Our Goodbye to Paws

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If you have ever been over to the DeBrino household, you have met Paws. He would greet you with the loudest, and weirdest sounding, meow he could muster… again, and again, and again, until you sat down to pet him. And once you started petting him, he would head-butt you repeatedly.

He was the weirdest cat. And maybe one of the most annoying. But he was also the most loving- and a DeBrino.

We got Paws in 2001 shortly after moving to Bothell, WA. We went to a house down the road from us and picked out his brother first, and I asked mom and dad if we could get him, too. I don’t remember if it was hard to convince them but we came home with two little kitten brothers that day.

Being young, Jenny (my sister) and I gave them the best names ever: Lip and Paws. Jenny named Lip because he would constantly kiss you, and we somehow came up with Paws.

I can remember countless nights, especially in high school, having to open my bedroom door for Paws because I wasn’t allowed to sleep without him. If I tried, Paws would put a paw under my door, and shake it until I went to open it. If that didn’t work, he would scratch at it for as long as it took. And once that door was open, he’d go straight into the bed and lay on my chest.

He was obsessed with milk, and with hunting. He’d bring in all kinds of animals: bunnies, lizards, mice, rats, birds, ducks- whatever he could find. I’m also sure he is probably the reason we ended up with a weasel in my room!

My sister sent me a text this morning asking about my school schedule and it was followed by a phone call. I knew what is was right away- the last few times I had been home I knew he wasn’t doing well. We all did. My last trip home was during Thanksgiving and on my way out of the house I took a picture with him, held him for a bit, and cried because I figured it was goodbye. He actually would do this thing when you pick him up where he would give you a hug: he’d wrap his paws around your neck and hold on. It was the best.

Being the stubborn, annoying cat that he was, I wasn’t surprised he lasted so long- that cat was not a quitter.

I was planning on getting Paws back once I found a house so he could be my cuddle-buddy again. It makes me incredibly sad knowing that I won’t get to experience that anymore.

Knowing Paws, he’s up in some kind of kitty paradise feasting on a buffet of mice and milk and getting all the attention in the world.


My sister, Jenny, also wrote something to say goodbye to our favorite little black cat:


Paws was my little buddy, my sidekick. My sister and I always fought over who he belonged to, but really, he was the family cat. He sure knew how to annoy the crap out of everyone, but you could never really be mad at him because when it came down to it, he just loved everyone so intensely and you knew that.

One of my memorable things about Paws was how if he was ever at head level with you, he’d head butt you. I remember at times being so mad at him because it hurt so badly, but he never did it with intent to hurt, just to connect with you, to love you, to get you to pay attention to him, to feed him and all other things cats want you to do for them.

If you picked him up, he would wrap his front paws around your neck and snuggle his head in as if he knew what a hug was and what it had meant.

Paws had a meow that was not only obnoxious and loud, but also unique and funny. Friends would always comment on his meows.

I could go on and on about you little guy, but I’m afraid these tears are making it harder and harder to type. I love you Pawsy, I hope you’re happy in kitty heaven. We miss you.


Andrea & Jenny DeBrino

The Autumn Story

Have you ever met someone so wonderful you constantly search for their qualities in every person you meet? Or maybe you think to yourself, “If every person was like _______, I would never feel angry.”

Autumn Welt is the definition of that type of person. Today also happens to be her 30th birthday.

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After we both decided to chop off our hair!

I met Autumn in 2012, my first year working at Halloween Horror Nights in Orlando, FL at Universal Studios. I was beyond nervous to start working there- I had really no idea what to expect. But to my surprise I ended up in this amazing cast in a house called, “House of Horrors”. I played the Bride of Frankenstein, and Autumn was one of Dracula’s brides.


This is Autumn as Dracula’s bride!

We were 2 out of 3 girls in the house, in a cast of almost 20.


Cast A for House of Horrors

Once HHN finished up at Universal, Autumn ended up joining me at the Gaylord Palms and became part of the Dreamworks team- so I got to continue working with her! It was amazing how many shifts we got to have together.


My favorite part about working together is that we usually had the same ideas in mind for our breaks: it was spent either taking 20 minute naps between sets, catching up, or watching movies on our laptop/kindle.

She even came with me when I got my first (and only) tattoo- she held my hand the entire time. Not to mention that earlier that day she also helped me make a video for a college application. She literally spent an entire day helping me!

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Getting my infamous Harry Potter tattoo as Autumn holds my hand!

We also realized that we had to work on Thanksgiving that year- which actually wasn’t so bad. But we decided to go out to dinner after and try to make the most out of not being able to be with family. Instead, we got to be with each other and it was comforting to know that.

The reason I love Autumn so much is that she is the kind of person who really cares, and you always know her true feelings- you don’t ever feel as though she’s putting on a face for you. She’s got the biggest heart, and she’s so passionate.

2012 ended up being pretty rough at the end. Autumn was the only person I trusted to go to about what I was going through, and she was there for every moment of it. She always knew exactly what to say. I remember one day we sat on my bed and watched The Holiday and day dreamed about the future where we both get to find love and happiness. It was a strange night because I remember feeling so sad as it ended but also so hopeful that we were going to accomplish our goal of finding what makes us happy, whether it be love or self-discovery (or both).

