Mike Sr. Goes on Break

The other day I was over at my parents’ house helping my Dad with some things on his old work computer. He turned 65 this year and retired from his company, but he was able to keep his laptop. The IT department wiped it clean though, so he needed to call his own “Lil Tech Girl” (AKA me) to help him get it back up and running, and navigate the journey from Microsoft Outlook to Gmail/Google Apps, etc.

As my Dad and I both sat there at the kitchen table in front of his laptop, I worked on it and showed him how to use different Google Apps. He sat there and watched intently, glasses on the brim of his nose, as he tried to follow along as best he could. “Here Dad, it’s really easy,” I said as I noticed him looking a little confused and unsure. “Let’s go through and do a sample document together and print it out on your printer so you know how to do it.” My Dad continued to watch my every move as I opened up a new Google Document and typed out the sentence “Dad is an idiot.” I held in my laughter as I watched him lean forward to read, very concentrated, the print and slowly come to the realization of what the sentence said. Very focused he started to say “Dad is a…” and then he started to laugh. “Oh Mo! Look at this!” He said to my mom, who was fixing her breakfast in the kitchen, “Do you see what this little BRAT wrote about me?! Where do you think she learned to do something like that?!” My mom did a half laugh and responded, not even looking up from stirring her yogurt, “She learned it from you.”

Although we are not even halfway through 2023, it’s been a big year for my Dad. After turning 65 and spending 34 of those years at the same company, my Dad decided to retire. When my parents first told me and my four siblings this news earlier in the year, we all had a few concerns. First and foremost, if he retired would his company let him keep his printer in his home office in the basement? Being five grown Millennials all off on our own, OBVIOUSLY not a single one of us owns a printer. We do all our printing through our Dad. Thankfully, they did let him keep it. Our next concern: how would he fill his time? Our Dad likes to stay busy and there is only so much vacuuming and raking that can be done in this world. (His two favorite activities-vacuuming and raking. Mopping the floors and cutting the grass both come in at a close second, though). But, our Mom assured us that he would keep busy somehow and that their marriage would survive his retirement.

So to honor the end of our Dad’s successful career in sales and celebrate his 65th birthday, we had a special dinner with just our immediate family at Mike and my house (luckily we hired a chef so I did not need to do any cooking). In preparing for the party, I was going through some old photos as I thought they might make for some good decorations. One of the photos I stumbled upon was a picture of my Dad and sisters, Bridget and Jane, from a year we celebrated Father’s Day up at our summer vacation spot- Dewey Lake. In the photo my Dad was holding up one of his Father’s Day gifts- the book “Wisdom of our Fathers” by Tim Russert. I remember that Father’s Day back around 2007ish and I remember my Dad asking for that book on his list. At the time, being a punk high schooler, I recall thinking it was just another boring book my Dad wanted to add to his bookcases that were already overflowing with dumb train books in my mom and dad’s bedroom. But seeing the photo and the book as an older and wiser daughter this year made me pause. While I still think my Dad owns a ridiculous amount of dumb train books, the photo got me thinking about all the wisdom and life lessons my dad has passed on to his five children in his 65 years thus far. 

The classic “Hold up the gift you got” photo my Mom likes to take on birthdays, Christmases and other special days.

Through example, my Dad has taught us how to work hard, be kind, and always try to find the humor in every situation.

Working Hard: I remember when I was in fifth grade and I came home with a C on my report card. My Dad was at work and when I handed the report card to my Mom she was not too pleased. I knew that I should have done better but I had goofed off that semester and didn’t really put too much effort into school. “You’re going to have to show this to Dad when he gets home.” She said, sounding disappointed. It was definitely a threat, as our Dad was always the disciplinarian between my parents. In fact many time when we knew we did something bad and our Dad was away on business we’d beg our Mom, “Don’t tell Dad! Don’t tell Dad!” In this bad report card scenario I probably should have been more worried with my “little talk” with Dad later that night but I knew that for our “good report card reward treat” our my Mom always took the five of us out for ice cream sundaes at her favorite ice cream place. This was actually a reward my mom gave herself, as she loved hot fudge sundaes, so I knew whatever my punishment, it couldn’t be that bad-I’d still get ice cream in the end. When my Dad got home he called me into the living room. He sat on the living room chair “that cost a million dollars to reupholster” according to him, looking at my grades. I laid on the floor, doing weird gymnastics moves, already bored with waiting. After studying my report card he finally looked at me:

Dad: So you got a C in English?
Me: Yup.
Dad: Do you think you could have worked harder and done better?
Me: [I stopped my living room gymnastics and thought about it for a minute] Yeah. I could have.
Dad: Ok. Work harder from now on.
Me: Ok.

And with that he handed me back my report card and went upstairs to get out of his business attire. While my Dad was the disciplinary of our parents, he never really got too mad at us or yelled at us. He just had a way of talking to us sternly so that you knew he meant business. From then on I always tried to work hard at whatever I was doing. And from then on I always got A’s in English (Math was a different story, but English I did get A’s). My parents were never too strict with us on getting perfect grades in school, they just always wanted us to put in the effort and do our best. If they knew a C in English was the best I could do they would have been happy with it, but they knew I could have done better.

Grades were poor, but our Dad shoes and socks game was strong that year.
My Dad made sure we were staying focused in school while my Mom made sure we were always dressed in turtle necks.

Kindness: My Dad is one of the most thoughtful and kind people I know. He usually hides this with his insults to us, but throughout his 65 years and 34 year career he has always put others before himself. Many times in college and through our twenties, my Dad would drop us off or pick us up from the bars to ensure we got there and home safely. Even though it was WAY past his bedtime by the time we’d be heading out for the night, he’d give us a ride. He’d usually tell us he had to thoroughly hose down the car to get the smell of the alcohol seeping from our pores our of the car seats too. We affectionately started referring to his car service as “Dad’s Taxi” he drove us places so often.

After I graduated college and lived back at home I was a frequent “Dad’s Taxi” rider on the weekends.
The Taxi vehicle-Honda Mini Van with 16 cupholders. Can’t get any more luxurious than that.

