Frosty Lives To See Another Year

A couple of weeks ago, I stopped at my parents’ house to help my Mom put away all the Christmas decorations because even though I moved out, I continue to be the backbone of the household. I honestly don’t think there is anything more depressing and exhausting than putting away Christmas decorations. I thought making Christmas cookies was terrible. Well, that task is a walk in the park compared to the chore of packing up all that Christmas spirit come January. As a stood in the Dining Room wrapping up the Christmas trinkets and Knick-knacks in newspaper, watching my hands turn black from all the newspaper ink, I started laughing about how tacky and ridiculous some of our old Christmas decorations are. Most of them are about 30 year-old homemade projects that we made in preschool that we continue to hang up every Christmas.

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One of Jane’s masterpieces I like to call “receding hairline” angel. Nothing says “Christmas time” quite like this angel with the creepy grin, who looks like it’s flying around on the prowl to kidnap some children.

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I made this one. I probably could have done a better job distributing the green glitter but IT’S CALLED ART OK YOU GUYS!

Every January we try to purge and get rid of some of these decorations, but we never do because someone always seems to have an emotional attachment to something.  For the past decade my oldest sister Maggie has been trying to throw out the Frosty the Snowman Candle but her four siblings will have none of it. I remember the first time she tried to put him in the garbage, chaos and outrage ensued throughout the house. Frosty sparked quite the argument. I thought I even heard one of my siblings yell “crucify her” from another part of the house. Yes, things got heated but Frosty stayed cool through the whole thing and Maggie lost the battle. Plus, Frosty the Snowman is my Dad’s favorite song, we couldn’t POSSIBLY get rid of Frosty!

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Frosty taunting Maggie with that big smirk on its face, knowing it will be able to enjoy at least one more Christmas.

Another time someone suggested we get rid of the “Red Ball” Christmas candle but that idea was quickly nicked due to its involvement in “Kathleen’s Candle tossing incident of 2002.” What was this incident you ask? Well, I was bored one school night and decided to make up a game where I repeatedly threw that red ball candle as high in the air in the living room as I could without it touching the ceiling. (Not to brag but I was pretty good at the game until I got too cocky). On one of my final tosses I wanted to see just how close I could get to the ceiling without actually hitting it. Well, turns out I am A LOT stronger than I may look because I threw it just a little too hard and a lot too high, hitting the living room ceiling and leaving a big, bright red mark on it. I immediately panicked because I knew my parents could be home at any moment so I stacked a bunch of dining room chairs on top of each other and attempted to scrub the red mark off the ceiling but it was not coming off. Mike Sr. and Mo Money were not too happy when they came home and saw the mark. But really, I still feel like the whole thing was kind of their fault because they were the ones who made up the rule that we could not watch TV on school nights. Had I been watching TV like all the other kids in America, maybe I wouldn’t have been tossing a candle around. Mike Sr. ended up having to repaint the entire ceiling so now the mark is gone, but my siblings like to hold on to the candle as a reminder of how dumb I was as a child.

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My sister Bridget texted me this in early December. 17 years later and I’m still getting made fun of about the red ball candle incident.

The older I get, the more of an appreciation I have for all parents at Christmas time and all the effort they put in to making sure their kids have a happy, memorable Christmas. I remember one Christmas my Mom decided to be an ambitious Santa and she made all five of her kids one of those fleece-tie blankets. We came down the stairs Christmas morning and there under the tree were five blankets, a different pattern for each of us marked with our names. We started to run towards them to see which blanket was ours. “Careful kids,” My Mom casually cautioned from the couch as she sipped her coffee in her robe, still looking a little sleepy. “I’m pretty sure I left sewing needles in a few of those blankets so be sure to CHECK FOR NEEDLES before you use your blanket. I started to check last night but then was just too tired so I thought ‘forget it’ so it’s YOUR RESPONSIBILITY to check for needles before you decide to use your blanket or put it on your bed.” Just recently we were talking about this great gift but I think it sparked PTSD in my mom. “Ugh! I am NEVER doing THAT again!” My Mom said with disgust. “I don’t know what I was thinking! I was working on those darn blankets until about 3 in the morning and then you kids woke us up to open presents around 6! That was terrible!”

Santa, I think, got a little tired over the years. Being the fourth of the five kids I began to see Santa’s steady decline in energy and enthusiasm in his response to our letters. Every year we would leave Santa some milk and cookies on the table near the tree and a note with lots of questions. In the beginning Santa answered all our questions, but towards the end there Santa got a little short with his responses. I remember writing out a long letter with some of my siblings to Santa, asking numerous and detailed questions. When we woke up Christmas morning, Santa did leave us a letter in response, but all it said was “Dear Kelly Kids, to answer your questions, I use Magic. -Santa” He also ignored my gift requests. Every year I asked for a go-cart, Moon boots and a mini trampoline and I NEVER got them. I was a deprived child. Those moon boots would have come in handy when I was trying to scrub that candle mark off the ceiling.

By the time Jane, the fifth child, was into Christmas, believing in Santa and all that fun, Santa seemed to have no time for any magic or nonsense like that. “Wow!” Little Jane said after we had just finished opening all our presents. “Santa was really good to us this-” But before she had time to finish what she was saying my mom cut her off. “Mmmm yea,” my mom said, paying no attention to what Jane was saying. “Kids, I have the receipts to all those gifts, you are NOT going to hurt my feelings if you want to return something but if you do let me know ASAP! I am NOT spending the new year in the mall making a bunch of returns like last year! But I also DO NOT want to see any of the clothes I bought you hanging in the closet WITH THE TAG STILL ON a few months from now.” I saw Jane looking very confused wondering why our Mom would have receipts to gifts Santa brought, but then she got distracted playing with a toy and her confusion turned to happiness again.

I’m sure by the time Christmas rolled around my Mom and Dad were exhausted from all the shopping, decorating, long, boring Christmas Pageants and trying to send out a decent Christmas card. I know it was a long process trying to pick a photo that hid the fact that their five kids were lunatics. Fights always broke out when we were trying to take our Christmas card photo-Someone would hit someone, then someone would be crying, etc. Then you think you get your act together and have a good photo only to realize that someone had their eyes closed. Blinking during photos is a huge problem in our family because our baby blues/baby greens are very sensitive to the light.

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Why am I in the back looking like I’m not part of the family at all but photo-bombing some other family’s picture? There was plenty of room on that step for me to squeeze in. As you can see we went with the “Turtle” theme with the turtle necks and Ninja Turtle shirt.

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Kohl’s must have been having a pre-Christmas sale on khakis, or Mo had some Kohl’s cash she needed to burn.

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So awkward that me, Maggie and Bridget showed up wearing THE SAME DRESS. What are the chances?! We all refused to change.

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Mo was a huge fan of utilizing the stairs for the Christmas card photos, no matter how uncomfortable her children were.

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I had to hold on to the railing for support after the leg injury I sustained posing for the first few takes.

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Children of the corn take 1.

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Take 2

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Mike and Mo must have thought, “Since our kids are at the most awkward stages of their lives, let’s take this year’s Christmas Card photo at 7am in the woods so they look awkward AND extremely tired.”

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Those were happy tears Michael was crying… We swear!

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Apparently I got distracted easily. Some things never change.

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Michael looking thrilled, Jane looking like she’s the host of a daytime talk show.

So after contemplating putting some of those Christmas decorations in the donate pile, I finally just wrapped them up and put them back in our Christmas decorations box. I figure we can always decide next year if we want to get rid of anything. To outsiders our decorations may look weird and tacky (because they are) but they bring us happiness, and that’s all that really matters!

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Baby Jane posing as if this was going to be on the cover of Baby Gap’s Christmas Catalog. Meanwhile I’m in the front looking like Dennis the Menace with my overalls and weird smile.

