Author: Kimberlee Koehn

Hello, my name is Kimberlee. Yes, there are two E’s, let’s not get into it. I love traveling, writing, hiking and sweet potatoes. We can go ahead and be friends now.

It Started with Whiskey and Ended McNasty (Our European Adventure: Day 4&5)

Sunday June 16th, 2019

On an average day I don’t usually have whiskey with my breakfast, but when you’re in Southern Ireland and there is a Jameson Distillery twenty minutes from your hotel, sometimes you find yourself having whiskey for breakfast. Which is why at around 11:30 a.m. our group found ourselves feeling pretty good on our walk down the street in Cork in search of food.

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We’d learned all about the whiskey making process, history, and future, and had been given three samplers of the most popular Scotch whiskey, American whiskey, and Irish whiskey (which won by a landslide) during our tour, and a free full size drink at the end of our tour (which motivated a healthy and thorough perusal of the gift shop) so were feeling lighter as we made our way down the street to find some lunch.

Once we finished lunch, we stepped out into some heavy rain, which, unbeknownst to us, was actually the equivalent of a drippy faucet when compared with what was to come.

We walked, hoods on, talking about where we might stop en route to Belfast, our final Ireland destination. And like any touristy millennial would do, once I was back in our car listening to the Irish rain fall, I googled “castles near me”—which, unfathomably, garnered results.

An hour north, we found Rock of Cashel. It was another incredible feat of architecture and history that simply left us speechless.

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In what might be considered the castle’s “backyard” was a cemetery with headstones both modest and extravagant. Perhaps our least favorite was this grave where it appeared the deceased was inching a little too close to risen.

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Maybe he heard about Chick-Fil-A and asked for once more chance.

The rest of our drive to Belfast, while long and tiring, will forever be defined by the absolutely torrential rain that (sinisterly) welcomed us into Northern Ireland. We all handled it differently: my dad white knuckling the steering wheel, me wide eyeing the road, my mom and sister rotating between nervous laughing and nervous NOT laughing, and my brother sleeping as soundly as he would on a cloud.

When we finally made our way inside Darcy’s—a restaurant my sister found mid-death storm—we undoubtedly looked like we’d been through, well a death storm. We were wet and cold and all nervously laughing in that way that said hey that was crazy, huh? I really and truly thought we were going to die. LOL am I right? Am I crying? Because I feel like I should be crying.

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Yes, hello, we’d like a round of Xanax, please. 

After dinner, we went back to our Airbnb, showered and then fell (bel)fast asleep shortly after.

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Monday June 17th, 2019:

One of my favorite sites in Ireland that is almost impossible to capture in pictures is Giant’s Causeway. (Check out this post to hear about the legend associated with this formation, it’s one of my favorites!) I think the same goes for a lot of natural formations around the world. They are those things you have to see, touch, exist in the same air with to truly appreciate, understand, and ultimately believe that they live in the same world as you.

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We were once again blessed with a beautiful day with the sun shining and some wind that almost (I dare say) felt good as we hiked our way to the top of the red trail to take in another spectacular view.

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As we walked, my mom and I decided that if this whole human thing didn’t work out, we’d gladly come back and live out our lives as Irish cows—the kind who are so cute the owners let them moo around and eat until they die peacefully at pasture, and who somehow communicate that they want their last meal to be Belgian waffles and popcorn…but it’s not weird because we’re just quirky Irish cows.

I mean, come on.

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Once we were successfully awed (and slightly wind blown) we made our way back inside, had a light lunch at the café, and then got on the road back to Belfast.

A great thing about our group of nine is that we are almost always on the same page about our desired touring mode. We all know when to separate and let each other soak in what needed to be soaked in, we have similar touring speeds, and we all agree that we don’t have to take a guided tour just because it is available.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a curious person who loves to learn and especially loves a fun fact to drop in the middle of random conversations, but oftentimes when it comes to museums, exhibits and points of interest, I like to take them at my own speed, ask my own questions and do my own research.

That being said, if there was one tour I wish we could have taken while in Northern Ireland, it would be the Londonderry walking tour that my sister and I took on our trip with Contiki. (I looked it up and you can find that tour here!) To be able to hear from a local about the dark history of the city, and see the optimism in his eyes about its future was absolutely moving.

Having that memory in the back of our minds, we made sure to stop at the Peace Wall that commemorates the struggles of the past (and sadly, still present) and the hopes for the future.

May peace find you, and may you spread it outward from there.

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Here’s a fun fact for you: the Titanic was built in Belfast.

Walking through the Titanic Museum, we learned all about the infamous “ship of dreams”, from it’s humble beginnings in the Harland & Wolff shipyard—which you can see from the museum—in 1909, to the expedition that led to the discovery of its wreck in 1985. It’s amazing how the story never seems to leave you. Even if you’ve seen the movies, read the articles and walked through exhibits like this one, the heartbreak just sticks with you, I think it always will.

From the museum we headed to Pug Ugly’s for dinner. It’s a wonderful establishment that provides you with everything you need on a menu: pizza, beer, macaroni and cheese, and a pug in a top hat. Some recommendations from our table include the Pesto Chicken Club Pizza, the Goat Cheese Fritters, the French Dip sandwich, and the Homemade Burger.

