If These Walls and Carpet Could Talk

I recently dropped off a few boxes at my parents’ house as they are doing a bit of redecorating and need to pack up some junk. Big things happening at the Kelly house-Mike Sr. and Mo Money are finally tearing down the 90s style wallpaper that lines their first floor hallway and stairway leading up to their second floor. They are also getting new carpeting on their stairs, upstairs hallway and in the bedrooms. I was glad they were finally getting around to finishing these renovations as this was really a project our old Dog Duke started when he was a puppy. Duke must have been watching too much HGTV and was left home alone one day and decided to rip a part of the 90s wallpaper down. I always said he had an eye for design. Mike Sr. was not very pleased though. The carpet and wallpaper have been there since 1993, when my parents put a second floor addition on their house to have more room for their growing family. So both are a little out-dated and are past their glory days.

As I set the boxes down I started looking at the walls and all the family photos that were on them. Two things went through my mind. First: WHY WHY WHY were some of these outfits legal? Examples below (Please note, photos kept in frames for dramatic emphasis):

In this photo above my Mom decided to dress me as Boy George, Jane clearly had just come from the Rodeo, and Maggie must have just forgotten we were getting our photo taken that day. And did the photographer periodically do a well-being check on Bridget? Because I am not sure she could breathe with all those children on top of her.
In this photo above, besides my Dad, the hair on everyone here is a sight to see. I hope my parents made some money off this because we look like an early 2000s advertisement for Old Navy with all of our Old Navy Polos on.
My ship set sail at 6pm that night in case anyone was wondering.
We must have run out of money for clothes when it came down to me and Jane so Jane wore curtains and I borrowed something from a Grandma.
Poor Bridget being buried alive by the rest of us yet again.
In this photo above I am in the green dress.(Bridget was wearing it in a photo above) It’s a classic hand-me-down that didn’t quite fit me so I looked like I was wearing a potato sack, but those are hand-me downs for you.
Looks like Bridget (in the purple) was off to a game at the Sandlot right after this photo was taken.

I vividly remember one specific day we took one of those above family photos, although I am not quite sure which one, maybe the day I dressed as Boy George, I projectile vomited all over our brand new Ford Windstar-And when I say brand new, I mean they drove it home from the dealership three days prior. It didn’t help that I had also attended a birthday party that day and had ingested A LOT of Hawaiian Punch. I can’t remember if I threw up because I was sick or if my stomach turned because I was just disgusted by the lack of cupholders in the van. I mean one cupholder having to be shared between TWO captains chairs?!! Come on Ford, you could do better. I bet my mom remembers this day vividly too as I am sure it was a really great Saturday for her-dragging her kids to the Olan Mills studio, then to a birthday party, and finishing the day by cleaning up her child’s vomit. I mean that puke got everywhere. I was sitting in the back middle seat and it traveled all the way to the front. My puke trajectory was really unbelievable. Hopefully they had some Oxiclean to get those red Hawaiian Punch stains out of that gray interior. Thanks Mom for cleaning that up-I owe you a drink.

After getting over the outfits and telling myself “That was in style back then” to feel better about myself, the second thing that went through my mind was, wow, time really flies. I don’t remember when the wallpaper was put up or when the carpet was installed. I was just a toddler when my parents put the addition on their house so they could have extra room for their children and no longer had to shove them all in one bedroom. I do have a lot of memories running down those first and second floor hallways and playing on those stairs. I remember the mornings before school, rushing around, searching for where I left my backpack or uniform because I always left my backpack, school papers and uniform scattered about throughout the house. Every now and then our parents would get fed up with everyone’s junk and we’d be told that after school “no one could watch TV until everyone’s stuff was brought up to their rooms” So in order to get to the TV faster the five of us would work together and we’d tie a jump rope to a bucket and use it as a pulley system to bring things upstairs. A couple of kids would collect everyone’s items on the first floor, throw it in the bucket, then someone (usually my brother) would be on the second floor and pull the bucket up with the rope, handing it off to someone else. That person then would take the items and just throw them into each person’s respective rooms. We’d do this until the first floor looked spotless. Our rooms looked like a mess but hey, not our problem. Our parents said “The first floor” needed to be cleaned up, they made no mention about our bedrooms. Every time we did this we got in more trouble because the rope rubbed against that expensive 90s wallpaper and caused it to peel up. But we never learned and kept doing it.

Here we are in the first floor hallway before school. If you look closely at my mom’s hand placement you can tell she is holding me from breaking away. I’m sure I had just made a smart-ass comment during a classic Bridget and Kathleen pre-school day fight and I was trying to make a run for it before getting in trouble. Fights were common in the mornings. The five of us didn’t have time for much before school, but we always had time to get into a few fights. Let us zoom in a little here:
Take special note of my Mom’s hand on me. I think my Dad took this photo to try and ease the tension. You can almost hear through my mom’s clenched smile her saying “DON’T GO ANYWHERE.”
I’m sure I got in trouble, but you could tell that whatever smart-ass comment I made, I was very pleased with myself.
Here is another one of me and Bridget, being besties, playing on the stairs.

I have a lot of fond memories waiting with my siblings at the top of those green carpeted stairs on Christmas or Easter morning, anxiously waiting for my parents to give the “ok” to run down and open presents or find our Easter Baskets. I remember not being able to sit still on those steps many mornings when we were little. As we got older, I remember holiday mornings many of us would be laying on the steps or leaning on those walls because we celebrated Jesus’ birth or resurrection a little too hard the night before. I think on those Easter mornings my Dad (who always hid our Easter baskets) got a special kick out of following whichever child was the most hungover that year with the video camera as they struggled to find their Easter basket throughout the house. I will never forget those Easter mornings feeling as if I had just spent 40 days fasting in the desert instead of Jesus, while my Dad following me around giggling and doing commentary with the video camera two centimeters from my face. Truly a cross to bear.

Most recently Jane, the youngest has been the winner of “the most hungover” on Easter these past few years.
Just another reason we moved slower down those stairs as we got older. Our Easter Bunny got stingy with our baskets and he didn’t put much in them.

The green carpeted stairs were a favorite place for Mo Money to take pictures of her five children as well. She ESPECIALLY loved assembling us on or by those stairs to take our Christmas card picture:

I hope Santa put some vitamin D in our stocking that year because judging by our coloring we were all SEVERELY deficient.
I was extremely uncomfortable but our stairs look great didn’t they?
Looks like I don’t even belong in this family the way I was put in the back. Classic middle child.
Don’t worry, this wasn’t a Christmas card picture. We all look really pretty don’t we?

So while I am happy that my parents are doing nice things to their home, I think a part of me will miss that green carpet. I don’t think I’ll miss the wallpaper though, that stuff needed to go. But those stairs and hallways gave us a lot of happy memories growing up. And I am sure Duke is smiling down from dog heaven, very pleased that the work he started is finally being finished.

Here Duke’s face is says “Oh my gawd it’s about time you guys finished those home renovations!”