 

 

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Baby Bird Flies Away Part II

Counting down, the top five things I’ll miss about living at home:

5. The Fights About the Banana on the Counter

My parents and I did not fight often in the time that we lived together, but when we did it was usually about only extremely important matters-like fruit left out on the counter. You see, my father wakes up and starts his day much earlier than my Mom. He is usually up around 4:30am and has his breakfast around 6am or 7am, then he is ready to start his day-he’s the “get up and go” type. My mom, on the other hand, likes to start her mornings off much later and at a slower pace than my father. She sleeps in when she can and doesn’t eat her breakfast until around 11am or 11:30am. My Dad’s breakfast always consists of cereal with fruit and a yogurt. He likes to put berries and slices of banana on his cereal. For some reason he never wants to use up the whole banana though, only half, saving the other half for my mom to eat with her breakfast, leaving the rest of the banana on the kitchen counter for her to eat when she is ready for breakfast. IMG_9787You might be reading this and think “Oh that’s so cute! What a cute couple splitting a banana!” BUT IT’S NOT CUTE AT ALL. Bananas turn brown very fast after you unpeel them and start to smell. ESPECIALLY when the banana sits there for a few hours waiting for my mom to eat it. This banana always bothered me because I have a very heightened sense of smell and it just grossed me out. I was patient with it for a very long time but one morning I just could not take it any longer. Thus, a small argument took place:

Me: DAD, I CAN’T TAKE THIS BANANA ON THE COUNTER ANY LONGER! IT’S GROSS AND SMELLS! CAN WE PLEASE JUST THROW IT OUT!
Dad: NO! Why would we throw it out?! It’s a perfectly good half of a banana! WE ARE NOT THROWING IT OUT!
Me: It’s not even good anymore! It’s all brown and gross! No one should eat a brown banana!
Dad: No, no. You see, all you have to do is take a knife and cut off a thin slice of where the banana was exposed to the air. Then it’s as good as new! DO NOT throw that banana out, Mom will eat it with her breakfast.
Me: That could be 12 hours from now! You know mom doesn’t eat breakfast right when she gets up! Can’t you just use a whole banana in your cereal or buy smaller bananas?!
Dad: The system Mom and I have in place works perfectly fine, there’s no need to buy smaller bananas. I don’t see any problem with leaving a banana on the kitchen counter for a few hours.
Me: And you know what’s another thing?! Why do you have to reuse tea bags and leave them on the counter?! Is it still the Great Depression?! Can we not afford tea bags?! I will gladly start picking up the tab on boxes of tea for this house if that is the case! And I don’t even drink regular tea! Only Twisted Teas.

I had gotten so upset by the banana that I just couldn’t stop. I was like a bottle that had been shaken for too long and was now exploding. Eventually I collected myself and my dad and I were friends again.

That was the first of many banana on the counter fights. Once Jane moved back home she also got involved. It was the Baby Boomers against the Millennials when it came to the banana. In the end we lost, but Mike did start covering part of the banana in foil to help slow down the browning process.

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It’s like, we get it, you’re married. You don’t need to split a banana to show people you love each other. 

4. Having Meals Together

The part I will miss about having meals together with my old roommates is not really the food, but the conversation. Whether it was at the dinner table, or at our Saturday lunches at my Dad’s favorite burger place, Pappy’s, I knew I was in for a nice meaningful conversation. Just recently over dinner, my mom was telling us a great story about how her and my dad got carded at Pizza Hut in Michigan. She was extremely angry that they got carded. She told the story with as much hatred and passion as she would talk about her arch-enemy: energy-efficient washing machines. I remember wanting to ask her so many questions (i.e. Why they were dining at Pizza Hut, what kind of alcohol they were trying to order, how were the bread sticks, did they go with the stuffed crust or regular, etc.) but I did not want to interrupt her storytelling.

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Me and Jane discussing a Pappy’s lunch. Definitely miss those free Pappy’s meals. Most conversations that happen at Pappy’s still consist of their decision to switch from Coke to Pepsi products. 

Over another lunch, my mom told a more light-hearted story about how she accidentally went to church NUMEROUS times in a span of two days (and none of those days were a Sunday, it was all during the week!) During this story I felt it was ok to interrupt her so I interjected and said, “Excuse me Mom, but have you heard the song ‘And They’ll Know We Are Christian By Our Love?'” At the mention of that song, I saw her eyes light up and she said excitedly, “Oh yes! That is a great song! One of my favorites! But I don’t think they played that at any of the masses I went to, why do you ask?” “Oh ok,” I responded, “Just wanted to be sure because it seems like you are trying to show us how Christian you are by how many times you went to church. I on the other hand, like to live by that song and show I am Christian, specifically Catholic, by my love. Ok continue with your story.” “Oh you little smart ass!” She said as we all had a good laugh. But I laughed the hardest because like I always say, no one can make me laugh quite like I can.

I will really miss these stories and conversations but the good thing is since I live so close I can stop by and hear a good story from Mike or Mo any time I want. Now that the weather is colder it seems my Mom’s favorite topic of conversation is her heating pad. Mo loves her heating pads and uses them a lot. Not so much for aches and pains, but mainly to keep warm in the house since she lives with my dad. As part of a moving gift she bought me my own heating pad and every time I stop by she asks me about it.

Mom: Kathleen, did you try that new heating pad I got you yet?
Me: No, not yet but I’m going to try it soon.
Mom: I kind of splurged and went with the nicer one for you. You know my good heating pad broke at the end of last winter?
Me: Yea, yea. No, I know, I remember-

At that point I tried to cut her off from her heating pad tirade but it was too late, she was on her way into the bathroom closet to take out her new heating pad, which she HATES, and have me feel the new, cheap material. Tragically, my mom’s favorite heating pad died at the end of last winter and she has not been able to find a good replacement. Just about each time I’ve been home since September she has found a way to bring up the heating pad, making a point to take it out of the closet and make me feel the cheap material.

Mom: Here FEEL THIS! (She says this as she shoves the heating pad in my face so I can feel the new material)
Me: Yea, that’s… that’s not as soft a material as the old one. (I say as I grab her hands and slowly and cautiously try to lower the old heating pad down, away from my face)
Mom: They DO NOT make heating pads like they used to, I even tried transferring the material from the old heating pad onto this new heating pad but it did not work. So let me know when you use yours I may get that same brand for myself.

3. Mornings With The Roommates

Mornings with the old roommates were always fun. My Dad is just a ball full of energy in the mornings, making jokes and whistling his favorite song, Frosty the Snowman, as he moves around the house. Mike Sr. thrives in the morning hours. One of his favorite morning activities is feeding our dog, Duke. It’s interesting that my Dad likes fixing hot, gourmet meals for the dog but doesn’t do that too often for his own kids. Jane and I love that our dad loves feeding Duke because it means we don’t have to do it. It was always the worst when my dad was gone traveling on business and Jane or I had to feed Duke because we were always running late.

Jane is the complete opposite of my dad when it comes to being a morning person. After about 30 alarms, Jane’s body would slowly make its way downstairs to the kitchen but I don’t think Jane’s soul got up until around noon because she was always a zombie before work.

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Who needs an alarm clock when you can wake up to your dad whistling a Christmas tune?!

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Jane’s soul-less body stares off into space while Duke waits patiently for Mike Sr. to make his hot breakfast.

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“MIKE! WHERE’S MY BREAKFAST?!”-Duke

2. Being the Backbone of the Household

Jane and I would often joke with each other about which one of us was the backbone of the household. Mike and Mo were DEFINITELY out of the running after they bought their cottage in Michigan. After that purchase their main house was old news to them so Jane and I had to run things. Jane loved to claim that she was the backbone of the house but we all know I was the clear winner. I don’t know what I’ll do with all my free time now that I no longer have to keep a household together!

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I borrowed her tan sandals in case anyone was wondering which shoes.

1. Mike And Mo

And the number one thing I’ll miss about living at home is having my parents, Mike and Mo as my landlords and roommates. I know they are technically two things but they are married and share one banana so they get to count as one. (Jane, don’t get me wrong I’ll really miss you too but I’m still a little salty from that time you abandon me for a few months to live your best life in Prague).