For our last stop of the evening, and our last evening in Ireland, we headed to the oh so intriguingly named pub Filthy McNasty’s. Being a Monday, it was open mic night, and even though our group spent most of our time singing questionable renditions of popular songs, we opted to stay seated and cheers the bravery of others. Then, after a couple rounds of drinks, we walked back to our Airbnb, all nine of us in tow and in harmony—because we were once again singing, probably too loudly for 12:00 a.m. on a Monday.

We were sad to be leaving Ireland. Heartbroken actually. But we were excited for the new cities and new adventures to come. So as we tucked ourselves in and said goodnight, we tried to memorize every detail of our trip thus far. Could the magic follow us across the sea? Here’s hoping.

Castles, Cliffs, and a Horse Named Peppy (Our European Adventure: Day 2&3)

Friday June 14th, 2019:

Upon meeting our Airbnb host Carmel the evening before, she gave us a rundown of the house she’d so graciously rented to us for the next two nights. She also gave us a guidebook of the area and pointed out some of her favorite things that we might want to add to our itinerary.

Waking the next morning, feeling only slightly disoriented by the fact that we were on vacation in Europe and not at home getting ready for work, our group made breakfast in the kitchen. Carmel provided us with a wide variety of snacks, including waffles (that weren’t frozen?), fresh fruit, and something called “breakfast pudding” that none of us were brave enough to take out of the refrigerator.

Our first stop of the morning was Belvedere House Gardens & Park—a Mullingar locale that none of us had heard of but came highly recommended by Carmel.

The morning offered slightly cloudy skies and a chill in the air none of us were quite ready for, but we bundled up and headed out, my dad and Uncle Bruce taking the wheel and bravely setting off the on “wrong” side of road once again.

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Being a Friday morning, Belvedere House was not overly crowded, and we were able to saunter and explore at our own pace, flipping the hoods of our raincoats off and on as the rain came in spurts.

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We took a tour of the house, marveling at its architecture and grandeur, walked the grounds, and strolled through the fairy garden.

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Overall it was a very charming and welcome start to our day, and the perfect pit stop en route to the day’s main attraction: the Cliffs of Moher.

You know, these old things.

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We spent a good two hours here, blessed with a sunny sky and only periodic gusts of high wind that made my dad close his eyes and ask us to please stand at least 4 miles from the edge.

Among the many (hundreds?) (thousands?) of pictures we took, my sister and I made sure to get another hair by the Cliffs shot, paying homage to those we took a few years ago.

And I got to recreate one my of my favorite shots from our trip—this time with my brother in tow.

Quick sidenote: Can we talk about how tiny my hands look compared to his?

From the Cliffs of Moher, we headed to Galway, my cousin Taryn’s favorite city from her stay in Ireland, and she took us to her favorite pizza place (Mizzoni’s) and her favorite bar (The Skeff).

As we hung out and listened to live music from Vicaria Band, my sister and I introduced the gang to our favorite Irish born drink: Jameson and ginger ale, which aided in our table’s karaoke performances of Britney Spears, Tina Turner and Darius Rucker (among others).

The drive back to Mullingar, while a little long and dark, again provided us a place to call home and the group of us sat around the living room, sipping on nightcaps and laughing our way through the memories of the day. This was our last night in Mullingar, but Carmel and Fintan promised to send us off with a bang, and at 9:00 a.m. the next morning, that bang arrived in style.

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Saturday June 15th, 2019:

BANG.

Okay, so it wasn’t really a bang. It was more of a knock. Two or three of them. And then a call into the house: “Peppy and I are ready for ya!”

As you might (never) have guessed, Peppy was a horse, and Fintan ushered us outside to meet him, and take us on ride in the Peppy-drawn carriage.

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Pro tip: if you are ever given the opportunity to go on a carriage ride through the Irish countryside, say yes. There is truly no better way to start your morning.

After each family got a ride, we loaded back into our cars, waved goodbye to Carmel and Fintan (and Peppy) and got on the road to Cork.

Just under three hours later, we pulled into the parking lot at Blarney Castle.

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Now, Blarney Castle was a favorite from our last trip, mostly because of how beautiful both the castle and the grounds are, but also because of the undeniably funand for some, understandably terrifyingprospect of kissing the Blarney Stone to receive the “gift of the gab”. For a full recap of what that means, you can check out this post, but to keep it brief: you lie on the ground, have an Irish man help you more or less hang off a ledge at the top of the castle, and then kiss a thousand year old rock.

Legend says that after you kiss the rock you will be blessed with eloquent speaking abilities, though for anyone afraid of either heights or, more commonly I assume, being held over a ledge one hundred feet in the air, the sheer anticipation of kissing the rock can bring out profanity as eloquent as anything I’ve ever heard.

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To come down from the excitement/danger/fun/terror (depending on the person) we walked around the grounds, once again surprised by how beautiful everything is, though slowly getting used to the fact that Ireland is simply, consistently, even reliably beautiful. (Hear that, Irish tourism department? Reliably Beautiful. Call me.)

Our hotel for the night was the River Lee in Cork. While it was tough finding accommodations that fit a group of nine, or even a family of more than three, the River Lee was beautiful and we settled in nicely to three rooms, each with three single beds. (I found a great deal on Orbitz.com!)

