Family Week 2022: Dead Bat Joins The Vacation

In July, my family gathered together for our annual “Family Week” up on Dewey Lake in Michigan. This has been a long tradition in our family, started when we’d go up for a full week to my grandparents’ cottage on Dewey Lake. Now my parents have a Lakehouse of their own on Dewey Lake and have kept the tradition going. Through the years we’ve grown from a family of seven to a family of 17, so it’s harder and harder to find a week in the summer with everyone’s busy schedules. The group texts usually start in February to try and lock down a week in July. After much discussion we managed, yet again, to find a week to all be together for a few days, and what a fun week it was!

Since my husband Mike had to work, I hitched a ride up with my sister Jane on Tuesday. My parents had already been there a few days, and my brother was on his way up with his three kids. In classic Kelly family fashion, Jane and I had scheduled to leave in the morning, but we were running late, so we didn’t end up leaving until around noon or so. The two of us had a great ride, jamming out to some tunes, Jane BELTING out every word, while I struggled to find places to put all my drinks for the car ride (Jane has a nice car but the cupholder situation is a little lacking). We were excited and energized about the upcoming week. I asked Jane if she planned on breaking any coffee pots this year during family week. Jane has a long history of accidentally breaking the family coffee pot. So much so that my Mom keeps an extra coffee pot on hand just in case Jane “I break coffee pots” Kelly comes out to ruin your morning. To my relief Jane informed me that my mom no longer allows her to wash or touch the coffee pot so we should all be properly caffeinated all week long.

About an hour and a half into our ride we realized how hungry we were. All that packing and running around really worked up an appetite in both of us. We paused the music and started to get serious about how we would solve our hunger situation:

Me: Maybe we should stop and pick up sandwiches for everyone for lunch on our way, what do you think? Mike is bringing our cooler so I have no food to offer accept that spaghetti squash I threw in your back seat and I only brought that because it’s been sitting on my counter at home for two weeks so I am down to the wire on cooking it. I know Mike won’t cook it while I’m gone and it will just go bad.
**Editor’s Note: Secretly I was hoping one of the 16 other people up at the lake might be “inspired” to cook the spaghetti squash so I didn’t have to. I only really brought it to prove a point to Mike-he wanted to just throw it out but I kept claiming I had big plans to cook it for dinner. I am a big “ideas” person when it comes to cooking but my follow through could use some work. Honestly I just needed it off our counter at home.**
Jane: I don’t know, don’t you think there is food at the cottage to eat for lunch? I mean Mom and Dad have been up there for a few days already.
Me: If I know Mom and Dad, and I do, there won’t be much food, maybe a can of tomato soup since they like to eat like it’s still the Great Depression. I think we should just stop and pick stuff up. Or Mom will tell us to make quesadillas. No one loves quesadillas more than Mom.
Jane: You’re right. She does love quesadillas. Can you just text Mom and ask her if there is food there? I don’t want to eat out so I’d like to avoid it if I can.
Me: Ok, HEALTHY JANE! I will text her but I know she will just tell me there’s stuff to make quesadillas and I am just not in the mood for all that work and cheese! And I sure AS HELL am NOT making that spaghetti squash I brought and eating THAT for lunch on my first day of vacation! I don’t feel like breaking my hand trying to cut that thing today. I am just too tired! And it’s too healthy to eat as our first meal on vacation.

So, I texted my mom and here is her response:

Do I know my Mom or do I know my Mom?

So after much more discussion we made a quick decision to stop for sandwiches at Subway. I had talked to my mom prior and she said her and my Dad didn’t want anything for lunch if we stopped of food on the way, but being the saint I am I called to double check if they wanted lunch. She said “Mmmm, Subway?!!” Sounding very interested, “Let me check with Dad when he comes in and call you back in a little while with our order. He’s working outside cutting down some bushes!” But we were about three minutes from Subway and didn’t have all day to wait for my Dad to finish hacking away every square inch of Michigan forestry so I said, “Well we are almost at Subway, do you mind just asking him now and then could you TEXT me what you guys want? It’s just easier if you TEXT what sandwich you want so I can just read it off my phone and to the Subway worker. I don’t have a pen and paper with me.” “Oh right, right! Sure sweetie!” She said “I’ll ask Dad what he wants and we will get our order to you right away!” “Great, thanks!” I said, “TEXT it to me!” We pulled into Subway and I turned to Jane laughing and said, “How much do you want to bet Mom is going to CALL me back with their order?” Just as I finished my sentence my phone rang. I answered the phone laughing because it was my Mom, getting right down to business with her Subway order “Hi sweetie! Dad and I will have a six inch turkey on whole grain with lettuce, tomato-” “Mom, can you text this to me?” I said laughing “Oh right, right! I’ll text it now! Love you! Bye!” She said. Jane and I had a good laugh. True to her word she DID text me her order. Once we arrived we all had our sandwiches on the patio and my Dad called me a “Little SNIP” for calling him out for asking for a bottle of Diet Coke OR Fountain Pop Diet Coke from Subway. But my parents practically had to rent a U-Haul truck to bring up all the cases of Diet Coke (cans) they brought up for this family vacation, so I was just making a point.

In case anyone ever wants to get my parents Subway, this is their order.

After lunch my nieces and nephew gave a Taylor swift performance for everyone using Jane’s karaoke microphone. Then Connor did the most serious performance of “Monster Trucks” I have ever seen. He really got into character. If you haven’t heard this jam, add it to your playlist.

After their performance Jane and I went for a walk around the lake and we saw a swan. We talked about what we should name the swan and whether it was a boy or girl swan because we were not sure. Then we got into a discussion about what our parents told us we would have been named if we were boys. I just assumed since my parents were going to use the name “Tom” on me if I were a boy it would just trickle down and they’d use it for Jane but apparently they were going to name her Joe. Mind blown! “Well that’s good,” I said “Because I can’t see you as a Tom but I can definitely see you being a Joe.” She took offense to this for some reason but I told her I just could not see her being “Tom” if she were a boy but I feel like I would have pulled off the name better. After that important conversation was out of the way we moved on to discussing who’s skin was more dry. “Jane, don’t even kid yourself you know my skin is way more dry. Have you seen my arms?! FEEL THESE!” I said, shoving my arms in her face. “Like sandpaper. You could file down the corners of a picnic table with these babies.” That’s when Jane agreed, I won the dry skin contest. Jane and I always have only the most deep and meaningful conversations when we are together.

