And Holy Is My Name

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Spelling has never been a strong skill for me.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

Baby Bird Flies Away Part II

Counting down, the top five things I’ll miss about living at home:

5. The Fights About the Banana on the Counter

My parents and I did not fight often in the time that we lived together, but when we did it was usually about only extremely important matters-like fruit left out on the counter. You see, my father wakes up and starts his day much earlier than my Mom. He is usually up around 4:30am and has his breakfast around 6am or 7am, then he is ready to start his day-he’s the “get up and go” type. My mom, on the other hand, likes to start her mornings off much later and at a slower pace than my father. She sleeps in when she can and doesn’t eat her breakfast until around 11am or 11:30am. My Dad’s breakfast always consists of cereal with fruit and a yogurt. He likes to put berries and slices of banana on his cereal. For some reason he never wants to use up the whole banana though, only half, saving the other half for my mom to eat with her breakfast, leaving the rest of the banana on the kitchen counter for her to eat when she is ready for breakfast. IMG_9787You might be reading this and think “Oh that’s so cute! What a cute couple splitting a banana!” BUT IT’S NOT CUTE AT ALL. Bananas turn brown very fast after you unpeel them and start to smell. ESPECIALLY when the banana sits there for a few hours waiting for my mom to eat it. This banana always bothered me because I have a very heightened sense of smell and it just grossed me out. I was patient with it for a very long time but one morning I just could not take it any longer. Thus, a small argument took place:

Me: DAD, I CAN’T TAKE THIS BANANA ON THE COUNTER ANY LONGER! IT’S GROSS AND SMELLS! CAN WE PLEASE JUST THROW IT OUT!
Dad: NO! Why would we throw it out?! It’s a perfectly good half of a banana! WE ARE NOT THROWING IT OUT!
Me: It’s not even good anymore! It’s all brown and gross! No one should eat a brown banana!
Dad: No, no. You see, all you have to do is take a knife and cut off a thin slice of where the banana was exposed to the air. Then it’s as good as new! DO NOT throw that banana out, Mom will eat it with her breakfast.
Me: That could be 12 hours from now! You know mom doesn’t eat breakfast right when she gets up! Can’t you just use a whole banana in your cereal or buy smaller bananas?!
Dad: The system Mom and I have in place works perfectly fine, there’s no need to buy smaller bananas. I don’t see any problem with leaving a banana on the kitchen counter for a few hours.
Me: And you know what’s another thing?! Why do you have to reuse tea bags and leave them on the counter?! Is it still the Great Depression?! Can we not afford tea bags?! I will gladly start picking up the tab on boxes of tea for this house if that is the case! And I don’t even drink regular tea! Only Twisted Teas.

I had gotten so upset by the banana that I just couldn’t stop. I was like a bottle that had been shaken for too long and was now exploding. Eventually I collected myself and my dad and I were friends again.

That was the first of many banana on the counter fights. Once Jane moved back home she also got involved. It was the Baby Boomers against the Millennials when it came to the banana. In the end we lost, but Mike did start covering part of the banana in foil to help slow down the browning process.

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It’s like, we get it, you’re married. You don’t need to split a banana to show people you love each other. 

4. Having Meals Together

The part I will miss about having meals together with my old roommates is not really the food, but the conversation. Whether it was at the dinner table, or at our Saturday lunches at my Dad’s favorite burger place, Pappy’s, I knew I was in for a nice meaningful conversation. Just recently over dinner, my mom was telling us a great story about how her and my dad got carded at Pizza Hut in Michigan. She was extremely angry that they got carded. She told the story with as much hatred and passion as she would talk about her arch-enemy: energy-efficient washing machines. I remember wanting to ask her so many questions (i.e. Why they were dining at Pizza Hut, what kind of alcohol they were trying to order, how were the bread sticks, did they go with the stuffed crust or regular, etc.) but I did not want to interrupt her storytelling.

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Me and Jane discussing a Pappy’s lunch. Definitely miss those free Pappy’s meals. Most conversations that happen at Pappy’s still consist of their decision to switch from Coke to Pepsi products. 

Over another lunch, my mom told a more light-hearted story about how she accidentally went to church NUMEROUS times in a span of two days (and none of those days were a Sunday, it was all during the week!) During this story I felt it was ok to interrupt her so I interjected and said, “Excuse me Mom, but have you heard the song ‘And They’ll Know We Are Christian By Our Love?'” At the mention of that song, I saw her eyes light up and she said excitedly, “Oh yes! That is a great song! One of my favorites! But I don’t think they played that at any of the masses I went to, why do you ask?” “Oh ok,” I responded, “Just wanted to be sure because it seems like you are trying to show us how Christian you are by how many times you went to church. I on the other hand, like to live by that song and show I am Christian, specifically Catholic, by my love. Ok continue with your story.” “Oh you little smart ass!” She said as we all had a good laugh. But I laughed the hardest because like I always say, no one can make me laugh quite like I can.

I will really miss these stories and conversations but the good thing is since I live so close I can stop by and hear a good story from Mike or Mo any time I want. Now that the weather is colder it seems my Mom’s favorite topic of conversation is her heating pad. Mo loves her heating pads and uses them a lot. Not so much for aches and pains, but mainly to keep warm in the house since she lives with my dad. As part of a moving gift she bought me my own heating pad and every time I stop by she asks me about it.

Mom: Kathleen, did you try that new heating pad I got you yet?
Me: No, not yet but I’m going to try it soon.
Mom: I kind of splurged and went with the nicer one for you. You know my good heating pad broke at the end of last winter?
Me: Yea, yea. No, I know, I remember-

At that point I tried to cut her off from her heating pad tirade but it was too late, she was on her way into the bathroom closet to take out her new heating pad, which she HATES, and have me feel the new, cheap material. Tragically, my mom’s favorite heating pad died at the end of last winter and she has not been able to find a good replacement. Just about each time I’ve been home since September she has found a way to bring up the heating pad, making a point to take it out of the closet and make me feel the cheap material.

