Spring Break Adventures

Since I work at a high school, this past week I was able to enjoy a Spring break, and what an adventure it has been! No, I didn’t travel anywhere, but why would I when I live in Evergreen Park, the “village of churches,” the vacation destination of America!

For the first part of my spring break my sister Jane was home from college, which was nice for me because I had a buddy to explore the Land of Lincoln with. Our adventures began with a Good Friday bike ride since it was a beautiful day. We needed to fuel our bodies before our big biking excursion so we were eating some snacks in the kitchen when Debbie Downer-I mean, my mom-came in and said “You know girls, you are really supposed to be fasting since it’s Good Friday.” “Oh my gosh, Mom!” I quickly replied. “Why do you always have to fat shame us?! We’re just really hungry from going out last night, we need to eat! Plus, I get headaches when I don’t eat for a while so I think I’m exempt from the whole fasting thing.” “Well I am going to fast!” my Dad chimed in. “I don’t want to get to the gates of heaven only to have St. Peter say ‘Wait a minute, Mike, it says here that you didn’t fast on Good Friday 2017. We can’t let you in just yet.'” “Well, I am really not worried about that.” I replied “I work for a Catholic school, that’s basically a one way ticket to heaven. The rest of you guys will probably have to make a pit stop in Purgatory, but I can cut the line and get right in.”

After a detailed discussion about Purgatory versus Limbo, Jane and I hit the open road on our 12 speed bikes. Bike rides are fun until you ride for about ten minutes and then your butt starts to hurt. “Jane, give me the gel seat off your bike, my bum bum is killing me!” I yelled while I was frantically peddling trying to keep up with her. “I need yours to go on any further.” “Don’t you already have a gel seat on your bike?” She said. “Ugh yes, but I need yours for extra cushion. You know I’m like the princess and the pea, I can really feel all these bumps we are hitting.” But being a typical selfish youngest child, she didn’t give me hers so we had to stop at my sister’s house to rest and also make her feed us lunch since my mom was keeping tabs on our calorie intake, making sure we were fasting on Good Friday.

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Mike Sr. helping the biker babes.

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I age backwards about ten years when I wear a hat

The next day I celebrated Holy Saturday with my friends on the north side of Chicago. I made sure I was back Sunday morning though for Easter mass with my family. Then on the way home from mass, like any normal Catholics, we ripped the mass apart.

Bridget: Ugh did you hear that super annoying baby behind us? I was like take the kid outside, his screams were literally piercing my ear drums.
Mom: I thought the homily was a little long. I wish there was someone to get the hook out when these priests go on and on. It’s a power thing, really, making everyone listen to them for that long.
Me: I HATE when instead of just speaking the priest has to sing everything like it’s their own Broadway musical. No one wants to hear you sing, leave that up to the choir.
Jane: At least the choir sounded better than they did at last year’s Easter mass.
Me: Oh, I wouldn’t know, remember I was in Ireland last year over Easter? I’m so cultured.
Bridget: Yeah, we know. I think you described that trip saying ‘there wasn’t a single minute you weren’t having fun?’

I think we can all agree Easter is a very dull holiday. You go to church, get your Easter baskets and that is about it. Pretty boring. After mass we didn’t do much but eat ham and lounge.

On Monday Jane left to go back to school so I thought this was a perfect time to paint my bedroom. Jane and I used to share a room but she finally moved out into my brother’s old room down the hall. My parents painted it for her and even got new carpeting for her room so my room was looking a little shabby. Plus, now that I am a sophisticated old maid of 26, I thought it was time to get rid of the Pottery Barn Teen decor that was in my room for the past 15 years. I must admit though, I did feel a little guilty getting rid of that Pottery Barn Teen stuff. I mean it was a big deal at the time when we got it, only rich families ordered stuff for their children from Pottery Barn Teen. I really don’t even know how the catalog arrived at our house. I remember I begged my mom to order a comforter from there for our bedroom. She finally agreed but basically threatened that this was the last comforter she would ever buy for us since they were probably going to have to take out a second mortgage on the house to buy items from the extremely overpriced Pottery Barn Teen. The way she was instilling fear in me I thought I was going to have to use that comforter on my death bed.

While painting seemed like a great idea, in reality it was awful. Do you know how to spell regret? P-A-I-N-T-I-N-G. I forgot how exhausting all the prep for painting was. Taping, rolling, using a brush in the hard to reach areas of the wall. I was actually sore from painting my room. It was almost as bad as having to make those Christmas cookies on Christmas Eve. And, I did everything by myself. Sure, when it was time to paint Jane’s room my parents practically had Ty Pennington and the Extreme Makeover: Home Edition crew there to help, but when it came time to paint mine everyone was “busy.”
“Dad” I said “When are we getting the new carpet installed for my room?” He replied, “When you say WE, it makes it sound like Mom and I are paying for it.” “Well yeah.” I said “You paid for Jane’s. And plus, if I billed you for all the in-house IT service I provide you and Mom on a daily basis, you would owe me much more than some carpet.” (My Father just got a new laptop from work so I’m sure you can only imagine how swamped I’ve been lately) It can be a little awkward when you father is also your landlord, but I know how to negotiate so I usually end up getting what I want. The tenant is always right.

Unfortunately, the subject of me painting my room reminded my father of how years ago my sister and I put up glow in the dark stars on our bedroom ceiling so he went off on a tangent about that and how the glue ruined the dry wall. It was something my sister and I did 15 years ago, but to my Dad, it feels like yesterday. For him the pain is still there. I think he might have removed us from his will after we put those stars up. I tried to calm him down, letting him know that I had no plans to paint the ceiling, those stars are the next owners of our house’s problem. But he still got pretty worked up.

After a few days of painting, I needed a break so I went downtown with some friends. It was great, we were like tourists in our own city! As the day turned into night, and we stayed out a little later than planned, I decided it was time to go home. But, to my dismay, my parents had “accidentally” locked me out of the house. When I couldn’t get in I initially panicked thinking to myself, “Have I been evicted?!” I quickly ran to the other side of the house to see if there was a pile of my belongs outside. To my relief, there was not. After a while I was finally able to get into the basement, but I was still locked out of the rest of the house so I ended up sleeping on the basement couch. I think it was my father’s way of getting back at me for those glow in the dark stars.