A throwback Dewey Family Week picture. Looks like Maggie (on the left) jumped in on an in depth conversation Jane and I were having about which orange pop brand is the best tasting.

Once we got back from our walk we went on a boat ride and then my sister Maggie and her family arrived in their Honda Mini Van. We all helped them unload and I swear I don’t think I have ever seen a mini van more packed to capacity with stuff. I helped get her three children out of their carseats and I felt like I was looking for survivors of a building collapse through Paw Patrol suitcases, boxes of Cheerios, toys and stuffed animals. We got everyone settled, figured out the sleeping situations and then went to sleep.

Wednesday my sister-in-law Alyssa, sister Bridget and her Fiancé Steve all arrived. Everyone was happy to see them but we were a little distracted by a much more exciting event-a dead bat was found on one of the trees outside on my parents’ property! So honestly the dead bat stole the show that day-the week really, we all couldn’t stop talking about him. After that anytime someone asked me how I slept the night before I told them I slept “like a dead bat.”

Thursday, Jane decided to make brunch for everyone which included a French toast casserole, eggs, and bacon. Unfortunately she very much underestimated the amount of bacon to buy so she had to ration it. Before we were allowed to get our food she made a big announcement that adults were only allowed one slice of bacon and the children were allowed a half of a slice of bacon. She felt kind of bad about it but I reassured her, saying we were used to Mom starving us growing up with the skimpy meals she would divide among us so we’d all be ok. Our bodies were used to going into starvation mode.

We were all sitting outside on the patio enjoying our brunch with one thin slice of bacon each when my sister Maggie said, “Jane, this French Toast Casserole is delicious! I really love the pecans on here! It really adds a nice crunch!” Everyone enthusiastically agreed about how tasty the crunchy pecans were. But I just looked around confused at everyone’s plates as I had NO pecans on my French toast casserole Jane gave me. Bewildered and disappointed that I was missing out on the pecans, I finally said, “Hey… you guys got pecans on yours?” Jane quickly and flatly replied back, with no remorse in her voice, “Oh yea, I served you and I think maybe a few other people a part of the casserole that didn’t have any pecans on it. Sorry about that.” But she really didn’t sound sorry AT ALL. “Well!” I said dramatically, “I didn’t realize it was ‘Bring Your Own PECANS’ to this brunch! MY APOLOGIES! BUT I’M GLAD EVERYONE ELSE IS ENJOYING THE ADDED CRUNCH THEY BRING TO THE CASSEROLE! IT SOUNDS DELICIOUS BASED OFF THE CRUNCHING NOISE I HEAR!!”

The kids really enjoyed their 1/2 piece of bacon they were allowed to have.

After everyone BUT me had their brunch with plenty of crunchy pecans and only one slice of bacon, we took the boat to the island and hung out, getting into a deep discussion about a tattoo contest Nestle Drumstick was hosting. Basically if you tattooed a drumstick on your body you would get free Drumsticks for a year. We were a family divided on whether or not we would do it. After the island we went around the lake and then through the channel so people could see turtles-which I of course didn’t care about-turtles are the squirrels of the lake. I am over them. A dead bat is impressive, but turtles are old news. It was an awesome day though. We spent all day long on the boat. So long that my skin started bleeding from too much sun exposure and we had to stop for Band-Aids. But it was totally worth it. And everyone commented on how bright my blood was which I think is a compliment. We docked the boat and then my husband Mike arrived so our family was finally complete!

The Sun doesn’t like us but we smile anyway.

Friday morning I walked with Alyssa and the kids from the house where we were staying to my parents’ house so we could get coffee. (Jane had kept away from the coffee pot so it was still in working order!) The distance from the two houses wasn’t that far but my three year old nephew Connor led everyone a certain way specifically so he could be sure we all saw the dead bat on the tree again. As if we could forget the star of the week. Then we talked about the dead bat for the next half hour or so. Later in the morning it started raining and the rain didn’t stop all day so it was kind of a lazy day. We all kind of just hung out until it was time to start drinking again. Bridget and her fiancé Steve made tacos for dinner and then we watched the rain from the gazebo while we warned Steve about all the “Catholic things” and “Bridget things” he should know. The most important thing being the family rule my parents had to establish long ago because of Bridget: No one could-under any circumstances-order chocolate milk and pancakes together. You could order them separately but NEVER together. This was because one time we were out to breakfast and Bridget threw up all over her plate right at the restaurant after eating chocolate milk and pancakes. I guess the experience was so traumatic for my parents they felt the need to establish this rule, but I don’t think the rest of us were that phased by someone in our family puking yet again. It was almost a daily or nightly occurrence in our house. Real sensitive stomachs in the Kelly family. I remember the incident and I don’t think any of Bridget’s four siblings even asked if she was ok, we were all just yelling at her that ‘NOW the rest of us can’t have chocolate milk and pancakes anymore.’ 25 years later and we are still working on forgiving her. There’s nothing like washing down a plate of sugary pancakes with an icy cold glass of sugary chocolate milk. A luxury the Kelly family will never get to experience again. We wanted to be sure Steve knew that in marrying Bridget he would accept the fate that he and their future children would never be able to eat chocolate milk and pancakes in one sitting again. He accepted and that is what we call true love.

The pancake puker, Steve and me. One big happy family.

Saturday, our final day together, the weather turned beautiful again. We grilled and took a family photo with my tripod selfie stick complete with remote. If you don’t have one of these babies I’d highly recommend:

Testing out the remote
My testing subjects did a great job.
Photo taken right after my Dad and I got in a heated debate about whether a piece of produce on Alyssa’s plate at lunch was a cucumber or a watermelon rind. I was correct in stating it was a cucumber.
I always like to take a candid right after everyone gets “released” from the family photo. You just never know what you will capture.

