Mike and Kath Say “I Dewey”

When COVID forced us to postpone our wedding, Mike and I decided, “OK, let’s have two weddings instead.” Are you confused yet? Well, welcome to the year 2021. Sit tight as I try and explain.

When we made the tough decision to reschedule our wedding, we were upset that COVID postponed our big wedding celebrations, but we were not going to let it postpone our lives. So we decided to still get legally married on our original wedding date of June 11, 2021. That decision was the easy part. The hard part was figuring out what that June 11th “Minimony” would look like. If you read my last blog post you’ll have learned that Mike and I think about things and situations VERY differently. So as you can imagine, the road to June 11th was an interesting one. At first, we were going to do a little ceremony in our backyard and have a big party with our friends and family after. We had bought an old “fixer-upper” home in the fall of 2020 that we still had a lot of work to do on-a lot of which probably would not be complete by June 11, 2021. In my head I thought “Great plan, we’ll say some vows in our backyard, get lots of alcohol, friends and family will come over and we will call it a day.” Boom. Done. After all, I had PLENTY of experience party planning as I used to throw an annual party in my Grandma’s backyard called “Grandma’s Daytona” inviting all our college friends over to day drink on her pool deck, AND I had just thrown Mike a successful “Mike-Tober Fest” Party at my apartment for Mike’s 30th birthday. How hard could throwing a wedding be?

I ordered koozies to match this Mike-Tober Fest poster and I swear I must have accidentally made more of those koozies than Jesus made loaves and fishes because every time I turn around there are more of them.
Grandma’s Dayton 2016: The year of the egg toss.

Well, for me life was beautiful there for a while but little did I know poor Mike was loosing sleep over the whole thing. After a few weeks he finally came to me to tell me how stressed he was. I tried to calm his nerves, reminding him that I’m basically an event planner with all my experience but then he was asking me all these questions about bathroom situations for people, electrical outlets, tents in case of rain, food, etc. to which I responded “What’s with all the questions?! We’ll get it figured out! The wedding is like months away!” (As you know I am a last minute person.) He was also stressed that our house was a construction zone. I told him that as our closest friends and family they should love us for us and not the state of our house. Plus maybe we’d get lucky and some people may be inspired to pick up a hammer or a paint brush while they were over and we’d get the place done a little quicker. My joke fell flat with my audience.

After many more conversations we finally decided to get married at the perfect place, a place that meant a lot to both of us-Sister Lakes, Michigan. I had been going up to Dewey Lake since I was a baby and Mike had been going up to Indian Lake for many years. Our parents were so gracious to offer their homes to us so we decided to make a weekend of it. We’d get married on Dewey Lake on Friday, June 11 and then hang out at Indian Lake on Saturday. We’d keep it to just our immediate family.

We were thrilled we had finally come up with a plan for our wedding. Mike immediately started creating his spreadsheet of various costs. I immediately started designing koozies for the weekend. I thought I’d be done after that. Well… I was wrong. Turns out that weddings, no matter how big or small, are a lot of work. And they are NOTHING like other parties. NOTHING.

Since I knew I had a a lot of work to do, at first I did what I like to call “productive procrastination.” I ordered sunglasses for everyone, commemorative beer mugs, Body Armor drinks for everyone’s next day hangovers, sent a lot of Snapchats and told A LOT of people about the koozies I ordered. Honestly I was ready to kick back and relax after ordering the koozies.

Turns out Mike likes bugs but only cute bugs.
Every time my hair air dries it resembles “Jesus Hair” so I can’t NOT send a Snapchat
Dewey Lake, Kathleen and Mike say “I Dewey” I mean the stars were aligned for us on that one!

But then as the day grew closer and closer my mom and sisters started asking me questions about flowers and decorations and what I was wearing. The phrase “It takes a village” is an understatement when it comes to me because without my family I do not think I would have made it this far in my life. They wanted to help make my day special, and will the little information I gave them, they helped make it the best day ever.

-When they asked what type of bouquet I wanted, all I said was, “I don’t know, I just don’t want to look like I’m holding a stalk of cauliflower.” And they found me a beautiful bouquet.

-When they asked what type of dress I wanted I said “Oh you know me, I could look good in a potato sack! Hahah Just kidding, I just don’t want to look like I’m making my first holy communion in my white dress.” Mike and I both look very young for our age-fold our hands and throw a rosary at us while we are dressed like that and we could easily be mistaken for making a different sacrament.

When it came to ordering dinner for the wedding I did do that one all on my own. (Excuse me while I pause to pat myself on the back). I used my skill of “making decisions based on doing zero research, only on if the person I’m talking to on the phone is nice to me.” So I called up a Mexican Restaurant near my parents’ lake house that I had never eaten at, really became besties with the girl on the phone, and the next thing I knew tacos were on the menu for the wedding! Looking back, I guess it was a little risky going with a place without ever sampling their food or knowing anyone that had ever sampled their food. Thank God that worked out because how awkward would that have been if everyone got food poisoning on my wedding day? Yikes.

When it came to decorations, my mom and I did make an attempt. We went to Michael’s Craft store and it was unfortunately very traumatic for me. Being in the fake flower and ribbon section of that store was my nightmare. Plus my mom kept using words like “tulle” and naming specific flowers like “peonies.” She might as well have been speaking a different language because I had no idea what she was talking about. “Mom!” I finally said probably too loudly “I HAVE NO IDEA THE WORDS THAT ARE COMING OUT OF YOUR MOUTH! What kind of tool are you looking for? And stop naming flowers please! I NEED TO GET OUT OF THIS STORE! WHAT KIND OF PLACE IS THIS?! THIS IS AWFUL WHY ARE THERE SO MANY FAKE FLOWERS!” After my breakdown, I was ready to get back to work. So I rolled up my sleeves, and called my friend Nancy and she and my friend Jan handled all the decorations. They made our little wedding setup look like something out of a magazine, it looked absolutely amazing!

As the wedding grew closer we got busier and busier. Mike was determined to stick to his excel spreadsheet list so every few days we’d check it. He was VERY CONCERNED about the garbage can situation so that was a line item and a topic of many conversations. It seemed like every time we’d talk about our little wedding he’d loop it back to the garbage can.

Mike: Ok so we have the tent, food, alcohol, now we just need to figure out the garbage can for dinner.
Me: What is your obsession with the garbage cans?!
Mike: Well… do your parents have outdoor garbage cans we can use? Where are people going to throw out their trash?
Me: I don’t know! Can’t we just tie those black garbage bags to the tent poles and people can throw their garbage there?
Mike: Oh no, no, no Kath! We can do that! Do you think I can fit one of the garbage cans we have in our garage in your back seat and drive it up?
Me: You are absolutely not putting a used garbage can that’s been sitting in our garage in the back seat of my car. That’s gross.
Mike: I’ll put a blanket on the seat so it won’t get dirty.
Me: No! If it’s that big of a deal we’ll buy a garbage can! It will be your first wedding gift from me to you.