In addition to his taxi services our Dad also serves as a Grub Hub delivery man. Since we were little he would get us donuts once a week from the local bakery. Even though we’ve moved out of the house he’s continued this tradition, dropping me off a donut and a Dunkin’ coffee once a week at my doorstep. Sometimes I even get a cupcake or apple pie slice too. Am I a spoiled little princess? Yes I am.

Always Seeing the Humor in Life: My Dad is not just a goofball, he is the biggest weirdo I have ever met. (Unfortunately he definitely passed down the weirdness trait to many of his children.) He’s always doing things that you would never imagine like doing weird movements, putting a napkin on top of his head while out to dinner, always trying to either make us laugh or embarrass us.

When we were little, but had outgrown stuffed animals, he’d sneak a stuffed animal in our backpacks while we weren’t looking so that when we got to school and opened our bags, out fell a doll or teddy bear in front of all our friends. When my oldest sister Maggie was in 7th grade, she came home very upset because my Dad had shoved a Simba stuffed animal in her book bag, jamming the zipper, so she could not get any of her books or homework out for school that day. My Dad did manage to get an apology out during his laughter. To retaliate, Maggie put a Barbie in my Dad’s briefcase the next morning, but my Mom stopped it because my Dad had a presentation that day and she did not want him to have to take out a Barbie in front of his customers. Looking back now I often wonder if she did manage to get that Barbie in his briefcase if that would have helped or hurt his 34 year career in sales.

In classic me form I had my big mouth open and was probably getting in trouble right after this photo was taken.
Bridget was clearly earning her degree at the local clown college that year.
It took many years of therapy but Bridget and I did finally forgive our Mom for giving us those haircuts.
Ah yes, one of Dad’s classic wheelbarrow rides. What is more thrilling than being shoved in a steel wheelbarrow that your Dad had just used to haul away dead leaves and dirt minutes earlier?
One time in grade school art class we had to bring in sticks from our backyard and make a paper mache Jesus on the cross (classic catholic school art project) Little did I know that there was a little termite in the sticks I had picked up though so when I brought it home it kept leaving stick dust on the table. Instead of throwing it out my Mom stuck Jesus in our freezer for a few weeks to try and kill the bug. Jesus remained in our living room bug free for years until Michael rediscovered him and made sure Jesus was in just about every family picture that year. So yes the weirdness trait my Dad definitely passed on to his children.
Here we have my Dad regretting he and my Mom’s decision to have five kids.
We still have yet to take a normal family photo.

Our Dad has guided us in the business world, serving as a mentor, sharing his experiences and helping set us up for successful careers. As a skilled painter, carpenter and handyman he has helped many of us navigate homeownership. I am constantly calling my Dad for help and advice on things with my old house. And by help and advice I obviously mean I need him to just come do things for me.

I was “in over my head” (pun intended there) when I decided to paint a bedroom at my house so it was Mike Sr. to the rescue!

Looking back, I think one of the most important pieces of wisdom my Dad and Mom passed on to all five of us was to always keep in mind, and I quote “We have a lot to be thankful for.” In fact I can hear these words echoing through my head, having flashbacks of my Mom and Dad saying this while trying to guilt their tired high school or hungover college-aged children into going to mass.

It is hard to put into words how extremely grateful we are to our Dad for all that he has done and continue to do for his family. Throughout his career, not only did he provide for five children financially-food always on the table, donuts on the reg, clothes on our backs, putting us all through Catholic school, he even managed to somehow pay for that travel coffee mug my sister Jane opened in our hotel in Disney World in 1999, (Honestly my parents were so distraught over the cost of that Little Mermaid mug I’m surprised my dad is risking retiring right now because they must still be paying it off the way they talked about how expensive it was.) But through it all he and Mom provided us with a home that was always filled with love, happiness and laughter. It is because of my Dad and Mom that the five of us kids truly have so much to be thankful for.

After a Saturday morning of working away on the house, my Dad always goes and sits for a little bit in his La-Z-Boy chair in the basement with his Diet Coke and pack of Ritz peanut butter crackers. He’s done this for years and he always loved to announce jokingly to us, “Kids, I’m going on break!” to which the smart asses of us would respond, “We Don’t Care!” So this one is for you Dad. We hope this next chapter brings you more time at the lake and more time to rake. Let’s cheers to Mike Sr. everyone, because he’s going on break!

Happy as a clam raking away at the lake.


The Third Rack

Recently, Mike and I did some construction on our house. We decided to not just renovate our kitchen, but move our kitchen into a whole different room in our house-we are extra like that. You hear a lot of construction horror stories from couples or families who have renovated their homes and dealt with disasters, but Mike and I really lucked out in the whole process. We had awesome contractors who were reliable and attentive to us and they did amazing work. Sure we ran into some hiccups and delays during construction, but I think after planning and replanning a wedding during COVID, nothing really could phase us.

All smiles on the day before construction as we prepared our three-season room to become our kitchen!

Any sort of work being done on your house gets annoying after a while, but when I found myself starting to get irritated or frustrated with the inconveniences of living in a construction zone for so many months, I’d think about my parents. Mike Sr. and Mo Money did major construction to their home back in 1993, when I was just two years old. After realizing it probably was illegal to shove four children in one bedroom they decided to add a second story to their ranch-style home. They moved our family of (then) six plus Boxer dog, Sam I (Not to be confused with a dog we got after Sam I died and named Sam II, but that’s a story for a later time) down to the basement while construction workers built a second story, completely reconfigured the first floor of their home and renovated their kitchen. Four children ages 2-7 and my parents in one little basement living like refugees. This was of course the pre-Jane years when I was still living my glory days as the youngest child in the family. Jane, in a classic youngest child move, rolled into the family two years later when my parents already had a big enough house for her to sprawl out in and a brand new kitchen. Jane never suffered like the rest of us-Classic.Youngest.Child) I don’t remember anything from this big construction project, but I’m sure my parents remember it all. I often wonder if they still have nightmares that they are back living in those close quarters with their young children. I did find a few photos of the 1993 construction to try and “jog” my memory of the events the last time I was at my parents. Let’s take a look:

Here we are looking like a bunch of Hill Billys out on the front lawn. I’m in the red sweatshirt, looking dazed and confused, holding my head. My older sister Bridget is in the green. Let’s zoom in a little:
I don’t remember what happened here but knowing Bridget and myself, I’m going to assume the two of us possibly got into a fight involving the rake in front of Bridget, resulting in injury. If you look closer my mom is behind me, tending to her garden, probably trying to disassociate both mentally and physically from her children/all that is going on around her.
And here if you look closely you can see me in the red shorts, shirt lifted, exposing my bloated white belly, being restrained by my sister Maggie. You can tell 1993 was a good sales year for my Dad seeing as I was clearly well-fed AND my parents were putting a whole second story on their home. Looking back at these photos I’m starting to wonder if my parents actually allowed us inside at all or if we spent all our time outside. I would not blame them in the least if they kept us outside.

Mike and I do not have children yet, so thinking back to the construction my parents went through all while keeping four small children happy and alive, I could not complain. We really only had to deal with massive flies getting in the house during construction, which I guess in a way IS like dealing with children sometimes.

When Mike was away on business I was left on my own to battle the flies. I also had a very traumatic experience with a bee that caught in the house. I tried to save it and let it free but the rescue mission soon went south and I ended up stomping it to death with a boot. It was a sad day for me.

Although we did not physically do any of the work ourselves, any construction project is a lot of work with all the decisions that come with it. After work and on the weekends Mike and I were out looking at cabinets, handles for the cabinets, countertops, appliances, backsplash, lighting, etc. We made so many trips back an forth to Home Depot and Menards too that we lost count.

Mike is super sporty everyone-he played soccer in high school and was captain of the tennis team. It wasn’t until just recently he told me that all the seniors were the captains of the tennis team by default, but it still counts.

Getting a good price on cabinetry took some work as well and we had to go to a few different places to find the best price while still getting quality cabinets. We finally settled on a cabinet place in the neighborhood. I remember sitting at the cabinet place with Mike, waiting for the woman who worked there to finish whatever she was doing on her computer to give us the final cost. Mike was probably sweating thinking about the price but I was distracted looking at a cup of very nice promotional pens on her desk. They were awkwardly placed in the middle of her desk-halfway between her side and the customer side so you weren’t sure if they were just “For the taking” or you had to be “gifted” with one. I mean they looked like nice stylus pens and they were very shiny. I could have reached over and grabbed one but then I would have to lean and stand up ever so slightly from the sitting position. Doing this would draw attention, which I wanted to avoid. I’m sure she placed the pens there knowing the customer would have to do this, which didn’t exactly scream “Here, take a pen!” and I didn’t want to be rude. So I just sat there staring at the pens and then Mike and I discussed the pen situation on the ride home. (We’d discuss the price later but the pens were more important). He agreed that it was unclear whether the pens were for the taking or not, but he made it clear that when he went back to drop off the check, he was getting a pen. “We’re paying enough for these cabinets that we should be able to have all the pens we want!” he said. Sure enough the next week after dropping off the check he arrived home with a pen for me. Not all heroes wear capes.

Appliance shopping was another thing that took up a lot of our time. Driving out to the stores one day Mike asked me what kind of appliances I may want for our new kitchen. “I don’t really care,” I said “Just as long as we are sure to get a good, quality microwave. That’s all I really want.” Mike nodded, smiled and said saracstically “I’m so glad we are redoing our entire kitchen just so you can have a good microwave.” I laughed as I realized how ridiculous I sounded but I use the microwave A LOT. I heat up a lot of things-I love heat. Our old microwave was just awful, I couldn’t stand it. I’m pretty sure it was one of the first microwaves ever made. It had a DIAL! Plus it was too small for me to fit my Dunkin’ coffee cup in to reheat it. (Yes I know you’re probably not supposed to microwave the Dunkin’ cups but I was already probably glowing in the dark from the radiation that 1980s microwave was omitting so just LAY OFF!)

Thank goodness the “Cooking Guide” on the right gave us instructions on how long to heat up our TV dinners and bacon strips we are eating so often.

When we were trying to decide on whether or not to get the double oven or standard stove-top oven that was an easy decision for me-The less ovens I have access to, the better. I do not enjoy cooking so having a double oven seemed like a nightmare to me. I could just imagine my siblings suggesting things like “Why don’t we do Thanksgiving at Kathleen’s she’s got that double oven.” I could not let that happen so we decided we could “Add it down the road” if we thought we wanted it later.

Shortly after our new oven came I tried to clean it because I’m basically Suzy Homemaker these days but must have done something wrong because ever since then the racks have not fit in properly.

During the kitchen renovations, I thought I was going to get a break from cooking. I even found myself smiling at the thought of having no excuse but to order take-out for dinner because we had no working kitchen. But to my disappointment, since we were MOVING our kitchen to a different room, our contractors informed us we would have full use of our old kitchen while they built our new one. After hearing this devastating news I told Mike I needed to “be by myself” for a while.

The months went by and before we knew it our beautiful kitchen was done and ready for us to move into it. Mike and I thought it would be a great idea to go through our old kitchen items and get rid of things before we made the transfer over. It was a great idea in theory but unfortunately after starting this task we soon learned that we are both psychopaths and have emotional attachments to certain kitchen utensils. I tried to get rid of one of our old, ugly, very rusty spatulas but Mike informed me that it is his “favorite spatula” and he likes to use it when reheating his pizza. I told him as long as we stay up-to-date on our tetanus shots the spatula could stay. Then Mike suggested we go through our silverware and get rid of any forks/knives/spoons that didn’t match our newer set. But in going through the drawer I had to stop Mike from getting rid of the knife I specifically like to use for butter AND my honey spoon. The knife is more lightweight than our other knives so it’s just nice not to do any extra heavy lifting when I need to spread some butter. And I don’t use honey often but when I do I know what spoon I’m going to grab. So off to the new kitchen our junk went.

Our newly renovated space. Try and guess which is the before shot and which is the after.