Mom: Here FEEL THIS! (She says this as she shoves the heating pad in my face so I can feel the new material)
Me: Yea, that’s… that’s not as soft a material as the old one. (I say as I grab her hands and slowly and cautiously try to lower the old heating pad down, away from my face)
Mom: They DO NOT make heating pads like they used to, I even tried transferring the material from the old heating pad onto this new heating pad but it did not work. So let me know when you use yours I may get that same brand for myself.

3. Mornings With The Roommates

Mornings with the old roommates were always fun. My Dad is just a ball full of energy in the mornings, making jokes and whistling his favorite song, Frosty the Snowman, as he moves around the house. Mike Sr. thrives in the morning hours. One of his favorite morning activities is feeding our dog, Duke. It’s interesting that my Dad likes fixing hot, gourmet meals for the dog but doesn’t do that too often for his own kids. Jane and I love that our dad loves feeding Duke because it means we don’t have to do it. It was always the worst when my dad was gone traveling on business and Jane or I had to feed Duke because we were always running late.

Jane is the complete opposite of my dad when it comes to being a morning person. After about 30 alarms, Jane’s body would slowly make its way downstairs to the kitchen but I don’t think Jane’s soul got up until around noon because she was always a zombie before work.

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Who needs an alarm clock when you can wake up to your dad whistling a Christmas tune?!

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Jane’s soul-less body stares off into space while Duke waits patiently for Mike Sr. to make his hot breakfast.

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“MIKE! WHERE’S MY BREAKFAST?!”-Duke

2. Being the Backbone of the Household

Jane and I would often joke with each other about which one of us was the backbone of the household. Mike and Mo were DEFINITELY out of the running after they bought their cottage in Michigan. After that purchase their main house was old news to them so Jane and I had to run things. Jane loved to claim that she was the backbone of the house but we all know I was the clear winner. I don’t know what I’ll do with all my free time now that I no longer have to keep a household together!

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I borrowed her tan sandals in case anyone was wondering which shoes.

1. Mike And Mo

And the number one thing I’ll miss about living at home is having my parents, Mike and Mo as my landlords and roommates. I know they are technically two things but they are married and share one banana so they get to count as one. (Jane, don’t get me wrong I’ll really miss you too but I’m still a little salty from that time you abandon me for a few months to live your best life in Prague).

Sure, I will miss the free groceries, utilities and roof over my head, but what I’m really going to miss are a lot of the little things like watching Inside Edition with Mo or joking around with my Dad. So thanks, Mike and Mo for providing the best nest a baby bird could ask for. Thanks for putting up with my sarcastic comments, odd sleeping hours, goofiness, loud music and long showers for the past 27 years. I finally flew away, but I haven’t gone too far. In fact I’ll probably be back tonight to see what you guys had for dinner. You guys are welcomed at my new nest any time.

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They were kind of always exclusive with their aprons but it’s fine.

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Mike Sr., Mo and their five baby birds.

 

Little Lambs go to Italy Part IV, the Final Chapter: Don’t Let This Be Our Final Song

IMG_5340After two days in Venice it was time to head to Milan. We checked into our hotel which seemed nice but smelled weird and then went on a little walking tour of Milan. After our tour we had free time to shop or walk around more. We decided to make the most out of our time in Milan by going to a restaurant with our tour group friends, eating, and sitting there for about three hours. Honestly we were so hot and tired sitting in that restaurant was a great decision. We saw enough of Milan, no regrets.

After a few hours of loitering in that restaurant we met up with the rest of our tour group to go to our dinner event which was called “A Taste of Milan.” It was a very unique experience where a local Milan chef hosted all of us in his home and cooked for us. The food was good but the room was very small for our large group and there were no chairs so you had to eat standing up. It was basically my nightmare. Have you every tried to hold a drink and eat off a plate that YOU are holding all at the same time? It’s very difficult. PLUS, the place was so dark I could barely see what I was eating. I felt like I was dining in a Hollister store or something the room was so dark and cramped. I was very tempted to turn on the flashlight app on my phone just to see what I was eating. I was not a fan. “What’s with this stupid hipster event?!” I said to Jane, sounding like a 72-year-old man as I struggled to eat the finger food off my plate WHILE holding my drink AND standing. “I’m not a table! I only have two hands I can’t do this! There’s not even a counter to place my items on!” No one was impressed with the dinner so we decided to all head back to the hotel.

Once we arrived back at our smelly hotel I showered and Jane laid on her bed because she was very tired, probably from standing and eating. Then we both packed up because we had to leave very early the next day. “You know what would be really nice,” Jane said to me as she was folding up her clothes. “Is if YOU dried off the shampoo and put it back in the bag this time.” Wow. I thought to myself. Listen to this little sassy McSasserson here. The whole trip we had been sharing many items, because we were basically an old married couple, including our shampoo and CLEARLY this sharing arrangement was starting to take its toll on us now as we were nearing the end of the trip. Little did Jane know that I did plan to put the shampoo back in the bag, I was just letting it air dry in the bathroom a little before I put it in her suitcase, as to avoid mold. Classic youngest child jumping to conclusion. Since no one “sasses the sasser” (I am the “sasser” in the family-which, by definition is “one who sasses others” so how dare Jane try to be sassy to me.) I responded with a sassy comment right back. “Well, Jane, you know what I think would be really nice? IS IF YOU STOPPED USING ALL MY PUFFS PLUS LOTION TISSUES!” I had bought a pack of the to-go packaged Puffs Plus Lotion tissues and Jane had LITERALLY used up just about every single tissue. I had yet to use even one. I mean, had I bought Kleenex brand, go for it girl, but these were Puffs Plus Lotion tissues that I had splurged on and my nose had yet to experience the luxury. Do you know how many tissues Jane packed? Zero. She packed zero.