I told him we would need to take a picture with our new garbage can, and of course we forgot. But as fate would have it, she snuck in to one of our wedding photos:

There she is, to the left in all her glory. With the tag still on. We splurged and went with the 50 gallon.

Once we got the garbage can situation figured out, I did question Mike’s “seven bags of tortilla chips” Excel line item but then he started going off on a long winded math spiel and I got bored and asked him to stop and I just said “Ok seven bags of chips sounds good to me.”

Once we finally had everything ready it was time to drive up to Michigan for the big day. The night before I stayed with my parents and Mike stayed with his. I thought it might be cute for me and my dad to watch the movie “Father of the Bride” but he said “Nah, I’ve seen that movie before!” and that was that. In typically Kelly family “Wait until the last minute” fashion we were still getting our house ready for the wedding until late at night. We had been meaning to hang up family photos since my parents’ bought the lake house three years ago, but what better time to be hammering in some frames than at 10 p.m. the night before a wedding?!

I think the junk we constantly have on the counter really compliments the family photos.
A garbage can free car ride up to Michigan but my mom ate a Nature Valley Granola Bar in my car getting crumbs everywhere!
We went to go pick up our rings (It was on the spreadsheet) and Mike’s 2003 car we affectionately call “Doris the Taurus” broke down in the parking lot. I’m sure the Jewelry store owner was a little worried our check was gonna bounce after seeing us get our car towed. But it all worked out. Doris ended up being ok. I think she was just a little jealous about Mike being with another woman.

June 11, 2021 finally arrived and it was awesome. My Godfather, my Uncle Tom, officiated the ceremony. (I’ve been calling him Father Tom since). My Dad walked me down the “aisle.” My nieces and nephews served as flower girls and ring bearers (good thing they can use this “minimony” as practice for the big show in September because not going to lie their form needs some work) Both our Mothers did readings. Mike’s Godmother, his Aunt Mary led us in Grace at Dinner. The weather was scalding hot for everyone else but perfect for me (I don’t do well in the cold and I hate wind-the day was very hot and we had no breeze). What a day it was!

It was the first wedding neither of us got carded at.
Mike gave the ring bearers and flower girls candy when they got down the aisle. To my disappointment, I did not receive any candy when I got to the end of the aisle.
So Glad the Honda Mini Van got in this pic-it has 16 cupholders. It was very important to me that the mini van was included in our special day.
I most likely had said something really funny.
Everyone who helped us celebrate except the garbage can
Mike and Mo Money graciously gave their Tech Support aka me, the night off in order to get married.
The Montag Brothers looking sharp!
Mike and Mo Money’s Five Blessings
There is always time for a game of fives.
Father/Godfather/Uncle Tom. If you’re looking to book him for your Christmas masses, his schedule fills up quickly.
Laughing because they aren’t our kids and we can give them back to their parents when the photo is done being taken. Just kidding I really love them all.
Me and all the Mikes!

After a while I had to put a stop to all the photos because I had literally had enough. The photographer wanted us to do all these poses in different spots, doing weird stuff like gazing into each others eyes, or Mike whispering in my ear and I finally had to tell her “Yea, listen, this is unnatural for us. We don’t do this and we aren’t going to order these photos.” Mike and I are very real people, so we just don’t do the “foo-foo” photos, as my Dad calls it. The one photo we took of Mike “Whispering in my ear” he looks like he’s creeping on me and that did give us a good laugh so we actually may print that one out. After the 8 million photos we were finally able to have celebratory drinks, dinner and go on a boat ride.

The next day the celebrations continued as the Montags graciously hosted us on Indian Lake. We had a blast at the sand bar.

Not pictured: The numerous bottles of sunscreen that were on the boat. The real MVPs of that day.

Our mini wedding was truly an unforgettable weekend. COVID postponed our big wedding but I still got to marry my best friend on our original date. Blessed and lucky-that is what we are. We had so much fun getting married, we can’t wait to get married again in September!

And my niece Ciara perfectly captured how everyone felt the Monday morning after the wedding weekend…

We Will Weather The Storm

Recently, my fiancé Mike and I had to make the difficult decision to postpone our wedding due to COVID restrictions, something brides and grooms today are all too familiar with. We planned to have our wedding on June 11, 2021 and now have pushed it back to September 17, 2021 in the hopes that COVID might read the room a little and make an exit. The two of us reacted to this change in very different ways: One of us cried and asked the other (dramatically through tears) if we could please get a dog to help cope with the trauma, and the other just began updating the eight million spreadsheets they had created for the wedding. After reading this, maybe you’ll be able to figure out who was who in that situation.

Really nice of COVID to let us get engaged but then it pulled a fast one on us and decided it didn’t want us to get married.

I think the saying “opposites attract” applies pretty well to Mike and me. Mike needs to have everything planned out, organized, neat and tidy and he does things WAY in advanced. I, on the other hand, live my life by the wise words my brother once told me when I was a freshman in college and he was a senior in college-both of us at the University of Dayton. Those words were “If you wait until the last minute, it only takes a minute.” (He told me this when I was trying to decide between going to a party and finishing a paper I had due the next morning….I won’t say what I did, but I will say I still got the paper done.) I don’t plan things out, my organizational skills need work and I procrastinate a bit on things in my life. Mike is a realist and I am an optimist. I love Dunkin’ coffee and he prefers Starbucks. Mike is a numbers and data guy and I am more of a “Where are the pretty pictures? These numbers and text on this page are boring me” type person. Mike likes to research and read reviews of things before making a purchase, I am more of an impulse shopper/buyer. When it came to planning our wedding and choosing different vendors, we had two different approaches. Mike liked to call various companies and compare prices. I value my time and “Go with my gut” when choosing things. A few months ago, when we were trying to find a hotel for our wedding guests, I told Mike that I’d take on the task of finding a hotel and blocking rooms for our out of town guest to stay. Being the planner that he is, Mike took the lead with a lot of our wedding planning, which was TOTALLY fine with me, but I thought I’d offer some assistance on this. Guess I was feeling extra generous that day or something. “Hmmm I don’t know Kath,” Mike said. “I appreciate the offer but I’d like to actually price out hotels and if you do it you’re going to call the first hotel you Google, come back to me and say excitedly, ‘So! I called this place and the guy on the phone sounded really nice! So I think I’m going to go with them!’ and I don’t want to have to tell you no.” I just laughed because his impression of me was spot on and I would have 100% done that.

Photo from when Old Man Montag made us get to the airport 6 days before our flight.
Mike had his guest list all set in a spreadsheet and sent me mine to complete. I definitely procrastinated but made the deadline.

In addition to our different personalities, Mike and I grew up differently. Mike is the oldest and has one brother, I am the fourth of five children (Middle child survivor). His family used coasters and my family did not. (Our coasters were the constant layer of dust on side tables-nature’s coaster). My family bought in bulk (and yet fed us as if it was still the Great Depression and food rations were still a thing) and his didn’t. Mike’s parents bought him proper athletic gear for sports, whereas my parents knew they’d be wasting money on me and made me use hand-me-downs from my older siblings or just said “I’m not buying you those expensive foo-foo soccer shoes you’ll use for a month and then I’ll be tripping over them in the basement for the rest of the year!” (direct quote from my Dad). Mike was allowed to have any type of pop-tart he wanted for breakfast-Oreo, chocolate, s’more you name it! Whereas in our family we could only have the brown sugar ones or strawberry because those were the “healthy” pop-tarts. (He still brags about this.)

