and while TJ got the stencil ready I texted my sisters to let them know what I was doing. Sami was in Rome, and Rachel was on my parents’ couch talking to them, neither of us telling them what was going on.

She told me later they were trying to guess what I’d be doing that day and she had to bite her tongue cause they had no idea..

So then. On went the stencil.

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Pardon my weird-looking foot.

And then the buzzing. I think the sound is worse than the actual needle, but TJ will tell you that’s a lie because my foot twitched about 30 times while he was working. So much so that I’m kind of surprised I didn’t cause him to draw a line up to my ankle, or tear a hole in his pants leg that I was gripping with my toes.

Also, my fingerprints may or may not still be on the chair arms in Pat’s (his mom’s) living room, where this was all taking place.

But the two of them kept me calm and I managed to stop shaking enough to get some pictures.

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He told me to pick a color to fill it in with, which I completely forgot I would have to do. I went with old faithful: blue. But navy blue, not a blue people would think represented UK, ’cause that would just be awful.

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And then it was done. I lotioned it up and stared at it a lot. And thought that for all my over-reacting and twitching it wasn’t that painful.

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I don’t know what it was that made me decide that this was the time I’d actually go through with getting it done (I have an idea though) but I’m glad I did.

It means a lot that it was done in a place I love, by a person I care about, during a week I’ll always remember. And that’s alright by me.

Besides the design meaning Louisville, it now has even more meaning because of where and when and who was involved. But yes. It means a lot. And it looks really good. And I checked it off my list. Oh, also it was done while I was chaperoning a church trip with teenagers and allegedly I was “in charge.” So. There’s that.

And, yes, I already know what and where the next one will be. I’ve already alerted my tattoo artist…

Best Week Ever. Part 1.

This summer, for the third time in 10 years, I’ve gotten to take a trip to my happy place.

You see, in 2004, our youth group got the chance to visit with our sister church in Mandeville, Jamaica. We gained some awesome friendships (more about that later) and a home away from home that we couldn’t wait to return to.

Fast-forward to 2009, when I went back, this time not as a “youth” but as a “chaperone.” I’m going to go ahead and leave that one in quotes because I still don’t believe I should be in charge of anything ever. But people keep asking me to be…

This exchange – us going to Jamaica and our friends coming here – started because of an amazing youth leader/associate pastor we’ve had for the past 10 years.

Earlier this year, we had the unfortunate and gut-wrenching task of saying goodbye to her as she moved on from the church and myself and two other young adults tried desperately to keep our heads above water and come even the slightest bit close to filling one of the toes of those shoes.

One big thing to contend with in her absence was this exchange program. For the first time, it fell on me to get it all together. Again – why am I in charge of things? I’m not old enough to be. Definitely not mature enough.

Long story short, because of the amazing foundation she’d built and all she’d prepared for us within the church, the trip this summer went off without a hitch.

I went to Jamaica for the third time this summer and have it on good authority that that makes me officially Jamaican.

Along with me this time were six of my youth group babies (aka my high schoolers) and, for part of the week, our pastor.

I’ve got so much to tell you about this trip but you’re 300 words in now so I’ll give you a break until next time. For now, look at just a few of the pictures I took. (Don’t worry you’ll get more later.)

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I filled up my memory card that week, you guys. That’s like 1,000 pictures.

I’m tellin’ ya. Happy place. Stay tuned.