We also enjoyed—once could argue too much—the hotel restaurant, where we spent a large chunk of time eating and eating and drinking and eating before heading out in search of one (or three) Irish pubs, where we spent the rest of the night drinking and drinking and laughing and dancing and singing our hearts out.

One request, Ireland pubs: play more Whitney Houston.

Other than that, you’re perfect.

Uh, Hey, We’re in Ireland! (Our European Adventure: Day 1)

June 13th, 2019:

So there we were. Overstuffed backpacks making our shoulders ache, wheeled suitcases constantly hitting bumps and threatening to topple over, and ankles far too bare for the unexpected wind that welcomed us into the Dublin morning. After 13 hours of travel, my family had landed in Ireland and were making our way to our European rental car, which promised a complete shattering of muscle memory.

Our plan was to make our way around Ireland in four days, and had decided to forego a bus and a designated schedule in favor of a terrifying adventure on the wrong side of the rode, a passionate new dedication and reliance on the design of Apple Maps, and the freedom to stop for pee breaks whenever we wanted. The pro and con list really could have been a novel in itself.

So there we were, in our just big enough car for a family of five with five suitcases, five backpacks and a lot of emotional baggage provoked by sleep deprivation. But alas, my dad started the car—from passenger seat, so it seemed—and we skittered into the streets of Dublin, each of us wondering if this was such a good idea.

Now, for any of you who have read my blog before, you might know that my sister and I went to Ireland a few years ago. And if pictures from that trip are any indication, we were disgusted to be back. I mean, imagine having to look at this for a SECOND time.

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Aside from simply wanting to visit this friendly, welcoming and beautiful country again, our main reason for making Ireland our first destination was to show my mom, dad, and brother the country that had stolen our hearts. We wanted them to see what our (pristinely executed) slideshow from three years ago couldn’t. And although we showed them ridiculously unmoving, definitely not borderline spiritual photos like this:

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…they still agreed to come along.

Our first stop after landing was the Guinness Storehouse, (pro tip: buy your tickets online in advanced to save money, skip the line and get a free pint!) where my sister, Natalee, and I had previously become “certified Guinness pourers.” We were excited for our family to achieve this status so we could finally stop looking down on them.

Our reservation was for 4:30 p.m., and although we landed late and took a few (or six) wrong turns trying to navigate our way through the city streets, we were still running a little early by the time we parked in a nearby parking structure and made our way to the front door. So to kill time we headed to Harkin’s, a pub in walking distance from the Storehouse, and dove headfirst into some burgers, beers, and Irish coffees.

As we ate, we met up with the other half of our adventure crew: the Stevens. My cousin Taryn had just finished up a three-week study abroad stint in Ireland and was the catalyst for our entire vacation/hijacking of her family’s vacation. What started as a “wouldn’t it be crazy to meet you in Ireland?” was suddenly a very real, “uh, hey, we’re in IRELAND!”

Once we finished our meal, we made our first walk as the newly imposing yet undeniably fabulous group of nine. We took our tour of the Storehouse, were all successfully certified (and recertified) and shared our first (and free!) pints of Guinness.

To my absolute unsurprise I still hated it.

Back at our car, we were met with our first dose of pure luck and (undoubtedly) heaven sent Irish hospitality. Being from Southern California, you’d think we’d be better equipped at reading street signs and might notice that our parking structure closed at 7:00 p.m. To our great fortune however, even though it was nearing 8:00 p.m., a security guard just so happened so be walking by and was able to unlock the gate, saving us a €100 retrieval fee, and a whole lot of over exhausted family angst. Slainte, you broad, Irish angel.

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In the planning of this trip, we had a lot of conversations as to how we wanted to get around Ireland, where we wanted to stay, etc. My sister and I had previously taken a clockwise route around the country, making pit stops in five main cities (Dublin, Cork, Gallway, Londonderry and Belfast) and so initially I assumed we’d do the same thing. However, in looking up lodging, I found that that route was going to be pricey. So, instead we opted to pick a city in the middle of the country to act as our home base—at least for the first couple days.

Which is how we wound up at the gate of this Airbnb in Mullingar.

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photo credit: Airbnb (check out the profile and rates for this place here. It’s way more affordable than it looks!)

Though it was a bit of a trek, the hosts, Carmel and Fintan, were incredibly charming and made us feel so at home that we were able to unload, unpack and crash—hard.

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As I lay there in the moments before falling asleep, with the Irish countryside sitting right outside my window, the trip became both real and completely unfathomable all at the same time. I knew we’d made it, to both this country, this house and this adventure, but I also wondered if I’d wake up the next morning and it would all be a dream.

Spoiler alert: it wasn’t.

May/June Favorites

I just want everyone to know that as I typed this I was eating popcorn. But not just any popcorn. Microwave popcorn. But not just any microwave popcorn. A bag of PERFECTLY POPPED microwave popcorn.

That’s right folks. I have achieved perfection. I did not burn a single kernel, nor leave a single one unpopped. I have officially peaked.

So…yeah.

Anyway.