This difference in upbringing has led to some interesting experiences and conversations in our relationship, including “the great pickle jar debate of 2019” when I picked out a pickle jar that was apparently “Gigantic” according to Mike. (I thought it was a normal size). And he thought it was pretty funny when I told him that when I was little and played soccer, whenever the referee would line everyone up to check and make sure everyone had proper shin-guards and spikes on before the game, as soon as everyone would turn to show their fancy soccer spikes I would bend down and pretend I was tying my shoe because I didn’t have any. This was just common practice for me growing up.

Here you can see I’m hiding my improper shoes behind the soccer ball as my eyes scream “I’m cold, it’s early take the picture already.”

Not all our conversations are ridiculous ones though. We definitely had some important conversations before deciding we were going to spend the rest of our lives together:

  • We discussed how we would never EVER go camping-we are NOT “outdoor people”-I have no tolerance for cold weather and we don’t like to get our shoes/clothes dirty.
  • We discussed how we will never let our future children play a musical instrument because neither of us are musically talented so we DO NOT want to have to sit and listen to them practice in our home. Or worse-have to attend some sort of concert or recital they may be in. Exception to the rule would be if they had some sort of headphone plugged into the instrument so we wouldn’t have to suffer. If our children have to play the recorder at school I may even have to try and get a doctor’s note to excuse them from bringing that noise gun home. We don’t want that in our home.
  • We will NEVER EVER go to Disney World-crowds, long lines, many of the characters creep me out, the hot sun-talk about our NIGHTMARE! Plus we don’t like rollercoasters. They are too “jolting” for me and Mike just doesn’t like them.
We went to Florida and spent our future children’s college fund on this emergency umbrella from CVS. Sorry kids, we burn easily.
Went to a party and there was a guitar there and I picked it up as a joke and pretended like I knew how to play and then people started coming into the room thinking I was actually putting on a little concert so then I had to fake it and I chose to sing and play the song “American Pie” which was a huge mistake because that is an eight minute song.
Would Disney World or a camp ground pay for dry-cleaning if our clothes got dirty? I don’t think so. We’ll stay away thank you very much.
Our idea of outdoor activity is hanging outside liquor stores waiting for our Uber to pick us up. We’d never survive a weekend camping. And yes, we got carded.

But I think one of the most important conversations came after we purchased a home together (home purchase ordeal will have to be a whole other blog post). We were driving back to our house and Mike said to me, “Kath, I have a very serious question to ask you, and I hope I know your answer but I need your full attention.” I paused the music, turned to him and said, “Ok, I’m ready.” I could tell Mike was a bit nervous and struggled to find the words, but he finally said, “Would you ever want to host a garage sale at our new home?” I grabbed his hand and said, “Michael, absolutely not! Do you not know me at all?” “Thank GOD!” He said relieved” But I continued. “Do you know how much work garage sales are? All the PLANNING that goes into them? Can you really see me organizing a garage sale? Pricing everything out, sorting through things. Ugh! I’m getting anxious just thinking about it!” “Yea you would never do that I don’t know what I was thinking,” Mike said. I continued on my rant: “And THEN after all that AWFUL sorting you have to sit there in the hot sun on a WEEKEND while people come look at our junk? You think I’d give up a weekend for that?” “But what if it turns out our block does one of those big garage sales where every house on the street does a sale?” Mike asked. “Well,” I said with a sigh, “We’d have no other choice but to sell the house I guess.”

Despite all our differences, Mike and I are very much the same. We are both old souls. We love our Dateline and murder shows. We both love Propel and automatically rate a restaurant higher if they have bread on the the table. The two of us have the most random conversations all the time and we share in the same sense of humor. We value and appreciate our differences but also make fun of each other for them, and that is what I think makes us the perfect match. Together, we always have fun and always have a lot of laughs-usually at the other’s expense. As hard as it’s been trying to plan a wedding during COVID, it’s been 100 times easier with my lifelong best friend, Mike. (Talking about my fiancé Mike here, I feel like I need to clarify since I have a lot of family members named Mike. Also, just saying, things may have been 200 times easier with Mike AND a dog, but who will ever know because no one loves me and won’t buy me a dog) While we we were crushed to have to postpone our wedding from our original date of June 11th to September 17th, we’re hopeful that the COVID cloud will not be raining on our wedding plans anymore. But if it does, I know that together, we’ll weather the storm.

Always a great feeling when your shoes and socks get wet.
Fell asleep during this Dateline but I am going to go ahead and guess that the husband did it.
Maintaining more than six feet apart, just to be safe, as we work from home.
We appreciate a solid mini van with ample cup holders.

Living My Best Quarantine Life

The savages in quarantine

A few months ago, my sister Jane and I went on one of our usual quarantine walks. But on this particular walk, for whatever reason, we decided to switch things up a bit and go through the cemetery. Maybe it was because we were getting bored of our normal route, or maybe it was because growing up, instead of watching “Sesame Street,” my Mom had shows like “Dateline” and “Cold Case Files” playing for us so we felt quite comfortable with death. Whatever the reason, we were really enjoying walking through the cemetery on that bright sunny morning, commenting on all the headstones, picking out our favorites, and discussing if we would go with granite or quartz, an in-ground or above-ground headstone when our time came, when I noticed someone had left a Dunkin Donuts’ coffee at their loved one’s grave. Being a Dunkin coffee lover myself, I thought this was very nice, and I asked Jane if she would do that for me when I kicked the bucket. Well, let me tell you, a person’s true colors REALLY shine when you ask them to pick you up a coffee postmortem because here is the conversation that followed:

Me: Wow, that’s really sweet that person left a Dunkin coffee on the headstone for their loved one! Jane, would you do that for me when I die?
Jane: Awww that was so nice! Hmmm well, I mean you do love your Dunkin Coffee. That’s probably your favorite food right?
Me: I mean yea, I’d say it’s the base of my food pyramid, yes.
Jane: Ok, well would I have to actually pay to have coffee put in a Dunkin cup or could I just go to Dunkin and ask for the cup and put that on your grave?
Me: Ok. Wow, first off, you cheap ass! A Dunkin Coffee is like two dollars just suck it up and get me the coffee for crying out loud! I’m dead! All you have to do is pay two dollars! You got the way better end of this deal YET AGAIN CLASSIC HEALTHY JANE LIVING LONGER THAN ME!! Second, HOW IS AN EMPTY CUP GOING TO STAY AT MY GRAVE IT WILL BLOW AWAY!!
Jane: I would put rocks or water in the cup to hold it down.
Me: Ok, you know what that might work better because now that I think about it, since I get my coffee with cream and sugar if you leave that by my grave that may attract animals and I don’t want them stomping on all the flowers Mom will be planting at my grave.
Jane: Ok then so what will you bring to my grave when I die?
Me: Well obviously you LOVE hummus and chips so I’ll bring you the COSTCO sized hummus. But I will need to know what type of chips you want. Should I bring pretzel chips or pita chips for you?
Jane: Hmm, yikes, tough choice. I kind of like to switch it up. Can you alternate and maybe bring me hummus and pita chips one week and then hummus and pretzel chips the next week?
Me: UMMMM excuse me?! I’m sorry, do you think I am going to turn into your own personal Grub Hub delivery service once you die?! And do you know how pricey pita chips and pretzel chips can be?!! You won’t even buy me a two dollar coffee and you want me to buy you pita chips AND pretzel chips weekly like I am some sort of grocery delivery service?! You’re lucky I’m even bringing you chips!! I could make you dip vegetables in the hummus if I really wanted to! And we have to chat about the frequency of these grave site visits, I mean I’ll do my best to be there but I have a full time job and then once it gets into the winter months you know I get cold easily. I can’t be standing out there in the elements. These Chicago winters are no joke.
Jane: Yea, your lips turn purple when it gets lower than 70 degrees out that’s true.

After more discussion, we got the grave-site schedule figured out (a logistical nightmare but thank goodness we checked that off our list!) and enjoyed the rest of our walk through the cemetery. Jane tried to appease me and say that she would leave a gift card at my grave that had two dollars on it, to which I was even more insulted.

Those Geese better stay away from my Dunkin coffee when I’m dead!

A lot of people have used this quarantine to get in shape, organize their homes, or try out new recipes. (I’ve done none of that.) Other people have been really, really bored during this quarantine. Luckily for me, I have been able to keep myself entertained, because honestly, no one can make me laugh quite like I can. So, what have I been doing over quarantine? Well, I’ve gone on a lot of walks. LOTS of walks. Part of my daily routine involves going for a walk, coming home, checking my Fitbit for my step count, being surprised at how low it is and yelling out loud “UGH! THAT’S IT?!!” And then telling everyone around that my Fitbit MUST be broken because I for sure walked farther than it has documented.

Jane and I tried to walk to our brother’s house one day to hang out but he wasn’t home so we looked around for a key, couldn’t find one so then we hung out on his patio for a long time until he returned because in quarantine, time doesn’t matter.
I noticed a trend that a lot of people liked to post their workout results on their social media accounts so I thought I’d jump on the bandwagon and do the same. Felt good to sweat out all those White Claws I drank the night before.

Other than going on walks, another favorite quarantine pass-time of mine is watching recipe videos. I never actually make any of the recipes, but for some reason those recipe videos of the hands making various dishes show up on my newsfeed and they are so mesmerizing that all of a sudden it’s 6 hours later and I haven’t blinked. So that’s really taken up a good chunk of my time.

Other than that, so far during quarantine I’ve watched a lot of shows, drank a lot outside, took a lot of Snapchats and even attempted to make a few smoothies (Went horribly wrong). But my proudest accomplishment so far during quarantine has definitely been getting my haircut. While I’ve been blessed with a great flow of hair, it’s a wild mane, and when it’s not tamed I literally look like Jesus. So when the whole world went on lock down, including hair salons, Jesus rose again:

A Lake weekend when I couldn’t properly maintain my luscious locks.
The Jesus hair’s last supper before I got my haircut.
I have no problem using my nieces and nephews for entertainment so here I subjected my niece Ciara to sit and try out numerous Snapchat filters with me. Despite the look on her face WE WERE HAVING FUN I SWEAR!!!
My Millennial brain could not handle the 80s appliances so I aborted the smoothie mission.
It’s still hard for me to talk about this day when my recording of the Bachelorette failed and I missed the entire episode.

While I am MORE than ready to be done with this quarantine, I am very lucky that my family has been able to stay healthy during all of this. My two biggest complaints have been that the Governor kept interrupting “Inside Edition” and “Jeopardy” to give daily updates and that my Dad changed his laundry day. So with those being my biggest problems right now I am extremely lucky. But my Dad really did throw us all for a loop when he changed his laundry day from Sunday to Monday. He has been doing the laundry on Sunday’s for the last 35 years and all of a sudden he switches things up on us! My siblings and I have never felt so lost and confused.

WE DEMAND ANSWERS, DAD!!!!

Quarantine life hasn’t been ideal, but I’m very fortunate I get to spend it with this crew:

Back in early quarantine when Zoom Happy Hours were fun and cool and not a total and utter BURDEN and absolute drag like they are now.

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.

They Say It’s Your Birthday

This year, my Mom instigated a new tradition for our family- The “Birthday Bonanza.” What is a Birthday Bonanza you might ask? Well it’s basically a fancy name my Mom gave wanting to combine several of her children and grandchildren’s birthdays together so she could get them over with in one big dinner. So far this year, she’s had two Birthday Bonanzas. Our most recent birthday Bonanza was a huge success. We celebrated My brother Michael’s birthday and my nieces Abby and Ava and nephew Michael’s 3rd birthdays. This Bonanza had THREE different cakes and celebrated the honorees birthdays BEFORE their actual birthday-something that almost NEVER happens in our family. We’re never early for anything! My Mom was very pleased.

Obviously the case of Twisted Teas in the back was a gift for the 3 year olds to split, so calm down everyone we weren’t going to let them each have their own case until they’re at least 4.

While the second birthday Bonanza went smoothly, the first Birthday Bonanza was a bit of a different story. My Dad, my niece Ciara, my sisters Bridget and Jane and myself were all the Guinea pigs for this one. All of our birthdays are either in March or April and we finally got our Birthday Bonanza in June. From the very start of planning for this inaugural bonanza I couldn’t help but feel like we were putting my mom out. “Now listen!” My mom said to me a few days before the Bonanza, anger and annoyance in her voice “I HAVE A PORK ROAST THAT’S BEEN IN THE FREEZER FOR TOO LONG NOW SO WE ARE USING IT FOR YOUR BIRTHDAY DINNER! IF I DON’T USE IT SOON IT IS GOING TO GO BAD SO THAT IS WHAT WE ARE HAVING, END OF DISCUSSION!” I sat there for a minute a little confused as I didn’t have a clue as to why I was being yelled at about a pork roast when I was just innocently sitting in the TV room sipping my Diet Coke trying to watch a Dateline I had recorded from the previous week. “Ummmm ok…” I responded. I could tell this frozen pork roast sitting in the freezer had been a dark cloud over my mom’s head for some time. So I decided to respond with a sarcastic comment “No better time to thaw out and serve a questionable hunk of meat than on the birthday celebration of your three old maid daughters huh Mom?” She then called me a little smart ass. I laughed.

The pork roast pressure must have been too stressful for my mom to handle because just one day before the big Bonanza she threw a curve ball at us and moved the location from my parents’ house to my brothers’ house.

Still can’t believe my Mom made me bring my own beer to my own birthday party!