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This snap chat was a great conversation starter.

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Don’t be fooled by the kissy face emoji. Mo is savage, she’ll lock you out.

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I was expecting a donut the next morning as a peace offering but instead got a cookie. I still accepted.

The next night my Father made up for it by giving me a ride home from the bar, ensuring I was not locked out. My dad and I tend to be on opposite schedules on the weekends, which actually works out nicely for me. He gets up very early so many times he is getting up for the day while I am just getting home. So he texted me and happily agreed to pick me up and drive me home. I mean why call for an Uber when you can ride in Dad’s taxi for free?!

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Mike Sr. was chipper and ready to begin his day! Best roommate ever!

Other than those adventures, my spring break was pretty low-key. I went out a lot, went to Target a few times (splurged and treated myself to a wireless mouse, great purchase) and annoyed Duke a WHOLE LOT. While I was loving being off for an entire week I think it’s safe to say that all my roommates are very glad that I will be going back to work. Can’t wait for Spring Break 2018!

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Annoying Duke while he tries to do his morning stretches.

Mom and Dad Who Are You?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I am NOT Making the Christmas Cookies

Last week, my younger sister went back to school after being home for over a month on her Christmas break, which, to me, officially marked the end of the Christmas season. Looking back, our family’s Christmas this year was a good one, although it got off to a very rocky start. In fact, our Christmas started out no where near holly, jolly, merry or bright.

The trouble began on Christmas Eve morning. We had a smaller group this Christmas Eve with my brother in Cleveland with his wife and my sister with her husband’s family, it was just my parents-Mike and Mo, my sisters Bridget and Jane, and myself. Yes, it was another Old Maid Christmas at the Kelly house. There was still lots to do to prepare for Christmas and we were short handed with our skeleton crew. Old Maids can only do so much work! To make matters worse, when my younger sister Jane finally rolled out of bed a little after noon, we discovered she had been stricken with a “mysterious illness” which left her couch-ridden the entire day. And by that I mean she was severely hungover. We had both gone out the night before and Jane must have made a little too much merry. I guess she took Merry Christmas very literally.

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Three Old Maids in their natural habitat-their parents home. Drinking their parents’ wine, and sitting on their parents’ furniture.

One of the things I love about Jane though is that whenever she is hungover she always denies it and instead claims to have some sort of chronic illness. “I think I have Crohn’s Disease” she’ll say, coincidentally the morning after consuming mass amounts of alcohol at the bars with her friends. Crohn’s Disease has been her go-to illness lately whenever she is hungover at home. I told her she’s going to have to start switching things up and use other diseases and illnesses, otherwise my parents are going to start catching on. I said if she was looking for suggestions for the morning of New Years Day, Tuberculosis might be a nice change of pace.

With Jane busy dying on the couch/looking up illnesses on WebMD, many of the Christmas duties fell on Bridget and me, one of which, was making the Christmas cookies. And boy, was that a chore. It’s very misleading when you see these families in Christmas commercials and Christmas movies all gathered together in the kitchen smiling and laughing, having a grand old time as they bake delicious cookies because in reality that’s not how it is at all. They don’t show you all the prep and clean-up that goes into those damn cookies. All the bowls and pans that need to be washed, the worry of accidentally overcooking or under-cooking the cookies. It’s a lot of pressure! Those Christmas cookies didn’t bring us together at all. In fact, they nearly ripped our family apart. Between the five of us at home, no one wanted to make them at all. My mom made it very clear on Christmas Eve morning that she was not going to partake in any holiday baking. “Now listen, girls” she said in a scolding tone as soon as we came downstairs, “I am NOT making those Christmas cookies! One of you kids will have to make them. I am going to make the bacon ahead of time for Christmas Brunch tomorrow and then I am out of this kitchen!”

I had never heard someone talk about Christmas cookies with such anger and hate in their voice. It was quite the rude awakening. Bridget and I both looked at each other stunned. We hadn’t even been up for three minutes and we were already in the dog house. I quickly glanced at my mom’s waistline to see if she was wearing a belt, as I was afraid she might take it off and begin beating us with it. Luckily, she was still in her robe.

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Don’t let that sweet and innocent face fool you. Of course I’m talking about Ronald Reagan’s face on the book my dad is holding. Mo means business when she’s in her blue robe.

I’m my mother’s daughter so I also did NOT want to make those cookies. I really tried hard to negotiate my way out of doing it, to no avail.

Me: Do you really think we need to make the cookies this year? Does anyone even eat those cookies anymore? Let’s just pick up a pack of Oreo’s and call it a day.
Mom: Well we are stuck making them because Dad already made the dough last night. So the hard part is pretty much over, you girls just have to finish the rest.
Me: Oh Dad, if you started making the cookies I think you should follow through on the project and finish them. Isn’t it so rewarding being able to complete a project from start to finish? You always taught us never to half-ass anything, so I’m really doing you a favor.
Dad: Oh yea, nice try! I did my part making the dough, you girls need to pitch in now.
Me: Well we really should have sat down and discussed this as a family a couple of days ago because Bridget and I never agreed to this baking thing.

Just after I finished getting that smart ass comment out of my mouth, I turned around and fear overcame me, for I thought the ghost of Christmas past had appeared in the kitchen to haunt me. But to my relief, it was just Jane, pale as a ghost from her Crohn’s Disease or Scarlet Fever or whatever she was calling her hangover that day. Somehow she gathered the strength to pull herself off the couch and join us in the kitchen for our domestic dispute over the cookies. “I’ll make the cookies” she stated in a weak voice. “Ew, no” Bridget responded “We aren’t letting you touch those cookies with your illness. Go back on the couch, you look awful….no offense.” She added. It’s true, poor Jane really did look terrible. She reminded me of Grandmother Willow from the movie Pocahontas. Not because she was giving out great advice like Grandmother Willow  did in the movie, but because her coloring was off and she looked a little shriveled up, probably from being extremely dehydrated.

