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!**

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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. 

 

Summertime, Baby!

892.JPGAs the fourth of July holiday draws near, I honesty can’t believe how fast this summer is flying. While it’s been a busy June, the start of the summer of 2018 has DEFINITELY been more relaxing than the summer of 2017, when half my family decided to make a pregnancy pact and all be pregnant at the same time. Last summer, I felt like Steve Martin in Father of the Bride Part II running around trying to prepare for the birth of the babies, never knowing when the the moment would come.

I am especially grateful that I haven’t had to help my mom host any baby showers this summer either. Last June, my mom thought it would be a good idea to host my sister’s baby shower at our house. She must have blocked out the memory of all the years we had to host graduation parties at our house when she made this decision. With 5 kids it seemed each year someone was graduating from grammar school or high school and we had to throw a party at our house for it. Unlike my mom, those horrific memories of preparing for the graduation parties were burned in my mind, and I knew getting ready for this baby shower would not be much different than those graduation parties. The cleaning, the errands, preparing the food and drinks, the decorations. It’s exhausting. I still remember as a small child getting ready for my brother’s graduation party. Per usual we were up to the last second trying to get our normally messy house in shape for the outside world.  I distinctly remember the panic I felt when I was sweeping and out of the corner of my eye I saw our first guests walking up the driveway. My siblings soon saw the guests too, and we all looked at each other, frozen in fear with our cleaning supplies in hand. We said nothing, but we didn’t need to, the terror in our eyes said enough. After no one moved or talked for what felt like hours I finally shouted to my mom. “Mom! Aunt Kathy and Uncle Jim are here already! What do we do we’re not done cleaning the dining room!” “WHAT?! ALREADY??!” My mom responded frantically “Did we not say four on the invitation?! It’s just a few minutes after four why are they here already?!” At this point we’d go into crisis mode-a drill we knew all too well. My mom would run upstairs to change, do her makeup and take the curlers out of her hair while us kids would handle things downstairs. One kid would go make small talk outside with the firsts guests (stalling them from coming inside) while the others would start shoving papers, shoes, backpacks and any other junk ANYWHERE we could hide it-cabinets, drawers, closets etc. I must say, as long as no one opened any doors, our house looked pretty darn good!

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Don’t bother calling DCFS on my behalf. Sadly this picture was taken 15 years ago so the statute of limitations is up, there’s no saving me now.

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Big smiles after being told we would not be hosting a party for Bridget’s Kindergarten Graduation. Michael was so excited he forgot to support baby Jane’s head. She turned out semi-ok still though.

While I tried to convince my mom to have it somewhere else, she insisted hosting the shower at our house wouldn’t be that bad. And as it turns out, she was actually completely wrong. It was WORSE than getting ready for those graduation parties. For one, our workforce was less since only two kids lived at home instead of five. Poor Jane and I were worked like dogs-cleaning, getting balloons, alcohol, food, decorations etc. Meanwhile Duke, the only real dog in the house, did no work at all which I thought was completely unfair. Also, we had no clear theme since my sister didn’t know if she was having a boy or a girl! (Spoiler alert: She had a boy). And don’t even get me started on setting up the tent. Putting that tent together nearly ripped my family apart. Then once the shower started Jane and I thought we were off the hook but no, our work continued. Again, I related to Steve Martin but this time in Father of the Bride Part I when they host his daughter’s wedding reception in his backyard and he doesn’t even have time to eat at the party! And to make matters worse for us, Mo was CONVENIENTLY leaving for a vacation with Mike Sr. the day after the shower so poor Jane and I were left with the clean-up as well!

 

 

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The one thing we forgot to put away before the baby shower. Mo claims it was a tomato plant. Sure, mom, ya big hippie. I’ve read books about the 70’s, I know what happened back in the day.

So, how have I spent the summer of 2018 so far now that I haven’t had any baby showers, you ask? Well, this summer I’ve been caring for a different kind of baby, my favorite kind of baby actually, my Baby Boomers, Mike and Mo. Baby Boomers are a lot like newborn babies except they require a lot more care and attention because they need help with just about everything technology related.