After that we went to the island and played catch with a football. Even the girls joined in! On a scale of zero to spicey, us girls were definitely the sportiest of the spices that day. Until we accidentally hit a sleeping child on the head with the football. Connor was ok though. He looked up for a minute and then went right back to sleep. A win for everyone! After that Jane made a Jeopardy game which was a ton of fun to play. For dinner Mike and I ordered pizzas for everyone because we didn’t want to actually cook anything (Each family provided a meal for the group. Everyone else cooked something but since Mike and I are lazy we outsourced our meal to the local pizza place). Then we karaoked all night long. It was a blast.

Bridie assisting Jane during the game. Bridie was clearly was trying to take over MY role as family Tech Girl. That role is taken, Bridie! But you can be assistant TO the Tech Girl. I will allow that.
After Connor got hit in the head with the football he looked up, smiled and went right back to sleep. Talk about a team player!
Jane and Steve really getting into karaoke
Michael singing his song from deep within his soul.

And just like that the week was over and Mike and I were loading the spaghetti squash that I never cooked into our car to go home. Another Dewey Lake Family Week on the books. Like every “Family Week” we spend together at Dewey Lake, it was a week filled with great weather, a lot of fun, lots of laughs, and my dad ranting about how we are all putting too much stuff in his shed. And like every year, I left feeling grateful to be part of my awesome family of 17…well 18 now if we are counting the dead bat. Because after the week we all agreed he felt like part of the family. I was also very thankful Jane didn’t break the coffee pot this year so we had coffee all week. Thanks Jane!

Family Week is a vacation that’s only a few days but it always leaves us with a ton of happy memories that keep us smiling all year long.

Our Matriarch and Patriarch: Mo Money and Mike Sr.
We did eventually cook the spaghetti squash that spent family week with us. It definitely didn’t taste great and we treated ourselves by NOT cooking and ordering a pizza the following night.
Drunk on s’mores
This Lily Pad raft is fun but it takes up too much room in my Dad’s shed.
The Kelly Kids practicing their soft smiles
Awkward that Bridie and Ciara showed up in the same outfit and they both refused to change. Bridie clearly was not happy.
Mike Sr and Mo Money decided not to get the Nestle Drumstick tattoo but just pay for their own ice cream.
Instead of getting ice cream with a side of hot fudge my mom prefers hot fudge with a side of ice cream.
The OG Kelly kid Crew. Family week circa 1999? Did Jane just pee on Maggie’s lap? Maybe. So many questions.

Dinner And A Show-Where Can I Leave My Yelp Review?

Last week my husband Mike was out of town on a business trip so my Mom invited me over for dinner. It was nice of her to invite me over but she definitely had ulterior motives-her and my Dad had just bought a new TV so they needed their “Tech Girl” to come over and set it up. (My family refers to me as “Tech Girl” as a way of putting an affectionate spin on to getting me to do their Tech ‘bitch’ work for them. Smart, right?) I finished setting up the TV but had to break the news to them that the new TV would no longer fit on their 80’s style TV stand. My Mom was just appalled and disgusted. “I bet the TV companies do this on purpose just so that you have to go out and buy a new TV stand!” She said, “It’s all a scam to get you to spend more money!” She was just shocked that a flat screen TV would not fit on a stand her and my Dad bought back when Reagan was in office, one that had compartments for a VCR and even storage for VHS tapes. “Mom, this TV stand is made for those old box-y TVs,” I said back, “This stand is older than I am. I don’t think the TV companies are trying to scam you, I think maybe it’s just time to get a TV stand made for TVs that have been made in this century.” I then told her I could order a new TV stand for her and it could be there the next day but instead she ignored me saying, “Hold on, let me get Dad from his office downstairs and see if he has any ideas.” So there I stood with the TV all hooked up on the floor as I waited for my Mom to get my Dad from his basement office. As they came back up the stairs I could hear my mom filling my Dad in “the problem.” As they made their way into the TV room my Dad looked at the new TV on the floor and the old TV stand and just said, “Oh Hell! This crappy new tv probably wasn’t even made in the United States! Well, let me see what I can do.” Then I just watched as he tried to make the TV fit on the TV stand without success. “Yea, like I said… you guys need a new TV stand,” I started to say, “They are pretty cheap at Target I can order you guys one-” And that’s when my Dad, who was not listening to me at all, abruptly cut me off and said to my mom “Hold on Mo I’ve got an idea.” I’ve heard my Dad say that before, so I knew I wouldn’t like what was coming next. That’s when my Dad went into the garage and got a piece of wood, came back inside to where my Mom and I were standing in the TV room with the TV, placed the board on the old TV stand, and then placed the new TV on the board. Then he took a step back, smiled and admired his work and said, “There! Problem solved!” I was stunned. I looked around the room, thinking ‘this cannot be happening right now,’ what is this crazy old geezer I call my father doing? And then, just when I thought things could not get any worse my Mom says, “What a great idea Mike! Good thinking!” My first thought was ‘Mom how dare you encourage this behavior’ and the second was ‘Have the Baby Boomers gone mad?!!’ I snapped out of my catatonic state and finally said “Absolutely not! No, no, no, no. This is not ok and I cannot be part of this! It looks like you are building an altar here and then gave up and decided to place a TV on it!” That’s when my dad tried to argue that the set up was “perfectly fine” and my mom tried to say “It would just be temporary.” But I was roommates with these two Baby Boomers for a long time so I knew their game.

The TV Altar. If any of you Catholics missed mass this weekend I’m sure Mike Sr. and Mo would be happy to move the TV over and call in a priest to say a quick TV Room mass for you.

I then texted my four siblings for emotional support:

Once I was done making fun of my parents, and after my Dad called me both a “little smart ass” and a “little brat” we eventually had dinner. Over dinner we talked about the grapes my Dad had bought at the store, whether it’s better to have “fair grapes” (meaning grapes that don’t taste very good) or “no grapes at all” (My mom, sister Jane and I voted no grapes and my Dad was team fair grapes) and then we went on to discussing the ungrateful “welfare birds” (As my Dad calls them), just the usual things. After dinner I drove home laughing. When you stop at Mike and Mo’s, they always provide you with dinner and a show. You never really know what kind of hilarious antics they are getting into.

Mo Money keeps buying “welcome blend” and Mike Sr. would prefer if she didn’t.