Sure, I will miss the free groceries, utilities and roof over my head, but what I’m really going to miss are a lot of the little things like watching Inside Edition with Mo or joking around with my Dad. So thanks, Mike and Mo for providing the best nest a baby bird could ask for. Thanks for putting up with my sarcastic comments, odd sleeping hours, goofiness, loud music and long showers for the past 27 years. I finally flew away, but I haven’t gone too far. In fact I’ll probably be back tonight to see what you guys had for dinner. You guys are welcomed at my new nest any time.

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They were kind of always exclusive with their aprons but it’s fine.

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Mike Sr., Mo and their five baby birds.

 

Baby Bird Flies Away

A few months ago, I did something that most people probably thought would never happen: I moved out of my parents house. Yup, after 27 years of sucking the life out of my Mom and Dad, eating their food, racking up their water and electric bill, I ended my lease. Of course I was cordial and informed my landlords of my intent to move a few  months in advance. Upon hearing my shocking announcement I think my parents went through all the stages of grief. “What?!” My Dad said in disbelief. “You can’t move out, you’re like a little infant! Who is going to feed and take care of you if you’re not living here?!” “Umm excuse me!” I said back. “If you recall I did go away to college for four years and I did just fine! I didn’t even lose my cell phone once!” (Still my greatest accomplishment in life) “Who is going to help us with our tech problems if you’re not around?!” was my Mom’s first question (My younger sister Jane still lives at home but when it comes to technology her skill level is that of a Baby Boomer so my mom knew she wouldn’t be any help in that department.) “Don’t you worry Mom!” I said “I’ll just be about a mile away and plan to get one of those pagers that doctors use so I will still be on call to help with tech support 24/7.” I did my best to explain to them why I was moving. “Sorry Mom and Dad, it’s nothing personal, I do love you and love living with you, but it’s like the great REO Speedwagon said, ‘It’s time for me to fly.'”

It’s hard to sum up all the things I’ll miss about living at Ma and Pa Kelly’s Old Maid sanctuary but after giving it some thought I was able to narrow it down to ten things (in no particular order) I’ll miss about living at home. 27 years of life in a house is too much to cram into one blog post, this is definitely going to have to be a two-parter. So counting down here are numbers 10-6:

10. Mo’s “My Spy” Bird House

Mo loves here birds, often reminding her family that she had a parakeet growing up. I don’t know if this was her way of hinting to us that she wanted us to get her a bird, but that was never going to happen-birds are too loud and obnoxious to keep inside. Mo may love birds, but her family does not, so last Christmas we got her the next best thing-The “My Spy” Birdhouse. I’m not sure if anyone is familiar with this bird mansion or has seen this advertised on TV, but it’s basically a birdhouse with suction cups to stick to your window so you can watch the birds in the house. Seemed like an invasion of the birds’ privacy to me, but it came with a “privacy shade” so I went ahead and ordered it off of Amazon. Wow, was this gift a hit with Mo. Please enjoy the photos below that we captured of her opening her amazing gift last Christmas.

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My Dad is paying no attention to my Mom’s excitement, only thinking about recycling all that wrapping paper. Mike Sr. loves recycling.

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Me: “Yes Mom, we crunched some numbers and the five of us were able to scrap together enough money to buy that $10 bird house.”

Lucky for the rest of us, we all got to benefit from this gift because she had my dad hang it right on our large window in the kitchen, so we were able to watch for birds every day at dinner. Sadly, no birds seemed to want to buy (or rent if they were Millennial Birds) Mo’s My Spy Bird House, which became concerning for all of us.

 

Mom: No birds seem to be going in my bird house! Maybe I should have Dad move it to a smaller window in another room. I wonder if having it on this large window the birds can see us moving around in the kitchen and that scares them away.
Me: Whoa, Mom, I mean I know Jane doesn’t look great in the mornings but that’s a little harsh. She’s just not a morning person.
Jane: HEY! You little brat!
Me: Mom, there are no birds in that thing because you didn’t put any food in it. The birds aren’t going to go in unless there is free food.
Mom: Really? You think? Well we aren’t going to be giving these birds any free hand-outs, and you know how Dad hates when I buy bags of bird seed, so maybe I’ll try putting up the privacy shade and see if that helps first.

So, after talking it out we literally did nothing and the empty bird house continues to sit upon the large window in the kitchen. Going to miss seeing that every day!

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Any Bird would be living large in Mo’s “My Spy” Bird house

 

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That little girl is so lucky-there are so many birds in her bird house like what is her secret??!!

9. Helping the Baby Boomers with Technology

Being the Baby Boomers’ 24/7 tech support was a tiring job, I worked on everything from printers, to phones, TVs and computers. I didn’t mind it though because usually it was very entertaining to me and I got a good laugh. I once showed my Mom that she could set her phone on “low power mode” when her battery got low, a feature she did not know existed and I basically blew her mind. A few weeks later she was heading out the door to babysit for her beloved grandchildren and I hear her yell up to me, annoyance in her voice, “KATHLEEN! WHAT WAS THAT THING THAT YOU DID WITH MY PHONE WHERE YOU PUT IT TO LOW POWER?! IS THAT AN EXTRA CHARGE?! I HATE WHEN AT&T CHARGES ME FOR THESE THINGS! I’M DOWN TO 20% BUT I DON’T WANT THIS TO END UP ON MY BILL!”

Another time I was rushing to leave for work, just about to head out the door when my Mom came down the stairs in her pajamas and robe. “Hi Mom,” I said, going to give her a kiss and hug, “Sorry I’m running late for work gotta go, I’ll talk to you later.” “Good morning sweetie-oh yea no problem, have a good day but just a quick question…” she said as she leaned in for my kiss and then grabbed a hold of me. “After you went to bed last night I was watching one of my murder shows and as I was fast forwarding through the commercials I accidentally hit a button on the clicker and the TV went blank! Can you look at it later?” Yea, yea sure,” I said in a rush, “I’ll look at it after work but I’m running late I have to head out.” But at that point Mo had a strong grip on me and I knew I wasn’t getting away. “Sure no problem, later is fine. But here, let me show you what I think I did,” She said as she shoved the remote in my face, still tightly grasping me. So, being the good IT worker that I am, I put down my things and fixed the TV for her and she was very grateful. Nothing makes Mo more happy than spending a morning watching one of her shows about a horrific and brutal murder while sipping her coffee and eating a yogurt. Knowing I put a smile on her face was the only payment I needed. Definitely going to miss that!

8. Tooling around in Mo Money’s Honda Mini Van

Now that I don’t live at home anymore, I no longer have the ability to borrow Mo’s 2012 Grey Honda Mini Van whenever I want. 16 cup holders, fold-down back seat, enough leg room to comfortably seat 7, she is a damn beauty! It will be a tough adjustment not having Mama Mini around with her automatic sliding doors. I have to open the doors for myself in my stupid Toyota Corolla, it’s exhausting!

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I can bring so many drinks with me when I am driving in Mo’s Mini van. Water, coffee, Diet Coke, Gatorade, all my favorites.

7.  The Glow in the Dark Stars on my bedroom ceiling

Those glow in the dark stars almost got me evicted back in the early 2000s when I stuck them to the ceiling without first checking with a CERTAIN landlord. I’m not going to name any names as to which of my two landlords was not very happy about it but his name just happens to rhyme with MAD. My Dad was so mad I thought I was going to be kicked to the curb with no other option but to become a Newsie at the young age of 8, working the streets selling papers just trying to get by. I actually feel bad writing about this now because I know his blood pressure is probably skyrocketing as he sits and reads this blog, thinking about those damn stars, reminding him how I ruined the ceiling drywall putting them up. While my Dad hated them, they provided me something interesting to look at while I’d lay wide awake in my bed for hours and hours trying to fall asleep. We weren’t allowed to have TVs in our rooms growing up, I needed something to entertain me. Never once did I see a shooting star though which is kind of a bummer. Now that I am grown and still an insomniac, and still don’t have a tv in my room, I miss looking up at those glowing stars.