Although it got off to a rocky start, Bonanza #1 turned out to be a good time and no one got sick from the frozen pork roast. It was a great day celebrating the three month anniversary of my 29th birthday.

Spoiler Alert everyone I wished for my OWN Birthday Bonanza.

Growing up, birthdays were a big deal in our house. It was your time to shine and get all the attention for once. Plus, you even got to choose the dinner that night! It was our parents way of making us feel special. They even let us use a plate on our birthday stating that we were special:

Please note that while the plate acknowledges you are in fact special, it clearly states that you are only special TODAY AND TODAY ONLY. Mike and Mo did not want their children thinking they were special 365 days a year

I, of course did not want my older sister Bridget to feel too special so I decided to be born on her birthday so we could share in the special-ness together. I often remind her that I am the greatest birthday gift she ever received. This meant that not only did we always have to coordinate on what dinner we wanted for our birthday celebration, my parents had to purchase ANOTHER “you are special plate.” After the unexpected financial burden of this extra plate, my mom must have tried to make up the cost by wrapping our birthday gifts in newspaper for the next 25 years. I don’t think any of us ever received a gift from my parents that was wrapped in birthday wrapping paper. Because nothing says “happy birthday” quite like getting a gift wrapped in the obituaries section.

As you can see, cantaloupe was on sale for $1.58 when Michael turned 7
Not sure who invited the Grim Reaper there in the purple hoodie on the left but looks like he may have been there for Jane judging by how rough she looks. Let’s zoom in a little…
Hope Jane was unwrapping some Pedialyte, looks like she was pretty hungover and struggling from the night before.

But thank you Mom for cutting costs so Bridget and I could each have our own plates on our birthdays!

Hostess Cupcake: The official sponsor of the Bridget and Kathleen Birthday.
Bridget’s 6th and my 4th birthday. As you can see, I still had yet to master the “hold up how many fingers old you are” pose and had to turn to see if I was doing it right. Math has never been my thing.
One time my Grandma remembered it was Bridget’s birthday but forgot it was my birthday too so while Bridget got a birthday bear I got a Thanksgiving bear. Totally not noticeable at all though.
Bridget trying to reject my love on our birthday in high school. She was clearly still upset that I stole her birthday
I hope we both wished for vitamin D on this birthday because judging by our ghostly skin, we were both severely deficient.

In addition to using newspaper to wrap our gifts, my mom was also a huge fan of reusing boxes. Mo has an eye for real sturdy, quality cardboard boxes. Did you think you were going to just toss that box your new iPhone came in? Oh no, think again-Mo Money has plans to use it on Christmas to wrap up some socks she got you, that box is NOT leaving the house. It will go in the box closet in the basement. Some might say these actions sound like early warning signs of hoarding, but we know they are actions of a mother’s love. When you get a gift from my mom, very rarely does the box coincide with the actual gift inside. It really adds to the surprise. I think this is why she always made us do the “hold up your unwrapped gifts for the camera” pose.

That was not that iHome box’s last birthday party I’ll tell you that.
What a hottie that Ken.
The chin-up bar that my dad never let my brother hang up as he said it would ruin the door frame so instead it sat in that box in the basement for the next 15 years.
Really my mom should have told Jane to lay off the booze. Let’s zoom in a little on her face:
Two year old baby or deranged man? Cast your vote now.

While the birthday dinners were mostly happy ones, there would always be a fight about blowing out the candles. Because the five of us kids were all jerks, we all got a huge thrill out of trying to blow out each others’ birthday candles. Like clockwork, we’d sing “Happy Birthday” and right as the birthday kid was about to make a wish and blow out the candles, one of us would come from behind and blow them out, then the birthday kid would cry, or hit the sibling that blew them out and then that kid would cry, then my mom would re-light the candles, we’d re-sing the last verse of “Happy Birthday” as my Dad held back and covered the mouth of the kid who blew out the candles so the birthday boy or girl could finally have their moment. Not going to lie, I was often the one being held back and having my mouth covered the second time around…

Really had to hustle around the table this time to try and blow out Michael’s candles
Poor Maggie never stood a chance with Michael, Bridget and me hovering around her like vultures. At least I (far left) was trying to be polite about it and kept my hands folded.
Not sure if Michael ended up spitting on Maggie’s head or blowing out the candles on this one.
“Don’t mind me boys, just going to squeeze my way in here and blow out my brother’s candles.”
Jane’s evil grin was a dead give away that she had plans to blow out the candles.
My Dad trying to guard Maggie from Me and Jane.

Although these days our birthday dinners are a little different than they used to be, I think the “Birthday Bonanza” is much better suited and way more efficient for our growing family. So Mom, kudos on keeping the birthday celebrations going and thanks for always making us feel special. And lastly, don’t think I didn’t notice you used actual wrapping paper for your grandkids’ gifts at the last Birthday Bonanza.

Got a pink ball for my birthday because ball is lyfe.
My Dad never holds up his gifts on his birthday because he usually ends up returning them all.
Photo captured at the first ever Kelly family Birthday Bonanza

Five Blessings

The other day I was talking to my Mom about schools doing eLearning during this Quarantine and how hard it is on both teachers and parents. “UGH” My Mom said, “I could not IMAGINE trying to do eLearning with you kids. That would be an absolute NIGHTMARE!” Wow, I thought. A little rude, MOM, telling one of your children that your worst nightmare would be spending all day with them. I THOUGHT YOU SAID WE WERE YOUR FIVE BLESSINGS?! This is not the first time she’s said this since the quarantine started. We get it Mom, your five kids were lunatics.

After I was done taking in this insult, and pulling the knife out of my heart she so casually threw in there, I started to think about how hard it would be for my Mom to be with us ALL DAY. Then I stumbled upon a photo from Easter when I was a baby. Seeing this made me understand why this would be my mom’s nightmare:

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Four of the Five lunatics pictured here. You can see the desperation on my Mom’s face. “Hurry up and take the Picture, MIKE, so I can get away from these nutcases!” Let’s zoom in on my mom a little here:

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That poor, poor woman. This is the face of someone that is in dire need of an alcoholic drink. You can see she is trying to mentally detach from the chaos that this going on around her.

I don’t want to speak for all my siblings, but I’d say most of us weren’t the most studious kids around. After school we really had no interest in doing more school work. I was probably the worst offender on this. I hated sitting down to do school work and would do anything to get out of it. I had better things to do, like play outside or see how many suction cup hooks I could get to stay on my face as you can see from this photo here:

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“Mom! Look at how I can get these suction cups to stay on my face! Don’t I look like Frankenstein?” Was I off to a poetry reading or something next with that turtle neck I was wearing? Who knows.

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Working on my dunking skills here. 2004 Holy Redeemer 8th grade gold ball basketball champion right there. Ball was life back in the day.

I must say, the five of us were pretty creative in some of the things we would do. Our parents were late in the game in getting cable so we really had to entertain ourselves. One of our favorite things to do when we couldn’t play outside was rollerblade in our carpeted living room. Talk about a cardio workout! It was not easy to roll around on that carpet. This was an activity we could only do when my Dad was out of town-he didn’t really appreciate us rollerblading inside. My Mom didn’t really mind, she saw the carpeting as better padding when her clumsy children fell.