The next morning we got back on our bus for our drive to Monterosso Al Mare where we ate some pesto paninis and walked around. Then we took a boat to Cinque Terre! That place was by far everyone’s favorite stop. We rented day beds on the beach and we were right by a bar that made delicious alcoholic slurpies with fresh fruit and played country music. What could be better? After a few hours hanging at the beach we took the train back to our hotel. That train ride was quite the experience-it was very hot and crowded. This Southside bumpkin would have much rather called an Uber. Our hotel was very old and creepy and very confusing to get around. Our room number was 133 but we were actually on the third floor which made no sense at all. But the shower was the best shower out of all the hotels we stayed at!  Plus we got there so late Jane had no time to put an extremely large towel on the bathroom floor to use as a shower mat so I could move freely around the bathroom without worrying I was going to trip and break my face.

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Pale White kids take on the sun

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Jane thinking about McDonald’s

After Cinque Terre we traveled to Pisa to see the Leaning Tower and it was honestly one of the most anti-climatic experiences of my life. By this point we had already seen like four leaning bell towers so the Leaning Tower of Pisa did not impress Jane or me at all. I was more concerned about the architectural industry in Italy and why they cannot seem to teach their architects how to design buildings that are straight. While other people took photos in front of the tower Jane and I decided to entertain ourselves by taking photos of all the tourists pretending to hold up the leaning tower. We laughed our heads off because they looked ridiculous.

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Jane and I are both going to Hell for taking these photos. But I think if we can travel together we will can manage spending eternity together.

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I call this one “Jane when she’s hungover.”

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Jane asked if I wanted my photo taken in front of the Leaning Tower of Pisa and I said I would rather have my photo taken with this garbage can. She laughed but then I actually made her taken my picture with the garbage can.

After Pisa we went back on the bus, drove for a few hours, and then stopped for a wine tour and tasting. The wine was good but then the lady was kind of a bitch and kicked us all out after she realized we were poor young people and weren’t going to buy anything else from her. After that we got back on the bus to make our way back to Rome. We checked into our sketchy hotel and then face-timed with our sister, her husband and their baby because it was baby Michael’s 1st birthday! It was basically a one way conversation since Jane and I did all the talking and baby Michael didn’t even ask us a single thing about our trip, which I thought was kind of rude and selfish-he just kept making classic baby noises so we hung up and went on our walking tour of Rome. It was around 8pm when we started our tour which turned out to be the perfect time to go-the streets were less crowded and the temperature was a little cooler. We saw a lot of statutes, lot of old buildings and then threw a coin in some fountain. After that it was time to hit the bars.

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Jane the boozer next to her favorite tower of the trip-the beer tower.

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“Kids! Do you see this heating bill?! Now do you understand why I keep the thermostat in the house so low?! Put a sweatshirt on you’ll be fine!”

The next day was the very last day of our trip! We got to sleep in a little bit (8:30am) and then we had a guided tour of the Colosseum. That place was cool but I thought it could use some tuck-pointing work. Looked like they had really let the place go. I really wanted to walk in the middle of the Colosseum and scream “ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?!” like Russell Crowe in the movie Gladiator but apparently they don’t let people go in the center of the ring anymore. Maybe, if certain people had kept the place up and gotten it tuck-pointed YEARS ago tourist would still be able to walk around the center but, oh well.

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The place was a mess. Total gut job.

After the Colosseum we got lunch with our friends and walked around Rome a bit. Then we headed back to our hotel where Jane and I got into a fight about a thank you note. We had our Farewell dinner that we needed to get ready for but we were both so tired we decided to take a quick nap. Jane set a 20 minute timer for our nap on her phone and I don’t think she even finished setting her phone down on the bedside table before I heard her snoring away. As Sleeping Beauty snored, I spent my 20 minutes looking up the signs and symptoms of narcolepsy as I was convinced Jane has this disorder after traveling with her for two weeks.

A half hour later Jane was ready and well rested for our farewell dinner as I, the insomniac, rushed to finish covering up the bags and dark circles under my eyes from my sleep deprivation. After that, we headed down the stairs all dolled up for our fancy farewell dinner with our group. While walking down the stairs Jane and I got in to our last ridiculous argument of the trip, and it was a big one. Awe, the last fight-what a bittersweet moment. To summarize it, Jane asked me if I felt like it was graduation night, like I was “graduating from this tour,” to which I responded “no” because it did not feel like a graduation at all to me. Then she proceeded to get very mad at me because I answered no and told me I should have just been polite and agreed with her. I then yelled back that she asked me how I “felt” and I in no way, shape or form felt the slightest bit that I was graduating from something, but rather, that it was my last night on a trip to Italy because that’s what was happening. She was mad that I couldn’t understand why the night would be like a graduation, and I was mad at Jane for being mad at me for not feeling like it was graduation night. This fight continued on for way too long.

Our dinner was delicious and then it turned into our group having a big dance party. After that we went out to an American bar because how else would you spend your last night in Rome?! It was an awesome night and we were so sad to say goodbye to all our new friends.

We couldn’t believe how fast the trip went. Before we knew it the 12 day trip had come to an end and we were at the airport, looking for a McDonald’s, waiting to board our flight home. We saw so many cool places and met AMAZING people who we now are lucky to call friends! It was a trip of a lifetime we will never forget.

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Just a 12-year-old ready to head back to America-the land of free bathrooms and plenty of water.

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Our seats on the flight home were across the aisle from each other-probably the farthest we’d been apart in two weeks. (Jane quickly fell asleep after waving)

Little Lambs Go To Italy Part 3: And on the 7th Day, Jane Said, “I HATE Being on a Schedule”