6. Hanging out with Duke

I’ll be the first to admit Duke and I had a bit of a rough patch in his younger days, but that’s only because I felt he was personally targeting me with his puppy antics. Chewing on only MY shoes, tearing down MY pictures from the refrigerator, chewing and ruining MY 8th grade video. Thank goodness he grew out of that stage and we’ve been buddies ever since. He is always a good sport when I make him take snap chats with me too.

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Boy was that a wild weekend. My parents went away for the weekend leaving me and Duke home alone. Duke ate so many Puperoni’s that Saturday night, he couldn’t even get out of bed on Sunday.

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Living with mostly girls his entire life, Duke has the patience of a saint.

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Jane and Duke are super into art. so cultured.

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I let Duke ride in my Toyota Corolla and the first thing he did was complain about the lack of cup holders. So ungrateful.

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Mike Sr. keeps the thermostat set so low Duke has to keep his paws warm somehow.

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After that I never gave Duke coffee again, he went right back to Dog Chow.

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I was trying to be domestic and work in the kitchen but Duke is anti-gender roles so he was trying to stop me.

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Chilling on the patio with Duke-Dog Days of summer am I right??!!

I’m going to miss that furry face greeting me when I walk in the door. Duke was always excited to see me no matter what time of day or night it was-he never made snide comments about what time I would come home from the bars at either, DAD. Thank goodness my apartment is only a few miles away though so I can still visit with my good friend Duke whenever I want.

***Stay tuned for the next five in part 2!**

Summer Where’d You Go?

As I was walking to my car in the freezing cold, snow hitting my face, lips and hands already turning purple, I started to think back to summertime. This summer was quite an eventful one for my family as my parents bought something they have been wanting for years: a lake house.

happy hourOn a sunny Thursday afternoon back in early June of this year I pulled up to Ma and Pa Kelly’s Old Maid Boarding House after a hard day’s work at the office and noticed my roommates (a.k.a my parents) were sitting out in the backyard enjoying a drink. This was not uncommon, as they often had a happy hour drink before dinner (HUGE Thirsty Thursday people, but they did seem to be starting a bit early on this particular Thursday). “You two drunks are starting the boozing a bit early today don’t you think?!” I yelled, loud enough for the whole neighborhood to hear, as I walked up the driveway to join them. Just as I was about to grab a drink for myself I noticed my mom was filming me with her phone. In typical “Mom” fashion she had the phone angled at an extremely unflattering low angle with her thumb covering half the lens. “Whoa! Mom, why are you filming me? And remember what I said about the angle! Always angle above! You’re going to make me look like I have 17 chins. Don’t think I’m going to help you upload this to your Instagram when you film like that.” She ignored me and said excitedly, “Guess what Dad and I did today?!” Before I had time to guess she yelled “We bought a cottage!!” While my initial reaction was pure joy, I suddenly felt a pit in my stomach, for I realized this meant we would never, EVER get the washing machine fixed at home. I got over this rather quickly though and grabbed my drink to celebrate the new home purchase with them.

For as long as I can remember my parents had always talked about buying a lake house, but we never thought they’d actually do it. We had been going up to my Grandma’s cottage on Dewey Lake in Sister Lakes, Michigan for our entire lives. Besides the occasional sibling fights, we always had a blast spending time up there. Lots of great Dewey Lake memories through the years.

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Living my best life hanging with my boyz and reppin’ my favorite Native American friend, Pocahontas back in the day up at Dewey Lake

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Good times back in the summer of 2009 when I had to wear a t-shirt for a week because I got such bad sunburn the first day of our vacation. Had a super cool looking farmer’s tan though.

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When my parents told me they bought a lake house, at first I wondered how they were able to afford such a large purchase. Then I saw this photo and realized that they must have saved a substantially large sum of money through the years by feeding me mere compost scraps such as muffin wrappers and not real food. Really cut that grocery bill in half and I was pretty happy just to be licking a muffin wrapper so it was a win-win.

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Awful bangs + a blue Hawaiian Punch Mustache = 1994

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I still don’t think it’s fair that Mom and Dad got chairs and we had to stand.

Unfortunately, with this new summer home purchase, my parents were gone a lot living their best lives at their new summer home, leaving Jane and me orphans at home to fend for ourselves and basically be the backbone of the household. They would leave for long weekends at the lake, leaving us not sweet little love notes, but notes that said things like “Can someone please return my library book? It’s due tomorrow.” or “The dishes in the dishwasher are dirty. There wasn’t enough in it to run.” and “Please water the house plants while we are gone.” These may seem like simple tasks but do you know how many house plants Mo has?! Watering her houseplants is time consuming! She has a bad habit of taking in other people’s dying houseplants and nursing them back to health as if she’s running her own little plant emergency room. When her plants in the kitchen began to encroach on my seat at the dinner table, I finally had to confront her. “Mom, what’s with this indoor vegetable garden on the table you got going on here?” I asked one day as we were sitting down to dinner. “Oh yes!” She said enthusiastically, “I’m growing some fresh basil and parsley! Is it in your way?” “Not at all,” I responded, “I always loved eating at the Rainforest Cafe. I’m glad you could re-create the experience for me here at home with all this shrubbery surrounding my food so thank you.” “Well aren’t you a little smart-ass” was all she said back to that and the plants stayed exactly where they were.

All this new responsibility was a little stressful for me as I was also preparing to go on my SECOND business trip of my business career. When would I have time to buy a business woman briefcase to put all my important business files in for my business trip if I was tied up watering plants and returning library books?! No one takes you seriously if you’re on a business trip without a business briefcase. But, being the modern day Renaissance woman that I am, I did manage to maintain my image as a successful career woman and keep up with the demands of the household.

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She didn’t even have time to write out the word “thanks” we got a “thx.” Classic Baby Boomer.

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One time at dinner I asked the Basil to pass the salt and got totally ignored.

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Jane and started to become jealous of Duke-My parents always left food in the fridge for him.

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Didn’t have time to purchase my briefcase to put all my important business files in for my business trip but it was nice to have a vacation away from watering plants.

So, the summer of 2018 pretty much went like that. Mike and Mo spent lots of time at their new cottage, while Jane and I held down the fort back home. But if I have to continue returning library books or become a botanist in order for my parents to continue to live their best lives up at Dewey Lake, I’ll gladly do it. I can’t think of two people more deserving of some lake time than them. So here’s to you Mike and Mo. Thanks for working so hard, spoiling your five kids and just being the best. Cheers to many more years of good times at Dewey Lake.

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Mike and Mo celebrating the closing with my Dad’s 6th child, his Chevy Impala. 10 cup holders in that baby. 

 

Little Lambs go to Italy Part IV, the Final Chapter: Don’t Let This Be Our Final Song

IMG_5340After two days in Venice it was time to head to Milan. We checked into our hotel which seemed nice but smelled weird and then went on a little walking tour of Milan. After our tour we had free time to shop or walk around more. We decided to make the most out of our time in Milan by going to a restaurant with our tour group friends, eating, and sitting there for about three hours. Honestly we were so hot and tired sitting in that restaurant was a great decision. We saw enough of Milan, no regrets.

After a few hours of loitering in that restaurant we met up with the rest of our tour group to go to our dinner event which was called “A Taste of Milan.” It was a very unique experience where a local Milan chef hosted all of us in his home and cooked for us. The food was good but the room was very small for our large group and there were no chairs so you had to eat standing up. It was basically my nightmare. Have you every tried to hold a drink and eat off a plate that YOU are holding all at the same time? It’s very difficult. PLUS, the place was so dark I could barely see what I was eating. I felt like I was dining in a Hollister store or something the room was so dark and cramped. I was very tempted to turn on the flashlight app on my phone just to see what I was eating. I was not a fan. “What’s with this stupid hipster event?!” I said to Jane, sounding like a 72-year-old man as I struggled to eat the finger food off my plate WHILE holding my drink AND standing. “I’m not a table! I only have two hands I can’t do this! There’s not even a counter to place my items on!” No one was impressed with the dinner so we decided to all head back to the hotel.