The four of us girls also used the living room as our stage to make music videos to our favorite NSYNC, Backstreet Boys or Britney Spears hits. We’d rehearse for a few hours and then give our parents the painstaking task of not only sitting through our show, but filming it for us so we could review it later in order to perfect our dance moves and play our dance in both slow and fast motion. (Jumping off the couch or a chair and doing a spin looked a lot cooler in slow motion). Classic youngest child Jane, having grow up watching MTV with her older siblings, chose, how should I put this, some pretty risque dance moves. She loved to replicate Britney Spears in her early “Baby One More Time” days. Jane even liked to take her show on the road, volunteering to perform at different graduation or family parties. My parents soon after put the kibosh on Jane watching MTV with her siblings.

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Here we see Jane practicing one of her more modest Britney Spears dances as I pretend to step on her. A fight later ensued.

Sadly, after we redid our living room, getting reupholstered furniture and replacing the rollerblading carpet with the “8 Million Dollar Carpet” as my Dad referred to it (and we now still call it, 20 years later), we could no longer roller blade in the living room. I still remember my dad’s lecture he gave us after our living room and dining room were redone. I think he just got the bill from the interior designer so his blood pressure was a little high and he was on edge. “Now listen!” My Dad said, as the five of us sat in the TV room. We could see the beads of sweat on his bald head and the panicked look in his eyes as he thought of all the money this new living room was costing him. “I don’t want ANY of you kids rollerblading in the living room anymore! We practically had to refinance the house after installing that 8 Million Dollar carpet Mom decided to pick out! And I don’t want ANY of you kids laying on the reupholstered couch in there either! The last thing I need is your dirty, greasy, gross bodies staining that fabric! Just stay out of the living room as much as possible!”

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The last known photo of us sitting on the couch before my parents used our college funds to redo the living room.

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The pre-upholstered couch days when we could sit in the living room. You can see the dirt and food on our clothing that we were passing on to that couch.

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Just playing in the living room with our new doll Jane. Jane provided a lot of entertainment for us when she was born. Jane learned from an early age to support her own head. We weren’t going to do  it for her.

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We were all very photogenic.

 

 

If we weren’t rollerblading we were using our parents bed as a trampoline. We had a nice system going where we would line up in my parent’s closet (in order to get a running start) and use the closet doorway to hold onto, lean back and catapult ourselves onto the bed, doing our best flips and somersaults mid-air. Why enroll in gymnastics class when you have a queen sized bed you can just run and jump on? Honestly can’t believe the Jesse White Tumblers didn’t recruit us, we were so good.

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Taking a break from our gymnastics to fake read on my parent’s bed/pose for a Christmas card photo. Check me out-baby genius right there fake reading a story to everyone.

After we tired ourselves out a bit we would all get out our backpacks and sit at the kitchen table to do a little homework. It was a little crammed, and fights would break out if you accidentally got your papers into someone else’s “area” but it was fun all being together, jamming out to some music as we worked away. My mom would be in the kitchen with us, getting dinner prepped and checking on us periodically, helping with various homework problems. As the years went on, and my Mom cared less and less, (both about our homework and dinner) the younger kids relied on the older kids to help them out with homework. This system worked pretty good until we got down to Jane. We were all pretty tired by the time Jane needed help on homework. She racked up quite a few pink slips for “not turning in homework.” Sorry Jane! She turned out ok though.

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A rare photo of me doing homework. Drinking a Hi-C Juice Box to help take the edge off that stressful Math homework.

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What a great looking family.

After homework and dinner we focused our attention on dessert. We NEVER let our parents forget about giving us some sort of dessert every night. If you acted up or didn’t do your chores my parents used “no dessert” as a punishment. Unfortunately for me, being born a “smart-ass” as my parents so affectionately termed me, I spent a lot of nights going without dessert because of my wisecracks and sarcastic remarks. My mouth got me in a lot of trouble. I just couldn’t help myself in getting the last word in. So many times instead of having dessert, I would be laying on the kitchen floor crying as my siblings sat at the table eating ice cream or cookies.

Some nights when the dessert supply was running low my Dad would “raffle off” the last cookie or scoop of ice cream, whatever it may have been. There would be a series of coin tosses between the five of us and the winner would get the dessert. Some times it would be a real nail biter on who would be the last person standing. Many times this caused a lot of fights, usually some tears, but it was very entertaining for my Dad.We were just reminiscing about it the other day and my Dad was laughing hysterically thinking about it:

Dad (laughing so hard tears were in his eyes): “I remember you five little brats would be like vultures all wanting the last Oreo. Certain kids (I’m not going to name any names) would be sore losers if they lost and go off crying after the last coin toss. [Dad continues laughing more] Ahh that was good.”
Me: “Well, maybe you shouldn’t have been so cheap and just bought another pack of Oreos for us instead of starving your five children!”

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Here we are post Oreo raffle. As you can see from the Oreo remnants on my face, I was the winner of this raffle so I was very smitten.

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Looks like I won the Oreo, but lost my shoe on this time. I think I won dessert a few too many times as a toddler. It was my fat stage.

After us fatties got our fill of food, we finally settled down to go to bed. For some reason we found it soothing to fall asleep to various Disney movie soundtracks. Our favorite being “The Lion King.” Because what’s more relaxing than loud African music blasting in your bedroom-AHHHHHH ZENWENNAAAA BADA DEE SEE BABA (I have no idea what the actual African lyrics are to the opening of The Lion King but it sounded like that.) So we made our parents tuck us in and start the Lion King tape before they turned off the lights. Since I hated going to bed (I could never fall asleep) I would always try and delay my parents turning off the lights, asking various dumb questions to stop them. My parents favorite one of my questions that they still laugh about to this day is the time I asked them “What bones are made of.” Classic insomniac, doing anything to stop bedtime. Once we were finally all asleep, our parents finally got a much deserved and much needed break from us.

Looking back on all of this I have so much respect for my parents putting up with us every day. Sure, we were five blessings, but we were also five nutcases. Now I get why my Mom said she can’t imagine what parents are going through during this quarantine, and I can’t either. This quarantine has really made me appreciate not only my parents but all parents dealing with their own “blessings” at home. All I can say to parents out there is hang in there, be strong, and maybe buy an extra pack of Oreos.

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I’m literally climbing a mountain running away and my Mom and Dad (the one taking this picture) couldn’t care less.

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Looks like we were running out of furniture we were allowed to sit on so we had to share.

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I wonder if my Dad thought about leaving us in that forest

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Bridget and me playing with our real life doll Jane again. That was a damn good sucker and I enjoyed it very much.

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Why did I button my top button like a psychopath?

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Hood up, attitude out. I had no time for pictures.

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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.