One thing that has kept me earning my room and board is the smart TV in our basement. My siblings and I got this for our parents as a Christmas gift and it completely backfired on us-me in particular. My Dad loves his television shows so we thought he would enjoy a bigger, sharper TV for his basement “lair” as we call it. Boy, were we wrong, Mike Sr. is not a fan of new TVs and all their “bells and whistles.” Just about every night I get summoned to the basement by my father’s calls. “KATHLEEN! THE TV IS BROKEN AGAIN!” It’s never actually broken, he just doesn’t really know how to use it. Last week, I heard my nightly call from my father, and dragged myself down to the basement where I found him sitting perfectly still in his La-Z-Boy recliner, a blank stare on his face as he waited for his in-house cable repair man-aka ME-to come and “fix” his TV so he could watch Railroad Alaska or Highway Thru Hell or whatever dumb old man show he was watching that night. I became irritated because I could tell he made no effort to solve the problem on his own, and I was tired of constantly being the cable man of the house.

Me: What, are you paralyzed from the neck down or something??!! Can you not move and reset the cable box? You’re just sitting there! Did you even TRY to get up and resolve this issue on your own??!!
Dad: I pushed the AT&T button and it didn’t work! These damn TVs now a days you need about 8 million clickers just to turn the thing on! Why can’t we have one of the old TVs where you push the power button and that’s it!
Me: YOU DON’T NEED 8 MILLION CLICKERS! HERE, LOOK!
(At that I grabbed the remote and in about 2 seconds I had his show on)
Dad: Well how in the Hell did you do that so fast?!
Me: Dad, we’ve been over this a thousand times before, you have to learn! I won’t always be here to fix the TV for you.
Dad: Hey, at the rate you’re going who knows if you’ll ever get married and move out, you may be an old maid living with us forever, which is fine by me because we will need someone to take care of us when we are old.
Me: You already ARE old. And I told you many times before, I’m putting you right in a nursing home. And not one of those fancy and fun nursing homes like Smith Village. That place is like college for old people. Way too fun and expensive for you. You’ll go wherever the state tells you.

Another thing that has kept me busy this summer is my recent purchase of an Alexa that I put in our kitchen. Our radio went out and I thought we needed an upgrade so I bought an Alexa for the house. After I set it up I hosted a training session for the Boomers, showing them how to use it and all the features it has. Since then my Dad has been shouting commands at her, to which the device ignores because he keeps calling the thing “Siri” and not “Alexa.”

Dad: (Leans down and places face about an inch from Alexa and shouts) SIRI! HOW MUCH DOES A CSX HEAVY WEIGH?
Me: Dad, a couple things: 1. It’s not Siri it’s Alexa, 2. you do not need to shout and lean in so close to the thing 3. I highly doubt she knows much about freight trains.
Dad: Ahh see she’s not that smart then if she can’t even tell me how much a CSX Heavy weighs, is she? But I know you can tell me, Kathleen.
Me: Yes, I know this only because you’ve ingrained it in my brain since I was about two years old. It weighs 216 tons.

My mom is the opposite when it comes to the Alexa. She will be in different rooms whispering with her hand covering her mouth so that the Alexa doesn’t hear her, acting like she’s a prisoner that doesn’t want a guard to hear her escape plan.

Mom: (Said in whisper voice from the family room) Kathleen, I have a question about you know who (pointing to Alexa in the kitchen) but I don’t want to say her name and accidentally turn her on!

The Baby Boomers are still getting used to the smart TV and having Alexa as another “roommate.” But I’m confident once I can properly train them on using these things they’ll learn to enjoy them. It’s a lot of work taking care of my Baby Boomers but they are worth it! Yup, it might have been a busy June, but summertime living is always easy with Mike and Mo!

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Me being the backbone of the household while the two drunks behind me enjoy another Twisted Tea.

 

Dad, the Washing Machine’s Broken

A few weeks ago, I opened the washing machine to switch my laundry into the dryer only to discover that my clothes were still soaking wet because the washer didn’t properly drain all the water out! Like any tenant would do, I immediately informed my landlord of this terrible inconvenience. “DADDDDDDDDD! THE WASHING MACHINE IS BROKEN!” I yelled from the basement. He quickly came down the stairs to check it out. “Yup, I noticed this happening when I did laundry yesterday,” He said. “I’m going to have to call the repair man. Until then you’ll have to wring out your clothes by hand over the laundry tub.” “Ughhhhh that’s so annoying! Wring my clothes out? What am I, a pioneer woman? That’s so much work, and it will hurt my wrists!” I responded. “Well maybe if you weren’t such a weakling it wouldn’t hurt your wrists so much.” He said. “You’re like a little infant. Here move aside, I’ll show you how it’s done.”