A few months prior my Mom kindly invited me for dinner while my husband Mike was traveling. (Mo Money and Mike Sr like to keep me fed). I was doing what I do best-sitting on the couch, going through their DVR, looking for a good Inside Edition or Dateline to watch while my Mom was in the kitchen prepping her meal. (I did offer to help but she told me I’d be on for clean-up). My Dad came downstairs from doing his favorite activity-emptying all the wastebaskets in the house- and into the kitchen/TV room area. Just as I was about to relax and settle in for a juicy “Inside Edition” with Debrah Norville, I heard my Mom say to my Dad in a rather serious tone. “Ok, Mike, should we do it now? Are you ready?” “I’m ready if you are, Mo.” He replied back. My head immediately turned as I could tell something was up. “Oh no…what’s going on?!” I said, rather frantic. They both ignored my question. I could tell they didn’t want to tell me but I persisted. “WHAT IS GOING ON WHAT ARE YOU TWO UP TO?!” “Well…” My Mom said rather quietly, “We didn’t want to tell you since we know how sensitive you are to smells, but the sauerkraut in the fridge has gone bad…turns out it expired a while ago, so Dad is going to help me dump it out right in the garbage outside. Then we are taking the jar right to the laundry tub in the basement so I don’t think you should smell a thing!” “OH MY GOD WHAT?!” I cried. I had so many thoughts running through my head I didn’t know where to start. Who eats sauerkraut in our family? Why have they come up with a whole mission to save this jar? What is sauerkraut exactly? What is it used on? (I later Googled this). My Dad chimed in “Well since you have a nose like a HOUND DOG and are over today we are doing this special procedure for you, you little brat!” “Ahh Thanks?” I said sarcastically “But I don’t understand. Just throw the whole thing out! Right in the garbage! Don’t even open the jar! If it’s expired it’s going to smell horrible!” “No!” My mom said firmly, “It’s a good jar and I want to keep it.” “I will buy you a new jar! I replied, “They sell them places!” But my Mom stood firm. “No, this is a good glass jar, I want to save it for when I make my mustard.” Wow. Shots fired. She KNOWS I also HATE MUSTARD so she was not messing around. “It’s a nice jar.” My Dad confirmed. I started laughing and said dramatically, “I’m gonna VOM all over the place!” Then I started doing an impression of our old dog Duke throwing up (I’m really good at that impression and it always gets laughs) “Mo, look at this weirdo!” My Dad said laughing. “You guys are the weirdos that are saving a sauerkraut jar!” I said back. “Um, don’t you need to go home soon?” My Dad asked. “Don’t lie!” I said, you know you miss having your little smart ass around.

Yup, I’ve been an old married HAG for a bit now but before that me, Mike Sr. and Mo Money used to be on and off roommates for quite some time. I used to experience incidents like the sauerkraut jar or TV altar daily back when I was living with them. The three of us would have some ridiculous conversation and banter and then we’d gather for dinner where we’d have more ridiculous conversation and banter. I’d make fun of my Dad, he’d call me a “little snip” or a “little smart ass,” my Mom would laugh and then my dad would make fun of me. After dinner, when my Dad had had enough of us he’d retire to the basement and watch his show in his recliner and my mom and I would stay upstairs, our heating pads set on high, and settle on the couch for a good murder show.

My Mom liked to multitask during shows because “they kill you with commercials on Dateline.” Pun intended by Mo? So she would put me to work helping her with her phone AND PUT ME ON REMOTE DUTY while she read the obituaries. But Maureen “Phone Calls” Kelly would have so many after dinner calls to make it would take us FOREVER to get through a show.
Whenever something happened with the TV my parents would just say “The TV is broken” and wait there until I fixed it. It was as if suddenly they could not move their arms whenever a tech issue arose.
My Mom once watched the world’s most depressing Dateline without me and then wanted to RUIN MY DAY by making me watch it too.

There was an incident when I lived with my parents that I thought my Mom was trying to make me the subject of the next Dateline-The “tortilla soup incident” when my Mom may or may not have tried to poison me. It was a normal day just like any other, my mom was preparing one of her famous “fend for yourselves” dinners, not to be confused with her “clean out the fridge” dinners. “Fend for yourselves” was when there was nothing in the fridge except probably that jar of sauerkraut and my Mom informed us to just heat up something in the fridge. My parents were “splitting a salad” and did offer me some but since I am not a bunny rabbit and it looked like my dad had mulched the lawn and then threw everything from the yard in the salad, I respectfully declined. That’s when my Mom informed me there were cans of soup that I could crack open and from there things took a dark turn:

Me: Yea, I’m just going to have soup, it’s freezing in this house anyway. Is the heat even on?
Mom: Well I keep telling you, the sweatshirts you are wearing are too thin! You need to put on a thicker sweatshirt!
Me: Mom! I keep telling YOU that I don’t own a sweatshirt factory! I can’t designate how thick or thin they make the sweatshirts! I just buy them.
Mom: Look at me, layers! See I have a turtle neck, sweater and my Columbia fleece on!
(During this time I had cracked open a can of tortilla soup and started heating it on the stove)
Me: Mom, this soup looks a little weird, are you sure it’s still good?
Mom: I’m sure it’s fine.
Dad: I don’t know Mo, how long have those cans been in there?
Mom: Here, let me taste. Taste fine to me, you can eat it.
(I finish heating up my questionable soup, pour it in a bowl and sit down, trying to force myself to eat it. My hand shakes as I bring the spoon to my mouth. After two spoonfuls I give up)
Me: Ok I can’t eat this, I have to dump this! This taste awful! I think it’s gone bad.
Mom: Yea, it didn’t taste very good when I tried it. Go ahead and dump it.
(Me and my Dad look at each other and start laughing)
Me: Well then why did you tell me that it was fine and that I should eat it?!
Mom: Well I don’t like that type of soup, so you shouldn’t have asked me to try it in the first place.
Me: (laughing) Well maybe you could have informed me of that to begin with! I’ll probably get food poisoning from this.

My mom just shrugged her shoulders. That night, despite the murder attempt, I was able to make it to the couch for our show time, but I did request we watch Inside Edition and not Dateline that night-it just hit too close to home. And I allowed a little more space between us on the couch, just to be safe. I almost went so far as to go in the basement with my Dad, but the thought of having to sit through one of his dumb shows was too much, so I risked it and stayed upstairs with my Mom.

