Happy Birthday

Today is my 30th Birthday.

It’s a day that I have been looking forward to for a long time.  Some people get anxious about turning 30.  I did not.  Why?  Because I have witnessed the awesome power of the 30’s in my friends that have gone before me.  The 30’s have been good to so many amazing women in my life and they laid the foundation for my belief that the 30’s are nothing to fear.  In fact, they are to be revered, and so I do.  Revere them, that is.

Today is also my baby sisters 24th birthday.

When I turned 6 years old, I got a baby sister for my birthday.  Yes, I chose it, and yes I was a little bummed when I realized I wouldn’t be getting a birthday party, but in spite of that, she was, and still is, the best present I ever received.

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I learned so much from being a big sister, particularly HER big sister.  Amy was always a really creative, sensitive, and strong willed kid.  When our older sister, Chris, moved out, Amy cried for days and said one of my favorite lines of all time: “It feels like a piece of my heart is missing.”  I mean, come ON!  How cute is that?!  It took all I had to nod knowingly and not burst out laughing at the adorableness of a 5 year old saying that.

At night, when I would tuck her in, she would ask me to give her a dream and I would whisper in her ear all the fun things I could think of- flying, fairies, talking animals.  We also made up a series of kisses that we would do at night, all based off the classic Eskimo Kiss (where you rub noses):

  • Bunny Kiss: this was a wrinkling of the noses will kissing cheeks
  • Lion Kiss: rubbing cheeks together
  • Chicken Kiss: jutting our heads forward while giving quick kisses, like pecking each others faces, but with kisses
  • Butterfly Kiss: fluttering eye lashes on each others’ cheeks
  • and our favorite:
  • Bumble Bee Kiss: doing a series of three kisses on each cheek while making a humming/buzzing sound

To this day, we still sign cards and emails with “BBK” for Bumble Bee Kisses, and it makes me so happy.

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A regular ole kiss on the cheek

Amy recently reminded me that I used to hang a sign in her bedroom that counted down the days until our birthday.

Ames- there are ZERO days until our birthday! Today is our day, and although we aren’t celebrating in person, I know that we are always connected. Sometimes it feels like a piece of MY heart is missing because we are so far apart, but I am so glad that you are that piece of my heart.  You are one of my favorite people in the world and I am so proud to be your sister.

Oh, and I didn’t get you a card, so… you know, pretend this is it, okay?

I love you.

BBK,

KT

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At the Taste of Chicago

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With my sisters at my rehearsal dinner

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Safety first!

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First time Amy came out to a bar with her older sisters =)

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Silly faces

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Twins six years apart- even when we sleep

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Amy came to support me at both the Chicago marathons I ran.

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Amy’s bachelorette party

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Passed out after a fun wedding

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Sistersssss

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The night Amy and Tommy got engaged

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May 4, 2012. family, Friendship, sisters. Leave a comment.

One Year Ago

Today marks the one year anniversary of “Tommy’s Accident” and the start to “Kate’s Year of Magic” (it’s a working title).

So much of my language this past year was centered around Tommy’s Accident.

Annie:  “Where did we go for Bekah’s birthday dinner last year?”

Me: “I don’t know- I was in Chicago because of Tommy’s Accident.”

Anyone: “When did you become a doula?”

Me:  “Well, I think I have been a doula my entire life, but it really began for me after I returned home from taking care of my brother in law after he was in a car accident.”

In almost every way, it was my worst nightmare.  I got a phone call from my dad sometime mid morning (in my nightmare, it is nighttime when I get a call like this), which was strange because he would have been working.  He was actually home sick from work- sinus infection I think- and he sounded terrible, which he would have whether he was sick or not because of the news he was about to give me.

“Tommy’s been in an accident.  A bad one.  He’s in the hospital.  I don’t have a lot of information, but it’s not good. “

A note about me: I have gotten a phone call like this before, only it was much graver news, but I handled it in a similar fashion: by yelling “What?” and then “No!” as if I had misheard and then could change it with a word: NO.  And then yelling it louder: NO!  And maybe repeating it: NO!      NO!