As my Dad wrung my clothes out over the laundry tub and I looked on, offering no help at all, he told me tales of when he was growing up and how they had to use some sort of contraption to wring their clothes out. Naturally I had no idea what he was talking about, as I was born in the 1990s and not the 1700s, which is apparently when my father was born. “Now, did you use this laundry contraption thing before or after you finished churning the butter?” I asked. In a mocking tone my dad responded, “Ohhh I’m Kathleen and I have a witty comment for everything.”

A few days later the repair man came and delivered the devastating news to my parents-they needed a new washing machine. My parents were very upset by this. My sister Jane (my other sibling living at home) and I were not surprised though as that washing machine was older than we are. We were actually quite pleased to finally have a washing machine that was made in this century. As the days passed though, there was no sign of our landlords replacing the washing machine anytime soon. Finally Jane brought it up at dinner one night.

Jane: What’s going on with the washing machine? When are we getting a new one?
(Jane and I often used the term “WE” when talking about home maintenance/repair projects when really we do not plan to have anything to do with the task.)
Me: Yeah, I put in a work order for a new washing machine like weeks ago and have heard nothing back on the status of my request from my landlords.
Mom (Said with irritation in her voice): Ugh, Yeah I need to pick a day to go out and look for one. What I definitely don’t want is one of those awful ‘Energy Efficient’ ones that they have now. Have you girls ever used one of those?
Me & Jane: I don’t know, probably when we were away at college.
Mom (Even more irritation in her voice): UGH, THEY ARE TERRIBLE! First, the water will only start to fill up the machine once you close the lid. Then, the water just BARELY covers the laundry that’s in the machine….

At this point Jane and I waited patiently as my mom paused her story for dramatic emphasis, looking each of us directly in the eyes, making sure what she just said about the water level in new washing machines had resignated with us.

Me: Ok got, it, energy efficient ones don’t use as much water. Please continue your story.
Mom: So it’s like there’s not enough water to let the clothes soak in! I mean do your clothes even get clean then?!

At this point we realize the amount of hate our mother has for energy efficient appliances and regretted even bringing up the topic of a new washing machine. We wished we could take it back, but by then it was too late. We set something off in her, and now she was on a tirade listing off other things that bother her. She covered specifics on just about every topic you could imagine-from baby and bridal showers to birthday cards, canoe trips, grocery stores and more. It was as if this tiny woman was letting out 63 years of anger and frustration. We we shocked by some of it but I can’t say I’m surprised that my mom hates energy efficient appliances though. She’s a Baby Boomer so I’m sure the urge to use up the earth’s precious resources like water, leaving hardly anything for future generations, comes naturally to her.

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The foe wood at the top really gives it a homey, “Cabin in the woods” type feel.

Once my mom finished, our washing machine conversation continued.

Dad: Mo, how long do you think we’ve had that washing machine? 30 years or so?
Me: Judging by the foe wood on the washer, I’d say close to 35 years. I hear that style was popular back in the 80s.
Dad (said defensively): That was a damn good washing machine! They don’t make machines like that anymore. It’s too bad we have to get rid of it!

One of the things I’ve learned about my Dad in the 27 years that I’ve known him is that he has emotional attachments to appliances and furniture. A word of advice to the public: Don’t EVER say anything bad about his vacuum. I mean the thing is absolutely awful-it’s heavy, hard to push on carpeting and makes the house smell every time it’s used. Not to mention that it looks like it was made in the 1920s. It might have been Hoover’s very first vacuum model. But for some reason my Dad thinks it’s the best thing ever made.

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You may have seen this exact photo in your history book.

Although we had a wonderful conversation about getting a new washing machine, as of today we still don’t have a new one. According to the Baby Boomers, if you put your laundry on a certain water level and certain spin cycle and turn the button while the machine is in the middle of the spin cycle, it works just fine. So this machine may just stick around for a few more years.

While my Landlords may get a D- in the appliance category, they get an A+ in all the other amenities they provide their tenants-Mike Sr. provides us donuts, cookies and cupcakes on the reg and Mo still makes dinner for her kiddos from time to time. The portions she feeds us would leave even Thumbelina with hunger pains, but we appreciate the meals nonetheless. AND most recently, they switched from Kleenex brand tissues to Puffs Plus! My nose never felt so soft!