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Actual photo I took of Jane on Christmas Eve. Yes Grandmother Willow, the path home from the bar is never the easiest one. Well said.

Finally, Bridget and I accepted our fate of being the ones that had to make the cookies. We started them as soon as my mom was done making the bacon, but unfortunately for us, it wasn’t soon enough. The cookies took a lot longer than we planned and so we were running late for church. Mike Sr. was not happy. And to make matters worse, Grandmother Willow couldn’t even go to church because she was still too crippled. Mike and Mo were not happy with their three youngest children.

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Duke was kind enough to help Bridget and me in the kitchen. If you look closely you can  even see the flour on his muzzle from baking all those cookies.(Ok but if I’m being honest he really didn’t do that much work. I mean the guy doesn’t have thumbs, he was dropping cookie sheets left and right. After that he pretty much just sat there and drooled.)

Our bad luck didn’t stop there. Since we were running late there were no seats left at church, which my parents blamed on Bridget and me. We ended up sitting in the choir loft behind a gigantic organ where we could not see or hear anything. We could have all sat in front of a wall wearing ear plugs in the comfort of our own home for an hour and had the same experience as we did during that mass. Also during the mass, my mom and dad kept suggesting that I go sit at this lone folding chair in the corner of the choir loft away from all the other pews so I could “see the altar better.” After a while I was starting to become suspicious of their suggestions, thinking they were trying to abandon me. I had heard stories of parents leaving their children at safe places such as churches or fire stations when they could no longer care for them, but I never thought MY parents would do it to ME. If they thought they could get rid of me that easy, they were wrong. I wasn’t going to fall for their trickery.

After my parents came to terms with the fact that their three youngest children will always disappoint them, they changed their attitudes and we actually ended Christmas Eve on a good note. We watched It’s a Wonderful Life and ate pizza. Bridget and I could especially sympathize with Uncle Billy watching the movie this time around because just like Uncle Billy, we also couldn’t do anything right on Christmas Eve. At least in my parents eyes.

Christmas Day things really turned about for the better though. We just figured Santa was going to bring the three of us coal this year after how mad he was at us the day before, but to our pleasant surprise he actually left us gifts! But that’s not even the best part of Christmas Day. The greatest moment was when we witnessed a real life Christmas miracle. Yes, Jane, who was stricken with [Insert any disease from the Oregon Trails computer game-Typhoid Fever, Cholera, Dysentery, Measles- really, take your pick, any will do, you just can’t call it a hangover] just hours before, made a miraculous recovery! She was totally cured!

Seeing my younger sister Jane finally get up off the couch that Christmas morning made all the trouble we went through the day before worth it. And isn’t that what Christmas is all about? I hope next Christmas is just as magical as this one was.

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Celebrating the successful completion of the Christmas cookie project on Christmas morning.

 

Summer of ’16

The Labor Day holiday is both exciting and depressing. It’s nice to have a long weekend but sad knowing that it’s the end of summer and that winter is coming. Woof. As I look back at my summer I can’t help but smile thinking about all the fun things that happened. And surprisingly I only got 3 major sunburns! My lowest in probably ten years.

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Spent the rest of the summer trying to even out that farmer’s tan.

The summer was off to a rather interesting start as we found some unusual guests that had taken up residency in our garage. I discovered them when I was being a good child/tenant and went to take the garbage out. I opened the garage to grab something and there they were. I didn’t know what to do but I knew they couldn’t stay. There is only room for one freeloader in this household and that’s me. Get your own nest, birds, this nest is taken. After I was finished trash talking to the birds about being in my territory I texted my roommates to see what I should do.

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I was a little scared when I saw my mom’s response to my text. “I’ll take care of it”? What does that mean? Is she the Terminator or something? Was she planning on shooting them Old Yeller style? I mean I definitely wanted the birds out of the house but I didn’t want anyone to get hurt here. I was also surprised because Mo loves her birds. I can’t imagine she would do anything to injure them.

Well, luckily Mo didn’t do anything to hurt them. And we let them stay in the garage for a while. In fact, we bent over backwards for them. We made sure the garage was left open so they could get some air flow and give their deadbeat mother the chance to come back if she wanted to do the right thing. Do you know how risky it was for me to leave the garage open? I have a 12 speed bike in there and a pogo stick, both could have easily been stolen. I never once heard a thank you from those birds. My mom grew extremely concerned for the birds’ well being and would text us with updates throughout the day on the birds. It must be her motherly instinct that kicked in and wanted to protect them. I’m a middle child so I wasn’t overly concerned for them but I did try to give them water and some food. I was pretty proud of myself so I told my mom, only to get a harsh reply.

Me: How are the birds doing, Mom? Did you see I put out some water and sunflower seeds for them? Just call me Saint Francis of Assisi, I’m so good to all animals.
Mom (in a harsh, snippy tone): Oh yes, I saw that. The seeds you put out were definitely too big, they can’t eat those. I’m actually worried they might choke on them. I may run out and get some proper birdseed for them later.
Me: We’ll SORRY! We can’t all be bird experts! Judge me!

I only want her approval! Why won’t she love me?!

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Nothing like a dead bird text to ruin your day.

Sadly, I think both birds died. They kind of just disappeared one day. All that was left of their little nest in the garage were a few feathers and those gigantic sunflower seeds I maliciously put out to sabotage them, or so my mom thought.

After the trauma of the whole bird saga I felt I needed to get away for a while and collect my thoughts. It was perfect timing because I was scheduled to go on my first ever business trip! It’s really no big deal, I was just a business woman going on a business trip. I thought about buying a briefcase just for the occasion but last minute decided against it and just used my trusty Jansport backpack. (I’ve had my Jansport since fourth grade. Mo spurged and got me one with the leather bottom, they have a lifetime warranty. They don’t make backpacks like that anymore.)Let me tell you, business trips are awesome. I finally was able to put that business degree to good use. I felt super grown up too until the friends I made on the plane asked me what high school I went to. Only a small hiccup though, they were nice people. One of my new friends even carried my bag through the plane and put it in the top bin for me. Now that is service! We swapped business stories and we ended up being on the same plane home as well!