My Dad never really watched any shows with me and my mom, not because he was scared of my Mom would murder him, he just preferred his alone time in the basement. Once during showtime my Dad just decided to go for a walk and I went down to the basement and I discovered that he had just left his show on pause when he left the house! Growing up my Dad would NEVER let us do this, and if he caught us he’d ask “Is the couch watching TV?” So I decided to give him a taste of his own medicine:

As you can see, I took photos at several angles so there was indisputable proof that he had in fact, left the tv on in an empty room. At least when my Mom went with him she had the common decency to turn the TV off and leave a note for me:

Mo Money is all business, she has no time to sign her full name of “MOM.”

My parents have always been so generous towards their five children and I am grateful that they allowed me to be their on again off again roommate for so long. Other than the one incident, the the service at Mike and Mo’s is always great. You can never leave their house in a bad mood, it’s nearly impossible. I always leave laughing. After I moved out it dawned on me though that I never left my Yelp review, like I always joked I would. So Mom and Dad, from your fourth child and “Little Smart Ass” you get a glowing review with five stars all around.

Come Back To Me, Summer of 2020

A few weeks ago, we all gathered at my Parents’ Lakehouse to close things up for the Summer. We all couldn’t believe how fast the Summer flew! Despite COVID, our family still had an eventful summer. Here are the top five things that happened to the Kelly Family during the Summer of 2020:

  1. Mike and Mo got a new Honda Mini Van

When my parents first told me they were getting rid of our 2012 Honda Mini Van, I was DEVASTATED. 16 cupholders, automatic sliding doors, captain chairs, enough seating and legroom to comfortably seat eight. WHY WOULD THEY GET RID OF SUCH A FINE AUTOMOBILE?!
“You’re getting rid of Mama Mini?!” I yelled back as my parents broke the news to me. (Mama Mini was what we affectionately called her.) “You can’t! Why are you replacing her? Oh my gosh am I going to have to open my own door now?!” I had really grown accustom to the automatic sliding doors.

My sadness was quickly replaced with joy when my parents told me they were getting a 2020 Honda Mini Van. I then went back to sadness though when they told me this Mini Van only had 15 cupholders instead of 16. Mike and Mo really took me on a rollercoaster ride of emotions that day. When my Dad told me the new Mini Van had butt warmers, I asked if we were rich. Turns out we’re not, they just come standard now on all Honda Mini Vans.

Everyone takes pictures with their car before trading it in, right?

While we love our new Honda Mini Van, it’s definitely been an adjustment for our family. And by “Our Family” I really only mean Mike and Mo because they are terrible with technology and cannot figure out how to use “all the new bells and whistles” as they like to say. My Dad claims you “Practically need an engineering degree in order to operate the damn thing.” (Direct quote from Mike Sr.)

Please see below photo of Mike and Mo trying to work the radio on their new car. Take special note of the reading glasses Mike Sr. has on as he tries to work the touch screen. Like the wonderful daughter I am, instead of helping them, I took photos and laughed.

They ended up going with the silver Mini Van, since according to Mike and Mo, the world is overpopulated with Grey Honda Mini Vans. Gotta switch it up.

2. We Finally Put up the Gazebo

For Christmas 2019, the five of us thought it was a good idea to get our parents a screened-in gazebo for their Lakehouse. Well, we quickly added this to our list of “gifts for Mom and Dad that backfire on us” (the “smart tv” we bought for them is still at the top of that list). If you are ever thinking about buying a Gazebo that requires assembly, may I suggest that you instead go work in some hot factory with no air conditioning for a day because that sounds fun compared to our experience putting up our Gazebo. Naturally, assisting my Dad in putting it up fell on the three old maids-Bridget, Jane and myself. Because if we aren’t going to provide them with grandchildren, the least we can do is provide them with manual labor, right? I sustained not one but TWO injuries during the Gazebo assembly. After my second injury I thought that would be my ticket out, but my Dad said I needed to continue helping because he needed my small hands to fit the pieces together. I told him I was going to file a workers’ comp lawsuit against him, but he ignored me.

My normal height is 5’3 but after stretching so much to reach things during the gazebo assembly, I think I grew a few inches. Apparently my Dad is the only one allowed on a ladder. Totally sexist. After a lot of blood, sweat, tears, watching YouTube videos on how to put gazebos together, and enduring way too many dumb jokes from my Dad, we finally got the gazebo up.

My Dad was a little disappointed the Gazebo blocked the view of his pride and joy, the shed.

3. Our Summer Spider Decided to Become a Fall Spider

Every summer for the past couple of years we’ve has a giant spider take up residency on our front porch, making a web in front of our door every single night so one of us would walk into it EVERY SINGLE morning and then feel itchy the rest of the day. While it’s annoying, we all admired the spider for his hard work and dedication, always remaking his web after one of us ruined it. When Memorial Day rolled around, we anxiously awaited the Spider’s return. But as the weeks ticked on, no one saw him. I kept asking my family members if they had seen him, but no one had. Finally in August I texted my sister Jane to share my concerns:

To my relief, a few weeks into September, my Mom informed me that she spotted the spider, confirming her suspision that the Summer Spider had turned into a Fall Spider. I’m not sure why he changed his visiting season, if maybe he found a new love of pumpkin spiced lattes or something, but I was just glad the spider was ok.

4. Our Microwave broke

Now we don’t want to point fingers about who broke the microwave, but it was definitely my Mom. And she broke it twice. My parents’ microwave is situated about the stove which is not a problem for most average height people. But my mom, being a little shorty, has a bit of difficulty reaching it at a good level, so she pulls down on the handle when she opens the door instead of opening it straight on. Well after years of my mom opening that door to reheat her days old coffee to her ideal scalding/boiling point level 50 times a day, the door finally broke.

The microwave breaking was very upsetting for my parents, and it led to an entire dinner of my parents reminiscing about their old microwave that they bought in the 80’s that they kept for about 20 years.

