16 Years

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Today is a weird day for me (probably for everyone in my family) because it’s the day my nephew turns 16. 16! My nephew has always been one of the most important people in my life. He was born my senior year of high school – many of my high school and college friends have watched him grow up with me. A couple months after he was born, my sister and brother-in-law returned to work – and my parents had yet to retire, so the family asked me to step in and take care of Raj during my summer vacation between high school and college. He was between 2 months and 5 months old during that summer and we spent every weekday together from morning until evening. Just the two of us. Something happened in those 3 months that I don’t really understand, but most parents around me get pretty quickly. We bonded in a way that I don’t think I’ve ever bonded to anyone before and I probably won’t feel a similar bond until I have my own baby.

It was a hot summer and I was 17, going on 18. Taking care of Raj was the best birth control I could have ever experienced. I realized quickly how hard it was to take care of such a tiny person and how much they rely on you for everything. We watched TV all day (it was still my summer vacation after all), occasionally went out for walks, and ate lots of Otter Pops. Yes, I fed him lots and lots of Otter Pops – something my sister still gives me a hard time about today. If he hadn’t grown up to be as ridiculously intelligent as he is, the family probably would have been more upset about the popsicles. But I was 17, I didn’t know anything about anything. And it was a time when people weren’t quite as nutty about all-things-organic. What mattered most was that Raj and I had such a fun summer together and took many pictures and made many memories that I can still remember fondly. My guess is he doesn’t remember them so much.

What resulted after that summer was a relationship that even my sister, his mother, says is unlike her own with him. We’ve always been super close. When he started to grow out of the “hugging” phase with other relatives, he would always still hug me. We can hang out and be silly and tell jokes that the parents wouldn’t approve of. And when I got married, he walked danced me down the aisle. He’s my nephew, but he’s also one of my best friends.

I can’t believe that little guy is 16 today. I’m so happy to have watched him grow up and become such a handsome, good guy. I love that he’s respectful of all people, not annoyed to hang out with the little kids around him, and always willing to entertain my “that’s what she said” jokes – even when he had no clue what the phrase meant. My life is so much better for knowing him and I can only hope that one day Ben & I have a kid that’s half as awesome as my nephew.

Happy Birthday, Raj!

Goodbye, Parenthood

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It’s no secret that I’m a sucker for a good TV show – especially a great 1-hour drama. These days it’s hard to find one that doesn’t revolve around crime, law enforcement, or reality (in the worst ways). After a lot of recommendations from people we genuinely trust for their good taste, we decided to watch Parenthood, which is luckily available on both Netflix and Amazon Prime. I was hesitant to start it because I didn’t know how my husband would react to a show that’s really not about much…just a family living their lives. But we started the first of six seasons last month, and finished the show last night. Yes, six seasons in about a month and a half. If that doesn’t speak to how awesome this show was, I don’t know what will. Like so many of my friends, we got addicted to the characters, the story-lines and the relationships. And more than anything, today, I’m just bummed that it’s over. We need more shows like this on television. Shows about good times and bad – but that don’t show the worst of humanity. They just show average life. But as the days go on, the trends are clear – people like to watch blood, gore, sex, violence, trashy people. That’s what sells – which is why Parenthood‘s ratings were never high. It was just a show about a family. But unlike so many crappy shows out there, I could really relate to this show and to this family. Last night, I had to say a sad goodbye to the Bravermans, but it was oh so worth it to get to know them.

Time to Catch Up

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So much has happened since Ben and I got married (the last post), yet not much has happened at all.

  • We moved into a much bigger two story condo. It’s not huge, by any means, but our previous place was 560 square feet, so it didn’t take that much extra space to feel bigger. We have an attached garage, which is the best thing to have! And Bunny’s back to having his own room so I think he’s happy not having Hank harass him on the regular.
  • I deleted my Facebook. A complete non-event in my life, but I was reminded about it when my cousin texted me this morning asking me where my page went. It went bye-bye about 5 months ago and I haven’t missed it for even a moment. What a timesuck Facebook is. Now I pour my wasted time into Instagram. Hah!
  • We went to Maui for our Honeymoon! Actually we just got back a week ago and I’m so glad we did it. As we approached the move, we contemplated canceling the whole Honeymoon idea all together, just because our new place costs a bunch. But it was totally worth it. So much fun and so many new experiences together – snorkeling with the Pride of Maui, milking goats at the Surfing Goat Dairy, hiking in a storm along the Road to Hana! We also celebrated Ben’s 35th Birthday on the island at Mama’s Fish House which had some of the best food we’ve ever had! Pictures here.
  • Work is going really well. Water For People is an amazing organization and I’m proud to be a part of the amazing work we do. I’m still really busy with travel which has it’s ups and downs – way more ups. And overall, I’m the happiest I’ve ever been in my work life/career – it just took me a little while to find my stride.

So that’s it. Life is great – just enjoying each day and looking for the next round of trips: Denver, LA, Missouri, Kentucky, Uganda & Amsterdam, Arizona, Anaheim!

Busy Times = Quick Post

I’ve been busy and not just normal, heavy to-do lists kinda busy. But like, really busy. Between last minute wedding planning (the big day is 5 days away!) and a work trip to Denver, followed by one to LA, and then being in PERU last week for work…well, I’ve been swamped. But here a few of my favorite shots from Peru:

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Love you always

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From my Facebook:

I woke up uneasy this morning, realizing that the anniversary of Pooter’s death fell on the same day Robin Williams died. I’ve been overwhelmed with emotions over the past couple of days but needed to take a moment to remember Poots. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think of you. On a daily basis I find myself deleting pictures off my phone to save space, but I’ve yet to delete any of yours. I carry you with me in so many ways – on my keychain, pictures throughout our home, a tattoo on my back. You are missed constantly, and I know that wherever you are…you are acting like the little stinker you always were and frustrating the hell out of everyone around you. And honestly, I’d give anything for just a moment of that back.

You definitely wore it better.

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The past two days have been bizarrely difficult. I’m generally not someone who mourns celebrities to any length. But Robin Williams’ death really knocked me on my ass. I don’t know why. While my sister used to work at his annual Thanksgiving celebration, I really have no connection to Robin Williams outside of being a fan of his film, tv & stand-up comedy work.

I remember being a fan from a really young age. My family watched Mork & Mindy when I was young. And I remember watching Mrs. Doubtfire, Dead Poet’s SocietyHook, Jack & Father’s Day often throughout my youth. We didn’t have cable and those movies aired regularly on basic channels. I guess when I was younger, I was almost a forced fan because of the lack of options. As I got older, I realized that wasn’t the case. I really love Robin Williams’ films. They make me happy, sad and maybe even a little scared at times. But he was so phenomenal and I truly believe that we lost one of the greatest talents that we’ve ever known. His acting range was pretty ridiculous – which I mean in the best and most respectful way. I hope he’s found peace and is somewhere filled with an overwhelming amount of happiness. RIP, Captain