It’s taken some time to get used to our new kitchen. One big learning curve is our garbage disposal. We never had one before and neither of us had the luxury of growing up in a garbage disposal household. As children after finishing dinner Mike and his brother manually scraped any remnants from their plates into the garbage. Me and my four siblings were basically fed scraps to begin with by my mother so we never had anything left on our plates to scrape into the garbage after dinner so this whole garbage disposal thing has definitely taken some getting used to. But everyone said we HAD to have one and Mike really wanted one so being the loving wife that I am we got one. Mike likes our garbage disposable but I am not sold-they seem like they have a lot of rules about what can and cannot go down them. After weeks of shoving potato skins down our garbage disposable I found out this is on the “do not put down the garbage disposal” list. Whoops. I mean any potato type out there took a trip down our disposal-russet, red, sweet you name it. I was also putting carrot peelings down there too which I guess is a big no-no.

One thing we both agree that we love is our new dishwasher and it’s third rack-yes it has not just two racks but three, allowing us to be extra lazy and shove extra dishes in our dishwasher so we don’t have to hand wash them. We were very confused by the additional top third rack when we initially got the dishwasher, we had so many questions-Is this factory error that we have more than two racks? What do we put in this special rack? How does this work? But now we love it. It is also a big conversation piece when out with friends. In fact one night I even asked Mike to send me pictures of it while I was out with a group of friends and we were discussing dishwashers:

Being the always supportive husband he is he actually tried to go above and beyond and send me a video of the dishwasher but unfortunately my service wasn’t great where I was out at and the video would not download:
I mean is that not the hottest third rack you’ve ever seen or what?

We almost didn’t get the dishwasher because Mike was unsure about the bar on the outside. He was worried it was a “Safety Hazard” and people might bump into it. “Bump into it?!” I remember saying in disbelief because this thought never would have crossed my mind, “You’d have to be a complete DIMWIT to bump into that bar, it doesn’t even stick out that far! If someone bumps into it, that’s their own fault for being an idiot and not looking where they are going.” Mike agreed that it might be far-fetched so we ended up purchasing the bar-handle dishwasher with the surprise third rack. Two days after it was installed who do you think accidentally ran into the bar, resulting in a giant bruise on her leg? Me.

For a some time we grappled with the question “what do we do with the old kitchen?” For a while we were kind of in a limbo stage, still trying to figure out what to do, so we were kind of just put junk in our old kitchen for a few months. My nieces and nephews started calling the old kitchen “the play room” after I brought up a dusty box of toys from the basement and stored them where the oven used to be. We loved the suggestion but there were a few things in there that didn’t exactly scream “play room” during that limbo stage. See if you can spot them in this photo: (and please note, we moved the box of toys out for the kids, we did not actually let them play in there)

From left to right you can see the toys, then you have a sharps container of used needles, some chemically based cleaners, a drill, screwdriver, etc. All great children’s toys right?

We love having our new kitchen. I have been practicing my cooking skills in it, we’ve hosted many parties and had a lot of laughs around the kitchen island already. We are excited for all the happy memories we will make in our new space!

My niece Bridie approves of the new kitchen and even claimed “Her Spot” at the kitchen island.
Guess which of us is the youngest of our friends in the picture above.
I made “The perfect Pizza” one night for dinner so Mike had to take a photo. Half cheese, half veggie and fully delicious.
We really like dips.
The new kitchen is great to cook in and all but it’s also great for calling in take-out.

If These Walls and Carpet Could Talk

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And Together We Will Float Into the Mystic

Last month, Mike and I made it through a rather rocky couple of weeks. You see, while our garbage pick-up day is every Monday, our recyclable pick-up is only every OTHER Monday which is rather confusing. Well, add a holiday to that Monday and who knows what is going on! So Presidents’ Day rolls around and Mike checks our area’s website and it says there will be no pick-up on Presidents’ Day. Well we were lied to because it was picked up! We were devastated. For weeks the anxiety of how full our recyclable can was getting CONSUMED us. Would we make it to the next recyclable pick-up day? Would we run out of room in our recyclables can? The two of us drink lots of fluids-Propel, Body Armor, Diet Coke, Sprite, Coors Lite, Twisted Tea, etc. Our recyclables add up quickly! Every night at dinner one of us would bring up how we couldn’t wait until the recyclables can was picked up. We also discussed what we might do if we ran out of room in the recyclables can. Our plan was to of course just throw our recyclables in the regular garbage, which I didn’t feel great about, but we are also lazy so it wasn’t like we were going to make any extra effort doing anything else. I asked Mike if it came to that if he’d “take care of it” because I “didn’t want to know if what I was recycling was actually ending up in the trash” and he promised he would. “Don’t worry Kath,” Mike said “I’ll take this one on so your place in Heaven is still safe.” “Thanks, Mike,” I said. “I appreciate it because you know I’ll be so busy trying to talk St. Peter into letting you in with me at the gates of Heaven that I really don’t think I’ll have time to address this.” Well, I really don’t know how it worked out but all I know is that Mike put out a very full recyclables can AND garbage can on Recyclables/garbage Monday. It was a difficult few weeks for both of us, we almost had to cut back on our drinking habits, but like we always do, we leaned on each other for support and together we made it through. Since then we have NEVER taken a recyclables day for granted ever again.

Before our wedding day(s) people often asked us, “How are wedding plans going?” Now that we are newlyweds, the question we always get asked is: “How’s married life?” Well, Old Man Montag may give a different answer but so far I am really enjoying married life. NO PARENTS, NO RULES!! YEAHHH! Just kidding we have rules. Like Sundays are our day we ALWAYS get fries. So far the first year of marriage has been an eventful one. Well, honestly we’ve watched a lot of TV, but we’ve also done a bit of traveling…

We were slightly inconvenienced by not being able to get an Uber on our beautiful vacation so as you can imagine we threw a hissy fit about this first world problem.
Our trip to Ireland will have to be a blog post all on it’s own-it was a blast.