Here are some of my favorite things from May and June:

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Podcasts

I have always loved Lauren Conrad, all the way back to her days on The OC. So when I heard she was starting her own podcast, I was pretty much immediately sold, especially if it was going to include helpful tips from people she admires, because then maybe I could take those tips and use them to turn into Lauren Conrad. Not really. But kind of, you know? (find it here)

The Wild is one of the more unique podcasts I’ve found. It follows the adventures of ecologist Chris Morgan as he tracks animals and explores nature in the Pacific Northwest. It’s cool to listen to each episode and visualize the landscapes he describes all while sitting at my desk or making my morning commute. (find it here)

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Books

I want to say I was completely shocked by how much I loved Uncommon Type, Tom Hanks’ book of short stories, but, like, it’s Tom Hanks, so of course it was going to be wonderful and charming. I listened to the audiobook and it was honestly like hearing Woody tell me bedtime stories…during the day…that didn’t make me sleepy. All I’m saying is it was great. (find it here)

I’m not all that great at reading suspenseful books because I don’t have the patience to wait for the big reveal at the end. But somehow Kate M. McManus makes the surprise ending in both this book and One of Us is Lying tolerable to wait for because the characters are interesting and relatable and I can never figure out which way the twist is going to, well, twist. (find it here)

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Movies

Unicorn Store is the story of a failed artist who moves back in with her parents and takes an office job before being contacted by a man who claims to work for the “unicorn store” and offers to give her a unicorn. My summary makes it sound vaguely creepy but it’s not. I actually LOVED this movie and already know I’ll add it to my shuffle of movies I like to watch on lazy days. (find it on Netflix)

Booksmart is Olive Wilde’s directorial debut that was getting so much hype when it first hit theaters. People were calling it the new, female version of Superbad, which, after seeing it, I can understand why. I recently watched it on Netflix and not only laughed through the entire thing, but danced. This movie has a badass soundtrack, y’all! I highly recommend it for any and all of these reasons. (find it on Netflix)

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TV Shows

I have pretty much recommended The Society to anyone who will listen—mostly for selfish reasons, because I just want to have people to talk about it with. It’s an apocalyptic, Lord of the Flies-esque show that follows a group of teens who have to figure out what to do after their entire town disappears. (find it on Netflix)

Dead to Me was recommended by my roommate and though I was slow to start it, once I got going I couldn’t stop. It follows a woman whose husband is killed in a hit and run accident, and her friendship with a woman she meets in a grief support group afterwards. I laughed and gasped through the whole thing and already can’t wait until season two. (find it on Netflix)

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Music

I haven’t really been listening to specific albums over the last two months but I have been finding a lot of songs that just make me want to JAM. So, in case you’re in the market for some bops, pull these guys up on Spotify, stretch a little, and then dance your heart out.

1) Too Close by Rainsford

2) Dancing on My Own by Elle Fanning

3) Thief by Ookay

4) Walk Man by Tiny Meat Gang

5) You Need to Calm Down by Taylor Swift

6) Truth Hurts by Lizzo

7) Look What God Gave Her by Thomas Rhett

8) To Whom it May Concern by Sam Spiegel, CeeLo Green, Theophilus London, Alex Ebert

9) Imagination by Foster the People

10) Boys by Lizzo

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Birkenstocks

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After years of thinking about purchasing a pair of these, I finally pulled the trigger at the beginning of this month and BOY WAS I WASTING TIME NOT OWNING THESE. I’ve already broken them in so they officially have that comfy footprint in the sole that is like a hug for my feet every time I put them on and did I mention you are wasting time not owning these?! They are a little on the pricey side for my usual shoe purchase but they are worth every penny. (find them here)

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Double Lacrosse Ball

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After my brother starting playing lacrosse, my family discovered the wonder of rolling out our back muscles with a lacrosse ball. So when I found this on Amazon—a double lacrosse ball that does twice the work in half the time—I knew I was on to something. If you’re someone who struggles with tension in either your back or shoulders I highly recommend one of these! Plus, they’re cheap! You get a set of two for just over ten dollars. #blessed (find them here)

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Have anything you’ve been loving over these last couple months? Let me know! My Amazon cart is always open…

See my previous favorites post here.

The Last Thing on My Phone (Part 2)

By now you probably know that I am a very curious person who loves gathering information. You also probably know that I’m a little nosey—because what curious person isn’t? So when I found this series on YouTube, I could hardly resist.

It’s been almost a year since we did our first deep dive into our phones, so I figured it was about time we checked back in.

Here were the results:

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1) What is the last photo you took?

Rachel: Mine is of this color coordinated clothing rack:IMG_5236

Natalee: Mine is of this creature on my plant. Look at this creepy crawly:

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Me: Mine is of this clock from our friend Taylor’s house. I just really liked it…

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2) What is the last thing you Googled?

Natalee: “Hitchhiker’s to the galaxy plot.” I need to know it for work so I cheated.

Rachel: “Aladdin.” I was looking at showtimes.

*collective pause to discuss the new Aladdin movie*

Kim: “Rompers for men.” I couldn’t remember what they were called. (They are called “Romp-hims” by the way.)

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3) What is your last text?

Rachel: Oh, this was funny. It was texted to me to describe the way I talk about things. It says, “I didn’t hate it, so there’s that. ‘The Rachel Liner Story.'”

Natalee: It was to the family group chat talking about all the things we are looking forward to on our trip and I said, “Amen to all of that!”

Kim: Mine is also about our trip. I said to dad, “Beer is on the agenda!”

