#TBT – Roughing it

In October, we took a bunch of the youth from our youth group to a couple cabins in the woods about an hour away from Louisville. It was an awesome weekend, that I hope we replicate this fall.

And boy, did it make for some good overheard quotes. Like this one, which I saved in my phone all this time and may be my favorite from the whole weekend:

“I took a cold shower and nothing’s been the same.”

#camping

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Pictures now, words later

New York, New York…. last time I was there I was a silly seventh-grader more concerned about what my friends were doing than I was about seeing the sights. Lucky for me, I had the chance to go back when I was old enough to appreciate it.

Lots to tell about our trip, but for now, here’s a few pictures to get you interested..

Photo of the Week

This is currently the background on my phone and I kinda want it this size on a wall in my next home. In other news, New York was awesome and much-needed after the week we’d had before it.

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The Tale of Laura and The Ghost Lizard

If you follow me on Twitter at all, you know that I tend to Tweet exponentially more when I can’t sleep, which unfortunately for me but fortunately for y’all has been happening a lot more often lately. Part of it’s some changes in my balance of chemicals but for a while, it was attributed to The Ghost Lizard.

Now. Many of you don’t know the origin of GL. But I’m 90 percent sure he found me in Jamaica and stowed away in my bags and came home with me.

You see, one night while we were there this past summer, we had a lock-in at the church with our friends in Jamaica. And for some strange reason and because Jason wanted sleep, TJ and I were left somewhat in charge for the night, meaning we sat in the room out by the sanctuary and watched a movie on his laptop while taking turns going back and telling the youth to be quiet and go to sleep because we had a bus ride to the beach leaving at 4:30 a.m.

Well. Maybe it’s because the movie was The Woman In Black and therefore made us more aware of ghosts, but we heard a noise at some point we were pretty sure was not a kid, because they’d finally quieted down and (hopefully) gone to sleep. We heard it a couple of times and TJ said it was a lizard, while I said it was a ghost. Ta-da! Ghost Lizard was born – or discovered or whatever.

I thought nothing of it for a few weeks after I came home, but then one night I couldn’t sleep and it sounded like, I kid you not, a small animal was moving through the boxes around my makeshift bedroom in my parents’ basement.

Now, maybe I was just super sleep deprived or crazy, but you all, I was standing on my bed at 3:15 a.m. that first night holding a book in one hand and a pen in the other hand (sufficient weapons, I think) ready to attack if needed. Or to push the boxes and see if the thing made any more noise.

I can’t handle rodents. I really can’t. There was a mouse in the garage once (actually probably several) and I have never gotten in to my car faster than I did that week. I also once screamed at it as I ran “You don’t own me, mouse!”

So that was my first thought as to what might have been crawling around in my room making noise. Ew.

But the next day I looked around and moved some boxes and dug through some stuff and there was no sign of a mouse or anything like it at all – no holes in boxes, no rodent poop, nothing dead.

Next night? Something started moving in the walls.

Few things are as unsettling as being woken up by something skittering within the walls along the pipes and I’m just laying there staring at the ceiling hoping it A.) Shuts up and B.) Doesn’t find it’s way out and attack/eat me.

I hoped it was just there for the night and would find it’s way back outside and I wouldn’t have to worry about it anymore.

But then it came back, and all of the sudden I’m googling shit like, “Do squirrels sleep?” and imagining this Ghost Lizard asshole just moving around in there to mess with me. Because it was seriously right behind my head in the wall.

I didn’t even care that the thing was in the wall – I would have supported him moving to another room, where he wasn’t DIRECTLY BY MY FACE when I needed at least 3 hours of consecutive sleep. But nooooooooo, that would be silly.

All of this time, also, I’ll have you know, I’m picturing the damn thing looking like the cockamouse from How I Met Your Mother and OMG I wish I could find a clip from that episode because its one of my favorites and solidified my love for Jason Segel.

So after a few sleepless nights and when attempts to scare the thing to death or at least back out of the house didn’t work (I hit the wall a lot and bruised a couple knuckles. It was like a bar fight only lamer) – I told the Killer of all the Gross Stuff, Dad, to take care of it. So he threw poison in the wall that would make the thing get thirsty and go outside and die, he said.

Fine by me.

Except the POISON DIDN’T WORK. The Ghost Lizard was immune to poison, because, he was already dead. Ghosts can’t be killed. They can only “move on,” which I learned from Casper.

(Speaking of – Devon Sawa is one of my favorite people to follow on Twitter. And he’s still real hot.)

I think it took about a month on and off for whatever it was to finally go away. I don’t know what worked or how, but I like to think that really threatening last punch to the wall I gave (when Dad said, “Stop hitting the wall before you put a hole through it and whatever it is comes out and gets you”) that sealed the deal.

The Ghost Lizard was vanquished (I think) and all is right with the world.

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. Greatest Hits.

I’m just about done telling/showing you about the Jamaica trip. Except for one more thing to tell you about later that’s such a big deal it gets its own post. And here’s a hint: It involves crossing something off my List.

But that’s for another time.

I took almost 1000 pictures that week. Well personally I probably took about 600. I gave my camera to kids/Jordon a whole lot.

I’ve shown you several, and none really do the week or the relationships we have with our friends there any justice.

But these are my absolute favorites from the trip. Please enjoy.
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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.