Dad: I tell you, they don’t make microwaves like they used to.
Mom: You’re right Mike. That first microwave we bought lasted about 20 years! The ones now are junk. That was a good microwave.
Dad: Yea, that was. We sure got our money’s worth out of that one, Mo!
Me: Excuse me, sorry to interrupt the trip you two are taking down microwave memory lane, but are you guys talking about the microwave we had with the faux wood on the side? The same one Michael exploded a mercury thermometer in and yet you guys STILL thought it was a good idea to keep using?
Mom: Well, we FOUND the ball of mercury, didn’t we?! Don’t you remember? I had all you kids crawling around on the kitchen floor searching for the ball of mercury? Actually Kathleen, I think you’re the one that found it!
Me: No I remember, I just think MAYBE when a mercury thermometer explodes in your microwave, that may be a sign you need to replace the microwave.
Mom: That was a good mercury thermometer too. I bet those mercury thermometers are way more accurate than the digital ones now!

Knowing that when it comes to replacing appliances my parents really drag their feet (I still have PTSD from when the rinse cycle on the washing machine broke and we had to continue using it for over a year before it was replaced) and having some time to spare since I am an insomniac and don’t sleep, I looked up some YouTube videos and figured out how to replace the broken lever in the microwave and fixed it. Only to have my Mom break it again.

Yup, just call me your modern day renaissance woman! My dad even let me borrow his tool purse. Although he made me promise to stop calling it a tool “purse” because it was in fact a tool “bag.” (see it pictured above of tool purse and you be the judge.)

So after the microwave breaking twice, my Mom bought a temporary “mini microwave” to place on the counter until she “Found time to research permanent microwaves.” After only a few months of using the mini microwave, Mike and Mo finally got their permanent one. Another adjustment for them, but they are working through it.

5. No one murdered any wildlife

I think this is the first summer on record that someone in our family didn’t accidentally kill a beautiful exotic bird (Dad) slaughter a frog/toad (Mom) or crush a turtle to death (Jane). All those were accidents of course (I think). I am especially proud of my Mom on this. I was very worried that she was going to purchase a BB gun and try and kill one of the squirrels that was going after her bird seed. It was a very stressful summer for me trying to protect the squirrel population. In the end though, all local wildlife coexisted safely with our family and made it into the fall season. I am proud, and I think Saint Francis of Assisi would be too.

So that just amount sums up the summer of 2020! It was a good one for our family filled with lots of laughs and lots of time at the lake! Can’t wait to see what the Fall has in store for us!

My Mom got “Captain Mike” koozies made so I anxiously await my “Captain Kathleen” koozie.

Back With The Baby Boomers

A couple of months ago I became ill which has required me to temporarily move back home with my parents. For those curious people out there, (because how annoying is it when someone says they were “sick” but gives no details-am I right?!) I developed a blood clot which led to a severe virus and other complications. But don’t worry, I was not NEARLY as sick as my sister Jane was that Christmas Eve back in 2016 when she contracted a mysterious and deathly illness…She was hungover but claimed she had every chronic illness in the books. Thank goodness after a lot of Gatorade and sleep she made a full recovery by Christmas morning-a true Christmas miracle.

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This portrait hangs in our upstairs hallway to commemorate the Christmas Eve Jane nearly died from a hangover.

My recovery has taken a little bit longer than Jane’s, but luckily after I was discharged from the hospital my old roommates/parents so graciously took me in. I’ve been staying here for the past couple of months recovering and hanging out with Mike and Mo, but the weeks have just flown by we’ve been so busy!

One of the things that has captured our attention and has been a hot topic of conversation between the three of us is the bird feeder in our yard. Mo Money loves her birds so my Dad placed a bird feeder on our side yard so it could be seen from our kitchen window. This decision has proven to be better than investing in Hulu, Apple TV or any sort of premium movie channels because we are all just GLUED to watching this bird feeder. The other day a hawk tried to get in on the action and stopped at the bird feeder for a little lunch. Things got intense. I thought I was about to witness the beginning of a Law and Order Bird Edition!

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The hawk about to murder Mo’s birds on the bird feeder. Please note: All Hawks are innocent until proven guilty by the court of law.

One day when I was laying on the couch I heard my Mom let out a disgusted/irritated groan from the kitchen. I knew right away that there must be a squirrel trying to get up on her bird feeder to eat her bird seed. There is NOTHING my mom hates more than squirrels. “UGH! Look at this big fat squirrel trying to get up on my bird feeder! GET AWAY SQUIRREL! SHOO!” She yelled angrily as she banged on the window trying to scare away the squirrel. “Wow, Mom. Why did you have to call the squirrel fat?” I replied. I thought she was going to take out a BB gun and start shooting at the squirrel she was so fired up.

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The Squirrel ran away crying after my mom fat shamed it.

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Check out that bad ass bird with the Mohawk. I bet he’s bringing the alcohol to the party at the bird feeder.

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And on tonight’s menu we have a red Bird Blend that pairs deliciously with worms.

Another thing that has kept me busy over my time recovering was helping the Baby Boomers with all their technology needs. When it comes to needing help with the TV, their phones, or computers, Mike and Mo don’t care if I’m on my death bed or not. Mike Sr’s favorite shows like Ice Road Truckers, Cabin Masters or Highway Through Hell cannot wait. My Mom likes to pretend she can wait for help, but actually wants things fixed immediately. “Sweetie, absolutely no rush on this, I know you have a bad headache, but when you’re feeling better do you mind looking at this notification that keeps popping up on my iPad?” My mom will say as she walks over to sit on the side of the couch where I’m laying and shoves her iPad in my face. “Here let me just show you what keeps happening when I turn it on. But you can fix it later!” The other day the three of us had a heated conversation about the Alexa:

Mom: Kathleen, honey, when you’re done resting can you just look at my iHome? I was trying to play my iPod the other day and the thing keeps beeping! I have no idea why!
Me: Mom, that’s because that thing is about 30 years old. No one uses iPods anymore! It’s not 2005! I specifically set up the Alexa and got you a Spotify account so you wouldn’t use that broken thing anymore! Then you went and put your old iHome right in front of the Alexa!
Dad: I personally HATE that stupid Alexa! Whenever I ask it questions about trains it never know the answer!
Mom: Can I play the Moody Blues and Steely Dan on Spotify?
Me: I mean, I wish you couldn’t, but yes, you can.
Dad (talking to Alexa): Hey Alexa! How much does a CSX Heavy Train weigh? See! She’s a dimwit! She has no idea!
Mom: Well, sweetie, one of these days I’m going to need you to give me a lesson on this Spotify thing.
Me: Well, we’ve had lessons before…
Mom: Next time, I’ll write them down!