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4) How many alarms do you have set?

Rachel: I only have three but I just reset them.

Me: Oh, I have a lot. I think even more than last time. I have eight.

Natalee: I have six. They range from 5:45 a.m. to 6:20 p.m. Not sure what that 6:20 p.m. one is from but I’m guessing it was probably a nap.

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5) What are your most frequently used emojis?

Rachel: These are my top used: heavy-black-heart_2764face-throwing-a-kiss_1f618thumbs-up-sign_emoji-modifier-fitzpatrick-type-1-2_1f44d-1f3fb_1f3fbsmiling-face-with-smiling-eyes_1f60a but I also really love this one: woman-shrugging-type-3_1f937-1f3fc-200d-2640-fe0f

Me: thumbs-up-sign_1f44dheavy-black-heart_2764face-with-tears-of-joy_1f602smiling-face-with-heart-shaped-eyes_1f60dsmiling-face-with-smiling-eyes_1f60a Yeah, that’s me in a nutshell.

Natalee: face-with-tears-of-joy_1f602white-smiling-face_263ayellow-heart_1f49bflushed-face_1f633woman-facepalming-type-3_1f926-1f3fc-200d-2640-fe0f This is my favorite though: face-with-rolling-eyes_1f644 It’s the best one ever made.

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6) What is your last voicemail?

Me: Mine is from [my best friend] Allison. She was just calling to chat but spent a good portion of the message complimenting my voice on the voicemail so that was sweet.

Natalee: See if you can guess mine.

*plays message*

“Hey noodlepop!—

Me: —Kristine [Natalee’s best friend.] Not a lot of other people -are out there calling you noodlepop. (For reference, Kristine calls me “Kim-age” so it’s safe to say her nicknames are supreme.)

Rachel: Oh wait, I have a really good one. It’s from this guy offering to lower the payment on my student loans. I mean, what kind of scam does Jonathan think I’m gonna fall for?

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7) What is the last selfie you took?

Me: The last picture I took with me actually holding the phone and volunteering for my photo to be taken was this one of Mel and I. Aren’t we pretty?

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Natalee: Mine is with Amanda. We were a little day drunk and so we thought, “hey, let’s day a picture of us being day drunk” and, well, we look pretty day drunk.

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Rachel: I’m not really in this one but I did take it and it’s when Dylan and I were with the rhinos.

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8) What is the last app you downloaded?

Natalee: Mine is a little basic, but it’s Instastories because for a minute there I was considering making my Instagram stories a little fancier but I haven’t used it yet.

Rachel: The McDonald’s app. I got it to try and collect on those chicken nuggets we won at the Dodger game [at every home game fans in attendance win free chicken nuggets if the Dodgers score six runs or more] Also pro-tip, I don’t think you even have to be at the game to get those nuggets. They just show up in the app… It’s a big deal and no one’s talking about.

Me: Happify. I downloaded it yesterday because I saw it mentioned in an article online, but I don’t really know what it does yet.

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9) What is the last podcast you listened to?

Rachel: Blackout. It’s with Rami Malek. I’ve only listened to the first couple but it’s pretty good.

Natalee: SLP’s Wine and Cheese. It’s where I listen to SLP’s (speech language pathologist—my sister’s future job title) talk about their caseload and drink wine at the end of a long week.

Me: Case Closed. It’s that podcast about solved murder cases that I got into. The second season has been way better than the first. The first season was just about a bad criminal. I mean, if you’re going to murder someone and try to cover it up, at least do a good job.

Rachel: Amen.

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10) What is the last note you made?

Natalee: “Angelina’s across from the Louvre known for drinking chocolate.” It’s a suggestion I got from a friend about something we should do while we’re in Paris.

Me: Mine is a suggested packing list for dad—with witty commentary.

Rachel: Mine was my target list and the best part about looking at it again right now is that I totally forgot I bought these chai teas, but they are definitely in the fridge downstairs and I’m very excited about it.

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So in case you’re ever wondering if these posts are important, or if you’re curious about taking a little dive into your own phone, remember, there might be a chai tea in your fridge that you totally forgot about, so take the dive. It’s worth it.

2019 Goals Check-In

Hey y’all, happy June!

I’m really at a loss for words that we’re halfway through the year already—but then again, it seems like New Year’s Day was approximately 600 years ago.

So.

That’s where I’m at with 2019.

But I set some excited goals for this year and I thought it was about time I checked in with where I’m at.

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1) Journal daily

Progress: 44% (161 days/365)

I have really loved this goal thus far. Journaling is one of those things that I’ve always wanted to do but never took the time to start. Now that I have however, I wonder where I used put all those thoughts at the end of the day. If you’re someone who has trouble falling asleep at night, or who tends to bottle things up inside, I highly recommend giving journaling a try. I personally like ruled Moleskine notebooks, but if you are someone who likes prompts to get you started, I’d recommend looking up “guided journals”. There are a bunch available on Amazon.

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2) Take a cooking class

Progress: 0%

This is on my to-do list to research. Anyone have any recommendations for classes in the LA area?