 

 

 

 

School Days

Throughout this Fall, when scrolling through Instagram, I’ve seen a lot of people post “First Day of School Photos” of their kids. The kids are usually standing on the porch, looking all happy, neat and tidy in their school outfits, holding a cutsie little sign that says “Jack’s first day of Kindergarten” or something like that. While most people’s first thought when seeing photos like this is probably “Aww how cute!” But mine is always, “How the HECK do these parents have time in the morning before school to take these perfect photos of their kids?!” The “first day of school” photos we took on the porch when I was a kid looked nothing like the ones I have been seeing on Instagram. My family’s school photos back in the day seemed to be a little different, here are a few examples:

Exhibit A. My sister Bridget’s “first day of school photo” that apparently I decided to photo bomb. Clearly I was NOT happy that I was too young to go to school and therefore didn’t get my photo taken:

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Don’t be fooled by the hearts on my pink sweater, and the blankie I’m holding, I was ready to fight. Nobody puts baby in a corner, I wanted my own photo too.

Let’s zoom in a little on this one, shall we?

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You can see the look of betrayal on my face. How DARE my mom take a photo of my siblings and not me.

Exhibit B: My sister Maggie’s school photo:

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My Mom could have used a lesson in “staging” when it came to photography because all of these pictures have some homeless little girl in the background. Oh wait that’s me.

Exhibit C. I finally got my way and got to be in one:

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I was so happy my face hurt from smiling. Special thanks to my mom for giving me and Bridget those awful bangs, really helped make this photo even more awkward.

Growing up, we didn’t really have too much time to spare to set up a cute photo because, except for my dad, we weren’t really “morning people.” We all had an extremely difficult time getting out of bed before 7 in the morning. My mom I think had the most trouble though, with my youngest sibling, Jane, being a very close second. My Dad traveled for work during the week so my mom was usually a one woman show when it came to getting the five of us up and out the door for school every morning. We never had to set our own alarms because my mom would come in and gently wake us up. Our wonderful mom would slowly open our doors, walk over to our beds and place her hand on our backs and softly say “time to get up honey.” Sounds like a really nice way to wake up, right? And it was… BUT... that was only if you got up on the first wake up call. If you decided to get a few more minutes of shut-eye after being woken up, our sweet little Mom could do a complete 180 and somehow turn herself into a fire-breathing dragon. If one of us was still in bed while the others were downstairs eating breakfast she would stand at the bottom of the stairs and yell your name until you got up. I don’t know how she managed to change the pitch in her voice so it felt like she was sending nails into your ears when she called out your name the second time, but somehow she found a way. She only had to yell the sleepy kid’s name once or twice until they responded, yelling back down, “OH MY GOD I AM UP! I’M UP! FOR THE LOVE OF GOD JUST STOP YELLING MY NAME I’LL BE DOWNSTAIRS IN A MINUTE!!!!” I still have permanent ear damage from the days I decided to snooze a little later.

Every once in a while my Dad would be in town during the week and let my mom sleep, so he would wake us up in the morning. There was never a problem with falling back asleep when my Dad woke us up due to adrenaline pumping through your veins after the near heart attack he inflicted on us when he swung open the door, stomped in, flung open the shades and said “GET UP!”

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Want to be sure your child gets kidnapped? Then you should definitely send her to preschool with her name on her shirt. Kidnappers love an easy target.

Once everyone was up we’d all be in the kitchen, eating breakfast and packing our lunches. The best breakfast days at our house were Wednesdays and Thursdays. Wednesday was “Donut Day” when we each got a delicious prepackaged, never fresh Entenmann’s Donut. Before you could dig in to your donut though my mom made us eat her famous homemade fruit salad (recipe: crack open a can of Madarin oranges, slice up a banana, divide evenly onto 5 paper plates and you are all set!) You couldn’t touch your donut until all your fruit had been eaten. Since their were 8 donuts in a package and five kids, on Thursday’s we would each get half a donut. But we’d still have to eat the whole fruit salad which, looking back, doesn’t seem fair. My Mom was a real health nut back then I guess. The other days of the week it was either cereal or toast. Sometimes my Dad would surprise us and get Reese’s Puffs cereal. So many fights broke out over Reese’s Puffs. I remember one Reese’s Puffs fight in the morning ended with my brother throwing the empty box across the kitchen. My parents were not happy about that fight and we all got in trouble. But in our defense, if they didn’t starve us by rationing one box of cereal, or giving us donut crumbs-I mean donut halves, maybe we wouldn’t be so hangry in the mornings.

After breakfast it was off to frantically search for the pieces of our school uniform and homework papers we had left scattered throughout the house the night before. Then it was back upstairs to brush our teeth. Jane, in classic youngest child fashion, would always be the slowest getting ready and she would usually be crying because she wanted to go back to bed. Jane preferred to chill out a little and watch “The Big Comfy Couch” before getting ready to go anywhere. Through Jane’s preschool and kindergarten years, the four of us had to help get her ready in the mornings. Getting Jane dressed and ready for school was much like getting a sand bag ready for school because she literally made no effort to help or do anything at all. She actually made it harder to get her dressed because she would never take her thumb out of her mouth.

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Me and Jane chilling on the couch. Even as an infant Jane liked to coast for a while before starting her day.

Every morning for her entire year of preschool she would be brushing her teeth at the sink while one of us did her hair and the other got her backpack together. After all those things were done we did manage to squeeze in a few school photos through the years.

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I think since I was missing my two front teeth and couldn’t really eat, Mo Money was able to use the time she might have spent feeding me breakfast to take this photo.

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Do I look uncomfortable (sitting on the right) because I’m wearing a back brace or because I’m practically sitting in a Home Depot Garden center with all those flowers around me, triggering my seasonal allergies? Who knows.

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My Mom is so efficient she was able to simultaneously get my brother to feed the dog and take a photo at the same time!

Things were just as hectic after school as they were in the mornings. The afternoons were filled with sports practices and games, orthodontist appointments, homework and piano practice. I absolutely HATED piano practice. Or I guess I should call it “keyboard practice” because we did not have the money or space for a real piano, so we had our lessons on a keyboard. (Our piano teacher shamed us ever week for it) On piano practice day I’d be laying on the living room floor about ten minutes before our piano teacher was due to arrive, begging my sister to do my piano homework that I had not done yet, even though I was given a whole week to do it. But, like I’ve always said, if you wait until the last minute, it only takes a minute! (I had better things to do with my time, like play catch with Christmas candles in the living room, I had no time for piano homework) “Please Bridget!” I’d beg while laying on the floor, dreading my piano lesson. “I’ll do your dinner chore all week if you just do my piano workbook for me!” Spoiler alert: I cannot play piano or keyboard at all now, but I did learn great negotiating skills.

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Here’s me fake practicing piano so there could be photographic evidence for my mom that I did in fact, practice from time to time.

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Don’t be fooled by those medals, they gave them to everyone. Not only were we bad at soccer, we were bad at taking soccer photos.

So, we may not have Instagram worthy “first day of school photos” (they definitely would not get too many double taps if they were posted on the ‘gram) but they are good for a laugh. I’m glad my mom decided to capture a more “authentic” school photo of her nutty kids, not spending too much time trying to get the “perfect Instagram photo.”