We’ve completed a lot of home projects, babysat a few times for my nieces and nephews, dog-sat and even fish-sat. I mean we had so many animals at our house I was beginning to feel like Saint Francis of Assisi. And add in the dog and fish and the place is a petting zoo!

We watched our nieces and nephew’s fish they named “Chloe Nora” one weekend. Things got a little crazy. Chloe is a party animal and can really drink like a fish.
We were both cold so this actually worked out perfectly

Married life has been filled with a lot of firsts. We had our first Christmas as a married couple:

We threw a party and another rule we follow is no party is complete without a Piñata. So we got a Frosty the snowman piñata and our guests took turns hitting it. Mike helped prepare each batter while I used my child’s microphone to be the sportscaster.
Mike knew when he married me that my Jesus snap chats would not stop.
After my hair finished air-drying and I got my Jesus snap in we took a real photo in front of our Christmas tree that we bought at Menards for $25.

We finally started acting like real adults and started using our nice dishes for the first time ever:

Literally had no idea how to make a salad. But after frantically texting my Mom and friends for help, the salad was a huge success. It takes a village I tell ya!

Married life has been filled with lots of learning:

I have had to teach Mike about different towels. One day I came into the kitchen horrified to find he had a bathroom towel out to use as a dish towel.
In my defense, why are the abbreviations for tablespoon and teaspoon so similar?!
I am still learning how to cook. Mike has been very nice when I mess up meals and he hasn’t thrown up in my presence yet.

And a lot of “adjustments” or compromising…

We don’t agree on the proper pizza sauce. I was raised to think you could just throw any red sauce on a pizza and call it a day but Mike is a pizza Diva and cannot use marinara sauce on his pizza, the jar must read PIZZA SAUCE. It has became a great topic of conversation among our friends and we enjoy asking everyone’s opinion on the matter.

But I think it’s the day to day small things that I have enjoyed the most. One thing Mike and I usually do together each morning is watch the news before we leave for our day. Usually since I am up WAY before Mike, I get to the remote first to turn the news on. But a few weeks ago, on this particular day, Mike somehow got the remote before me. I walked into the TV room to see him at his spot on the couch, drinking his smoothie with the CBS morning news on, NOT NBC which I usually have on. “Oh… You have the CBS News on today, huh?” I said, not even trying to hide my clear distaste. “What’s wrong with CBS?” Mike asked. “Nothing,” I said. “I just prefer to watch ‘The Today Show’ in the morning. It gives me the news but with a little more pizzaz! I get my facts but I also get my pop culture and my morning boost with Hoda, which I appreciate. CBS is too boring, it’s just like, ‘Here’s your depressing, boring news America. Womp, Womp.’ And that’s it.” “Hey! I LIKE CBS news in the morning exactly for that reason! I just want the news and no other stupid stuff!” Mike said defensively. “Yes, Mike” I replied softly, “You like it because CBS morning news is the OLD MAN NEWS. So this is why you are drawn to it. I’ll watch it with you for a bit but we are going to have to take turns with our news in the morning because I feel like I am watching an excel spreadsheet.” As I watched the morning old man news I decided to grab a banana and bit into it. Which led into one of me and Mike’s typical produce conversations:

Me: Oh sick! There are so many strings on this banana! Have you noticed how stringy these bananas are? I feel like I am eating the peel with the banana there are legit so many strings on these bananas we recently got!
Mike: Honestly I only eat them in my smoothies so I haven’t noticed the amount of strings on them.
Me: I had one the other day and it was SUPER stringy but I thought maybe it was just one bad banana and I wanted to give them the benefit of the doubt but I think they are all like this! Ugh gross! I can’t stand the texture! I don’t think I can eat these! Shoot do you think we accidentally bought organic? You know how I feel about organic things!
Mike: Oh, yup. I know!

Mike knows I do not believe in buying organic. Give me the pesticides is my motto! I am not paying extra for organic. Once I was done having a break down over the bananas, we moved on to talking about apples. I recently tried buying a new apple called a Cosmic Crisp type apple and both of us were blown away! Honestly it was a happy accident-I wanted to buy Honey Crisp but when I saw the price of them I wasn’t ready to take out a second mortgage on our house just yet so my fall back was coming home with the Cosmic Crisp apples, which were on sale, and wow were they delicious.

When it comes to doing the grocery shopping, Mike and I try to take turns, depending on what our schedule is for the week. Mike is actually pretty good about volunteering to go to the store, which I very much appreciate, but I also think he does this to prevent me from buying in bulk. When I shop, I buy the LARGEST container of something I can find. Mike HATES this. I absolutely love going to COSTCO and Sam’s club to stock up on things. I could spend my whole day at those amazing places. I am not sure why I get such pure joy out of buying in bulk. Is it the savings? I often ask myself. The fact that I won’t have to buy ketchup for the next three years? Whatever it is, it makes me happy, so I keep doing it. On my recent Sam’s club shop last week, I bought both a large canister of Folger’s coffee and a large canister of Dunkin coffee. As we were carrying items in, Mike was confused by all the coffee, seeing as I am the only coffee drinker in our household. “Why did you buy two things of coffee, Kath? He asked, “Are we hosting a brunch or something?” I smiled excitedly and said, “Oh, no, no, no! I needed more of my daily Folgers coffee but I also got myself some Dunkin ‘treat yourself coffee’ as well!” I stood there smiling, clearly very pleased. Mike was still confused. “But I thought your ‘treat yourself coffee’ was when you go get yourself a Dunkin coffee, at Dunkin?” he said. “Oh, no. That’s a ‘treat-treat’ coffee.” I replied. “This coffee is just a ‘treat’ coffee to make my mornings a little brighter.” I was still smiling. Mike laughed “Well that makes a lot of sense,” he said sarcastically. “Hey!” I replied, “Treat yourself coffee makes me happy and I think I deserve to be happy!”