IMG_5228After having a blast in Florence it was time to pack up and head to Verona. Our stop in Verona was extremely quick-only a few hours so we tried to pack a lot in very quickly. We stopped at some Romeo and Juliet thing, I don’t really know what it was but you went and touched the boob of Juliet for “good luck in love” which was weird but it was a tourist attraction so we did what everyone else was doing. Then apparently Verona is famous for having delicious strawberries so we got some of those which we smothered in chocolate. (Life hack: if you take something healthy and drown it in something non-healthy, you can’t even taste the healthy part! I practice this every time a bring a salad for lunch at work-throw some leaves in a container and then douse it in ranch dressing-I call it “ranch dressing with a side of salad.” Message me directly if you’d like the recipe.)  We walked around Verona but it was extremely hot and sunny and I was very thirsty AND I had to go to the bathroom so I was NOT living my best life. The one thing I didn’t like about Italy was that they charge you to use the bathroom and it’s very hard to find water. This was problematic for me because I am always thirsty and have the bladder the size of a peanut. So as we walked around Verona trying to find a bathroom and a place to buy water I was becoming more and more aggravated. “Ugh! I’m so thirsty! What does a girl gotta do to get some water in this country?! I’m straight up bout to turn into a raisin right now! And it’s not fair that they charge you to use the bathroom! I’m a human! I have to drink water and go to the bathroom, STOP CHARGING ME FOR BASIC HUMAN NEEDS, ITALY!” I said frustrated. “Yeah, well ya know,” Jane responded calmly. “You get charged to eat. You pay to eat at restaurants and you have to buy groceries at the grocery store. Eating is a basic human need.” “Well AT LEAST eating is enjoyable!” I said back. “Do you think using a public bathroom is enjoyable?! Do you like squatting above a toilet so your bum bum doesn’t touch a seat other bum bums have been on?! Do you think I ENJOY being thirsty all the time?!” So then that led into Jane and me having a heated debate over basic human needs and whether or not we should be charged for them.

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Jane being a perv. That’s assault, sister!

Once we finally found a bathroom and water we decided we needed to do something that would make us happy since we were still both a little tense from our human needs argument. So we decided to go find a McDonald’s. I was thrilled because while I had been to an American McDonald’s I had never been to an ITALIAN McDonald’s so eating there had been on my bucket list for quite some time. Jane was happy because like my mom, she suffers from severe “Fry attacks” where she immediately needs some McDonald’s french fries. We believe this condition is unfortunately hereditary, but luckily so far only my mother and Jane have been diagnosed with having fry attacks. They have encouraged the rest of us to get tested though.

A snap Chat I sent to my siblings of my mom in the midst of a horrific fry attack on our way to Michigan last October. It was very traumatizing for me to see my mother in that state.

Well unfortunately we never got to experience the Verona McDonald’s because by the time we got there the line to order food was too long and we had to be back at our bus ASAP. We only had time for Jane to take my photo outside the McDonald’s. While I was pretty content just to get a photo, Jane never got her McDonald’s fries so her fry attack began to escalate to a critical level very rapidly. “AHHHHHH THERE’S NOT ENOUGH TIME HERE! I’M STARVING I NEED TO EAT LUNCH!” Jane yelled at me. I tried to calm her down, letting her know I had crackers in my backpack I would give her and that we could get food in a few hours after our bus ride but nothing I said seemed to help. I was worried she might flip our bus over, but to my relief, she managed to calm herself down and we boarded our bus to start our ride to Venice!

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Me at an ITALIAN McDonald’s-I’m so cultured!

After a few hours on the bus we checked into our hotel and Jane and I COULD NOT figure out how to work the lights-and we really had no patience for this after the McDonald’s ordeal. Turns out you had to stick your room key in a slot on the wall to keep the lights in your hotel on? I was embarrassed that I didn’t know this, since I am an experienced business woman traveler having gone on two business trips, but I swallowed my pride and now I’ll know better next time! We only had about twenty minutes in our room before we had to meet back up with our group to take the ferry to Venice. The ferry took us around Venice so it was nice to see the city from the water, and our tour guide pointed out different landmarks and gave us a little history of Venice. While this was a very enjoyable boat ride, it did spark another stupid fight between Jane and me, what I like to call “The Winged Lion Statue Fight.” As we were boating around Venice our tour guide pointed out this Winged Lion Statue in Saint Mark’s Square and told us that would be our group’s meeting location for the next two days we were there. Everyone saw where she was pointing except Jane so Jane asked me to try and point it out to her. At this time of day the sun was low and blinding, and Jane can hardly keep her eyes open in the daylight anyway, her baby blues are so sensitive to the sun so I knew she was not going to be able to see the statue from the boat, plus we had already passed the statue so I told her I would show her when we got on land. Well Jane was not happy that I gave up in trying and she kept badgering me about it.

Jane: Come on just point it out to me now! I want to see it!
Me: Forget it, Jane! The sun is making it hard to see I told you I will show you when I get on land!
Jane: You’re being ridiculous I can’t believe you won’t just point it out to me now! You’re not even trying that hard!
Me: WE ALREADY PASSED IT! I’ve tried to show you! And it hurts my neck turning around that far I’m not an owl! My neck doesn’t move that way! And you can’t even keep your eyes open for pictures how do you expect to see that statue when the sun is directly behind it! I’m too tired for this!
Jane: If you just point it out to me one more time I can see it. You’re being dramatic!
Me: No! I don’t have the energy for this, I’m tired from my sun poisoning and now we are missing the other stuff she is telling us! I promise I’ll show you when we get there! It’s too sunny to see from here!

To prove my point, please enjoy this photo collage of Jane being unable to keep her eyes open for photos:

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My hair looks great in this one.

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I always had to be the one to take the selfies because Jane couldn’t even see the camera button to press on the phone.

We sat in angry silence for the rest of the boat ride. By the time we got on land we were laughing about how stupid our fight was and prayed no one in our group heard our ridiculous fight.

Once we got to Saint Mark’s square and Jane FINALLY Saw that stupid lion she made such a big stink about we met up with our friend Meg and then our group did a guided walking tour of Venice. Honestly I learned zero things from the guided tour-I couldn’t understand what our tour guide was saying because of her accent/I am just deaf and the headset was hurting my ears. Plus I was so focused on trying to dodge those stupid pigeons that where flying so low! The nerve of those Venice pigeons I could not even believe! After our good for nothing tour we had a drink, got dinner and called it an early night because everyone was hot and tired.

The next morning we had to be up bright and early to catch a ferry back to Venice to do more sight seeing and I thought Jane was going to blow a gasket. Immediately when our alarm went off she started ranting about how tired she was of having to get up early, being on a schedule and being rushed to go everywhere. I just stared at her in disbelief, I could not believe how mad she was over being on a schedule. For a second there I thought I was watching Britney Spears in 2007 until I snapped back to reality and realized I was watching my own sister in a hotel room. Once she finished her rant I calmly said “And on the seventh day, Jane said, ‘I HATE being on a schedule.'” That got her to laugh which was a relief because otherwise I thought she might take out a knife and stab me she was so mad about getting up early.