So thank you Mom, for getting those photos, getting us off to school every morning, and most importantly, helping Bridget and me realize at an early age, that we can’t pull off bangs.

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Gotta love those awkward high school years.

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Even though I look like I belong in the 5th grade with my sister Jane on the right, I was actually in high school when this photo was taken.

It’s Good To See Your Smiling Face

img_9639.jpgA few weeks ago I stopped at my parents house after work to help my Mom with some tech issues she had been having. For months she had been telling us that she needed to get a new iPhone because ‘an annoying message kept popping up saying her storage was full and she didn’t know how to get rid of it.’ Well, I highly doubted she actually needed a new phone so I told her I would stop by the house and take a look at it. Plus, I was getting tired of her using the “my storage is full” excuse when she wanted to take a picture at family gatherings. “Ok kids, I want to get a picture after dinner but my storage is full on my phone so it can’t be done on mine. Kathleen, can we do it on yours? You brought the selfie stick right?” She’d always say. (Talk about a lame excuse, am I right? Classic Mo Money) For some reason my Mom just assumes I carry a selfie stick with me at all times. I think I’m beginning to get arthritis in my arm from constantly having to be the one to hold the selfie stick in our family group photos. I needed to fix her phone so other people in the family could start holding the selfie stick. That thing is heavier than it looks.

So, after I finished fixing the sound on her laptop, I moved on to her phone. It only took me about 2 seconds to realize why her storage was full-She had about 3,000 photos on her phone. You may think since she has five children and five grandchildren that these would be all family photos, but no. My Mom had thousands of the most random and useless photos on her phone that should have been deleted years ago. Some of the pictures I came across were:

  • a picture of a light bulb
  • a picture of a Carson’s 20% off coupon
  • a photo burst of a church bulletin
  • A blurry picture of a PowerPoint slide on her computer screen
  • Numerous photos of what looked to be a Poison Ivy rash on my Dad’s arm
  • A video of a faucet at Home Depot (I think she meant to take a picture but accidentally took a video instead.)

Here are some other Kodak moments she captured on her phone:

After telling my mom what the issue was, she agreed to let me go through and delete what I thought were dumb photos. I began doing this and stumbled upon some very strange photos. “Mom!” I yelled to her from the kitchen as I sat at the table deleting photos for her “Why the heck do you have a photo of a dead bird on your phone?!” What kind of sick person has a photo of a dead animal on their phone? I began to question if I really new this mom of mine that I though was so sweet. “Oh hold on sweetie let me see that photo.” She paused the murder show she was watching in the TV room to come take a closer look with her reading glasses. “Oh THAT bird!” she said excitedly. “Yea, look at how interesting that bird’s beak is! I’ve never seen a bird like that! I keep meaning to text it to my college roommate to see if she might know what type of bird it is! She really knows her birds. Don’t delete that one yet please.” “Mom,” I replied with a laugh. “You took this photo in 2014! That was five years ago! Do you really plan on still sending it to your friend at this point?!”

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The disturbing bird crime scene photo my Mom has on her phone.

Well, the dead bird photo was classified as a ‘do not delete’ photo so it stayed on her phone and I’m sure my mom still has yet to send it to her friend. But, I was able to delete some photos to give her some room on her phone and she was very grateful that her ‘little tech girl’ (as she likes to call me when she’s not calling me a ‘little smart ass’) came over to help her once again.

Even though I moved out of my parents house almost a year ago, it really doesn’t feel like it all that much because I find myself over at Mike and Mo’s Old Maid Boarding House quite often. In fact, I don’t think my dog Duke has even realized yet that I actually don’t live there anymore. But my old roommates and I have a good system going now since I moved out. I come home and provide them with IT services, humorous & sarcastic comments (As I’m sure they miss having their “Little Smart Ass” living with them full time), and they provide me with food (They really love feeding me which I appreciate because it saves me trips to the grocery store), Diet Coke and their interesting stories.

Just the other day my Dad was telling us how he had to break up a “cat fight” early one morning. We were all on the edge of our seats as he told the story. He literally broke up a fight between two cats that were hissing at each other. I was so glad no one was hurt in the scuffle. Talk about scary stuff. You never know what these pet parents are teaching their pets these days. Then my mom topped his exciting story with her own story about how she went shopping before Father’s Day to get water shoes for my dad but accidentally ended up buying water shoes for herself instead. Major plot twist!! Did not see that one coming.

Besides sharing stories, we also have some great conversations too. The other day when they were feeding me dinner we had a riveting conversation about one of my dad’s favorite shows, Ice Road Truckers:

Dad: Kathleen, want to watch Ice Road Truckers with me after dinner?
Me: Absolutely not. I have no desire to watch that boring old man show with you.
Dad: Oh come on it will be fun!
Mom: I thought that show was canceled?
Dad: I have some recorded from previous seasons.
Mom: What’s the guy’s name on that show that has all the kids?
Dad: The guy with the 12 kids? Ahhh… Hmmmm… Oh Hell what’s his name?!
[Several minutes go by as we anxiously wait for my dad to tell us the name]
Mom: That’s ok if you can’t think of it. I was just wondering.
Me: And I really never cared what his name was in the first place, so don’t hurt yourself trying to think of it.
Dad: No, hold on, it’s really going to bug me if I don’t think of it!
Mom: You could tell me his name was… Josh or something and I’d believe you, I don’t know any of the characters on that show.
Dad: ALEX! Ahhh yes! I remembered it! Alex is his name! He’s a Catholic too.

Other hot topics these days have included the new toaster they just got (Mike Sr. thinks it’s too fat and takes up too much room on the counter), the new washing machine (Mo Money HATES the new washing machine-it’s too loud) and the Shred and Electronics Recycling Day our town was having. There is nothing Mike Sr. and Mo Money love more than shredding and recycling old electronics. I was worried with this day coming up that I’d get flooded with calls from my parents asking my advice on whether or not it was ok to get rid of various cords they had been holding on to since the early 90s or computer games that only work with a Gateway 2000 desktop computer, but surprisingly they didn’t have too many questions for me.
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When a family member needs your help eating cheeseburgers you have to be there. No questions asked. Family comes first.

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No matter what we talk about or do when I go over to my parents’ house we usually have lots of laughs. We’ve come a long way since when I first moved out and was getting accused of taking fans from the house (my family is very particular about our fans) or being pestered about going through my mail or going through my coats in the coat closet. Now my parents seem to really enjoy having me stop by. I’m not sure if this is because I finally returned the coolers I borrowed from them or if they really are starting to enjoy my company.

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In my defense, when it was agreed that I could borrow the coolers for my party, we never agreed on a time frame of how long I could use them for.

After any visit, whether I was over for dinner, helping them scan something, fixing the TV, or just stopping in for an afternoon Diet Coke, as I’m leaving my parents tell me to text them when I get back to my apartment so they know I got back safe and sound (even though I only live about a mile away). Each time I text them that I got back to my apartment they tell me “We always love seeing your smiling face.” Mom and Dad, I always love to see your smiling faces too.

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Mo’s emoji game is on point.