Mike and I both try to prep dinners too. Mike is great about cooking when he can, but if you ask me, I do feel like since being married I have spent A LOT more of my time doing things like cleaning chicken, freezing chicken, then unfreezing it, chopping up vegetables etc. Two things I hate the most: Cooking…and putting pillows in pillowcases. I just don’t think you get your return on investment when it comes to cooking. You spend HOURS making something and then it’s eaten in about 30 seconds. I’d rather spend my day doing something else. Like buying bulk items or something, I don’t know. And putting pillows in pillowcases, not sure why I have such trouble doing this but I feel like I have to wrestle the pillow into the pillowcase every single time. I don’t know what I am doing wrong but it’s exhausting and I hate it.

This meal turned out really good and we both really enjoyed it. Private message me if you want the recipe.

Before our wedding day, Mike and I mostly talked about and did things relating to our wedding. Now that our wedding day is over, I’d say most of our daily conversations revolve around two main things: The dishwasher and the lawn. Our dishwasher’s schedule is really the big topic of conversation between the two of us. You see, Mike and I are still learning to blend our dishwasher morals and beliefs at this stage of our marriage. Mike is big on hand washing dishes, he also likes to pack the dishwasher to the brim, only running it when absolutely necessary. He doesn’t really rinse his dishes either but leaves food particles on them and just sticks it right in that dishwasher. I, on the other hand, try to avoid hand washing dishes AT ALL COSTS. I don’t care if I need to run that dishwasher five times in a day-I believe anything is dishwasher safe if you set your mind to it. BUT I rinse off my dishes before putting them in, I’m not an animal. I put no thought into to how I put dishes in the dishwasher, I just shove them in there, unlike Mike, who is very methodical about it. It’s like a game of Tetris for him. The only thing I am particular about is I like the silverware to be placed up in the silverware basket. I just feel it gets cleaner this way. Since being married Mike has adjusted his utensil dishwasher placement to this for me which I appreciate. The other day he was in the kitchen (where he belongs am I right ladies? Just kidding) and I suddenly heard him yell out “Ouch!” “Are you ok?!” I said as I went into the kitchen to see what the commotion was about. “What happened?” “Yea,” he said. “I was loading the dishes and I poked myself on one of the knives that’s facing upright in the basket!” I looked at him like he was crazy. “Well why are you putting the knives up like that in the dishwasher?! Sheesh! That’s so dangerous!” I said in disbelief. “I thought that’s how you wanted the dishwasher loaded!” He said back, “Silverware up!” I laughed and said back, “Well obvi I meant spoons and forks but not knives, silly! I’m not a psychopath, I don’t want anyone to get hurt here!” Mike rolled his eyes. “How was I supposed to know!” He said back defensively. “I mean, Mike, I am a little worried that you didn’t know. One of us could have gotten hurt the way you’ve been loading those sharp knives in the dishwasher!” I said. “I JUST DID GET HURT!” Mike replied. But both of us can agree, that there is no worse feeling than meaning to start the dishwasher before going to bed and waking up and realizing we forgot. So many mornings we will wake up and one of us will open the dishwasher and say “OH MY GOD! NO! WE FORGOT TO START THE DISHWASHER LAST NIGHT!” It is an awful way to start the day. Which is EXACTLY why I buy myself ‘treat yourself coffee’ to have on hand for myself for sad times like these.

When it comes to our second main topic, the lawn, I take on more of the role of “the listener” for this one while Mike does the talking about the lawn. Mike’s likes to talk about all different aspects of caring for the lawn with me, to which I just nod along. In the summer he likes to let me know about his watering schedule for the lawn and where and when he plans to move the sprinkler. In the fall he lets out his frustrations to me about how he just raked and now there are new leaves all over the lawn because “they just won’t stop coming down.” “Mike, I’m sorry,” I say sympathetically, “But we live across the street from a forest. We are going to have leaves on our lawn.” In the winter he tells me about his future plans to seed the lawn when the weather gets warmer. And in the Spring when we go on walks together we admire other people’s nice lawns and wonder what they are doing that we aren’t.

Here Mike is coming back from chasing away a squirrel who had they audacity to try and bury an acorn in our lawn.

When it came to making various decisions for our wedding, it wasn’t always easy. Mike and I sometimes have differences in tastes and opinions. But for some reason picking our first dance song was a quick and easy one for us. We both wanted the song “Into the Mystic” by Van Morrison. It’s our favorite. Not sure exactly what Van meant in the song but I always interpreted “into the mystic” as kind of “going into life” or starting life. One of the last lines of the song is “And together we will float into the mystic.” So, I guess to sum up and answer the question, “how’s married life?” It’s been great. We are learning, laughing and really just enjoying together floating on into the mystic.

Let’s play house

Last month marked one year since Mike and I bought our house, a beautiful, old fixer-upper that we absolutely love in a neighborhood that we always wanted to live in. Owning a home has definitely been an adventure, we’ve learned a lot-about home-ownership, ourselves, and each other, and we certainly have more learning to do. Luckily we signed a 30 year mortgage though so we’ve got time.

When we think back to where we were just over one year ago, our life was a lot different-Mike and I weren’t even engaged yet! I was still livin’ my best bachelorette life in my apartment with my two roommates, hitting up the bars on Western Ave which were just a stone’s throw away. I was rather busy with life as when we weren’t at the bars, me and my roommates had taken a deep dive into the classic show “One Tree Hill.” So every night, Chad Michael Murray was taking us on a roller coaster of emotions in the All-American town of Tree Hill. It was exhausting! Mike was still in his apartment in the city, preaching to everyone how he wouldn’t be back on the Southside for quite some time. CLASSIC, SILLY Mike! When we heard about the house that we now own being for sale, we looked at it “to be cute” not thinking we’d seriously consider buying it. After going through the house I remember we went out to dinner and ripped the house apart. But secretly I loved it. Old Man Montag secretly thought it would be great investment….And then somehow we found ourselves in the middle of buying a home.