Once we landed I headed right for me hotel which was super nice. I was so impressed I took a picture of the lobby to send to my mom.

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To answer your question, yes, those palm trees are real.

I had never stayed in a hotel by myself before but it was great, definitely going to try and do that again. I didn’t have to share the small bottles of shampoo and conditioner with anyone, I could use as much as I wanted. AND I was able to use two towels after getting out of the shower, one for my hair and one for my body. But the best part was the bed. I had an entire king size bed to myself! Do you know how many times I was able to roll over without falling off the bed? 6 flips, 3 full rolls. Since I have a twin bed at home I was initially shocked with the amount of room I had. I felt like a fish going from a fish bowl to an entire ocean. The conference I attended was great too, learned a lot.

As many business people know, the world doesn’t stop for a business woman, you just have to keep on going. Right after getting back from my business trip it was time for a leisure trip to Michigan with my family. My brother and I like to refer to it as the “Vienna Beef Hot Dogs trip.” You see, most of my family was already up in Michigan but my brother and I had to work so we drove up a few days later. You would think my parents would be excited about us coming up but apparently they were more concerned about us bringing up Vienna Beef hot dogs. I guess the grocery store in Michigan didn’t carry them and they already had the buns and didn’t want them to go stale.  The amount of calls, voicemails and texts my brother Michael and I received from my parents regarding the hot dogs was comical. If the hot dogs could have driven themselves up to Michigan, I’m sure my parents would have preferred that.

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We were worried we’d be removed from the will if we forgot the hot dogs.

Once the hot dogs had arrived safe and sound, everyone was able to finally relax and enjoy themselves. We had lots of laughs, hung out on the boat and ate a lot of food. We even tried to take a nice family picture but Duke had other plans

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Apparently Duke did not want my mom in the picture.

Let’s zoom in a little closer, shall we?

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Duke claims there was a mosquito he was hitting on Mo’s face, but we didn’t believe him. Had he had thumbs he could have done some serious facial damage. He was in the dog house after that stunt he pulled. Pun 100% intended.

As summer usually goes, it went by way too quickly. I swear I did some other important stuff this summer, but these were the highlights.  Fall has some big shoes to feel, because the summer of ’16 was one for the books.

 

#relationshipgoals

A lot of people ask me, “Kathleen, what is your secret? How have you had such a successful relationship with your roommates for 25 years, longer than some marriages last?” Well, I’ll admit, for the first 18 years my roommates were legally obligated to live with me. And provide me with food, clothing and shelter, things that parents usually have to provide their children. But after that I swear it was all volunteer work for them. I like to credit our great roommate relationship with one thing: Good conversation. Communication is key to a good relationship. My roommates and I have lots of good conversations. Most of them center around food.

On any given Saturday you can find my roommates and me enjoying a delicious lunch at Pappy’s restaurant, a local burger place. Sometimes I get sick of eating there, but I’m not one to pass up a free meal so I always go. Every once in a while I’ll make a weak attempt to offer to pay, but my Dad always tells me I don’t have two pennies to rub together.  As we are eating our burgers my Dad always says, “We won’t need a big dinner after this huh, Mo?” Talking to my mother. When he says this I usually have to respond with something like, “Excuse me, but it is literally 12:01pm, dinner is like 7 hours away. Some of us are in our early 20s and need to eat like normal people.” With my roommates, sometimes I feel like I am eating with a teenage girl who is way too concerned with her body figure (my dad) and a toddler (my mom).
My mom is a petite woman and eats very little, and sometimes she gets the hiccups during dinner and can’t finish her meal. A couple of weeks ago she decided she had a taste for an apple. Unfortunately for her, Mother Nature made apples too big for her to finish so she left half of the apple on the counter. It was there for several hours and it was kind of grossing me out the way it was starting to get brown so I finally said, “Mom, what’s going on with this apple here? Are you going to finish it or what?” To which she responded, “Yea, I’m just digesting a bit, I’m going to finish it later.” A couple more hours passed and the apple was still sitting on the counter. So I decided put it in a plastic bag and put it in the fridge. I notified her of the apple’s change in location and she thanked me and said she was going to eat it in a little bit. A couple of days passed and the apple was still in the fridge. I asked her if I should throw it out and she said, “No, leave it in there, I’m thinking about making apple bread so I’ll use it when I bake that.” After over a week, the half eaten apple was still in the fridge. I couldn’t help but laugh and said “Mom, looks like you are still in the brainstorming stage with this apple bread, huh? Are you going to leave the apple in the fridge a few more weeks and turn it into apple sauce?” She quickly responded, “Oh, you little smart ass! I am going to make the apple bread this weekend.” Well, that apple bread was never made. After a few more weeks I decided to finally throw the fermenting apple out.

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The infamous apple that was the topic of conversation for the whole month of March.

As you can tell from the apple incident, my roommates and I only talk about important things. Another fruit that sparked so much conversation and excitement in our house were some mandarin oranges. I like to refer to the incident as “The Case of the Leaky Mandarin Oranges Container”. You see, there was a Tupperware container of mandarin oranges in the refrigerator and I noticed that it was leaking the juice out onto the shelf of the refrigerator. So I decided to bring it up to my parents while the 3 of us were having dinner.

Me: You guys, I think there might be a hole in the Tupperware container that the mandarin oranges are in. The shelf was all sticky, I had to clean it up.
Dad: Yea, you know I noticed that too. I wiped out the shelf the other day. It must be leaking.
Mom: Oh really? I didn’t notice it leaking at all. Are you sure there is a hole in the Tupperware container?
Me: Yes, we wouldn’t lie about something like that.

Well clearly Doubting Thomas/my mom did not believe us and decided she was going to perform a little experiment. She took the mandarin oranges out of the container and then filled it with water. Then she put the container on a plate to see if any of the water would leak out. (Please see picture below)

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An original science experiment performed by the one and only Mo Kelly.