After Britney calmed down we took the ferry to Venice and attended a glass blowing demonstration which was pretty interesting. After that we had some free time so we walked around and then Jane wanted to get a coffee and something to eat so we sat down at a Cafe so we could get coffee, use the bathroom (WHICH AGAIN THEY CHARGED US FOR EVEN THOUGH WE BOUGHT FOOD FROM THEM!) and hook up to wifi so we could contact our friend Meg to meet up with her. Jane went to the bathroom first as I got a table outside. Poor Jane had a cold and was tired so she basically sat there like a zombie sipping her coffee and eating her panini. I wasn’t too hungry so I did not get anything so I just sat there while Jane ate, and hands down, Jane eating that panini might have been the slowest I have ever seen anyone do anything in my entire life. Pretty sure there was a tortoise at the table next to us that arrived AFTER us, ate his meal, got the check, and walked back home before Jane was even halfway done with that Panini. I figured I had a lot of time to kill so I told her I was going to go inside to go to the bathroom. When I got in the bathroom I was annoyed because there was no toilet paper, of course! Here I am paying to use this gosh darn bathroom and they won’t even stock the toilet paper. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t consider writing a strongly worded yelp review on that restaurant. But I took a deep breath to calm down and decided against it because at least I didn’t get trapped in the bathroom like I did at the other restaurant. That puts things in perspective for a person. When I got back outside I shared my frustrations with Jane. “Ugh, they didn’t have any toilet paper in that bathroom, I’m annoyed!” I said. “Oh yea,” Jane responded in a monotone voice. “I meant to tell you that when I got back from the bathroom earlier.” I stared at her for a minute before I finally said “Are you serious right now?! Thank you for always giving me great advice AFTER the time period of when the advice would have been useful to me. Also are we moving in slow motion? Has time stopped? How are you STILL EATING THAT PANINI?! Our flight leaves in five days do you think you’ll be done by then or should I get you a to-go box?” Jane just laughed and said, “You know, mom is right, you are a little smart ass.”

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Jane and the never ending Panini

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Me waiting for Jane to finish her Panini so I could continue with my life.

After ten years had passed and Jane had finally finished her panini, we left the cafe to meet up with our friend Meg. This process was a bit of a challenge because Jane and I are dumb and did not get any data for our phones for this trip. We thought about it and then remembered what a HASSLE it is to speak to those darn cell phone companies so we just decided to not do anything about it and hope to just hook up to wifi. It’s shocking, I know, since we were so meticulous in planning everything else out for this trip, but we really dropped the ball on this one because we soon discovered Italy does not have the best wifi. So we really had no way of contacting Meg so meeting up with her took longer than we expected, but we found each other eventually! After that we did some sight seeing and then attended a lace demonstration. I thought this was going to be extremely boring but it was actually very interesting! Then we went on a gondola ride which was awesome and relaxing. Our gondola driver definitely hated us at first but he eventually came around and even sang, danced and talked to us. Then he wouldn’t stop talking to us about fish though so we kind of regretted trying to make small talk and get him to like us.

 

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He sings, he dances, he talks fish and he has baller shoes-He was the ultimate Gondola driver

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I had to take a few different photos because Jane wasn’t sure what to do with her arms.

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Found this little gem while sight seeing (Talking about the American Snack Shop not the girl in the green). I made Jane take photos of me with anything to do with America because I am just so patriotic.

After our lovely Gondola ride we took a boat to this cute and colorful fishing village to eat dinner and enjoy some wine. After that we went back to our hotel-the Holiday Inn- and ended the night at the hotel bar!

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“We at the hotel motel Holiday Inn!”

Venice was fun but Jane and I had had our fill. Venice in a nutshell: Lots of people, lots of pigeons, lots of paninis, but only ONE Winged Lion Statue.

Stay tuned for Milan, Cinque Terre, Pisa and Rome in Part 4-Coming soon!

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We don’t look exhausted or overheated at all in this picture-rode hard and put away wet as my Grandma used to say!

 

Little Lambs Go to Italy Part 2: Let the Stupid Fights Begin

Our first stop on our tour through Italy was a visit to the Vatican. Unfortunately, we had to wait in line for about two hours in the rain before we could even get through the doors. This was a bit of a disappointment since I was already tired from being woken up in the middle of the night by the town nut job-aka Jane-so even the thought of standing that long was exhausting. Having gone to Catholic schools all my life and now working at a Catholic school, I thought I might qualify for some sort of “express pass” in getting into the Vatican, similar to those passes you can get at amusement parks to skip to the front of the line for roller coasters, but apparently the Vatican does not do that. So I ended up waiting in line with the rest of the lay people/peasants as my hair frizzed out. The wait was worth it though as once we got in we saw many beautiful paintings and statues. We stopped at the gift shop to pick up a crucifix for our landlords/parents because we are just the greatest daughters ever and don’t want our Mom and Dad hanging out with any vampires (I hear those vampires are bad news! Can’t let my Baby Boomers get caught up in the wrong crowd!). Then we grabbed a quick pizza lunch. Sadly, our lunch was a pretty stressful experience as the pizza lady was mean and rushing Jane and me to make our decision! Did she not know that deciding on a pizza is a huge decision that must be well thought out and cannot be rushed?! Did she not know that the worst remorse one can experience in life is food remorse?! It’s not a decision that can be taken lightly, like deciding to get into a dark van with a complete stranger or deciding to spend two weeks in a foreign country without doing any sort of research at all. Pizza decisions require lots of time and thought.

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Die-hard Catholics right there.