I’m extremely lucky to have someone like Autumn as a friend.

She’s currently sailing the seas, working on a cruise ship! Which is also a little of a bummer because it makes it much harder for me to see her when I visit Orlando next week. However, I’m so happy for her and everything she has accomplished.

Happy 30th birthday to the best lady I know. Thank you for being such a wonderful friend.

Speaker for Winter JAM

This week I was honored to be asked to attend the McGraw Hill Winter JAM as a speaker to talk about my experience using their products. I’m a Student Ambassador for the company, which mostly means that you’ll find me presenting to classrooms each semester on how to access their assignments and book digitally.

When I was first asked, I was told I’d be speaking at a meeting- I assumed it was going to be relatively small. Turns out it was a meeting for over 650 people!

I was put up in the JW Marriott in Phoenix, which was just gorgeous. The first night I went out to the pool, lazy river, and hottub- and not one other person was there due to the rain! It was amazing how relaxing it was.

I presented early Tuesday morning- I was actually the last speaker of the morning to close out the session before lunch had started. I introduced  myself, and talked about my very non-traditional route that I’ve taken in order to earn my degree. Next, I spoke about the impact that Connect had on me when it came to learning versus a “normal” textbook, and then closed out my speech with a thank you to everyone attending.


My parents say I look like the next President

As I stepped off staged, I received a standing ovation- this was a huge surprise! As I headed to lunch I was stopped by numerous people who were telling me how well I did and some who just wanted to know more about myself. I got lots of questions about my plans after graduation, and if I needed a place to go once I was done.


A photo Jennifer took of me

Overall it was a very wonderful experience to be a part of. It was great seeing the other side of the company and learning more about what to expect for 2016. I’m just glad I didn’t trip on the way up to the stage!

Warm Wishes,


“I’m only friends with guys.” – The Value of Female Friendship

Raise your hand if you have heard this phrase before!raise_your_hand

And chances are, as a woman, you have probably heard this from another woman. Which at the time you may say to them, “Yeah, it is just so much easier!” However later the thought will come across your mind of,

Does she not want to be friends with me then?

10491117_849983075052568_9055937730992034841_nToday I want to discuss the value of friendship. More specifically, the value of another female companion to take over the world with.

Yes, friendship with men is great. Friendship with any person is great. But lately there has been a trend of hating on your fellow women companions. Yes, companions- not your competitor.

After moving away from Orlando in August of 2014, it was just a few months later that I started feeling lonely despite being surrounded by my boyfriend’s presence. I realized just how bad I missed the ladies in my life. I also realized how much I really valued their friendship, and I began to feel sad and guilty for not putting more of my heart and soul into the friendship with these amazing girls.578428_10151202486866031_616335997_n (2)

Making new friends and looking back on old ones, I started seeing how cruel we can be to the friends in our life. We tend to think of other woman as competition instead of allies.

Woman are great and can be such a valuable asset in your life. You can complain to your boyfriend or male friends about your period, but no one else but a woman will be able to understand a cramp so painful that you end up curled up in a ball in the middle of a grocery store aisle, or that weird position you lay in on the floor just to be comfortable during that time of the month. 259159_10150277925551031_2261002_o

I once talked to a woman and as we were getting to know each other, she says to me,

“I hate girls. I can only be friends with men.” 

So that friendship lasted about two weeks.

It’s so curious that we are constantly putting down other woman, but especially that we are putting down our own friends. We make fun of what our friends wear, how their makeup looks, the job they have in order to make ourselves feel better and more confident about the choices we ourselves have made. How weird is that?

I went to visit Orlando in March of this year, and spent essentially most of my time with my old girlfriends from there. One of them even took off work to make sure we’d get to hang out. And it was one of the best weekends I’ve had in awhile- and one of the most eye opening. They were all so encouraging and inspiring to be around. I felt like I could be me without any judgment.

That’s when I realized how bad it could be having people around who are constantly putting me and others down for no other reason but their own self-assurance. I’ve had friends make fun of me for wearing makeup, not wearing makeup, being too casual or not formal enough- c’mon, have you ever heard, “Why do you look so nice?” Excuse me?! Why not?! I’ve even had friends comment on my weight randomly (“Why are you drinking/eating that?”).

11187176_690038467785796_6961956397375231524_oInstead we could be celebrating each other! Just because your friend shows up to hang out looking good is no reason to put her down. Tell her how hot she looks and enjoy your day! Flaunt the confidence of your friendship all over the world and take no shit. If your friend is on a diet, ask her how you can help, or be there during her cheat day to tell her it’s okay to eat the entire tub of ice cream if she wants to.

Your good lady friends are essential. Be one of those friends who inspires others to love and support each other the way you should! And when people are asshats to you- just ignore it. You are meant for a 775219_10151414621436031_890320238_obeautiful friendship that doesn’t involve pulling each other down. Lift each other up instead and have the kind of relationship that inspires others to do the same.

So231110_10150250140986031_3337478_n I challenge you to do something different. Be there for your friends. Don’t hate on someone because they are the same gender as you. Love them for who they are, and look forward to those nights on the couch with them drinking wine and watching The Holiday.