In just a few short minutes water started to leak from the container onto the plate, confirming my father and my suspicions that the Tupperware container was, in fact, leaking.
Mom: (Pointing to her experiment) Oh, look at that! Looks like there is a hole in the container after all!
Me (Laughing): Wow! Dad and I were right! You could have saved yourself the trouble of performing such an intricate experiment and just believed us when we told you the container was leaking.
Mom: Well I didn’t see it leak in the fridge so I just wanted to make sure before I threw out the Tupperware.
Me. That was a great experiment though, I think you missed your calling as a 6th grade science teacher!
Mom: Oh, you smart ass!

Other topics of conversation include “the size of muffins now a days”, shower heads, and of course, rats. But the one thing we talk about the most is probably ice cream. My roommates love their ice cream and we always have these ice cream bars called Cupid Bars in stock at the house. It’s basically vanilla ice cream with a hard outer shell of chocolate around it. The other day my dad and I were sitting in the tv room when my mom came in. I could immediately tell by the look on her face that something was wrong.

Mom: Kathleen, have you had a Cupid Bar yet?
Me: No, why?
Mom: Well, let me know when you have one, I want to talk to you about it after.
Me: Umm… ok, why?
Mom: I think the chocolate on the outside tastes odd. It’s like a different consistency or something. I think I am going to call and complain.
Dad: Yea Mo, I noticed something different about them too. Usually when you bite into them a thick piece of chocolate breaks off, like breaking up concrete with a jack hammer. On this batch of Cupid Bars the chocolate seems too soft.
Me: Well you better call soon because it seems like they are still being eaten pretty fast. I don’t really think we can eat them all and then call to complain about it.
Mom: You’re right, I am going to call tomorrow. Something is not right with them. You know me and my heightened taste buds. Remember when I was the only one who thought something was off with that bag of Tostitos chips and it turned out they were expired?

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Oh my God this soft chocolate is an embarrassment to ice cream bars every where. Get out of here.

Well, Mo ended up being all talk because she never did end up calling on those Cupid Bars. And they were all eaten.

When we aren’t talking about food my dad is usually giving me a hard time about going out on the weekends. Since there is a bit of a generational gap between me and my roommates, we don’t always agree on what activities we consider fun. Sunday mornings we usually have a conversation like this:

Dad: Kathleen I went into your room this morning and it smelled like a brewery! I felt like I was getting drunk just by being in there!
Me: What were you doing in my room you creep?
Dad: I was opening the windows so Mom and I didn’t pass out from the fumes!
Me: Yea, yea, ok, sure. Just stay out of my room you weirdo.

I do have to be careful on my use of sarcastic remarks with my roommates since they are also my landlords. I like to keep them in check with my witty comments but I also don’t want to walk up the stairs to bed and find an eviction notice taped to my bedroom door.

The three of us may not always see eye to eye, but we make our living situation work. We aren’t afraid to speak our minds and we joke around a lot. Three is never a crowd in our house!

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These two, they keep me young!

 

 

 

Stone Walls and Sheep

Many times, I’ve heard people say things like, “The best day of my life was the day my child was born” or “My wedding day was the best day of my life.” Well, clearly those people have never taken a trip to Ireland because it was probably the best 9 days of my life. When I got home I told my family that there was not one minute of my trip that I was not having fun.

It took me a quite while to pack for the trip, I was afraid I was going to forget something. But I figured as long as I had the essentials-toothbrush, selfie stick, and various color headbands-I would be ok. I was very excited about my trip but I also felt a little guilty that I was going to miss Duke’s birthday. He was turning the big zero-seven. I mean, that’s 49 in dog years, it’s a big birthday to miss. I kept joking with him about how he’s getting old; I told him he’s already got one paw in the grave! He didn’t appreciate my jokes. But seriously though, he’s a Boxer and they have a short lifespan. I tried to make up for missing his big day by giving him a few pieces of Pup-eroni, so we were on good terms when I left. Oh, I also was going to miss my Dad and sister’s birthday while I was gone too. They got over it. I’m pretty sure I texted them.

I flew over with my sister and her husband, who were going to Ireland to visit some of his family. It was nice to have some company on the plane, even though I was a third wheel. The flight was long but I kept occupied watching some B list movies and eating the food they brought me every two minutes. I thought about reading but that was as far as I got on that one. Once we landed I met my cousin Molly, who I was staying with, at the airport. After a quick nap we met up with my friend Meg and hit the ground running with sight seeing and admiring the amazing architecture and decor of the inside of different pubs.

On the second day of my trip we went on a hike and the views were unbelievable. I’m so glad we had a selfie stick with us to capture the breathtaking scenery. While on our walk we encountered an Irish horse who literally thought he was the Beyonce of horses. He was totally posing and trying to impress us as we walked by. Molly and I fell for his charm and decided to take a picture with him. We couldn’t get a normal picture though because we kept trying to position ourselves behind the other. Everyone knows when you stand a little bit behind someone in a picture your head looks much smaller and daintier than the other person’s. I really tried my best to push her in front, I didn’t want people talking about how terrible I looked in pictures, especially if they were going to be posted on social media. I could almost hear the conversations that would ensue if I was in front, “Molly, it looks like you and your very large headed cousin had a great time while she was visiting!” No, I could not let that happen.

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Molly is really strong you guys.

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The horses pretended they didn’t know we were taking their picture.

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“I am the black stallion, bow to me!”-The horse (said in booming voice)

After the hike we really worked up an appetite. I suggested we hit up the KFC I spotted in Dublin, I had never been to an Irish KFC before and really wanted to experience all that Ireland had to offer, but instead Meg made us a delicious home cooked meal.

The next couple of days we were busy exploring Dublin. We did a tour of the Guinness Factory and became experts on pouring the perfect pint, went to a Gaelic football game, walked around a lot, and did some shopping. I treated myself and bought an Irish knit sweater. I was a little worried that if I wore it I would immediately be mistaken for a Dublin native and people would be stopping me and asking for directions and things like that, but I took the chance and wore it anyway.

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Just a kangaroo and her joeys at the Guinness Factory. As you can tell I really got into character, Molly was kind of half-assing it.