The process of getting the home was stressful for both of us, but mostly for Mike. I was mostly pretty thrilled. But poor Old Man Montag was extremely stressed the entire time. Little did I know he had already bought an engagement ring and was planning to propose (to me thank goodness) in the coming weeks and now buying a house was thrown at him. Besides the whole proposal, Mike is a planner anyway, so the fact that he could not plan for this home-buying process really stressed him out. “I don’t know Kath,” I remember him saying to me one night when we were discussing the house “This just wasn’t part of the plan I had in my head. Plus I always imagined before we bought a house that I would have the chance to read some books on the home-buying process and do some more research before we became homeowners. I am just a bit stressed about this all!” “Ok,” I responded calmly. “First I’d like to address these books you mention you planned on reading about the home-buying process. Are you serious you dork? Did you actually plan on reading books before we bought a home? Where do these books exist? Do you own a library card or were you going to order them off Amazon or something? I have a lot of questions, but we can address those later.” We laughed (Well mostly I laughed) and then I continued, “Second, this may surprise you, but I always imagined myself doing NO research before we bought a house, much like my research of all things a do. So I am actually doing ok right now. But if you don’t feel comfortable about this I do not want us to do it.” Mike’s stressed level settled a bit when we really went through finances and costs and he was able to make an excel spreadsheet of everything. His spreadsheet included all that normally goes into a home: closing costs, fees, taxes, major repairs, etc. He also had a lawn mower on there, which was fine, we’d need a lawn mower, our house had a lawn, but he kept mentioning this lawn mower whenever we’d discuss the house. (much like he mentioned the garbage can when we talked about our Dewey Lake Wedding) We’d be discussing home buying expenses and utilities and then he’d say something like “And don’t forget, we’ll need to buy a lawn mower.” As if I could forget. “OK!” I finally said one day, “City boy Mike! I get it! We need a lawn mower! I know! We have grass! We will also need other expensive items that you don’t have on there! Like a new roof soon! Maybe put that one there instead! We will get you your precious lawn mower don’t worry. I’ll even wrap it under the Christmas tree for you with a bow if you want.” “I’m just thinking about the lawn and how it will need to be cut!” He responded. “I just don’t want you to forget about things like that. Those are expenses that add up.” “Whoa.” I replied quickly. “You think just because I have scrawny arms and I am weak that I can’t push a lawn mower and therefore I don’t think about it?!” “Well partly, yes.” Mike replied without hesitation. “Well!” I said back, “I will have you know that I had to cut the grass growing up! My parents made us girls do that yard work stuff too! AND I am a lot stronger than I seem! Those Propel caps are just on really tight and they hurt my wrists to open!” I also reminded Mike that he always needs me to open his Coors Light cans for him, but he claimed it was only because my nails are longer and he just can’t get his short nails under the tab to pop it open. Then we went off topic while I gave different examples of times I lifted heavy objects.

Ultimately though, after many spreadsheets and conversations, we made the decision together to purchase our forever home (Without any books) and it has been one that both of us are so glad we did! And we even had money left to get a lawn mower!

I was TRYING to be helpful and do yard work and prove how strong I was but both backfired on me. we eventually found the key though.

And, side note, despite all my bad jokes I made through the home-buying process Mike still decided to propose to me!

Mike locked in the girl of his dreams and a low interest rate on our home all in the same year. What a year for Mike am I right?!
My niece, Ciara, made us this housewarming gift after we closed on our house. She cut the roof-line totally wrong our roof looks nothing like that, and the brick color is completely off, but it was nice of her to not come over empty handed.

In this past year, we’ve settled into our house. We’re so settled in fact that we’ve already got our designated spots on the couch. Mine is near the space heater, next to my “drink tray” and close enough to the outlet where I can plug in my heating pad and snuggle up with about seven blankets because our home is freezing and I’m always cold. Mike’s spot is where ever I haven’t burrowed myself in yet. One of my favorite home purchases I treated myself to was my “couch drink tray.” Sure, we have a coffee table in front of the couch but I found it rather cumbersome always having to reach forward to grab my water, coffee, Diet Coke, propel and/or Body Armor. It’s just so jolting taking my arm out of my blanket, exposing it to the frigid air, just to take a sip of one of my 30 drinks I have next to me. (I am always thirsty, probably should get that check out but I’m busy with a house now so it’s at the bottom of my list) so I got myself a little tray that I could keep next to me on the couch at all times. Minimal reaching effort. Would highly recommend to any homeowner. Best investment I’ve made in a while!

As you can see I was unhappy, chilly AND thirsty being displaced from my normal spot.
Pictured here was a light day for the tray having to only hold a tea mug, Body Armor, water and the remote. Normally more drinks are on the couch tray.

In addition to our couch tray, Mike and I could not be more thrilled with our “Basement refrigerator” we just acquired. Like most homes in America, we have too many food and drink items for just one fridge to hold (Typical First-World Problems, ugh!) so we had to get a second fridge for all our alcohol, pop, and various other necessities. It has been a game changer! Has totally freed up so much space in our first floor kitchen fridge. We often wonder HOW we got through most of this first year without it. We both have agreed that the basement fridge is in the top ten best things to ever happen to us. We don’t have any children yet but once one comes along he or she has big shoes to fill because both of us have said we may love this fridge more than any of our future children.

Besides those major investments we’ve also made a lot of changes to our house and done a lot of different projects this past year. I don’t think we had closed on the house more than two minutes and suddenly tree killer Mike is hiring someone to chop down this big, beautiful old tree in our backyard because it was “too close to the house.” I liked the tree and didn’t want it cut down so I initially protested.”Ugh Mike do we really need to cut it down?? It is so old and pretty! I like the tree!” Mike shut me down immediately “The tree has got to go.” Heartless Mike replied, “The roots are going to ruin our foundation and I don’t want any branches falling on the roof.” I did eventually agreed but I did make a lot of jokes to him about how I was going to read the Tree the story of “The Giving Tree” before he murdered it but per usual Mike ignored my jokes. I laughed though. No one make me laugh quite like I do.