But nothing changes.  I yelled for Buck.  I start crying.  I desperately want to get off the phone to call my sister; To blink and be back in Illinois with my sister; To stop time, and the truck that hit Tommy.  To send back the words my dad has delivered.

But only one of those things happened.

I got off the phone with my dad and called Amy who is in the car with my mom, who had picked her up from the school she was teaching Kindergarden at (the same school she and I went to for 1st-8th grades), on their way to the hospital where Tommy was, in the Surgical ICU with a pressure monitor in his head to relieve the bleeding on his brain.

I don’t remember what I said to her, but I remember that she wasn’t crying.  She was in shock. I stayed on the phone for as long as I could, but eventually they arrived at the hospital and I let her go, said “I love you” as hard as I could, and promised I would be there soon.

And I was- the next day.  January 5th, 2011.  I was terrified to leave LA.  I was going by myself- Buck had to stay behind to work- and I cried almost the entire flight.  There were so many nice people around me on the plane- one guy lent me a Sharpee so I could write in my journal.  The lady next to me gave me a tissue and did me the courtesy of not asking me what was wrong.  Funny how I will never forget those details- how fear and tragedy can burn things into your mind in a way that, for me, even the happiest moments of my life don’t always.

That month in Chicago- January 2011- changed my life forever.  I had no idea that one of the scariest moments of my life would give birth to the path that I was meant to walk down and dedicate my life to.  Who can predict these things?

I have had a lot of fear and anxiety on the lead up to this day- this anniversary.  I have been afraid of reliving this and feeling these feelings.  But a week ago when Buck and I were driving into Chicago to see our dear friends and beautiful Goddaughter, I said to him, “One year ago, we were doing this exact same thing.  If we had known what was about to happen- that Tommy would make that left turn and that everything would change- would we do anything different?”

And the answer I wanted to say was, “YES!  We would have hugged him for 24 hours straight, and never left the house, and not let him get in the car that morning!!!!”  But that’s not the truth.  Because life doesn’t work like that.  You can pad your furniture, but you might still stub your toe on the padding and it will likely still hurt!  You can stay in bed all day long (which is what I did for so many days in 2011 when I was sad and lost), but it doesn’t change anything.  Life is still happening and we just need to keep moving through it, unafraid, and full of love for all things and beings around us.

And I am full of so much love and marvel for how magical this past year has turned out.  Tommy’s recovery has inspired me to the core, and my sister’s dedication to him has guided me in my own exploration of what patience and compassion really look like.   I have learned to be kind to myself and to open my heart totally so that the magic can continue to flow in and out, just as it should.

Tommy and I 2012

January 4, 2012. family, sisters. 5 comments.

List #10 (a week late)

Last week was strangely busy, yet unproductive.  I was craving personal contact, and so every time I sat down at my computer, it felt like the enemy- the opposite of the thing I wanted.  So I didn’t get much done, and I certainly didn’t blog.

So, I planned to post both lists 10 and 11 together in one post, but it would be super duper long, and you’d probably get sick of reading.

List #10: My 10 Favorite Spaces and Places (in no particular order)

(this list took me some time because I am really sentimental and I was worried this would make me homesick.  It did, but I got through it)

1.  In bed with my husband  Here are a list of my favorite beds: fancy hotel beds (specifically: the bed at The Conrad Hotel), the first bed we every bought together (a queen Sealy with a pillow top), the bed in Annie’s guest bedroom, and the guest bed at my In Law’s house.  Comfort is really important- more important than space.  We had a full size bed for most of our relationship and I used to joke that we were going to downgrade to a twin so we HAD to snuggle.  Moving up to a Queen changed my mind about that…it’s awesome!