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We made some new friends at the Gaelic football game. Yay! go sports!

After we had our fill of Dublin we headed to Galway which was awesome. I was even lucky enough to celebrate my sweet 25th while there. Unfortunately, there was a little mix up on what age I was turning. You see, we were celebrating me being a quarter of a century old at a bar in Galway and there was a band playing. Molly decided to sneak up to the band and tell them it was my birthday. For some reason they thought it was my 16th birthday and announced that over the loud speakers. They then told everyone in the packed bar to wish me a happy 16th birthday, so everyone yelled “Happy 16th birthday Kathleen!” But don’t worry I played it off. I’m not sure why they thought it was my 16th birthday, maybe it was the green headband I was wearing. I knew I should have worn the white one that day. I also don’t know why people thought it was ok for a 16 year old to be celebrating her birthday in a bar on a school night. I guess that’s just the Irish culture for ya!

Then after two days of Galway and celebrating my 16th birthday, I headed to Roscommon to meet up with my sister and brother in law. While there I saw the countryside of Ireland, walked around some castles, visited with a cow, and even fed some lambs! I didn’t charge them for the feedings, I was nice and did it pro-bono since the sheep community has always been very generous in providing me with sweaters and warm blankets. Plus, I felt bad for the little lambs, it’s not their fault their mothers can’t provide for them. It’s really a shame, these young sheep women get knocked up, they have no jobs to pay for proper lamb care, no help from the sheep dads because they run off to lounge in the fields before the lambs are even born, and then they just expect the government to take care of them! It’s a vicious cycle.

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As you can see the sheep mom is swallowing her pride and letting me help take care of her triplets. 

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Me and Bessie the cow. Don’t worry, I asked and she is not related to that dumb cow of Mrs. O’Leary’s who started the great Chicago fire. That would have been awkward.

Once I was done playing Saint Francis of Assisi I headed back to Dublin for the last hurrah of my trip. I was very sad it was coming to an end, the days just flew by!

I learned a lot while in Ireland. I learned that it’s not only rainy there but it’s windy too. I also learned that they love stone walls in Ireland. I felt like every time I turned around there was another stone wall.

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We were really enjoying that ocean breeze and not uncomfortable at all!

Now that I’ve been out of the United States I cannot even begin to tell you how cultured I am. I’m basically an expert on world travel now so if anyone needs any advice just let me know. I left Ireland sleep deprived, dirty, and with a cold, but I wouldn’t have it any other way because it was time of my life! I can’t wait to go back!

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Me and my lovely hosts. Clearly I missed the text that said we were all supposed to wear white sweaters that day.

 

Summer Breeze, Makes Me Feel Fine

With the recent streak of warm weather in Chicago, I found myself thinking a lot about summer. Growing up, my siblings and I had it pretty good in the summer months. We were fortunate enough to live close by to my Grandma’s house, and she had a backyard most kids only dream of, complete with a pool, swing set, and sandbox.
Each day during the summer we would wake up and get right into our swim suits and beg our mom to take us to our Grandma’s so we could hang out with our cousins and swim. Sadly, our mom was a mean mom and had a rule that we couldn’t go swimming until all five of us finished our assigned pages in our workbooks. Boy, did she drive a hard bargain! Yes, she made us exercise our minds during the summer months (As if doing school work nine months out of the year wasn’t enough). I have to admit, I was usually the one delaying things because it took me so long to finish my workbook pages. The other four kids would be at the kitchen table diligently working in their books while I would be laying on the TV room floor complaining about having to do school work in the summer. As soon as my mom would leave the room I would plead with one of my siblings, “Bridget, come on! Please just do my work book for me! I don’t want to do it! Ugghhh! I’ll empty the waste baskets for a month if you just do it for me!” To which everyone else would yell back, “Kathleen! Stop being a baby and do your workbook so we can go! Hurry up we are all waiting! Everyone is going to be at Grandma’s before us!” Finally, I would get up off the floor and huff and puff over to the table to join the other nerds in doing school work.

saddle shoes

Ah yes, my pre-pool summer outfit. My saddle shoes matched perfectly with my African pride shorts and purple wife-beater top. I was quite the fashionista back then.

Whether I half-assed it through my assigned pages, or somehow bribed a sibling to do it for me, we always ended up happily on our way to the pool. We would all pile into the station wagon and jam out to my mom’s Don McLean/Jim Croce double sided cassette tape as we drove the all of 2 miles to Grandma’s. (This cassette was great except for the fact that “American Pie” cut off at the four minute mark and we didn’t get the whole eight minute song. This made for some awkward moments later in life when the song came on at wedding receptions and we abruptly stopped belting out all the words halfway through the song). Once we arrived at Grandma’s it was nothing but fun times with our cousins and aunts. There were really only two rules at the pool: 1. You damn well had better make sure your hands were completely dry before you dug into the bag of cheese popcorn. No one likes soggy popcorn. 2. No sand in the pool. If you were playing in the sandbox and wanted to go into the pool you first had to be hosed down by one of the adults. That water was so cold it was torture. It’s funny, looking back, it seemed my mom always volunteered to hose down kids with the icy cold water. Almost as if she enjoyed it. I swear I saw her smiling once when she was spraying me down but my vision was quickly blurred as the pressure from the sub-zero water hit my eyes so I can’t be 100% sure.
Sometimes, when we wanted a little break form the pool we would climb around the swing set. The safety of the swing set was questionable due to the fact that it was put in in about 1968 and some of the metal had rusted out. We were usually pretty good about staying up to date on our tetanus shots though so it was never really a problem. Plus, you get a cut on your arm just stick it in the pool. The high amounts of chlorine would kill any infection. The burn let you know it was killing the germs! Once we got bored with the swing set it was back to the pool we went.

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The whitest kids in America.