Once we arrived back at our smelly hotel I showered and Jane laid on her bed because she was very tired, probably from standing and eating. Then we both packed up because we had to leave very early the next day. “You know what would be really nice,” Jane said to me as she was folding up her clothes. “Is if YOU dried off the shampoo and put it back in the bag this time.” Wow. I thought to myself. Listen to this little sassy McSasserson here. The whole trip we had been sharing many items, because we were basically an old married couple, including our shampoo and CLEARLY this sharing arrangement was starting to take its toll on us now as we were nearing the end of the trip. Little did Jane know that I did plan to put the shampoo back in the bag, I was just letting it air dry in the bathroom a little before I put it in her suitcase, as to avoid mold. Classic youngest child jumping to conclusion. Since no one “sasses the sasser” (I am the “sasser” in the family-which, by definition is “one who sasses others” so how dare Jane try to be sassy to me.) I responded with a sassy comment right back. “Well, Jane, you know what I think would be really nice? IS IF YOU STOPPED USING ALL MY PUFFS PLUS LOTION TISSUES!” I had bought a pack of the to-go packaged Puffs Plus Lotion tissues and Jane had LITERALLY used up just about every single tissue. I had yet to use even one. I mean, had I bought Kleenex brand, go for it girl, but these were Puffs Plus Lotion tissues that I had splurged on and my nose had yet to experience the luxury. Do you know how many tissues Jane packed? Zero. She packed zero.

The next morning we got back on our bus for our drive to Monterosso Al Mare where we ate some pesto paninis and walked around. Then we took a boat to Cinque Terre! That place was by far everyone’s favorite stop. We rented day beds on the beach and we were right by a bar that made delicious alcoholic slurpies with fresh fruit and played country music. What could be better? After a few hours hanging at the beach we took the train back to our hotel. That train ride was quite the experience-it was very hot and crowded. This Southside bumpkin would have much rather called an Uber. Our hotel was very old and creepy and very confusing to get around. Our room number was 133 but we were actually on the third floor which made no sense at all. But the shower was the best shower out of all the hotels we stayed at!  Plus we got there so late Jane had no time to put an extremely large towel on the bathroom floor to use as a shower mat so I could move freely around the bathroom without worrying I was going to trip and break my face.

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Pale White kids take on the sun

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Jane thinking about McDonald’s

After Cinque Terre we traveled to Pisa to see the Leaning Tower and it was honestly one of the most anti-climatic experiences of my life. By this point we had already seen like four leaning bell towers so the Leaning Tower of Pisa did not impress Jane or me at all. I was more concerned about the architectural industry in Italy and why they cannot seem to teach their architects how to design buildings that are straight. While other people took photos in front of the tower Jane and I decided to entertain ourselves by taking photos of all the tourists pretending to hold up the leaning tower. We laughed our heads off because they looked ridiculous.

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Jane and I are both going to Hell for taking these photos. But I think if we can travel together we will can manage spending eternity together.

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I call this one “Jane when she’s hungover.”

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Jane asked if I wanted my photo taken in front of the Leaning Tower of Pisa and I said I would rather have my photo taken with this garbage can. She laughed but then I actually made her taken my picture with the garbage can.

After Pisa we went back on the bus, drove for a few hours, and then stopped for a wine tour and tasting. The wine was good but then the lady was kind of a bitch and kicked us all out after she realized we were poor young people and weren’t going to buy anything else from her. After that we got back on the bus to make our way back to Rome. We checked into our sketchy hotel and then face-timed with our sister, her husband and their baby because it was baby Michael’s 1st birthday! It was basically a one way conversation since Jane and I did all the talking and baby Michael didn’t even ask us a single thing about our trip, which I thought was kind of rude and selfish-he just kept making classic baby noises so we hung up and went on our walking tour of Rome. It was around 8pm when we started our tour which turned out to be the perfect time to go-the streets were less crowded and the temperature was a little cooler. We saw a lot of statutes, lot of old buildings and then threw a coin in some fountain. After that it was time to hit the bars.

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Jane the boozer next to her favorite tower of the trip-the beer tower.

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“Kids! Do you see this heating bill?! Now do you understand why I keep the thermostat in the house so low?! Put a sweatshirt on you’ll be fine!”

The next day was the very last day of our trip! We got to sleep in a little bit (8:30am) and then we had a guided tour of the Colosseum. That place was cool but I thought it could use some tuck-pointing work. Looked like they had really let the place go. I really wanted to walk in the middle of the Colosseum and scream “ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?!” like Russell Crowe in the movie Gladiator but apparently they don’t let people go in the center of the ring anymore. Maybe, if certain people had kept the place up and gotten it tuck-pointed YEARS ago tourist would still be able to walk around the center but, oh well.

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The place was a mess. Total gut job.

After the Colosseum we got lunch with our friends and walked around Rome a bit. Then we headed back to our hotel where Jane and I got into a fight about a thank you note. We had our Farewell dinner that we needed to get ready for but we were both so tired we decided to take a quick nap. Jane set a 20 minute timer for our nap on her phone and I don’t think she even finished setting her phone down on the bedside table before I heard her snoring away. As Sleeping Beauty snored, I spent my 20 minutes looking up the signs and symptoms of narcolepsy as I was convinced Jane has this disorder after traveling with her for two weeks.

A half hour later Jane was ready and well rested for our farewell dinner as I, the insomniac, rushed to finish covering up the bags and dark circles under my eyes from my sleep deprivation. After that, we headed down the stairs all dolled up for our fancy farewell dinner with our group. While walking down the stairs Jane and I got in to our last ridiculous argument of the trip, and it was a big one. Awe, the last fight-what a bittersweet moment. To summarize it, Jane asked me if I felt like it was graduation night, like I was “graduating from this tour,” to which I responded “no” because it did not feel like a graduation at all to me. Then she proceeded to get very mad at me because I answered no and told me I should have just been polite and agreed with her. I then yelled back that she asked me how I “felt” and I in no way, shape or form felt the slightest bit that I was graduating from something, but rather, that it was my last night on a trip to Italy because that’s what was happening. She was mad that I couldn’t understand why the night would be like a graduation, and I was mad at Jane for being mad at me for not feeling like it was graduation night. This fight continued on for way too long.

Our dinner was delicious and then it turned into our group having a big dance party. After that we went out to an American bar because how else would you spend your last night in Rome?! It was an awesome night and we were so sad to say goodbye to all our new friends.

We couldn’t believe how fast the trip went. Before we knew it the 12 day trip had come to an end and we were at the airport, looking for a McDonald’s, waiting to board our flight home. We saw so many cool places and met AMAZING people who we now are lucky to call friends! It was a trip of a lifetime we will never forget.

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Just a 12-year-old ready to head back to America-the land of free bathrooms and plenty of water.

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Our seats on the flight home were across the aisle from each other-probably the farthest we’d been apart in two weeks. (Jane quickly fell asleep after waving)

Little Lambs Go To Italy Part 3: And on the 7th Day, Jane Said, “I HATE Being on a Schedule”

IMG_5228After having a blast in Florence it was time to pack up and head to Verona. Our stop in Verona was extremely quick-only a few hours so we tried to pack a lot in very quickly. We stopped at some Romeo and Juliet thing, I don’t really know what it was but you went and touched the boob of Juliet for “good luck in love” which was weird but it was a tourist attraction so we did what everyone else was doing. Then apparently Verona is famous for having delicious strawberries so we got some of those which we smothered in chocolate. (Life hack: if you take something healthy and drown it in something non-healthy, you can’t even taste the healthy part! I practice this every time a bring a salad for lunch at work-throw some leaves in a container and then douse it in ranch dressing-I call it “ranch dressing with a side of salad.” Message me directly if you’d like the recipe.)  We walked around Verona but it was extremely hot and sunny and I was very thirsty AND I had to go to the bathroom so I was NOT living my best life. The one thing I didn’t like about Italy was that they charge you to use the bathroom and it’s very hard to find water. This was problematic for me because I am always thirsty and have the bladder the size of a peanut. So as we walked around Verona trying to find a bathroom and a place to buy water I was becoming more and more aggravated. “Ugh! I’m so thirsty! What does a girl gotta do to get some water in this country?! I’m straight up bout to turn into a raisin right now! And it’s not fair that they charge you to use the bathroom! I’m a human! I have to drink water and go to the bathroom, STOP CHARGING ME FOR BASIC HUMAN NEEDS, ITALY!” I said frustrated. “Yeah, well ya know,” Jane responded calmly. “You get charged to eat. You pay to eat at restaurants and you have to buy groceries at the grocery store. Eating is a basic human need.” “Well AT LEAST eating is enjoyable!” I said back. “Do you think using a public bathroom is enjoyable?! Do you like squatting above a toilet so your bum bum doesn’t touch a seat other bum bums have been on?! Do you think I ENJOY being thirsty all the time?!” So then that led into Jane and me having a heated debate over basic human needs and whether or not we should be charged for them.