Another big project for us was the installation of a ceiling fan in our bedroom. I am not a fan of ceiling fans (pun intended). Mike loves them and really wanted one in our bedroom. I love the white noise of regular fans but HATE ceiling fans. Why? First, it’s just too breezy for me. I am always cold and if I wanted to experience some wind I’d go outside-which I would not do because I HATE WIND. I don’t want sleep in a wind tunnel, no thank you. Second, the breeze from the ceiling fan causes the little hairs on my head to tickle my face. This is rather annoying when you are laying in bed trying to sleep. Third, I’ve just had too many bad experiences with ceiling fans. I’m still traumatized from the ceiling fan at a place we used to rent every summer growing up. The clicking noise of that ceiling fan still haunts me today. I remember laying there in a sleeping bag on the floor, with about eight of my cousins, all of us shoved in this small bedroom, breaking every fire code in the state of Michigan with the amount of children we had staying in one rental home, just wide awake all night (as children with insomnia do lolzz) looking at that fan and listening to that clicking noise as everyone else just slept away. In my mind I was screaming “HOW DOES NO ONE ELSE HEAR THIS?!” If you told me five years ago that I’d agree to a ceiling fan in my bedroom I would have told you you’re crazy. I am more of a box fan person. It’s loud, you can direct the air where you need it to go, stick it in your window, it’s so versatile! But, when you love someone you make compromises, so I agreed to the ceiling fan. But I told Mike it had to be the most silent ceiling fan ever created and that the lights on the ceiling fan could not be too bright (I am very particular about lights-they hurt my baby green eyes… and give me migraines). So, after much research by Mike, we did find a ceiling fan that we both could agree on. And as a gift he got me a box fan for the white noise I needed. I was thrilled and had to text my old roommates right away about it:

Most of our other home projects this year have been painting. One thing Mike and I have learned about ourselves is that WE HATE PAINTING. And I know there are people out there that may say “Oh I kind of like painting, I find it rather calming!” No, you like it for about the first hour and you do not like all the prep work, clean up, or the numerous trips to the Home Depot paint section because there are TEN MILLION SHADES OF BLUE AND GRAY AND THE SAMPLE NEVER LOOKS THE SAME WHEN YOU PUT IT ON THE WALL. Please come talk to me once you’ve spent the past year of your life painting different rooms in your house. And not to brag but I am a good painter. I owe this to my father who is is rather meticulous about painting and passed along his children. Growing up my Dad was like a drill sergeant when it came to any painting around our house (Which us kids often helped with because Mike and Mo didn’t care about any child labor laws.) He passed along his OCD painting ways to his children and we are all good painters because of it. All of us except my sister Jane. My dad knew there was no helping Jane, she was just an awful painter. One summer when we were growing up my parents decided to completely renovate our basement. We’d all be down there painting the newly installed drywall, but my Dad did his best to keep Jane FAR FAR AWAY from any roller or brush. Every morning she’d come down in her painting clothes all ready to help paint like the rest of us, we’d all get assigned our job by my Dad and every single day my dad would say to Jane “Ahh you know what Jane? I kind of have a taste for some chocolate chip cookies. I bought some ‘break and bake’ Toll House ones from the store, would you mind making those for me?” What my Dad meant was really “Jane, you are a terrible painter and I don’t want you to mess up my new basement so I am going to assign you ‘busy work’ to keep you away from here.” Of course break and bake cookies do not take long to make so then she’d come back down and he’d have to keep her busy doing something else like “straightening up the pantry” or “going through the coupon drawer” (Not sure why we had this-we never used the coupons). He quickly ran out of “jobs that Jane couldn’t mess up” so he just kept buying different types of cookie dough from the store. We had so many break and bake chocolate chip cookies that summer.

As you can see my Dad is just delighted with all his new tools to work and put his children to work painting and doing yard work. Everyone except Jane that is. I’m surprised there was room for her in this photo since my Dad’s sixth child, the broom is in here.

Mike, I have found, is very similar to Jane in his painting skills. I love Mike to death and he has many great skills, but painting is not one of them. We all have our strengths and weaknesses. I’m a terrible dancer, Mike and I both know this and have accepted this. Mike is not the best painter, but he has a great attitude and has been working at it. I have been trying to teach him my ways too. “Mike! You are painting too fast! Paint is splattering everywhere!” I tried to tell him as we were painting our bedroom. “You have to go slower and be more gentle!” “Ahhh!” He yelled out in frustration “I just want to be done painting! That’s why I’m going so fast! I WANT TO BE DONE WITH THIS ROOM I HATE THIS!” Mike’s patience is tested when it comes to painting but he is getting better. I have sometimes found myself using my dad’s trick of trying to assign him ‘busy work’ when it comes to painting some rooms, but he really is becoming a better painter!

No matter how good or bad we are, we have come to realize that we were not meant to be painters. We hate it and always have to reward ourselves with alcohol after finishing a room.

Sent this SOS text to my brother, Michael, when he asked what we were doing over Memorial Day. He did not come save us.
Finished painting our bedroom just in time for our furniture delivery only to realize the furniture is rather tall for us. Whoops.
No one saved us.

One of our biggest projects so far has been our “Dateline Room” AKA our dining room. When we moved in the dining room had wallpaper, so we thought it would be an easy project to take it down and paint. We could not be more wrong. Turns our there was about four layers of wallpaper going back to about 1930. Once we got down to the final layer, the walls were crumbling and yellowed. The room looked like a murder had taken place there so we renamed the Dining Room “The Dateline Room” (One of our favorite shows.) After about six months of work and hiring someone to re-plaster the walls it finally looks like a dining room again!

So in summary, this year of home-ownership has been filled with a lot of painting, a lot of trips to Home Depot and Menards, but also a lot of fun. Maybe Mike doesn’t so much agree with me about the fun part, but he’s also done a lot more work on the house than I have, I’ve mostly given my opinion on things. (I think I’ve done a great job giving my opinion though). While we’ve learned that owning a home is a lot of work, and we still have a lot to continue to learn, it’s been a blast trying to figure it all out with my best friend Mike. I’m so grateful to have him on this new adventure. We both look forward to the many parties, Christmases, birthdays, etc. we will have in our forever home!

The day we closed on our house. Wish we got the tree in this one. RIP.
Hanging out in our Tree-less backyard. The lack of shade brings in more light and warmth though which I must say I do like.
Honestly could write an entire post about how much I love Menards-you just never know what you’ll find!