Once our eyes were practically bleeding and resembled that of a crazed drug addict from all the chlorine, we knew it was time to head home. Usually we arrived back just in time to do a quick run around through the sprinklers before dinner. Not our own sprinklers, of course, but that of our elderly neighbors next door to us. Their sprinkler system would go off at about 5:30 every evening which perfectly coincided with when we would arrive back home every day. Nothing screams “We are hillbillys” quite like running around through the sprinklers on someone else’s lawn. After a quick dinner we would head back outside to ride bikes or set up traps to try and catch rabbits, keeping with the hillbilly theme. We didn’t jump on the whole “cable TV” bandwagon until later in life so we had to entertain ourselves somehow.

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Either I just finished smoking some weed or I got too much chlorine in my eyes. It was too long ago so I can’t remember which one it was. (Side note my eye brows look like they are dangerously close to forming one big uni-brow.)

All that swimming really tired us out so at night we would kick back with a movie. Each week we would take turns on who got to pick out the movie at the video store. If you picked out a movie and it turned out to not be a big hit with the others, then naturally you’d blame it on someone else. “Well I was being nice and picked that movie for Michael so it shouldn’t even count as my turn! It’s really Michael’s fault the movie was so bad!” My parents would watch their movie upstairs while we watched our movie in the basement. The second the movie ended and the credits started to roll all of us would race upstairs as if our clothing was on fire because we were brats and no one wanted to have to stay and rewind the movie. Some were better than others in sensing when the movie was about to end and could get a head start. The unlucky kid left rewinding the video would usually yell up the stairs, “I hate you guys! You are all jerks!” While the rest of us would laugh and laugh.
Now that we are older we spend our summers a little differently. Things like work  and other responsibilities tend to get in the way of some of our fun but we still hang around the pool together from time to time. But these days instead of drinking juice boxes by the pool we’ve graduated to more adult type beverages. No matter what though, we will always look back fondly on our summers as kids, and we have our generous grandma to thank for that!

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The woman who made all of our summer fun possible. Looks like my slicked back hair-do was inspired by Uncle Jesse from Full House. “Watch the hair, huh!”

Time to Eat!

Not many families take time to sit down and eat dinner together these days. But in my family, growing up we ate together almost every night. At our kitchen table we each had an assigned seat, which was a direct result of the fights that broke out over the dreaded “Running Seat”. You see, being your typical fat-ass American family we have so much food that we need two refrigerators to hold it all (first world problems, I know). Our second fridge is located in the basement. Whenever we ran out of butter or milk during dinner the kid sitting in the seat closest to the basement door had to go down ALL those stairs, grab the food item, and then walk back up ALL those stairs to the dinner table. As you can imagine this was a great burden on us and so no one wanted to sit in that seat. My mom grew tired of hearing us complain and fight, “I had to go get the milk from the basement last week, I’m not doing it again tonight!” so she did away with the “Running Seat” and assigned us seats. Everyone got a chair except for my youngest sister Jane and me, we had to share a  wooden bench. This was fine when we were little but when we were no longer American Girl Doll sized space became a little tight on that bench. The youngest children always get the short end of the stick.

Each night my mom would make a delicious meal and serve her five kids Great Depression sized meal portions on tiny salad plates, just enough to prevent our bodies from going into starvation mode. She claims she did so because we just didn’t eat a lot but I think her real reason was so we would have leftovers for the next night. Nothing makes my mom smile more than a leftover night or “clean out the refrigerator” dinner night so she can get a night off from cooking. I don’t blame her, I’ll probably be the same way with my future children.

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Me and the gang enjoying a brew after dinner.

Since my mom did the cooking us kids were expected to help with the other dinner preparations and clean up. We were each assigned a dinner chore-someone would have to set the table, another person would have to do the dishes and another person was tasked to serve and clean up dessert. The Kelly family believes that no dinner is complete without dessert. Then my mom would make up a BS job like sweep the floor or something just so one person didn’t get away with not doing anything.

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Looks like Michael was on for serving/cleaning up dessert that night. He can’t even smile and enjoy his cake he’s so worried about all those spoons he’ll have to wash and paper plates he’ll have to throw out when we finish. Sucker.

When we were younger someone would spill their glass of milk just about every night at dinner. And it seemed no matter where at the table the milk was spilled from, it always landed on my sister Bridget. But she’s a middle child so I guess she deserved it. Once the nightly glass of milk was spilled, my oldest sister Maggie would usually trip and fall bringing her plate to the sink and break the plate. She went through a very long clumsy stage in her preteen years. It got to the point where we wouldn’t even acknowledge the fact that she had just face planted onto the tile floor again. No one would even ask if she was ok because we knew she would just get up, grab the broom, and sweep up the pieces of her broken plate into the garbage. The crashing sound just become background noise to us. She quickly depleted our plate supply back in the late 90s. Had my parents not spent so much money replacing broken plates, we may have been able to afford two more chairs for Jane and me.

Like any good Catholic family, we say Grace every night before we eat, although we like to add our own little spin on things. My Dad leads the prayer, saying the usual “Bless us O Lord..” then we thank God for everything he has done for us and then anyone can throw out special intentions, saying the name of someone that is sick, had a family member who died or just people that need some prayers sent their way. Because of this, our Grace can get a little lengthy and usually ends up something like this:

Dad: Please continue to bless us and hear our prayers, we especially pray for Grandma, Uncle Jim…
Mom: Kathy Johnson
Dad: Kathy Johnson? What happened to her?
Mom: Her brother-in-law just died
(As this unnecessary conversation goes on the rest of us still have our hands folded and are waiting to get back to saying Grace.)
Dad: Really?! How did he die? He was fairly young wasn’t he?
Mom: Yes, I think he was in his mid-fifties. Sadly he had cancer, he had been sick for a while.
Dad: What kind of cancer?
Me: Can we please get back to the praying so we can wrap things up and eat already? Let’s finish Grace and then talk about this.
Dad: Ok, sorry! Please help everyone that needs our prayer, protect our troops, and keep those dimwits in Washington, DC from ruining our country and putting us further in debt! Amen.

This then leads to my Dad getting very worked up and telling us how we will probably be the ones that have to pay for the country’s debt and that we most likely won’t ever be able to retire. Then I politely wait until he is finished with his rant to ask him if he needs a Xanax and then thank him for making my future seem so bright.