2The Dumich kitchen table  Kate (Dumich) Sollmann has been my best friend since we were 10 years old and her family took me in as one of their own.  Both of my parents worked outside the house, so I spent many days and nights over at the Dumich house, sitting around the kitchen table.  It’s nothing fancy- just a solid wood table with plenty of seating- but it is a lovely, safe place to be.  The kitchen has a half wall that allows you to see into the living room so that everyone can talk and listen.  I always admired the way their family would talk over dinner.  No topic seemed off limits and the debates were always exciting.  I have shared laughter and tears at that table; Kate wrote out all my wedding place cards at that table; together we wrote out all of Amy’s wedding place cards at that table!  It has seen a lot and has been there for me in the same way that family has always been there for me- solid, simple, and not requiring a lot of fuss. 

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Kate working on Amy's placecards (what a good friend!)

3.  “The Middle of Nowhere”  When Buck and I stated dating at ISU, there weren’t a TON of options for fun.  We often had to make our own.  On stormy days, we hoped in his car and drove out to the fields to watch.  One day we found this concrete slab on the side of a remote country road.  We jumped out and watched the sunset and stayed up late talking and watching the stars.  We called it “The Middle of Nowhere” and would return to it when we needed some space.  It scared the crap out of me to be in the middle of a field at night, but I think that’s just the city girl in me who has watched too many slasher movies…

4.  Independent coffee shops  Some favorites: Aroma Coffee and Tea Company, Joey’s Cafe, Groundwork Coffee, Intelligentsia.  Okay, I know that last one is not independent, but I love their brew so much…and their cafe’s are always so cool and clean.

5.  The Ostello della Pace  translates to Peace Hostel in Italian, and I stayed there when I backpacked through Italy in 2003.  Located in Assissi, it’s one of my favorite places on this planet for one really simple reason: it was the first time I was fully living in the moment.  I found myself there after meeting a girl (Kristen from Boston) during my travels and we took a train out.  The hostel is made of stone and brick and has really comfortable, affordable rooms.  Our first night there, a few other travelers showed up (Colin from Canada and another guy from Spain), as well as an Italian scouting troop made up of roughly 20 eight year old kids (both boys and girls).  We all became friends and stayed up until the wee hours singing and dancing around a campfire with the scouting troop.  They sang camp songs in Italian and I had no idea what they were saying, but it was bliss.  There was a song about a “kiss train” and all the little boys kissed my cheeks.  I was 21 and alive in my skin for what felt like the first time.  It was very powerful.

6.  Craft rooms  I love all craft rooms.  They make me feel inspired.  Here is a picture of mine:
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7.  The radiator in the living room at The Paulina Palace #2A.  Buck and I moved up to Chicago after I graduated and found our perfect apartment in Andersonville.  Buck says I have rose colored glasses now that we don’t live there anymore, but I really did love that place.  In the living room, there is a long radiator, and during the summer months when it was off, I would perch on it and read, or just look out the window onto Paulina Street.  When Buck proposed to me, I was sitting on that radiator (until I tackled him on the floor after saying yes!), and when I got the call that I had been hired to my dream job, I was sitting on that radiator.  It wasn’t super comfortable to sit on, but it was always comforting to be there. 

8.  The Start and Finish lines at a marathon The Chicago Marathon.  The Chicago Marathon changed my life so many times.  It is so empowering to finish a marathon, and if you ever think you may want to do one, call me.  I truly believe that anyone can do it (yes, even you who says “but I only run if someone is chasing me!”) and I love talking about it.  The start and finish lines of the Chicago Marathon in particular are amazing.  When you are at the start line in Chicagoit’s still pretty dark out, the city lights are twinkling, they play inspiring music, and then the National Anthem, and you and the 30,000 runners around you share in the excitement of beginning a race.  The finish line has stands filled with people and a balloon arch and you know that once you cross it, there are likely going to be donuts on the other side.  And you are going to eat them.  A LOT of them.  Cuz you earned it. 

9.  The ocean  I have always been inspired by and terrified of the ocean.  When I am feeling overwhelmed, I like to drive out to the beach (it’s nice that I can do that now that I live in California!) and remind myself that the world is very big and my problems do not have to be. 