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Real adults eat smiley face cookies.

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On special occasions she’ll let us have butter on our toast.

I better start working on my wrist strengthening exercises, because I may be wringing out my clothes for a little while longer. New washing machine or not, Mike and Mo are still the best landlords around.

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Photo taken the day I signed my first leasing agreement with the landlords. The three people to the right served as notaries/witnesses. Also super embarrassing that everyone can see my weight listed here. I should have blocked that out, I was still working off some of that weight I gained in the womb.

Middles Do Boston

Last week, I traveled to Boston with my sister Bridget, my cousin Meghan and my selfie stick. It was kind of a spontaneous trip, we only decided a couple of weeks prior that we should all go to Boston together. The three of us are all middle children, so we figured we should treat ourselves to this trip, since no one else is going to treat us to anything, everyone knows that no one loves middle children.
The night before we left for our trip I was up later than I had originally planned because I was having a lot of trouble packing and figuring out my outfits. Of course I needed to be prepared for anything, “going-out” outfits, “being tourists during the day” outfits, “I’m just a sporty twenty something exploring a big city” outfits, etc. My mind was racing and I was stressed out! Then, once I was finally done packing and about to climb into bed for a good night’s rest I see a spider crawling across my bedroom floor! I was livid that this spider had the nerve to crawl across the plush carpeting that my landlords/parents had just installed! I don’t know if this spider thought I was renting out my place as an Airbnb while I was away in Boston or something, but he was sorely mistaken. But in the spider’s defense, it is something I’ve thought about, I’m sure I could rent it for a pretty penny. I mean, how appealing does this sound:

“Calming studio apartment located on the second floor of a building my parents own, in the heart of Evergreen Park, ‘the village of churches.’ Sleep soundly on a luxurious twin bed from Darvin furniture, complete with Pottery Barn Teen comforter. Amenities include an AC unit, TV and possibly a mini fridge pending landlord approval. Must be comfortable with pets and Baby Boomers. Must also be willing to help said Baby Boomers in the event they have an issue with their phone, TV, laptop, or any other technology related device. Landlord may get you a doughnut in the morning though if you are polite. Message Kathleen if interested.”

Yea, I think it’s safe to say the spider was on to something, my place would rent out like crazy.

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This is the photo I would use that would make my place rent out like crazy. Please ignore the violence going on on the TV, I was enjoying a Law and Order SVU marathon.

After tossing and turning all night because I felt so itchy from the spider incident, it was finally time for Meghan and me to head to the airport (Bridget was already in Boston for work, being a business woman on a business trip). Our friend Laura was nice enough to drive us to the airport and while on our way she asked us what we were most looking forward to about our Boston trip. “I can’t wait for all the inside jokes we are going to have after this trip!” I responded. “Hopefully we’ll come up with some good hashtags for Instagram!” I mean, who doesn’t love a good inside joke and hashtag?! #MiddlesDoBoston

Once we got to the airport and through security we had a quick drink at the airport bar and then went to our gate to board. We seemed to be waiting to board for quite a while though, so I decided to pass the time by talking about movies. Usually I would have brought up some new celebrity gossip, but I had been so busy in the days leading up to our trip that I had no time to watch Inside Edition so I had zero gossip! “Have you ever seen the movie Sully?” I asked Meghan. “That was a good movie. I mean how crazy is it that you hit a flock of birds and then it takes out both engines and before you know it the plane is going down! Can you imagine being a passenger on that plane?!” Meghan looked at me like I was crazy. “Why would you talk about THAT movie right as we are about to get on an air plane?!” She responded. “And yes, I have seen it!” Whoops, my bad.
The flight there was pretty uneventful, other than a lot of turbulence due to rain. I was fine and kept busy by reading my People magazine, but Meghan did not look like she was having fun. Apparently she kept thinking about that movie or something.