After our terrible lunch experience we got on our tour bus to head to Sorrento. The drive was a couple of hours long so about halfway through we stopped at a service station for a bathroom break and snacks. We were on a tight schedule so our tour guide told us we had a half hour break before we had to be on the bus to continue our journey. Jane decided to spend the first 28 minutes of her break sitting at a table like a zombie staring off into space before she decided she wanted an iced coffee. That coffee experience turned out to be almost as stressful as our pizza experience! First the line for coffee suddenly got long, then Jane went to the wrong counter to pick up her coffee and the coffee workers didn’t speak any English so they didn’t know what we were trying to say! “Wow Jane, I’m so glad you did absolutely nothing for 28 minutes and then finally decided you wanted an iced coffee with TWO MINUTES left of our break!” I said sarcastically as we ran to catch our bus before it left us in the middle of nowhere. Luckily we got back on just in time.

After a few hours on the bus we finally arrived at our hotel in Sorrento. Jane and I both really had to go to the bathroom but again, being the selfless older sister that I am, I let her go first. When it was my turn to go I stepped into the bathroom and tripped over an extremely large towel that was for some reason covering the entire bathroom floor. “Why the HECK is this gigantic towel on the floor in the bathroom?!” I yelled to Jane “I nearly broke my face tripping over it!” “Oh yeah.” Jane responded casually. “I put that on the floor. I thought we could use it as our shower mat.” “What?!” I said “Why did you choose the LARGEST towel that takes up the whole bathroom floor?! Why didn’t you just install wall to wall towel carpeting in the bathroom?!” “Oh well aren’t you sassy!” Jane said “I’ll have you know that I didn’t want to get the tile slippery when I showered.” “Are you planning on showering tonight before dinner?” I asked. “We only have like 15 minutes to get ready you know.” “Oh no, I’m not showering tonight I’m WAY too tired.” Jane answered, acting as if I had just asked her the dumbest question. “I don’t plan on showering until tomorrow after we go to the beach.” At this point I started laughing hysterically. I couldn’t get over the fact that we had not been in our hotel room for more than 4 minutes yet Jane’s immediate concern was making sure the bathroom tile stayed dry after a shower she didn’t plan on taking for at least another 12 hours or so.

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And it’s not even unfolded all the way.

The next day we got right into our swim suits and headed to Capri to go on our boat cruise! We cruised around the island, jumped out and swam a few times (Could have really used that gigantic towel to dry off with when we got back on the boat but unfortunately it was already assigned the role of shower mat so I had to air dry), and just enjoyed the sun and the bright blue water. It was a perfect way to de-stress after our pizza experience. Once we got back on the island we had a few hours of free time to have lunch and explore the island. Jane, a few of our tour friends, and I walked around trying to find a place to eat. We walked by a place with outdoor seating overlooking the water. The restaurant owner was standing at the entrance and was overly enthusiastic about welcoming us and wanting us to come in and eat at her restaurant so we did. She grabbed some menus and showed us to our table. The tables on the patio were packed so closely I was practically sitting on the man at the table next to our’s lap. That should have been the first red flag that it was going to be a bad eating experience. We placed our orders and then I went in to use the bathroom. When I went in to the stall I noticed the handle was a little funny but didn’t think too much of it. Then when I tried to open the stall door I realized it was jammed and I couldn’t get out.  I fiddled with the handle a little bit and banged on the door for a while. “Oh this is just great, I’m locked in the bathroom” I thought to myself. Had I been locked in a bathroom in America I could have just climbed out through the ten foot gap between the floor and the bottom of the stall door but nooooooo I had to get locked in a bathroom in Italy where they respect privacy and the stall door goes right down to the floor. Finally one of the restaurant workers came in with a screw driver and let me out. I then went back to my table as if nothing had happened and made no mention of my traumatic bathroom experience. Not long after our food came out which we all ate and then immediately felt sick. Afterwards we were talking about how terrible the food was and Jane said, “Yeah, ya know I was told by a few people before we left on this trip to not to eat at any restaurant where the owner calls you in because usually it’s a bad restaurant.” We all gave her a look. “Thank you so so much for that extremely useful advice, Jane,” I said. “It’s so nice of you to share this information with us now that we probably all have food poisoning and/or parasites from that disgusting meal.” Here I thought the owner was just friendly and really happy to see us.

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Thumbs up for food poisoning!

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Stumbled upon this shop called “Mike” while exploring Capri! Sent this one to all my Mike’s back in the USA!

After our lunch we walked around a bit to check out the island and then took the ferry back to the mainland where there were lots of cute places to shop. Our tour guide gave us all some time to check out all these great shops and local street markets but Jane and I wanted to make better use of our time so we found an Irish Pub and sat outside drinking Magners. I though we were having a rather enjoyable time just sitting in silence watching the people traffic, enjoying a nice drink on a nice day but apparently Jane was not enjoying her time as much and wanted to try to make conversation. Thus, this stupid fight ensued:

Jane: So, what do you want to talk about?
Me: Nothing.
Jane: You don’t want to talk about ANYTHING?!
Me: Nah, I’m kind of tired. Plus, I don’t really have anything I want to say right now. I think I’ve said everything I wanted to today.
Jane: I think we should talk about SOMETHING at least.
Me: Why? Are you uncomfortable with sitting in silence with another person?
Jane: Well yes, I feel like we should at least try to make some conversation, don’t you?
Me: Why do you feel awkward and uncomfortable with me?! Is this a meet and greet?! Am I on an interview? I think it’s polite to make conversation with someone you don’t really know but we are sisters so I really don’t feel like we need to engage each other in a forced conversation! I am VERY COMFORTABLE sitting without having any conversation with you. Honestly you should take that as a compliment Jane because it means I’m very comfortable with you.

This then led into us having a conversation about conversations which then led into us having a debate on the straw ban in the United States and whether or not it has made its way to Italy yet. So once again, Jane got her way. Classic youngest child.

Once Jane was done talking my ear off we met back up with our tour group, attended a pizza making demonstration and then enjoyed a delicious pizza dinner. We decided to call it an early night as by that point I had broken out in a full body rash due to the sun poisoning I got from being out on the boat and exposed to the sun too long. Classic pale Irish kid. But other than the food and sun poisoning, and being locked in the bathroom, our day in Capri was amazing!