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Jane being a perv. That’s assault, sister!

Once we finally found a bathroom and water we decided we needed to do something that would make us happy since we were still both a little tense from our human needs argument. So we decided to go find a McDonald’s. I was thrilled because while I had been to an American McDonald’s I had never been to an ITALIAN McDonald’s so eating there had been on my bucket list for quite some time. Jane was happy because like my mom, she suffers from severe “Fry attacks” where she immediately needs some McDonald’s french fries. We believe this condition is unfortunately hereditary, but luckily so far only my mother and Jane have been diagnosed with having fry attacks. They have encouraged the rest of us to get tested though.

A snap Chat I sent to my siblings of my mom in the midst of a horrific fry attack on our way to Michigan last October. It was very traumatizing for me to see my mother in that state.

Well unfortunately we never got to experience the Verona McDonald’s because by the time we got there the line to order food was too long and we had to be back at our bus ASAP. We only had time for Jane to take my photo outside the McDonald’s. While I was pretty content just to get a photo, Jane never got her McDonald’s fries so her fry attack began to escalate to a critical level very rapidly. “AHHHHHH THERE’S NOT ENOUGH TIME HERE! I’M STARVING I NEED TO EAT LUNCH!” Jane yelled at me. I tried to calm her down, letting her know I had crackers in my backpack I would give her and that we could get food in a few hours after our bus ride but nothing I said seemed to help. I was worried she might flip our bus over, but to my relief, she managed to calm herself down and we boarded our bus to start our ride to Venice!

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Me at an ITALIAN McDonald’s-I’m so cultured!

After a few hours on the bus we checked into our hotel and Jane and I COULD NOT figure out how to work the lights-and we really had no patience for this after the McDonald’s ordeal. Turns out you had to stick your room key in a slot on the wall to keep the lights in your hotel on? I was embarrassed that I didn’t know this, since I am an experienced business woman traveler having gone on two business trips, but I swallowed my pride and now I’ll know better next time! We only had about twenty minutes in our room before we had to meet back up with our group to take the ferry to Venice. The ferry took us around Venice so it was nice to see the city from the water, and our tour guide pointed out different landmarks and gave us a little history of Venice. While this was a very enjoyable boat ride, it did spark another stupid fight between Jane and me, what I like to call “The Winged Lion Statue Fight.” As we were boating around Venice our tour guide pointed out this Winged Lion Statue in Saint Mark’s Square and told us that would be our group’s meeting location for the next two days we were there. Everyone saw where she was pointing except Jane so Jane asked me to try and point it out to her. At this time of day the sun was low and blinding, and Jane can hardly keep her eyes open in the daylight anyway, her baby blues are so sensitive to the sun so I knew she was not going to be able to see the statue from the boat, plus we had already passed the statue so I told her I would show her when we got on land. Well Jane was not happy that I gave up in trying and she kept badgering me about it.

Jane: Come on just point it out to me now! I want to see it!
Me: Forget it, Jane! The sun is making it hard to see I told you I will show you when I get on land!
Jane: You’re being ridiculous I can’t believe you won’t just point it out to me now! You’re not even trying that hard!
Me: WE ALREADY PASSED IT! I’ve tried to show you! And it hurts my neck turning around that far I’m not an owl! My neck doesn’t move that way! And you can’t even keep your eyes open for pictures how do you expect to see that statue when the sun is directly behind it! I’m too tired for this!
Jane: If you just point it out to me one more time I can see it. You’re being dramatic!
Me: No! I don’t have the energy for this, I’m tired from my sun poisoning and now we are missing the other stuff she is telling us! I promise I’ll show you when we get there! It’s too sunny to see from here!

To prove my point, please enjoy this photo collage of Jane being unable to keep her eyes open for photos:

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My hair looks great in this one.

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I always had to be the one to take the selfies because Jane couldn’t even see the camera button to press on the phone.

We sat in angry silence for the rest of the boat ride. By the time we got on land we were laughing about how stupid our fight was and prayed no one in our group heard our ridiculous fight.

Once we got to Saint Mark’s square and Jane FINALLY Saw that stupid lion she made such a big stink about we met up with our friend Meg and then our group did a guided walking tour of Venice. Honestly I learned zero things from the guided tour-I couldn’t understand what our tour guide was saying because of her accent/I am just deaf and the headset was hurting my ears. Plus I was so focused on trying to dodge those stupid pigeons that where flying so low! The nerve of those Venice pigeons I could not even believe! After our good for nothing tour we had a drink, got dinner and called it an early night because everyone was hot and tired.

The next morning we had to be up bright and early to catch a ferry back to Venice to do more sight seeing and I thought Jane was going to blow a gasket. Immediately when our alarm went off she started ranting about how tired she was of having to get up early, being on a schedule and being rushed to go everywhere. I just stared at her in disbelief, I could not believe how mad she was over being on a schedule. For a second there I thought I was watching Britney Spears in 2007 until I snapped back to reality and realized I was watching my own sister in a hotel room. Once she finished her rant I calmly said “And on the seventh day, Jane said, ‘I HATE being on a schedule.'” That got her to laugh which was a relief because otherwise I thought she might take out a knife and stab me she was so mad about getting up early.

After Britney calmed down we took the ferry to Venice and attended a glass blowing demonstration which was pretty interesting. After that we had some free time so we walked around and then Jane wanted to get a coffee and something to eat so we sat down at a Cafe so we could get coffee, use the bathroom (WHICH AGAIN THEY CHARGED US FOR EVEN THOUGH WE BOUGHT FOOD FROM THEM!) and hook up to wifi so we could contact our friend Meg to meet up with her. Jane went to the bathroom first as I got a table outside. Poor Jane had a cold and was tired so she basically sat there like a zombie sipping her coffee and eating her panini. I wasn’t too hungry so I did not get anything so I just sat there while Jane ate, and hands down, Jane eating that panini might have been the slowest I have ever seen anyone do anything in my entire life. Pretty sure there was a tortoise at the table next to us that arrived AFTER us, ate his meal, got the check, and walked back home before Jane was even halfway done with that Panini. I figured I had a lot of time to kill so I told her I was going to go inside to go to the bathroom. When I got in the bathroom I was annoyed because there was no toilet paper, of course! Here I am paying to use this gosh darn bathroom and they won’t even stock the toilet paper. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t consider writing a strongly worded yelp review on that restaurant. But I took a deep breath to calm down and decided against it because at least I didn’t get trapped in the bathroom like I did at the other restaurant. That puts things in perspective for a person. When I got back outside I shared my frustrations with Jane. “Ugh, they didn’t have any toilet paper in that bathroom, I’m annoyed!” I said. “Oh yea,” Jane responded in a monotone voice. “I meant to tell you that when I got back from the bathroom earlier.” I stared at her for a minute before I finally said “Are you serious right now?! Thank you for always giving me great advice AFTER the time period of when the advice would have been useful to me. Also are we moving in slow motion? Has time stopped? How are you STILL EATING THAT PANINI?! Our flight leaves in five days do you think you’ll be done by then or should I get you a to-go box?” Jane just laughed and said, “You know, mom is right, you are a little smart ass.”