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10.  CW301  CW stands for Centennial West and 301 is a room in that building, which is located on the campus of Illinois Sate University.  This room housed my first college Acting class (with Kim Pereira), many rehearsals for the Improv Mafia, some Mafia shows, rehearsals for The House of Blue Leaves (one of my favorite roles), and it’s the room I sat outside of listening to Buck rehearse for a play, and where I allowed myself to admit that I loved him.  We weren’t dating yet, you see, and things would be complicated with our group of friends if we did get together.  I would take a walk to the building at night and sit outside on a bench to listen to him in rehearsal and dream about a day when he would tell me he loved me too.  Lucky for me, that day came and we’ve been telling each other that for over 10 years now.

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Mafia misfits in CW301 circa 2005

August 15, 2011. Tags: , , , , , , , , . 52 lists, 52 weeks, Crafts, Friendship, Home, Husband, LA, sisters. 1 comment.

List #9

Things I am Looking Forward To

1.  My next birth. And by that I mean the next birth I get to Doula on, although I am also excited to have my own birth experience (someday).  This weekend I was on call to be the back up for a Doula I haven’t met yet, which was a brand new experience for all of us!  We spent a lot of time talking on the phone, texting, and sending good vibes toward one another.  She was back on the scene for the birth yesterday, and I wasn’t able to go support her, but it was nice to know that we were only a text or a phone call away any given point.  Missing out on the birth experience only made me more excited to meet my next mama!

2.  Visit from my In Laws.  I am blessed with having some of the best In Laws ever!  Jan and Dan, my husband’s mom and step dad, are coming out for a visit at the end of October and we are so excited to see them.  We are still forming the list of fun places we want to show them, so if you live in the LA area and want to make suggestions, please do!

3.  Celebrating my 3rd Wedding Anniversary.  Buck and I got married on September 7th, 2008.  In case you are wondering, the wedding gift theme for year 3 is leather.  Being a vegan, I won’t be giving or receiving real leather, and according to Wikipedia there is another, modern gift alternative: glass or crystal.  I tend to like homemade gifts best, but my glass blowing thingie is in the shop…

4.  A visit from my sister Amy (someday!).  Amy got married in June and then took her fancy honeymoon to Mexico, so I don’t expect a trip out to LA anytime soon, but I keep it on my list of things to look forward to!

5.  Getting back into a workout routine.  I love routine.  I thrive BEST when I have a routine and a schedule.  Give me a day with nothing on the schedule and it is likely that 5 hours will be destroyed by Real Housewives of Any City, or whatever else is on Bravo.  This is why I have been attempting to schedule my day hour by hour.  I make a list of what I need to do during the day and then I write out the schedule.  I set an alarm on my phone to tell me when my time is up and I have to move on to the next task.  I even schedule in lunch, cleaning, and reading because they just won’t get done otherwise.  Working out has yet to make it on my list, but I blame the awesome friends I have had visiting in the month of July (and by blame I mean thank).  I’d like my routine to include yoga at least twice a week ($5 yoga with Daniel at the Women’s Club of LA every Monday and Wednesday!), walks in the canyon, and eventually some boxing.

6.  The next time I can get an iced soy vanilla chai latte from Joey’s Cafe.  Dang, I had the BEST chai last week!  I actually do not order chai very often because it doesn’t have espresso in it, and because it’s often too sweet for me.  But last week I stumbled upon Joey’s Cafe on Santa Monica and Sweetzer in West Hollywood while I was waiting for Buck to pick me up.  I ordered the chai and chatted on the phone with Amy.  This chai was Ah-May-ZING!  It has vanilla in it and I think that makes all the difference.  Anyway, I can’t shop thinking about it and trying to plot reasons to go past Joey’s again…

Side note about getting organized: I really like making lists, but I don’t love making them on anything other than paper.  Is that weird?  A million years ago, Kate gave me this awesome note pad:

My favorite notepad

I don’t think the company makes it anymore, so I savor the pages, but they make all sorts of great notepads.  The company is called Knock Knock and I spend a lot of time on their site trying to decide which note pad will replace this one.  Maybe this one or this one.

August 1, 2011. Tags: , , , . 52 lists, 52 weeks, Home, sisters. 1 comment.