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3) Cook my way through a cookbook

Progress: 19% (19 recipes/103)

I chose Chrissy Teigen’s Cravings: Hungry for More as my designated cookbook for this goal and I am SO happy I did. Every single thing I’ve made so far (which I mention here and here) has been absolutely delicious. Highly recommend! (you can grab the cookbook here)

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4) Try the best drink from every state

Progress: 2.00% (1 drink/50)

Yeah so I’ve tried a whopping ONE drink from this list, mostly because I almost always order the same drink whenever I go to a bar, but also because I’m not sure how many of these drinks are actually served in standard bars and I’m embarrassed to ask. For the most part I think I will have to buy the ingredients and make them at home, so I will have to enlist the help of my mixology experienced (or just curious and adventurous) friends.

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5) Watch a sunset and a sunrise at the beach

Progress: 0%

I’ve been waiting on the summer weather for this one and it looks like it’s finally starting to arrive! So in the next few months you can find me on the beach, I’ll be the one doused in sunscreen and wondering when it’s okay to put on my jacket.

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6) Volunteer (at least) 5 times

Progress: 60% (3/5)

I really tried to get on this one early this year because I want to actually lean in to that at least for once. As of now I’ve volunteered with Food Forward three times, both picking and gleaning fruits and vegetables from local farmer’s markets, and in doing so I’ve been a part of collecting and donating almost 4,000 pounds of fresh produce that was donated to hunger relief agencies. Isn’t that amazing?!

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7) See 3 WRLA’s

Progress: 33%

While on a recent trip to visit family in Arkansas, my mom, sister and I took a side trip to Berryville to see the World’s Largest Razorback. It’s about as epically weird and wonderful as you can imagine and I’m so happy my family supports this quest of mine.

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8) Pay off 1 of my 2 remaining student loans

Progress: 90%

This month I will make my final payment on my second to last loan! That’s right baby! I will officially be down to ONE. STUDENT. LOAN. Ayyyyyyy! I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, y’all.

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9) Amazon Wish List splurge

Progress: 0%

I have this one listed at 0% done, though I could probably put it at around 80% because I have an entire Amazon wish list dedicated to this cause. All I need to do now is add those bad boys to my cart and order them with that sweet sweet Prime shipping. Stay tuned.

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10) Stomp grapes and make wine

Progress: 100% (ish)

This is one of those goals that I thought sounded like a fun, quirky and unique idea at first, but now has me kind of wavering, and wondering, do I really want to do that? Until I decide, I’m marking it as complete because I did go wine tasting for the first time this past weekend and that’s in the wine goal family (which is a thing?) so….

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11) Make my family tree

Progress: 25%

I officially have an account on Ancestry.com and have begun my hunting, but I have a BAF (you know, a BIG ASS FAMILY) and so it’s going to take a little while.

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12) Hike the Narrows

Progress: 100% (ish)

Yeah so I’m just breaking all the rules this year but I’m kind of into it. I gave this one an “ish” because a few years back I made “Project Lightbulb” (which was the name I gave to a family trip to Iceland) one of my goals for the year but we weren’t able to complete it. This year however, we gathered our savings, did all the research and are taking (in literally two days) a trip to Europe. Sure, that’s still not Iceland, and sure, it’s also not the Narrows, but it’s still a family bucket list vacation and I’ll take a box check where I can get one.

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13) Do (at least one) unassisted pull-up

Progress: she’s working on it

I have no way to really track a percentage of progress on this one but I am working on it little by little. A couple weeks ago I went rock climbing with my family and it was the first time I noticed I was actually getting stronger. If I remember it correctly, I believe at one point I turned to our guide, flexed my arms and said, “I have medium guns right now, not the big ones just yet.” So I guess that’s my progress: medium guns.

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14) Get 100 rejections

Progress: 3% (3/100)

This one has been a big struggle for me actually. Blame it on the journaling or the full calendar or the final season of Game of Thrones, but my mind has been all over the place and I’ve had trouble finding the time/effort to write, meaning I’ve had almost nothing to submit, and thus nothing to get rejected. It is my goal however, to rope this in for the second half of the year.

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15) Learn Spanish

Progress: 20%

Surprise! This goal wasn’t even on my original list. (I told you I was breaking all the rules this year.) Goal #15 used to be “learn a song on my ukulele” but again, after some contemplation, I realized that maybe I don’t even want to do that. And you know what, y’all, there is no reason to pursue a goal that you don’t even want to accomplish. So I dumped it. Tossed it to the side like every single mushroom any restaurant has dared put on my plate. Then I downloaded Duolingo and I started learning Spanish, and I’m having a great time! I mean, lo estoy pasando muy bien!

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16) Finish my museum goal

Progress: 50% (10 museums/20)

For Mother’s Day my sister and I took our mom to the Huntington Library for some tea (which I highly recommend, by the way!) and a walk around the gardens. About midway through our stroll through the one of the exhibits in the library, I remembered that it was on my list of museums and I took a few seconds to jump up and down excitedly. This is the only progress I’ve made on this carry over goal from last year, but it put me at the 50% mark so I’m calling it a win.

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17) Run a Marathon done! read about it here

Progress: 100%

To be honest I’m still in shock that I can write completed next to this goal, but it gives me such a big boost of pride that I think I’ll say it louder for the people in the back: COMPLETED, BABY. You can read all about it here.

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When we add that all together, my total progress is about 40%, which I’m proud of! Not only because I’m on track (for once) but because this is the first year I’ve made adjustments to my goals when I realized my interest in accomplishing them had changed.

