Summertime, Baby!

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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.