Chicago Weekend

This past weekend I was in Chicago to celebrate my sister, Amy, as she gets ready to marry her high school sweetheart, Tommy, in less than 1 month!  On Saturday I threw her a bachelorette party, complete with penis parafernalia, too much drinking, plenty of dancing.  Sunday I threw her a bridal shower, which was much more tame, but still lovely.  I flew back to LA on Tuesday and my brain is still swimming.

One really special thing that happened while I was home was that my dear friends, Angela and Clayton, asked if Buck and I would be their daughter’s godparents!  I was able to go spend some time with Angela, Clayton and Baby Ilyse and when they asked me, I burst into tears!  This will be my first time as a god parent, and I am excited to learn what it all means.  Angela and I have similar religious backgrounds, which makes me feel better about this role.  Basically, I hope to be a good role model and friend to her as she grows.  When she asks me questions about crafting, or cooking, or sex, I will have solid, well thought out answers with plenty of love and humor.  When she asks me questions about God and what happens to us when we die, I will likely stumble around until she gets annoyed and goes back to her mom.  Buck will be better at fielding questions about God because he isn’t plagued with any Catholic rules or guilt.  I get caught up in trying to find the “right” answer, and because there isn’t one, I get all fumbly.

Other things I did while home:

– Got threading done to my upper lip.  Hurt like heck, but is cheaper than waxing and supposedly lasts longer.  We’ll see…

– Helped Amy accomplish some wedding stuff

– Signed up for a Doula workshop back in LA through Bini Birth (happening this weekend!)

– Tried on my dress for the wedding and didn’t cry.  It actually fit, which is a miracle!

Enjoy some photos from the weekend:

I made the banners out of pretty paper and hung it with yarn. Aren't Amy and Tommy the cutest?!

I got Amy a vibrator, which sufficiently mortified her. The girl partied like a champ!

May 18, 2011. Doula Stuff, Friendship, sisters. Leave a comment.

I’ve Missed You!

Hi Friends and Blog!  I’ve missed writing you, and I am sorry I have neglected you!  Since last week, it’s been go-go-go and I keep thinking of great things to post about, but not having a second to sit down to do it!

Aaaaand, it doesn’t get any better.

It’s 3am, and I am tired, and I am flying to Chicago tomorrow, and I am not packed or organized.  It’s my own fault and I should stay up all night and get my shit together, but snuggling up in bed sounds so much nicer…plus, it’ll all get done- right?

Here’s a quick update:

Birthday– AWESOME!  Cubs win + all you can eat sushi x friends = one helluva good time!

Weekend– Supes fun!  Went to The Original Renaissance Pleasure Faire (full name) and saw Moonie the Magnificent and Broon.  Check it out if you can!

Doula stuff- Moving right along!  Still reading tons of interesting books and anxiously awaiting the arrival of Baby Tareve (Tara + Steve)… Stara (Steve + Tara)…

Sister Wedding Stuff- Gettin’ shit done!  I fly to Chicago tomorrow to throw my sister her bachelorette party and shower this weekend.  It is going to be a fun time, but my head is spinning with all the details.  I just hope the penis straws don’t end up in the drink of one of my mom’s friends at the shower.  Uncouth (as my dad would say).

Birthday resolutions– Ummm, well….not flawless, but it’s a work in progress, right?  I had intended to give up biting my nails and ripping off my cuticles (treat my body like a temple and all that), but all that came undone yesterday when our router went down and I had to sit on the floor with the laptop propped up on the subwoofer so that I could plug the modem into the computer to work (whah- my life is so hard!).  My back ached and I was frustrated, so how did I deal?  By ripping off my nails and biting, biting, biting.  Not a steller moment in my life, and of course it didn’t satisfy me in the long run.  I did buy funky new polish (that I hope doesn’t look stupid) because I find that I am less inclined to mess with my nails if they look pretty.  So I might take to treating myself to a new polish each month if I can get through it without biting.  I am addicted to nail polish and own 8 shades of purple (no joke).