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I set up the Alexa and Mo puts her ancient iPod thing right in front of it. Pierces my heart every time I see it.

As the weeks went by and I began to regain my strength, I was able to start making fun of my Dad again for all the weird chores he loves to do around the house, like emptying all the wastebaskets before garbage day, or raking. Mike Sr. LOVES raking. One time things got really tense when my Dad had discovered my Mom had emptied the wastebaskets the day before garbage day. I witnessed the whole ordeal from the couch. My Dad had the garbage bag in hand and headed upstairs to go through all the rooms, but a few seconds later came down looking sad and confused. “Maureen,” He said in a very serious tone. “Did you already empty the wastebaskets?” “OOOOOOOOhhhhhh Snnnnaaapppp!!!!!” I yelled from the couch. I thought a fight was about to break out. “Mom, everyone in this family knows emptying the wastebaskets is Dad’s thing. You NEVER take that joy away from him.” After a long talk all was forgiven. But I could tell my Dad was still sad so I tried to cheer him up. “It’s ok, Dad, cheer up! You know, I think I saw one leaf blow on to the grass earlier, why don’t you go out and rake the entire lawn now, that will keep you busy for a few hours.” “Oh Mo!” My Dad replied. “Isn’t our little smart ass feeling much better that she can make fun of me again!”

Here is the text conversation my Dad and I had last week when he was on a business trip in Iowa:

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ulemozJfVt94-aJSb2ZpeOHfCncdzJqm7jhi11eYzJLZFZV4D8sTC05c8xYydS-PNGv-GKnL_8lJhmwSgU4LTGodyjmJPqIE19C9TGwJwN3NHqeyPhlHrWaCD8H401t-9C5-QK9pK7cn7xUUkxVEMhYg4yy5UDPpgGopIW7_ef0alllZ6hyIwl1Alp5E31mmipn_1tMSCoXE855wx

Mike Sr., happy as can be after finding some leaves to rake in the street.

My Mom and Dad have been great caretakers, cooks and Uber drivers since I’ve been sick. I think my Dad has kept all the local bakeries in business trying to make me eat the highest calorie baked goods he can find:

Dad: Kathleen! You have not eaten that cookie I got you! I heard it yelling to you from the counter, (Said in his cookie voice) “Kathleen! You need to eat me! Eat me now!”
Me: Uggghh Dadddddddd!! It’s too much to eat! I can’t keep up with all the food you’re shoving in my face! I’m not hungry!
Dad: Oh, you little weakling! You need to bulk up in order to get over this illness! There’s Portillo’s Chocolate Cake in there for you too and you BETTER eat it! That will make you “Strong like Bull.”

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I do love my Dunkin’ Coffee

My mom has been a great Uber Driver. I feel like I’m in a luxurious UberBlack, rolling up to work getting dropped off in Mo Money’s Honda Mini Van with 16 cup holders, automatic sliding doors and plenty of leg room. Nothing cooler than being 28 and having your Mom drop you off at the school where you work, stepping out of the mini van with your backpack on, looking like a 12 year old, ready to be a business woman. I’d rate Mom’s Uber at 5 stars but honestly, she’s got a little road rage, always saying things like, “Oh yea, nice blinker, PAL!” (Emphasis on the pal but I have a feeling they aren’t really friends) or saying a sarcastic “Yea, you’re welcome, BUDDY!” after she lets someone in and they don’t give “the wave.” So I’m going to have to give her 4 stars.

As far as caretakers, they’ve been great. My only complaint would be that they don’t have any ice packs, so I’ve had to use bags of frozen vegetables for my bad headaches. The birds on the feeder think I look ridiculous, but it’s nice that those frozen vegetables that have been in our freezer since 1999 are finally getting some use.

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The headaches caused sensitivity to light and sound, but I was ready to be invited to a dinner party at a moment’s notice. Everyone loves a little side veggie with dinner.

I’m very fortunate to have such great parents to take me back in and help me get back to good health. I have so much to thank them for-not only have they constantly supported me and cared for me, but they’ve given me four amazing siblings who have always looked out for me since the day I was born. So thank you, Mike and Mo-for the entertainment, care, the Uber rides, coffees, and this awesome family. The road to recovery is much easier with these great people below…and your Honda Mini Van with 16 cup holders.

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Thanks to everyone here EXCEPT OWL whoo literally did nothing.

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This is the day back in the Fall when I hosted my family for brunch and realized I had no idea how to mince garlic.

 

 

 

 

And Holy Is My Name

Last weekend, Mike Sr, Mo Money, myself and my two other old maid sisters were vacationing in Michigan, sitting by the lake and sipping our morning coffee soaking up the view, when all of a sudden Mo ripped us from dreamland by saying, “Well, we better get going to get ready for Mass or we’ll be late!” My two sisters and I all painfully looked at each other and gave a collective sigh before we immediately started whining like four year-olds. “Noooooooo! Come on Mom, don’t we get vacationers dispensation?” I asked. “Plus the priest here just loves to talk! He makes the mass so long!” “Well, Dad and I are definitely going, you girls don’t have to go if you don’t want to…” My Mom said. We started to relax back in our lawn chairs. Just as my Mom was walking in the house to begin getting ready for church, her hand on the door knob, she turned back at us and hit us with her classic zinger, “But, you know, we have a lot to be thankful for…” Then she headed inside. Boom. Mo Money with the mic drop. There it was, the guilt bomb. The judging eyes. The look that said “Fine don’t go but I hope you bring a magazine with you to help pass all the time you’ll spend in Purgatory when your time comes.” There is nothing worse than getting guilt tripped by your Mother. Saint Peter’s judgement at the gates of Heaven is NOTHING compared to judgement from a Mom. Gosh darn it, Mom! Why did we have to be so fortunate and blessed and raised in such a loving home! Why couldn’t you have neglected us so we didn’t have all these wonderful things to be thankful for?! Sheesh!