For the last few years I’ve felt locked into the goals I set at the beginning of the year, sometimes to the point of hating certain goals, which made accomplishing them far less exciting. It became more about getting it over with, which is not what a goal should be. So I’m proud of myself for loosening the reins a bit and remembering that the whole point of setting these goals is to try new things and explore new challenges—it’s brought the fun back into it for me, and it makes me excited for the rest of this year and the ones to come.

If you set goals this year, I hope things are going well for you, and if you didn’t, it’s never too late to start! 🙂

Just Live the Day

A little while back I read The Grapes of Wrath, and like in many of the classics, I found a great nugget of advice. It was simple, easy advice, which to me meant it would be almost impossible to follow, but it’s stuck with me over the last few months and I wanted to share it with you.

To quote it directly from the book, I believe it is Ma who says, “Jus’ live the day. Don’ worry yaself.”

Just live the day.

As in, be here now.

Live this day. Right now.

Don’t live in the regrets of yesterday. Don’t live in the fears of tomorrow. Live this day. No matter where you are.

No matter if that means you need to go out and attack it, or if it means you need to stay home and rest.

Let this day serve you. Let it show you what it’s made of. Let it inspire you, let it heal you, let it show you joy you never imagined.

Find the wonders of this day, and don’t waste them thinking about a day you can’t get back or a day you can’t even reach yet.

This day is only going to happen once, so live in it and take it for all it’s worth.

Jus’ live the day. Don’ worry yaself.

To My Fellow Tough Eggs

Often when I meet someone new, or when I see someone for the first time in a long time, or sometimes for no reason at all, I feel very shy and quiet and unable to start, continue, or enjoy a conversation.

I put a lot of pressure on myself, demanding, THIS IS ON YOU, and making myself believe that whenever a conversation goes stale, or when someone opts to sit or stand with someone else, or when the stranger I meet at the supermarket doesn’t immediately fall in love with me like the movies told me they would, it’s because I’m boring or unlikeable or pathetic—or a healthy combination of all three.

Anyone else with me on this?

Anyone else wish they had that magic they see in other people? That ability to talk about anything and everything to anyone and everyone. That something that draws people to them without even meaning to. That ease.

I do.

And while I think it’s something I’ll always strive for, and as much as I believe that you can challenge yourself and grow and acclimate and learn, there comes a point when we have to realize that we are not required to be that kind of person.

We don’t have to be the person that knows exactly what to say all the time. We don’t have to talk to anyone and everyone about anything and everything. Some of us are simply tougher eggs to crack and you have to give us a little more time.

So, to my fellow tough eggs, let me just say that I am with you. You are not alone in feeling like you should do more, be more. You are not the only one sitting there internally screaming, “SAY SOMETHING.” You are not boring or uninteresting or pathetic. You just need time. And anyone worth having in your life will give you that time. So be patient with yourself.

31 Good Things that Happened in May

Hello and welcome back to another edition of All the Good Things, a monthly series where I highlight all the good things (get it?) that happen in each 30-day (or so) span. I hope it can be a reminder that amongst all the well known bad, there is a lot of undercover good happening in our world.

Let’s dive right in

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1) This man adopted a deaf puppy and taught it sign language

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2) This little guy hijacked a school performance in the best way

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3) History was made when this drone delivered an organ in a successful transplant

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4) This 🙂

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5) This celebrity chef offered to hire a cafeteria worker that was fired for giving a student free food

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6) This boy wrote his teacher a touching note

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7) This man paid off an entire graduating class’ student loan debt

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8) This little girl saved her friend from choking one day after learning the Heimlich maneuver

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9) This huge child exploitation bust resulted in arrests and rescues

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10) This whale returned a phone that was dropped in the water

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11) This lawsuit win for a small Amazonian tribe saved hundreds of acres of rainforest

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12) This cellist received over $100,000 in donations to help him go to college

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13) Parkland High School dedicated a page in their yearbook for therapy dogs

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14) Adam Sandler hosted SNL for the first time in 24 years and paid tribute to Chris Farley

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15) This man took a sloth back home

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16) This former janitor earned a nursing degree from the school he used to clean

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17) This guy fell…artistically

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18) This man shared a magical story about his time working at Disney

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19) This artist created animal beds out of used street tires

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20) This woman, known as “waving granny”, got a heartfelt goodbye from the kids she used to wave to every day.

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21) Quarterback Russell Wilson bought his mom a house

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22) These parents celebrated becoming empty nesters in the best way

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23) This 93 year old woman earned a college degree

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24) These guys put a camera on a sushi conveyor belt and got a fun result

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25) This woman threw out a hilariously memorable first pitch at the White Sox game.

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26) This woman received a photo of her cat from a neighbor

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27) Memorial Day

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28) Jennifer Garner gave an amazing commencement speech

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29) These kids sang their hearts out

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30) These dogs became best friends

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31) And THIS:

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Wanna know the best part? There is SO much I didn’t include.

I can’t wait to see what June brings!

You can view last month’s post here.

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Learning Internet Slang (Part 3)

One of my favorite series that I do on my blog, and probably one of the most requested is when I teach my family (and myself, honestly) current slang terms that are circulating the internet. It’s always both fun to see what they come up with, and educational in that we often start using the words in the context we create because it’s way more fun than the actual definition.