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Jane and the never ending Panini

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Me waiting for Jane to finish her Panini so I could continue with my life.

After ten years had passed and Jane had finally finished her panini, we left the cafe to meet up with our friend Meg. This process was a bit of a challenge because Jane and I are dumb and did not get any data for our phones for this trip. We thought about it and then remembered what a HASSLE it is to speak to those darn cell phone companies so we just decided to not do anything about it and hope to just hook up to wifi. It’s shocking, I know, since we were so meticulous in planning everything else out for this trip, but we really dropped the ball on this one because we soon discovered Italy does not have the best wifi. So we really had no way of contacting Meg so meeting up with her took longer than we expected, but we found each other eventually! After that we did some sight seeing and then attended a lace demonstration. I thought this was going to be extremely boring but it was actually very interesting! Then we went on a gondola ride which was awesome and relaxing. Our gondola driver definitely hated us at first but he eventually came around and even sang, danced and talked to us. Then he wouldn’t stop talking to us about fish though so we kind of regretted trying to make small talk and get him to like us.

 

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He sings, he dances, he talks fish and he has baller shoes-He was the ultimate Gondola driver

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I had to take a few different photos because Jane wasn’t sure what to do with her arms.

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Found this little gem while sight seeing (Talking about the American Snack Shop not the girl in the green). I made Jane take photos of me with anything to do with America because I am just so patriotic.

After our lovely Gondola ride we took a boat to this cute and colorful fishing village to eat dinner and enjoy some wine. After that we went back to our hotel-the Holiday Inn- and ended the night at the hotel bar!

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“We at the hotel motel Holiday Inn!”

Venice was fun but Jane and I had had our fill. Venice in a nutshell: Lots of people, lots of pigeons, lots of paninis, but only ONE Winged Lion Statue.

Stay tuned for Milan, Cinque Terre, Pisa and Rome in Part 4-Coming soon!

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We don’t look exhausted or overheated at all in this picture-rode hard and put away wet as my Grandma used to say!

 

Little Lambs Go to Italy Part 2: Let the Stupid Fights Begin

Our first stop on our tour through Italy was a visit to the Vatican. Unfortunately, we had to wait in line for about two hours in the rain before we could even get through the doors. This was a bit of a disappointment since I was already tired from being woken up in the middle of the night by the town nut job-aka Jane-so even the thought of standing that long was exhausting. Having gone to Catholic schools all my life and now working at a Catholic school, I thought I might qualify for some sort of “express pass” in getting into the Vatican, similar to those passes you can get at amusement parks to skip to the front of the line for roller coasters, but apparently the Vatican does not do that. So I ended up waiting in line with the rest of the lay people/peasants as my hair frizzed out. The wait was worth it though as once we got in we saw many beautiful paintings and statues. We stopped at the gift shop to pick up a crucifix for our landlords/parents because we are just the greatest daughters ever and don’t want our Mom and Dad hanging out with any vampires (I hear those vampires are bad news! Can’t let my Baby Boomers get caught up in the wrong crowd!). Then we grabbed a quick pizza lunch. Sadly, our lunch was a pretty stressful experience as the pizza lady was mean and rushing Jane and me to make our decision! Did she not know that deciding on a pizza is a huge decision that must be well thought out and cannot be rushed?! Did she not know that the worst remorse one can experience in life is food remorse?! It’s not a decision that can be taken lightly, like deciding to get into a dark van with a complete stranger or deciding to spend two weeks in a foreign country without doing any sort of research at all. Pizza decisions require lots of time and thought.

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Die-hard Catholics right there.

After our terrible lunch experience we got on our tour bus to head to Sorrento. The drive was a couple of hours long so about halfway through we stopped at a service station for a bathroom break and snacks. We were on a tight schedule so our tour guide told us we had a half hour break before we had to be on the bus to continue our journey. Jane decided to spend the first 28 minutes of her break sitting at a table like a zombie staring off into space before she decided she wanted an iced coffee. That coffee experience turned out to be almost as stressful as our pizza experience! First the line for coffee suddenly got long, then Jane went to the wrong counter to pick up her coffee and the coffee workers didn’t speak any English so they didn’t know what we were trying to say! “Wow Jane, I’m so glad you did absolutely nothing for 28 minutes and then finally decided you wanted an iced coffee with TWO MINUTES left of our break!” I said sarcastically as we ran to catch our bus before it left us in the middle of nowhere. Luckily we got back on just in time.

After a few hours on the bus we finally arrived at our hotel in Sorrento. Jane and I both really had to go to the bathroom but again, being the selfless older sister that I am, I let her go first. When it was my turn to go I stepped into the bathroom and tripped over an extremely large towel that was for some reason covering the entire bathroom floor. “Why the HECK is this gigantic towel on the floor in the bathroom?!” I yelled to Jane “I nearly broke my face tripping over it!” “Oh yeah.” Jane responded casually. “I put that on the floor. I thought we could use it as our shower mat.” “What?!” I said “Why did you choose the LARGEST towel that takes up the whole bathroom floor?! Why didn’t you just install wall to wall towel carpeting in the bathroom?!” “Oh well aren’t you sassy!” Jane said “I’ll have you know that I didn’t want to get the tile slippery when I showered.” “Are you planning on showering tonight before dinner?” I asked. “We only have like 15 minutes to get ready you know.” “Oh no, I’m not showering tonight I’m WAY too tired.” Jane answered, acting as if I had just asked her the dumbest question. “I don’t plan on showering until tomorrow after we go to the beach.” At this point I started laughing hysterically. I couldn’t get over the fact that we had not been in our hotel room for more than 4 minutes yet Jane’s immediate concern was making sure the bathroom tile stayed dry after a shower she didn’t plan on taking for at least another 12 hours or so.

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And it’s not even unfolded all the way.

The next day we got right into our swim suits and headed to Capri to go on our boat cruise! We cruised around the island, jumped out and swam a few times (Could have really used that gigantic towel to dry off with when we got back on the boat but unfortunately it was already assigned the role of shower mat so I had to air dry), and just enjoyed the sun and the bright blue water. It was a perfect way to de-stress after our pizza experience. Once we got back on the island we had a few hours of free time to have lunch and explore the island. Jane, a few of our tour friends, and I walked around trying to find a place to eat. We walked by a place with outdoor seating overlooking the water. The restaurant owner was standing at the entrance and was overly enthusiastic about welcoming us and wanting us to come in and eat at her restaurant so we did. She grabbed some menus and showed us to our table. The tables on the patio were packed so closely I was practically sitting on the man at the table next to our’s lap. That should have been the first red flag that it was going to be a bad eating experience. We placed our orders and then I went in to use the bathroom. When I went in to the stall I noticed the handle was a little funny but didn’t think too much of it. Then when I tried to open the stall door I realized it was jammed and I couldn’t get out.  I fiddled with the handle a little bit and banged on the door for a while. “Oh this is just great, I’m locked in the bathroom” I thought to myself. Had I been locked in a bathroom in America I could have just climbed out through the ten foot gap between the floor and the bottom of the stall door but nooooooo I had to get locked in a bathroom in Italy where they respect privacy and the stall door goes right down to the floor. Finally one of the restaurant workers came in with a screw driver and let me out. I then went back to my table as if nothing had happened and made no mention of my traumatic bathroom experience. Not long after our food came out which we all ate and then immediately felt sick. Afterwards we were talking about how terrible the food was and Jane said, “Yeah, ya know I was told by a few people before we left on this trip to not to eat at any restaurant where the owner calls you in because usually it’s a bad restaurant.” We all gave her a look. “Thank you so so much for that extremely useful advice, Jane,” I said. “It’s so nice of you to share this information with us now that we probably all have food poisoning and/or parasites from that disgusting meal.” Here I thought the owner was just friendly and really happy to see us.