BAHSTEN, part III

So where were we, in terms of telling the story of our trip to Boston, mainly in pictures?

Colonists?

Yeah. This guy.

OK, so basically everyone in Boston dresses like that.* Also we went to a tea party.* And met Tom Brady.*

*None of those things are true, however, I did have sweet tea at one of the restaurants where we ate. And we did see Tom Brady.

Tom Tom and the guy from The Patriot (R.I.P. Heath Ledger) were part of a scavenger hunt my sister set up for us. Because she’s a nerd. And we’re totally nerds who would do it.

There were all kinds of fun things on the list to check off — that was actually my favorite part, ’cause y’all know I love me some lists.

We had to find some one in Boston Red Sox gear. Easy.

Fun fact: He didn’t speak English and I’m 90 percent sure had no idea what I said when I explained I needed a picture with him. We also were breaking the first rule of public transportation in the North – don’t talk to anyone.

We had to find six different Dunkin’ Donuts. That’s the one we thought would be easiest. And then we accidentally went to the same one twice.

We had to take a picture of a homeless person sleeping on a bench. No sleepers, but we did find this guy. Here he is looking directly at the camera. We were not as sneaky as we thought.

We needed to find a building with gold on the roof. And I swear to God what Sami is pointing at is just that. REALLY far away.

Also part of the scavenger hunt? Interacting with nature, which Sami is obviously a pro at, as seen here.

And here.

And here.

It took all day and then some, and we were reaching on a few of ’em, but we accomplished them all. We went above and beyond on the penguin one, but you’ll have to wait for the post about the aquarium for that. Suffice it to say, we are overachievers.

Among the other pictures I have yet to show you? Some of Beacon Hill, where the folks with the money live and we just walked around for about 20 minutes.

Chuckie’s school! (A.K.A. Where They Keep The Smart People)

The Dome at M.I.T.

A random present Mom sent with us.

And finally, maybe my favorites of the whole trip, pictures of Boston, at night, from the top of the Prudential building. You can see the whole city from up there and it’s gorgeous.

I even managed to get a far away shot of Fenway.

And a close up of this creepy-ass doll they have as part of an exhibit up there. As if they need something else for people to come to the top of the building for.

Yeah, that’s a face projected in there. And it talks to you. And is ridiculous. I hate it.

You know what I don’t hate? Seals and sea lions. And penguins. And aquariums.

Stay tuned for one of my dreams coming true. No big deal.

BAHSTEN, part I

That’s how you say it, with the accent. Or maybe it’s more like BWOAHSTEN. I dunno. I can only do certain words. Like hahbah (harbor), or ahhch (arch) or pissah (pisser).

Which reminds me, I only heard like, ONE person with a legit Boston accent when we were there. I’ma need a redo.

So in case you don’t know me outside of what you read here, I recently took a trip with Baby Einstein to see our other (now MARRIED) sister and brother-in-law in their temporary home in Boston. Why are they there? Because he’s a genius and goes to school at MIT and is getting two degrees from there in two years.

The littlest sister and I visited the middlest sister and Swarles for five days. As an added bonus, we got to spend tons of time with Ines, Baby Einstein’s BFF and our now adopted Spanish sister. It was such a good trip.

And you guys, I took so many pictures. Spoiler alert: A lot of them are of buildings. ON ACCOUNT OF THE HISTORY. Not to mention we did a historical tour just a few hours after we got into town.

We had an AWESOME guide.

And were so ready to learn.

I got some seriously screensaver-worthy pics from this tour…just sayin’. Feel free to steal one or all of them for your desktop.

We saw where the original gangstas are buried. Like Pauly Revere and Sammy Adams.

We even saw the world’s first Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse.* George Washington ate there.*

*This fact is not true. But it was a Ruth’s Chris in that building.

We saw the Old State House, where the Declaration of Independence was read.

Surrounded by newer, much much much taller buildings. Crazy.

Then we said goodbye to our tour guide.**

**Only photo of all five of us at once from the whole trip. Like I said, I’ma need a redo.

And we commenced doing touristy-type stuff, a.k.a. walking all over the place in Boston.

Did you know macaroni was first eaten in Boston?*

*It wasn’t. Don’t come to this blog for its historical accuracy, guys.

You know you love it though.

Told you.

Fun – and true – historical fact: This guy. He’s done stuff like this since I met him almost 12 years ago. Except then it was more dangerous, like, jumping out of trees. But this, right here? This is the Chuckie I’ve known for years, the kid who will slide down an entire stair railing and look like a happy lil’ dude while he’s doing it.

Keep in mind, friends, that this is only pictures from the first day. And not even the entire first day.

I’ll be back with more later, including how two of my dreams came true and I fell in love with a dessert. Whaaaa?????

For now, though, just feast your eyes on this amazing piece of photography. And then save it for your desktop wallpaper. You have my permission.

InstagrAMAZING: Savannah Edition

It’s my last post on our little trip that was now more than a month ago (when did that happen?) but not because I’ve run out of pictures – I could post those for days. Or weeks.

But that’s not all this blog is about.

So while I work on some other things currently in the hopper (pronounced HAH-PAH because I want a Boston accent) for this here Web site, you can enjoy the last little bits of our CKR vacation, Instagram-style.

Side note: A couple of the photos are stolen from Rebeck. I don’t think she’ll mind.