After a bumpy ride we landed in Boston and headed right to the bathroom because we drank way too much water. I was at the sink going to dry my hands when I realized there were no paper towels, only hand dryers! “That’s strike one, Boston!” I thought. Everyone knows my pet peeve is when bathrooms only have hand dryers and no paper towels. If I want  to ruin the environment with paper towels that’s my right, my prerogative! Don’t force me to be eco-friendly with your fancy hand dryers that only partially dry my hands. So with our hands still dripping with water, we then headed to the apartment we had rented for the weekend. Bridget had already checked in for us and was anxiously waiting our arrival (She was quick to switch from a business woman on a business trip to a business woman on a leisure trip). The place was nice but no one could get any cell service in the apartment. Bridget and Meghan were a little annoyed with this but it was not a problem for me since I do not ever really get text messages, other than the occasional roommate texting me asking if the dishes in the dishwasher are clean or dirty, or if I know the password to her Yahoo email. Our only other complaint besides the cell service was there was no microwave! How would we heat up our food?! Sure, there was an oven but who uses those things anymore?! After getting over THAT shock we quickly got ready and then went to dinner and a few bars near Fenway Park. I was a little disappointed because I wore a super cute outfit and looked like a bombshell babe, but no one took any pictures or posted anything on social media so it was a total waste. Other than that it was a fun night.

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Visiting the set of the 2005 blockbuster movie “Fever Pitch” staring Drew Barrymore and Jimmy Fallon.

The next day we woke up and did a ton of tourist activities including the Freedom Trail, which took us to a lot of historical landmarks in Boston. Some were interesting but others were wicked boring. (Notice how I used the word “wicked?” Only a few days in Boston and I’m already picking up the lingo!) One stop was a very old cemetery where Paul Revere was buried. All the tombstones were from the 1700s and everyone seemed to have died pretty young. I saw one headstone of a woman who died when she was 26-the same age as me! But here’s the real kicker-she had already been married! She died a lucky woman, that is for sure. Just as I was beginning to feel bad about the fact that I was still an old maid at 26, I spotted across the street probably the nicest Walgreens I had ever seen in my life. Apparently it was not part of the Freedom Trail but we stopped in anyway and we were NOT disappointed. Crown molding throughout, shiny floors, plenty of snacks and beverages, was I in heaven. After a quick stop at Walgreens we headed to the bars again to have a much needed drink after all that walking.

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Pretty Sure that’s what Paulie was saying on his midnight ride

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Super lame tea party-there were no Twisted Teas, not even Brisk brand iced tea! Not worth the stop.

Saturday was a bit more of a leisure day. We went to a roof top bar where I sustained some sunburn on my scalp and my sister suffered severe burns on her chest and back (pale kid problems). Then we rode the train, or as the locals call “The Chaaaaaarlie” (you have to say it in a Boston accent) to meet up with our other cousin, Cara. Thank goodness Bridget was our city girl and helped Meghan and me navigate through public transportation in a big city! If it was up to us we would have taken Ubers everywhere. We didn’t know any better though, we were just a bunch of Southside Bumpkins in the big city!

Sunday we had just enough time to go to brunch (Since we are basic white girls/Millennials) and then it was time to go to the airport. It was my first time flying United so I was pretty excited. Let me tell you, it’s a good thing they make coach passengers walk past the first class passengers on the way to their seats or I might have forgotten how middle class I am! So kind of them! But that wasn’t the only perk United provided, there was a little dog on my flight! And he looked thrilled to be flying United as well.

The flight back was fine until it was time to get off the plane, where I experienced my second pet peeve: when people don’t wait their turn to get off the plane. Do people not have manners anymore? Exiting a plane is just like getting communion at a Catholic church. There is an order, you wait for the row in front of you to go before you do! And if you cut the line people will talk about you and give you dirty looks. I don’t get what people don’t understand about this! Once we were finally off the plane and in the airport we were immediately reminded that we were middle children as no one was there to greet us or give us a ride home. Yes, the vacation was over and we were back to reality. We all called Ubers and headed our separate ways.

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This young man was a true gentleman and waited his turn to get off the plane. Proof that chivalry is not dead.

We were exhausted when we arrived home but it was a great trip. We even discussed plans for our next trip! Watch out 2018, because the Middles are going international!

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Brick sidewalks and cute streets are so Boston.

Mom and Dad Who Are You?