So, like the good children and Catholics we are, we changed out of our pajamas and headed to church. Just as we anticipated, the priest talked for way too long and the mass was OVER AN HOUR. Doesn’t he know we Catholics have a strict time limit on the length of masses? The mass seemed extra long because we weren’t near any babies so entertainment was lacking. But, it was an outdoor mass so we did have some nice landscaping to look at. Plus, the biggest moth I have ever seen in my life was on one of the chairs behind us, and we got in a family disagreement about whether it was a real moth or a fake moth, so that argument made time go by rather quickly (It was real, but he made no attempt to shake our hand at the handshake of peace so he was a real rude moth if you ask me).

Once mass was over, like most Catholics, we got in the car and ripped the mass apart while driving home.

Mom: I mean his homily had a good message but sheesh! Did he need to keep repeating himself over and over?! It’s like, ‘Get the hook out!’ Am I right?
Me: Why can’t we ever say a simple, ‘Lord hear our prayer’ at the petitions?! Why does it always have to be something super long like “Please respond, ‘Infant baby Jesus, creator of all things, son of God, blessed, peaceful most high’ hear our prayer.”
Dad: I hate when they sing the “Glory to God” song in such a depressing tone. Can’t they make a more upbeat version of it?!
Bridget: That was ridiculous, that priest talked for way too long. Also, did anyone see that lady sitting a few rows in front of us still had the tag on her shirt? I was debating in my head whether or not I should tell her.
Jane: I still don’t think that was a moth, that thing was way too big. I think it was a cross breed of some sort of other insect.

Although the mass was a little long, we were glad we went. Mothers are always right. And my Mom was definitely correct in saying that we as a family have a lot to be thankful for. My parents instilled this in us from a young age. They supported these values by sending us to Catholic school and teaching us the importance of attending church weekly. Growing up, we always went to mass together as a family. The seven of us jammed in one pew always created a lot of excitement. Fights between us siblings would usually occur, causing my parents to strategically sit between certain siblings, using themselves as human shields when fights broke out. A lot of fights happened during the Palm Sunday Mass when we would take a palm and slowly try to stick it in the other person’s ear while they weren’t looking. This would especially make my Dad mad because I’m pretty sure Palm Sunday mass is his favorite mass of all time and we were distracting him. He loves being able to play a role in the gospel and he really gets into character. So much so that we usually have to tell him to tone it down a little as he yells very loudly over everyone else in church, “BARABBAS, BARABBAS! FREE BARABBAS!” or “CRUCIFY HIM!” He was never able to join the drama club in high school so I think he feels this is his time to shine. While our Dad always looked forward to Palm Sunday mass, for the rest of us, it caused a lot of anxiety, at least for the first half of the mass, as we were all wondering if the priest would let us sit or make us stand for the extra long gospel. You never forget those Palm Sunday masses where you had to stand the entire gospel.

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As you can see, Jesus and I grew up together.

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Looking sharp in our uniforms. The real sin here is Bridget wearing that hemp sea shell necklace.

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Did Mo Money send us to Catholic school because of the great education we would receive or because she knew we would have to wear uniforms and she wouldn’t have to do as many loads of laundry?

During crowded Christmas and Easter masses, it was not uncommon for one of us kids to faint. I still remember standing during the “Our Father” prayer and turning to see my sister Maggie looking white as a ghost, (More white than her usual pale complexion) and then hearing my Dad whisper yell to my brother from the other end of the pew “MICHAEL! CATCH MAGGIE! SHE’S GOING TO FAINT!” Unfortunately Michael didn’t realize what my Dad was telling him in time and Maggie made some weird noise and then hit that church floor pretty hard. The rest of us weren’t really phased by seeing my Dad help her up from the floor and take her to the back of church to sit outside for a bit because honestly, Maggie could get a paper cut and she’d faint. But the rest of the congregation seemed a little horrified.  “Oh she’s totally fine,” We nonchalantly told the extremely concerned strangers who were staring. “She does this all the time. A little fresh air and she’ll be back in time for communion.”

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Not sure why Maggie found it necessary to bring that purple sack of potatoes she’s holding with her to Easter Mass.

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After she celebrated Holy Saturday a little too much, we placed bets on when Jane was going to start to feel “a little faint” at this Easter Sunday Mass.

As we got older, and after we made our First Holy Communions, our parents trusted us to go to mass without them, which we did. Reflecting on it now, my parents are actually pretty lucky we all kept the faith after my mom made the four of us girls all wear THE SAME communion dress at our First Holy Communion. Talk about a fashion faux pas! Puffy sleeves may have been in style when my oldest sister made her communion but by the time I made mine, puffy sleeves were totally out of style. It was definitely a cross to bear. Despite having to wear an out of style dress from the early 90s, my First Communion was still “the best day of my life” apparently: 

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Spelling has never been a strong skill for me.

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Our communion photos hanging in our upstairs hallway so guests can vote on “who wore it best.” Vote for me please.

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Jane trying to choke me after I told her she would have to wear the puffy sleeved communion dress too. Also, guarantee after my mom reads this blog she’ll say to me “I loved that communion dress! I thought it was really cute on ALL you girls!”

When we did go to mass on our own, we were always sure to grab a church bulletin as proof to Mike and Mo that we actually attended. A church bulletin is basically a receipt to the mass. We all knew that without our receipt our parents would start asking lots of questions about the readings to test us and see if we actually attended. We NEVER left mass without a bulletin.

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Passing down all my wisdom to my nieces and nephews: “Auntie Kath’s Life Lessons.” Look for it on the Best Sellers List soon.

So, although sometimes masses can be a little long, my siblings and I have all continued to go as adults. Because our Mom is right, we have a whole lot to be thankful for. We are very blessed and lucky.  And Mom is always right…right Dad?

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Even dressed as an angel my mom still found a way to put me in a turtle neck. Mo is a huge fan of the turtle neck look.

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Jane and I resting easy knowing we’ll get into Heaven.

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Our dog was never baptized and never went to Catholic School so you can see the worry and panic in his eyes in this photo, wondering if the “All Dogs Go To Heaven” rule still applies to him.

 

 

 

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. 

 

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.