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Had Maggie not ruined this picture by being in her pajamas, this could have been an advertisement for Catholic Schools. Go Catholics!

While the seven of us can’t eat dinner together every night anymore, we do make an effort to get together every once in a while to share a meal. And for some reason, whenever we have dinner together now we always end up talking about rats. Each person has their own rat experience or story to share with the rest of the group. In fact, I can’t remember the last dinner we had all together where we didn’t talk about rats. Although family dinners are fewer and farther between these days, we always have a great time catching up with each other and have lots of laughs.

Tech Girl Here

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mom and Dad

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

The Few, the Proud, the Maureens

My mom, Maureen, is the best. I think everyone should have a Maureen in their life. She’ll make you laugh, make you feel loved, and hardly ever get mad at you. I have been fortunate to be able to have my mom as a roommate for the past 24 years. I think she thought she could get rid of me when she dropped me off at college but lucky for her I moved right back in once my four years were up. You’re welcomed Mom. I’m preventing you and Dad from becoming empty nesters. Within the last year we have been spending a lot more time together. With my other siblings married, moved out or away at college and my Dad traveling a lot during the week on business we have had a lot of “Kathleen and Mo” time.

Unfortunately I had resting bitch face in our first few years of rooming together

Unfortunately I had resting bitch face in our first few years of rooming together. Mo still stuck it out with me though thank goodness.

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Mo can rock a turtle neck better than anyone.

Little Mo and I like to do a lot of different activities together, a lot of which center around TV. Each day we record Inside Edition and watch it when I get home from work. This is where we both get all of our important news for the week. Sometimes we have to pause the show to comment on how the host, Debrah Norville, is so full of herself, always showing old clips of her glory days out in the field reporting or promoting her new book which I will not buy or read. We get it Debrah, you’ve been on TV for a long time. That reporter Lisa Guerrero is no better though, always making the simplest stories more dramatic. I think she’s out to get Debrah’s job. Deb does have a pretty good gig, it would be easy to become jealous of her. And Deb is getting up there in age, she’s no spring chicken anymore, I’m sure they will be looking for a younger Deb to replace her in the not so distant future. We also don’t like when they reference anything from The View. No one should be giving that show any credit, it really needs to die. Inside Edition needs to stop boosting The View’s ego. While these things annoy us about Inside Edition we are very loyal to the show and can’t stop watching.

Another thing we like to do is watch movies. If I don’t go out on a Friday night we usually like to lounge on the couch with a good movie. Unfortunately I had to take away my mom’s movie picking privileges after a few terrible choices. I just could not trust her anymore. Her first strike was a couple of months ago when she suggested we rent the movie Still Alice, she said she had read the book and wanted to watch the movie. Obviously I had not read the book since we all know I would rather do anything else but read, so I trusted her and settled on the couch to watch the movie. Well, let me tell you, if you are in a happy mood and want to feel extremely depressed, then watch the movie Still Alice. It was probably the saddest movie I had ever seen. I really felt angry and betrayed by my mother, not because the movie was depressing, I could handle that, I was upset with her because she didn’t even warn me that Kristen Stewart was in the movie. And she had a leading role as Alice’s daughter! She knows I hate Kristen Stewart ever since she did those vampire movies. The girl always looks like she just woke up from a nap and she moves at a snail’s pace. She is super pale too, I am seriously concerned about her vitamin D levels. It’s not healthy to be that white. Sit out in the sun and have some caffeine every once in a while Kristen.

The second strike was when she suggested we rent the movie Foxcatcher which turned out to be the most boring movie ever. No, it was not about a man trying to catch a fox,  although that would have been a lot more entertaining. This was about a wrestling team. It was painful watching some of the out-of-shape men in the movie wear those wrestling leotards. The movie really dragged on, watching water boil is more action packed than the movie Foxcatcher. After that I gently had to explain to my mom that I could no longer trust her to pick out good movies and that I was revoking her rights to do so. She took it pretty well, although I don’t think we have watched many movies since then.

One time we decided to get up off the couch and go cross country skiing. That's a mistake we will never make again.

One time we decided to get up off the couch and go cross country skiing. That’s a mistake we will never make again.

When you have a roommate for so long you also get to know the person’s pet peeves. My mom has two major pet peeves. The first is when I forget to turn on the night light in our kid’s bathroom. I know she’s annoyed when the next day she casually mentions “You know, I turned the night light on in your bathroom last night, I noticed you hadn’t turned it on yet”. That’s when I know I’m in the dog house. My mom believes it is important to have the night light on in case someone gets up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom they can see where they are going. I always forget this because I am not usually concerned about the safety of others because I’m too busy thinking of myself. Sorry mom! The second is when you use metal utensils on her nonstick pans. Don’t you ever, EVER, use anything but plastic or rubber utensils on her nonstick pans or you will be written out of the will. If you scratch up her pans you scratch up her heart as well.

Although we hardly ever argue, we do disagree on some things, but only really important things like when we run the dishwasher. I like to keep the dishwasher on a schedule, running it every night so that we know the dishes are clean in the morning. My Mom likes to wait until the dishwasher is jam packed, which leads to running the dishwasher at any old time. If there was room for one shot glass she would wait to run the dishwasher until the next day. This in turn leads to complete chaos. Frantic group texts will go out asking, “Does anyone know if the dishes in the dishwasher are clean or dirty?!” We are a family that rinses our dishes before we put them in the dishwasher (we’re not animals) so it’s hard to tell. There have been more times than I would like to admit that I have used dishes only to realize they were dirty. There is no worse feeling than that.

I think there is a point in everyone’s life where your parents become not just your parents anymore but your friends. They stop yelling at you and actually seem to enjoy your company, it’s a great feeling. I believe my siblings can agree with me when I say we were blessed with a wonderful Mom. She is sweet but will become feisty if anyone messes with one of her kids. She is our mom, protector and most importantly our friend. Thanks for being a great roommate for the past 24 years Mom! Hey just think, if you’re lucky I could be living with you and Dad for another 24 years! Let the good times roll!

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The whole family plus a bag of apples.