Growing up, I always thought I knew my parents to a tee. Their personality traits, likes, dislikes, and pet peeves. After all, I lived with them for a whole 18 years before I went away to college. But now that my four prodigal siblings have moved out and it’s just the three of us, I’ve learned that I didn’t really know them as well as I thought. Living with my parents has allowed me to discover so much more about them, and I’m sure they have discovered a lot more about me. Here are a few very important things I’ve observed about Mike and Mo:

  1. Mike Sr. loves to take out the trash
    Where we live, garbage pick-up day is on Tuesday morning, and it has been this day for as long as I can remember. Growing up, one of us kids was always assigned the chore of “emptying the wastebaskets” in all the bathrooms and bedrooms so it could go in Tuesday morning’s trash pick-up. As you can imagine, this caused a lot of fights between the five of us kids as to whose turn it was to take on this horrific and exhausting task. If my Mom accidentally assigned the same kid to “emptying the wastebaskets” two weeks in a row, she was dead to that child.
    When I moved back home after college, I started to notice that my dad took on this Monday night chore, which was fine with me because I didn’t want to do it. But then I started to notice he became more aggressive with emptying the waste baskets, going through and emptying them a couple times a week. Then it got to the point where if I threw a single Q-Tip in the bathroom wastebasket I felt my father was going to sneak up behind me and empty that wastebasket so there wasn’t a single piece of trash in it. I finally had to confront him about his addiction to emptying the wastebaskets, to which he adamantly denied.
    Since my father travels on business a lot during the week, he can’t always be there to empty the wastebaskets, so I would have to cover for him. I decided to use the information of knowing he loves emptying the waste baskets to my advantage, so I decided to start texting him pictures of myself in the act of emptying the wastebaskets to taunt him while he was away making enough money to continue to feed his 25 year old deadbeat daughter.

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The selfie stick is the gift that just keeps on giving.

My Dad’s love of emptying the wastebaskets has become a running joke between the two of us. As you can see, it’s the main thing we text about. He still claims that he doesn’t LOVE emptying the wastebaskets, that it’s just something that needs to be done, but I know the real truth.

2.  Mo is sick of pretzel rods
My dad does the grocery shopping every Saturday morning, so he keeps inventory of what’s in the fridge and what everyone likes to eat. One Saturday morning, as my mom and I were lounging on the couch with our coffee, watching a juicy Dateline episode that she recorded the night before, my Dad came up from the basement and said to me, “Kathleen, I noticed you haven’t been eating your yogurt that’s in the basement fridge. Do you not like yogurt anymore?” I paused the Dateline episode because I needed my parents’ full attention when I responded to this question. “Ah yea,” I said. “I’ve been meaning to  make an announcement about that. I’m pretty sick of yogurt these days. So if you could stop getting it from the store, that would be great.” And before anyone had time to process my big news my mom chimed in and said, “Well, while, we’re making announcements, I have one too. I just wanted everyone to know, and I know this is shocking, that I’m burned out on pretzel rods.” “Whoa, whoa, whoa, excuse me?” I immediately said. “You can’t just piggy back off my announcement with your own big announcement! You totally just stole my thunder.” Wow, I thought, talk about rude. I felt like Taylor Swift when Kanye West jumped on stage when she was accepting her award at the VMA’s. My own MOTHER “Kanye West’ed” me.
I have to admit though, this did come as a big shock to me. My mom has loved pretzel rods for as long as I can remember. When we were growing up, each day after school she’d boot us from the tv room so she could watch Jeopardy with her Diet Coke and pretzel rods. It took my father and me a few minutes to get over the initial shock of what my mother just said. Did we even know this women at all anymore? While it did take us awhile to come to terms with it, we finally accepted it and said we’d support her in whatever food she decided to replace the pretzel rods with. And that food turned out to be Famous Amos cookies.

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Mo and her two youngest watching Jeopardy back in the day. (I’m the one on the left) It got pretty tight on that couch with five kids, a mom, bags, book bags and all the other junk we threw on that couch. (looks like Girl Scout Cookies and grocery bags in this photo)

3. My Dad has trust issues with Tupperware
A couple of weeks ago, while the three of us were sitting down to a nice dinner of leftovers, my Dad brought up something that I could tell had been bothering him for a while:

Dad: You know, Mo, I put these pineapple chucks in this Tupperware container and the lid doesn’t seem to fit quite right.
Mom: I’ve noticed that too, I think this new dishwasher has been shrinking the lids. Dishwashers these days are way too powerful, I think it’s done some damage to my nice plates too.
Me: You guys always blame stuff on the dishwasher! Dad, the lid doesn’t fit because the top is Betty Crocker brand and the bottom is Rubbermaid brand so they don’t go together.
Dad: Where does it say that?! No, I’m sure these two fit together. (At this point my dad proceeds to try to jam the lid on top of the Tupperware container.)
Me: Would you like me to get a hammer from your tool box so you can better jam that lid onto the bottom? Look right here, the bottom says Rubbermaid and the top says Betty Crocker.
(Now Mike and Mo both take out their reading glasses and begin to inspect the Tupperware for several minutes, discovering that, in fact, the top and the bottom are two different brands.)
Dad: Oh Hell! You practically need an electron microscope to see the damn names on there!
Mom: (said with disgust) I don’t think it’s right that the two companies both make Tupperware containers with red lids. Each company should have a different color lid. They shouldn’t both be allowed to make Tupperware with red lids!

I got a good laugh out of how heated our Tupperware container conversation continued to get. Our dinner conversations always seem to come back to Tupperware. Ever since then my dad has been very cautious about the containers he uses. And he always takes out his glasses to inspect the top and the bottom, usually while making a sarcastic comment. “Do I need to get my PhD to be able to find a top and bottom to put away this pineapple?”

4. Mo hates to toss food.
My mom is a great cook. But these days, she has grown pretty tired of cooking, and I don’t blame her, she cooked meals for her husband and five kids every night when we were little. So the times when she cooks dinner have grown few and far between. But when she does, she cooks in mass quantities as if she is still cooking for five growing children. I also suspect it is so she can be sure there are a lot of leftovers. My mom loves leftover nights because this means she doesn’t have to cook. She is very skilled at making a meal and then stretching it to serve us the next four or five nights. And she’s not picky, she’ll take other people’s leftovers too. Have food you don’t want to finish? Send it Mo’s way, she’ll take it. All these leftovers can sometime be a burden for me because the task of finishing them seems to always fall on me since my parents both eat like birds. If we can’t finish all the leftovers and some food needs to be tossed, my parents make me feel guilty. “It’s a shame we have to waste this” my mom will say as she dumps the food in the garbage while her accusing eyes stare directly into mine, piercing my soul. “I can’t finish all the leftovers!” I say, “I’m only one person! That dinner you made on Monday is like the loaves and the fishes! The food just keeps multiplying in the fridge! I can only eat so much!” “Oh no, I’m not blaming you.” She’ll say even though she is 100% blaming me.
Her biggest pet peeve though is if she gets lunch meat from the store and you don’t finish it. For anyone that has read the book The Little Match Girl they know it’s a story about a little girl who is sent out to sell matches but doesn’t sell any. She is afraid to come home because her father will beat her for not selling any matches. So she stays outside in the cold and ends up dying. Pretty depressing for a children’s book if you ask me. Well, in this reoccurring lunch meat situation at our house I am like the little match girl. If I don’t finish the lunch meat I feel like I shouldn’t even bother coming home for fear of what my mom will do. “Oh my God, oh my God!” I say to myself in a panic as I see the “best if used by” date approaching on the turkey. “I have to find a way to finish this!” I frantically try to come up with a plan and see when I can fit a turkey sandwich into my week’s schedule. Sometimes I don’t meet the deadline and disappoint my mother. Just like the Little Match Girl feared disappointing her father by not selling any matches.”You know I’m going to stop getting lunch meat if you and Dad aren’t eating it.” She says angrily. She always says this, but doesn’t really mean it. And the vicious lunch meat cycle continues.

There are many other things I’ve learned about Mike and Mo, but these are just the important things. Maybe I never noticed these personality traits of theirs growing up because I used to only see them as my parents, but now they are my buddies. It’s been fun getting to know them better. They are pretty great roommates/landlords!

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This photo of me and the roomies was taken on the worst day of my entire life-my college graduation day. 