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Teeth brushing then bed time for these beach bums! Sun poisoning is exhausting!

The next morning we traveled to Pompeii and did a guided tour there. To sum up Pompeii in a nutshell-very hot, lots of bricks, lots of broken clay vases and cups. This is also where Jane mysteriously picked up an Australian accent. The first couple of times I thought I had just mis-heard her or that the heat was getting to me, but then when she said “It’s hot out here today” in CLEARLY a fake Australian accent I had to put my foot down. “Why are you suddenly talking like Nicole Kidman?!” I said “We have literally been out of Chicago for 72 hours!” Jane apparently had no idea she was talking like that and we both started laughing at how ridiculous she sounded. Jane claimed she sometimes accidentally picks up on other people’s accents and since our tour group included lots of people from Australia, she was doing it without realizing it. Classic town nut job Jane.

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Me and some cleaning lady at Pompeii.

After Pompeii I got on the bus with Crocodile Hunter Jane and the rest of our group to begin our journey to Florence. We all watched the movie Mama Mia which I’m sure the boys in our group were thrilled about. I had never seen it before and I was extremely appalled at the ending (Warning: Mama Mia spoiler alerts ahead)! I mean seriously?! They just decided to NOT find out who her father really was?! They are really just going to “share” the father role?! She’s just going to go her whole life never knowing which of those three men is actually her father?! How is that OK?! I mean I’m no psychologist but, wow, seems like a great way to mess up that poor girl. I mean a simple paternity test would do the trick. Then after that depressing movie we had to watch this dumb boring informational video about Florence and Italy. It was so slow and outdated I literally had no patience for it and was starting to get fidgety. “Would you just sit still?!” Jane finally yelled. “I’m sorry Jane!” I yelled back. “I can’t sit through this, it’s too boring! I’m a Millennial I need constant stimulation, this is too slow for me! It’s too much text to read and not enough flashy images, I’ve check out. If I had data on my phone I’d probably be tweeting by now.” Somehow I was able to survive the rest of the video and make it to our hotel in Florence. Our hotel room was nice but the shower was weird-the shower head was like a garden hose and you had to hold it so when I showered I felt like I was bathing a dog. Jane also had trouble with this shower and basically flooded the bathroom. We really could have used that gigantic towel on the bathroom floor this time. Once we were done at the dog groomer’s-Whoops I meant showering-We headed out for a spaghetti and meatball dinner and then out to a karaoke bar where Jane and I absolutely killed it with out rendition of the 1999 Backstreet Boys chart topper “I Want it That Way.” It was a real crowd pleaser.
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The next day Our tour group attended a leather demonstration at one of the local Florence leather shops. Afterwards we walked around the shop and considered buying some purses, but then we saw the price tags, remembered we were poor, and decided against it. After the leather shop we had a guided tour of the city and then we were free to do our own exploring again. Jane and I climbed the steps to the top of this bell tower which was exhausting but the views were awesome.

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It was a nice bell but it was no Taco Bell that is for sure.

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Jane was clearly trying to seduce the bell. He’s too old for you Jane! Leave him alone!

After that we tried to find this one Panini place we heard was good but we never found it. Jane kept leading us in zig zags so we kept getting lost and confused. I kept suggesting we go back to the central square so we could get an idea of where we were and then look at the map again and see if we could pinpoint how to get to the panini place to which Jane would ignore and say “Well let’s just go down this little street and see where it takes us.” So then I would sigh and follow her, we’d walk for about ten more minutes, not find the panini place, argue a bit and then Jane would say “Well I don’t know why you’re following me! I don’t know where I’m going!” Then we’d both laugh at how dumb and lost we were. This little scene happened a few more times until we finally gave up and just got gelato. After having our gelato we walked past some artist doing some chalk drawings of famous paintings on the street and got into a minor disagreement about whether or not one of the artists was doing a drawing of the Mona Lisa or not. Jane was convinced it was the Mona Lisa and I was convinced it was not. It wasn’t until later that we discovered we were looking at two completely different chalk drawings so we were both right!

After our chalk argument Jane took me on an exhausting quest to-and I kid you not-help her find a RING that would “remind her of her time in Florence.” I swear we walked every inch of Florence looking for this damn magical ring but Jane was so specific on what she wanted we couldn’t find anything to her liking. She was VERY annoyed and upset. She looked so sad so I kept trying to appease her suggesting other shops. “Hey Jane what about this shop? You think this might have your ring?” I asked. She just kept walking, looking down at the ground like a four-year old child and said sadly “Probably not.” “What are you, Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh!” I said. “It’s a ring! Stop pouting and move on!” We both laughed at how childish she was being and just decided to give up and started to walk back to our hotel. About a block before our hotel we stumbled upon a jewelry shop and decided to try one more time. We walked in and it was as if we hit the jackpot-beautiful and affordable rings everywhere! Finally! So what did Jane walk out of the store with that day? Her perfect Florence ring you would think, right? Nope. SHE BOUGHT A NECKLACE CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT! SHE CHANGED HER MIND AT THE LAST MINUTE AND DECIDED SHE DIDN’T WANT A RING ANYMORE BUT A NECKLACE! “Are you KIDDING ME Jane?!” I said as she walked out the door with her purchase. “You just dragged me on a 30 mile walk for your magical Florence ring and you get a necklace?!” I nearly collapsed.

Later that night after we laid down for a little bit and I finally decided against having Jane take me to the hospital to have my legs amputated after the ring journey, we got all dolled up for our tour group dinner in Tuscany! The views were awesome, the food was good and the sangria was delicious. After dinner we all headed to a night club where we enjoyed more delicious drinks, dancing, and of course fog and seizure inducing flashing lights. It was such a fun night and a great way to end our time in the wonderful city of Florence!

Part 3 of our trip coming soon! Stay tuned!

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We tried to take a cute Insta-worthy pic of our drinks and the view but it just ended up looking like one person awkwardly holding two drinks so we never posted it.