Book you need to read NOW!Bossypants by Tina Fey.  So funny.  So good.  So right.  Get a taste with “A Mother’s Prayer for her Daughter” and then go buy it.

I will write a better birthday post (I got some wicked cool gifts!) and a round up of this weekend (assuming I am not out partied by 22 year olds) when I return.  In the meantime, thank you for reading and sticking with me.  I think about you often and promise not to be so negligent.

xo

May 11, 2011. Tags: , , , . Doula Stuff, Friendship, sisters. 1 comment.

Amy

When I was approaching my 6th birthday my parents, knowing they were having a planned caesarean section with the birth of my sister, asked me, “Do you want the baby born the day before, the day of, or the day after your birthday?”  As the story goes, I exclaimed, “I want a baby for my birthday!” and went merrily on my way.

Well, my sister Amy came into the world on May 4th, 1988 and I became a big sister.  I remember being fascinated with her- her tiny fingers and the soft spots on her head that I wasn’t allowed to press on lest she leak her brains all over.  My dad gave me this little container that he got from the hospital that was supposed to tell you what things a baby could choke on.  If the object could fit inside the container, it could fit inside a baby’s windpipe and kill them.  I walked around that house testing everything that wasn’t too heavy for me to pick up, and if it fit in the container, it had to go.

There is a picture of me at the hospital the day Amy was born and I love it.  I will try to scan and post it when I get back to Chicago in a week (!!) because it’s pretty precious.  It’s 6 year old me, sitting in a hospital recliner, feet not touching the ground, holding baby Amy who’s eyes are open and looking up at me.  There is one version where I am looking down at her as if she is the best thing in the world, and one where I am looking at the camera smiling like I won a friggin’ pool party on a hot day.  I think it tells the story of our relationship pretty well.  Amy spent most of her life looking up to me, and now that she’s grown up, I spend most of my days looking at her in adoration.

She really is a cool, cool person with the most beautiful hair and the most contagious laugh you’ve ever heard.  When she laughs her eyes squint up and she makes the most hilarious face and I can’t help but laugh too.  She is one of the few people on the planet that I can be 100% myself around and I know what a treat that is.  She is a kindergarden teacher at the school we grew up in, so that tells you a lot about her heart and breadth of patience.

There are so many great stories to share about Amy…Buckethead Baby…Amy Makes a Sandwich (her film debut)…the time she thought she was a puppy for a week and woke me up every morning with puppy dog kisses (aka: licking my face)…the way she would diligently come into my room at night with a mirror and our “affirmations” when I was battling eating disorder…the silly kisses we made up during her bedtime routine (bumble bee kisses, chicken kisses, bunny kisses, lion kisses, etc)… the notes she wrote to me when I moved away to college…the time she was 11 and I gave her my knife to use after I was done making my PB&J and she said, “I don’t want your sloppy seconds” totally unaware of what that REALLY meant…the time she asked me- at the dinner table- if “oral sex is the same as sex”…Side note: I answered her oral sex question this way (she was 14): “There are 2 reasons to have sex: one is to procreate, and you probably don’t want to do that yet, and the other is for pleasure, and let me assure you that 14 year old boys DO NOT know what they are doing, so don’t even bother.”

I sound like her mom more than her sister, and I think for a long time the roles confused the both of us.  When we were young and our parents worked full time, she came with me everywhere.  I know she thought she was a burden, but I loved it.  I loved growing up with her and I love that we are friends now.

So, Ames, Happy 23rd Birthday!  Cheers to sisters, friends and a lifetime of infectious laughter!  You are the best birthday present I have ever received and I love you.  BBK!

Baby Amy!

My favorites from my wedding

First time drinking together after Amy turned 21 (with older sister Chris!)

Amy and her brother

Sleeping Beauties, as my dad would say

The Kate's and Amy

Safety first!

Penguins work too

Amy supporting me at my 3rd Marathon

The weird/gross thing she does with her neck (Tommy too)

Our favorite face to make!

Cheers!

May 4, 2011. Tags: , , , . family, Friendship, sisters. 1 comment.