This time around we also had our friend Cody in town, and it proved that for these posts, the more the merrier.

Here’s how they did:

1) Has Left the Chat

Urban Dictionary Definition: when someone has left some kind of impact, typically bad, that forces a person or group of people to check out or leave out of embarrassment or disinterest.

Natalee’s Guess: When you’re in a group chat and somebody gets roasted and then they say,  “woah,” and they leave the chat because it’s been too much.

Dad’s Guess: When you leave a conversation but you don’t think that anybody else knows you left.

Mom’s Guess: When you’re really done with a conversation and so you leave.

Cody’s Guess: When people are gaming and someone stops responding and so everyone goes, “Hey, where’s mike?” He left the chat.

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2) Skrrt

Urban Dictionary Definition: to move away, get away from somebody

Natalee’s Guess: Well it’s in an Ariana grande lyric from her song “Imagine.” “Step up to the two of us, nobody knows us, get in the car like skrrt. So going off of that I think it means we gotta go, we wanna get home and you know.

Dad’s Guess: When there’s a good looking girl around and so you say, “Bro, skrrt!

Mom’s Guess: When you see somebody and they’re eyeing you but you’re not interested so you say,  “No thank you, skrrt!”

Cody’s Guess: Making a move to the side.

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3) Mood

Urban Dictionary Definition: used to express something relatable, or to sum up your life

Natalee’s Guess: When you’re describing something that is extra. Like if someone said they are eating a bunch of McDonalds after work, that’s a whole mood. 

Dad’s Guess: I think it’s the combination of “dude” and “mood” to describe when two dudes are having a moment of friendship, a mood.

Mom’s Guess: When you’re trying it get in to a club and you say,  “Mood dude, let me in.”

Cody’s Guess: When a good song comes on, that’s a big mood.

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4) Thicc

Urban Dictionary Definition: when a person has fat in all the right places, creating sexy curves

Natalee’s Guess: Do you remember that movie Summer Catch? There was a guy in that movie, Marcus, and he loved thicc women.

Dad’s Guess: It’s a polite way of saying that you are not into someone, you say, “they are tough, they are thicc.”

Mom’s Guess: A lot of woman.

Cody’s Guess: Girls with big butts.

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5) Glow Up

Urban Dictionary Definition: an incredible transformation.

Natalee’s Guess: All I can think of are those Instagram posts that got popular a couple months back where everyone was saying “then vs. now”.

Dad’s Guess: When you want to go out but you don’t want to get recognized so you put on a disguise, you glow up.

Mom’s Guess: When you’re going out on the town to party, you’re going out to get glowed up.

Cody’s Guess: Getting all prettied up to go out.

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6) Let’s Get This Bread

Urban Dictionary Definition: a phrase originally used to mean “let’s get money”.  Nowadays, the term”let’s get this bread” is more loosely defined as a sort of battlecry in a sense, calling upon the will of the person(s) to succeed, not necessarily in just gaining monetary fund.

Natalee’s Guess: The night is young, let’s get this bread, we have so much to accomplish.

Dad’s Guess: When you’re trying to help your friend get a girl you would say, “hey man, you’re butter, go get that bread.”

Mom’s Guess: When you’re wanting to, you know, get some, you want to get some bread. 

Cody’s Guess: It means to get money, to go out and have a good day.

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7) Smol Bean

Urban Dictionary Definition: someone who is innocent and/or adorable

Natalee’s Guess: It ain’t no big deal, it ain’t nothin’ but a smol bean.

Dad’s Guess: Maybe the opposite of thicc? Like a super skinny girl.

Mom’s Guess: She’s too young for you, she’s just a smol bean.

Cody’s Guess: You’d say it to someone to put them down, like, “you’re nothing, you’re just a smol bean!”

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8) Phubbing

Urban Dictionary Definition: snubbing someone in favor of your phone. 

Natalee’s Guess: Fibbing is kind of like lying, and fat with ph means something is cool, so maybe “phubbing” is lying to go somewhere cool.

Dad’s Guess: Being someone’s substitute spouse for the night, like you’re subbing for the real one.

Mom’s Guess: When you go on a binge, like, “woah, that was way too many Oreos. I’ve been phubbing all night.”

Cody’s Guess: I think it’s a replacement for “fucking” like, you’ve gotta be phubbing kidding me.

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9) Bruh

Urban Dictionary Definition: word you say when someone says something stupid.

Natalee’s Guess: A term of endearment. “That guy over there, he’s my bruh.”

Dad’s Guess: It’s just like, “what up, bruh?”

Mom’s Guess: I was also thinking it was a term of endearment for your friend.

Cody’s Guess: It’s like, “Come on, bruh, what are you doing?”

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10) Ratchet

Urban Dictionary Definition: of poor quality; very bad

Natalee’s Guess: This is an adjective and it is used to describe someone who is doing the most in the trashiest of ways.

Dad’s Guess: When you wanna kick things up a notch. “Hey guys, let’s get some Jameson and ratchet.”

Mom’s Guess: When somebody looks like a mess.

Cody’s Guess: Someone who is gross. “Bruh, she’s ratchet.”

 


 

See the previous edition of this post here.