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Thumbs up for food poisoning!

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Stumbled upon this shop called “Mike” while exploring Capri! Sent this one to all my Mike’s back in the USA!

After our lunch we walked around a bit to check out the island and then took the ferry back to the mainland where there were lots of cute places to shop. Our tour guide gave us all some time to check out all these great shops and local street markets but Jane and I wanted to make better use of our time so we found an Irish Pub and sat outside drinking Magners. I though we were having a rather enjoyable time just sitting in silence watching the people traffic, enjoying a nice drink on a nice day but apparently Jane was not enjoying her time as much and wanted to try to make conversation. Thus, this stupid fight ensued:

Jane: So, what do you want to talk about?
Me: Nothing.
Jane: You don’t want to talk about ANYTHING?!
Me: Nah, I’m kind of tired. Plus, I don’t really have anything I want to say right now. I think I’ve said everything I wanted to today.
Jane: I think we should talk about SOMETHING at least.
Me: Why? Are you uncomfortable with sitting in silence with another person?
Jane: Well yes, I feel like we should at least try to make some conversation, don’t you?
Me: Why do you feel awkward and uncomfortable with me?! Is this a meet and greet?! Am I on an interview? I think it’s polite to make conversation with someone you don’t really know but we are sisters so I really don’t feel like we need to engage each other in a forced conversation! I am VERY COMFORTABLE sitting without having any conversation with you. Honestly you should take that as a compliment Jane because it means I’m very comfortable with you.

This then led into us having a conversation about conversations which then led into us having a debate on the straw ban in the United States and whether or not it has made its way to Italy yet. So once again, Jane got her way. Classic youngest child.

Once Jane was done talking my ear off we met back up with our tour group, attended a pizza making demonstration and then enjoyed a delicious pizza dinner. We decided to call it an early night as by that point I had broken out in a full body rash due to the sun poisoning I got from being out on the boat and exposed to the sun too long. Classic pale Irish kid. But other than the food and sun poisoning, and being locked in the bathroom, our day in Capri was amazing!

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Teeth brushing then bed time for these beach bums! Sun poisoning is exhausting!

The next morning we traveled to Pompeii and did a guided tour there. To sum up Pompeii in a nutshell-very hot, lots of bricks, lots of broken clay vases and cups. This is also where Jane mysteriously picked up an Australian accent. The first couple of times I thought I had just mis-heard her or that the heat was getting to me, but then when she said “It’s hot out here today” in CLEARLY a fake Australian accent I had to put my foot down. “Why are you suddenly talking like Nicole Kidman?!” I said “We have literally been out of Chicago for 72 hours!” Jane apparently had no idea she was talking like that and we both started laughing at how ridiculous she sounded. Jane claimed she sometimes accidentally picks up on other people’s accents and since our tour group included lots of people from Australia, she was doing it without realizing it. Classic town nut job Jane.

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Me and some cleaning lady at Pompeii.

After Pompeii I got on the bus with Crocodile Hunter Jane and the rest of our group to begin our journey to Florence. We all watched the movie Mama Mia which I’m sure the boys in our group were thrilled about. I had never seen it before and I was extremely appalled at the ending (Warning: Mama Mia spoiler alerts ahead)! I mean seriously?! They just decided to NOT find out who her father really was?! They are really just going to “share” the father role?! She’s just going to go her whole life never knowing which of those three men is actually her father?! How is that OK?! I mean I’m no psychologist but, wow, seems like a great way to mess up that poor girl. I mean a simple paternity test would do the trick. Then after that depressing movie we had to watch this dumb boring informational video about Florence and Italy. It was so slow and outdated I literally had no patience for it and was starting to get fidgety. “Would you just sit still?!” Jane finally yelled. “I’m sorry Jane!” I yelled back. “I can’t sit through this, it’s too boring! I’m a Millennial I need constant stimulation, this is too slow for me! It’s too much text to read and not enough flashy images, I’ve check out. If I had data on my phone I’d probably be tweeting by now.” Somehow I was able to survive the rest of the video and make it to our hotel in Florence. Our hotel room was nice but the shower was weird-the shower head was like a garden hose and you had to hold it so when I showered I felt like I was bathing a dog. Jane also had trouble with this shower and basically flooded the bathroom. We really could have used that gigantic towel on the bathroom floor this time. Once we were done at the dog groomer’s-Whoops I meant showering-We headed out for a spaghetti and meatball dinner and then out to a karaoke bar where Jane and I absolutely killed it with out rendition of the 1999 Backstreet Boys chart topper “I Want it That Way.” It was a real crowd pleaser.
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The next day Our tour group attended a leather demonstration at one of the local Florence leather shops. Afterwards we walked around the shop and considered buying some purses, but then we saw the price tags, remembered we were poor, and decided against it. After the leather shop we had a guided tour of the city and then we were free to do our own exploring again. Jane and I climbed the steps to the top of this bell tower which was exhausting but the views were awesome.

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It was a nice bell but it was no Taco Bell that is for sure.

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Jane was clearly trying to seduce the bell. He’s too old for you Jane! Leave him alone!

After that we tried to find this one Panini place we heard was good but we never found it. Jane kept leading us in zig zags so we kept getting lost and confused. I kept suggesting we go back to the central square so we could get an idea of where we were and then look at the map again and see if we could pinpoint how to get to the panini place to which Jane would ignore and say “Well let’s just go down this little street and see where it takes us.” So then I would sigh and follow her, we’d walk for about ten more minutes, not find the panini place, argue a bit and then Jane would say “Well I don’t know why you’re following me! I don’t know where I’m going!” Then we’d both laugh at how dumb and lost we were. This little scene happened a few more times until we finally gave up and just got gelato. After having our gelato we walked past some artist doing some chalk drawings of famous paintings on the street and got into a minor disagreement about whether or not one of the artists was doing a drawing of the Mona Lisa or not. Jane was convinced it was the Mona Lisa and I was convinced it was not. It wasn’t until later that we discovered we were looking at two completely different chalk drawings so we were both right!

After our chalk argument Jane took me on an exhausting quest to-and I kid you not-help her find a RING that would “remind her of her time in Florence.” I swear we walked every inch of Florence looking for this damn magical ring but Jane was so specific on what she wanted we couldn’t find anything to her liking. She was VERY annoyed and upset. She looked so sad so I kept trying to appease her suggesting other shops. “Hey Jane what about this shop? You think this might have your ring?” I asked. She just kept walking, looking down at the ground like a four-year old child and said sadly “Probably not.” “What are you, Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh!” I said. “It’s a ring! Stop pouting and move on!” We both laughed at how childish she was being and just decided to give up and started to walk back to our hotel. About a block before our hotel we stumbled upon a jewelry shop and decided to try one more time. We walked in and it was as if we hit the jackpot-beautiful and affordable rings everywhere! Finally! So what did Jane walk out of the store with that day? Her perfect Florence ring you would think, right? Nope. SHE BOUGHT A NECKLACE CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT! SHE CHANGED HER MIND AT THE LAST MINUTE AND DECIDED SHE DIDN’T WANT A RING ANYMORE BUT A NECKLACE! “Are you KIDDING ME Jane?!” I said as she walked out the door with her purchase. “You just dragged me on a 30 mile walk for your magical Florence ring and you get a necklace?!” I nearly collapsed.

Later that night after we laid down for a little bit and I finally decided against having Jane take me to the hospital to have my legs amputated after the ring journey, we got all dolled up for our tour group dinner in Tuscany! The views were awesome, the food was good and the sangria was delicious. After dinner we all headed to a night club where we enjoyed more delicious drinks, dancing, and of course fog and seizure inducing flashing lights. It was such a fun night and a great way to end our time in the wonderful city of Florence!

Part 3 of our trip coming soon! Stay tuned!

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We tried to take a cute Insta-worthy pic of our drinks and the view but it just ended up looking like one person awkwardly holding two drinks so we never posted it.

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“Hi everyone! Look at us we are at a Club”-Us