Tech Girl Here

A couple of weeks ago something happened to my roommates and me that was extremely traumatic. It really made us stop and think about what was really important in our lives. Mo and I had just plopped on the couch to watch the episode of Chicago Med I had recorded a few days prior. We both had our Diet Cokes in hand, and I was ready with my chips and salsa. But when I hit the “recorded tv” button on the remote an error message came up. Yes, our DVR had malfunctioned and was not working. I tried to remain calm and assured my mom that it was probably just something with our WiFi and after I reset the DVR box it should come back on. Unfortunately, the reset did not help and our shows were still missing. “Give it some time, they will come back, these things just take time.” I said to my mom. Looking back now I’m not sure if I was trying to reassure my mother or myself, for I did not know if our favorite recorded shows would really return. About 45 minutes later my dad yelled up to me from where he was watching tv in the basement. I could immediately detect the fear in his voice when he told me he tried to watch his recording of The O’Reilly Factor and it would not work. “Everyone just remain calm!” I shouted. With my adrenaline pumping I went around to every tv in the house and reset every single DVR box. After all my efforts our recorded shows still did not come back. To make matters worse, our scheduled recordings did not record either.

Exhaustion had set in and I told my parents I needed to get some rest and that I would try again in the morning. Sadly, I could not sleep. How could I knowing that Mike was going to miss this week’s episode of Ice Road Truckers or that Mo would have to sit through the commercials when she watched Dateline or Forensic Files?! Plus Mo and I had so many Inside Editions to catch up on and we like to be caught up before we start watching the nest week’s episodes. But would our DVR be back working to record next week’s episodes? I knew I had to do something, and fast.

The next morning I woke up bright and early and got on the phone with AT&T. After over an hour of waiting to speak to an actual person, I was able to have a technician fix the problem over the phone. Our DVR was finally working again and all of our shows were restored. I was relieved but also felt like I needed a mimosa or something with alcohol in it after that stressful situation.

I really don’t think people quite understand the stresses that come with living with Baby Boomers. You have to be available for tech support 24/7. It is a responsibility only a select few can handle. Luckily, I am one of them and have taken a vow to help my parents with whatever they need in return for them keeping me from becoming homeless.

My father can be a bit of a disgruntled customer when I try to help him. He usually gets mad at me when I try to help him on his computer, claiming I was going too fast. “Wait a minute how the hell did you do that?! You are going to fast! You can’t just go beep bop zip on the keyboard so quickly and expect me to keep up!” I remember he became a little upset when I was teaching him how to use his new iphone. I was showing him how to check the weather when he quickly grabbed the phone from me and said in a loud voice “No! Don’t show me that! You’ll just confuse me! All I want to know is how to make a phone call and check my email! I was happy with my Blackberry but my company forced me to switch over to this stupid thing!” “Well Dad,” I said in a calm voice, “It’s not 2006 anymore, no one has a Blackberry now so you will just have to learn to use your new iphone.”

He also was not very happy when he bought his new car which had a touch screen for the radio. I feel bad for the guy, the car has way too many features for him to handle, not very Baby Boomer friendly. I programmed his radio stations but he just cannot get used to the touch screen. A couple of weeks ago the three of us were driving in my Dad’s car (which was a surprise in itself that his car was actually out of the garage) and my two roomies were trying to figure out how to change the station. I tried to walk them through how to do it but the touch screen was an obstacle they were struggling to get over. I was dying laughing in the back seat it was so comical. Fortunately I was able to compose myself long enough to snap this picture.

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“They put too many damn bells and whistle in cars now a days! Is it too much to ask to just have a simple radio?!”~Mike

My mom is a bit more delightful to work with when I am trying to help her with her tech problems. But I can’t start to explain anything to her until she has her reading glasses perfectly positioned at the end of her nose. She loves to use phrases like “I have to start write these directions down.” or “Over Christmas break I want to hire you to show me how to use my itunes so I can upload the songs myself.” All empty promises of course but I know she means well. I still have nightmares from when I helped her scan pictures for the scrapbook she made for my sister. There was always one more picture that needed to be scanned. I was starting to think she was taking more pictures just to make me scan them. We did do a great job on that scrapbook though, it came out beautifully.

Many parents don’t know how much their kids worry about their future when it comes to using any sort of technology. I often find myself worrying about what my parents will do when I (hopefully) move out of their house. What if they want to watch a DVD and I’m not there to help them pop it in? What if one of them needs to send a picture via text?! Or copy and paste something and I am not around to show them?! I am trying to teach them as much as I can so they will be able to survive when I am gone. Being the house tech girl is a big job but I am happy to do it. Anything for my two best betches 😉

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Me and my betches. Family by chance, roommates by choice-well maybe not their choice.