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“Hi everyone! Look at us we are at a Club”-Us

Little Lambs go to Italy Part 1: Getting There

 

IMG_4800In July, my sister Jane and I took the trip of a lifetime-a two week tour through Italy. Most people, when preparing to go to a foreign country and spend a whole bunch of money on such an expensive vacation, might spend weeks or even months planning out every  detail-places to visit, hotels to stay at, transportation, budgets, etc., but not us. We were pretty last minute in everything. I mean, who has time these days to plan out a trip to Europe?! Definitely not two twenty somethings, who live at home with their parents, have no kids or family to take care of, households to maintain or real adult responsibilities to take up their time. We were ACTUALLY busy. Jane was halfway through The Office series on Netflix and I was trying to power through the last season of Nurse Jackie. Plus, if you wait until the last minute, it only takes a minute! That’s our motto! So, a few short weeks prior to our departure, at about 11:00 p.m. on a Tuesday night, Jane and I decided to finally book our flights and throw a couple of grand at a tour company we knew really nothing about except that they plan the trip details and logistics out for you, so we were sold.

We were pumped for this new adventure but our dad wasn’t 100% thrilled that his two youngest were leaving the good old USA and traveling abroad together. When he’s not calling us “Millennial snowflakes,” he often refers to Jane and me as “two little lambs”- young, naive, and too trusting of the world. “Oh great, you two will be traveling together,” my Dad said sarcastically. “I can just imagine you two walking down the streets of Italy ‘La-de-da life is beautiful, hey where’s the beer?! Where’s the party at?!’ I’m going to need to pray extra hard you two don’t get kidnapped!” I quickly tried to reassure my Dad and remind him that I was a young business woman with TWO SUCCESSFUL business trips under my belt, not one, but TWO. So I was pretty confident I could manage a trip abroad while caring for my younger sister. He had no reason to fret. Was I worried about spending every single moment for two weeks with my sister? No, not really. I have known her a pretty long time and we’ve vacationed together a few times before-Michigan basically every year and Disney World once in the late 90’s with the family-so I knew we would get into some extremely stupid fights, but we’d both come back alive. We travel well together for the most part.

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Jane being lazy and needing my help down the slide on a family vacation in Michigan.

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Special thanks to my mom for dressing me (far left) like a 45 year old father of four with that white bulls hat and blue and white windbreaker to ensure no one would want to kidnap me during this family trip to Disney World. I bet I was wearing ankle high white socks and gym shoes too.

After days of planning out our outfits and figuring out how to fit everything we needed for two weeks into two tiny suitcases, the day finally came for us to depart on our big trip. Our Dad drove us to the airport all alone because apparently our mom doesn’t love us and thought it was more important to go couch shopping with her other daughter. Being a gentleman he made sure we got into the airport ok, said goodbye and then left us at the terminal. We checked our bags and then got in line to go through security and that’s when we ran into the first few hiccups of our travel journey.

“Uggghhh man look at this security line, airports are the worst am I right?” I said. “What are you talking about?!” Jane responded. “There are like two people ahead of us, this is the shortest I’ve seen it in a a long time!” “Ugh well my carry on backpack is so heavy I’m getting tired of standing.” I said. “Hey wait,” Jane said. “Do you have room in there for the shampoo? I had it packed in my suitcase but thought it might spill so I took it out last minute and don’t really have room in my carry-on.” Well, being the selfless older sister I am, I responded, “Yea sure, let me just move around some things.” I took my backpack off and started to rummage through my items and rearrange them in my backpack. While doing this I pulled out the huge jug of contact solution I had in my backpack. I looked up and noticed Jane was looking at me like I had just pulled out a bomb. Before I could ask her why she was looking at me with such a frightened look on her face she whisper yelled at me, “What are you doing with that?! You can’t go through security with that!” I was still confused, “What are you talking about?! I need contact solution for my contacts! Not all of us can have perfect 20/20 vision, JANE!” Stupid healthy Jane, I thought to myself, always rubbing in that fact that she’s perfectly healthy and I’m not. “No you dummy!” she responded “Liquids have to be 4 ounces or less! You can’t carry that on the plane!” “Oh shoot!” I said, “I forgot that was still a thing! Ugh darn! Well, I’m just going to have to risk it, I’m not throwing out this jug of contact solution, I JUST bought it from Meijer and it set me back 15 dollars I am NOT just going to throw it out!” Even though I said this with confidence, internally I began to panic and question everything I knew about airport security. I started to bombard Jane with my questions as if she was head of the TSA. “Shoot Jane, can I go through security with my watch? What about my earrings do I need to take them off?! And my ring?!” She politely told me to shut up. A few minutes later, as we moved up in the line right before we were about to take off our shoes and put our bags on the conveyor belt, the TSA officer monitoring our line looked over at the two of us and called Jane over. Oh no, I thought, he knows about my jug of contact solution! To my bewilderment though he simply asked Jane how old I was. We both looked at each other confused as to why he was asking Jane about MY age. Especially since a lady NEVER reveals her age. Turns out he was asking because people traveling with children 12 and younger can skip taking off their shoes and go through the express security line and he thought I was 12. He was absolutely shocked to learn I was 27. Jane could not stop laughing. “Oh shut up Jane! You’ll be jealous when I’m 40 and still look 12!” Karma caught up with Jane though and her bag got flagged going through security and had to be searched. Turns out it set off the alarm because her bag was too “dense” most likely, they said, from having too many books in her bag. When the TSA agents told us this I laughed and said, “Haha Jane you dork!” I don’t think this helped my case in proving I was NOT a 12 year old but it was worth it.

Once we got through security we had plenty of time to kill because our flight was two hours delayed! So we found the nearest bar and posted up there for a while-making our dad proud! After what seemed like forever, we finally were starting to board the plane. While waiting in line Jane’s passport photo caught my eye and I became frightened, as I thought I might be traveling with a potential serial killer. “That’s interesting,” I said to Jane, “I had no idea they let people use their mug shots as their passport photos too. When did you do time in prison, Jane?” She gave me a shove and claimed they wouldn’t let her smile for her photo, yet I was allowed to smile for my passport photo? Very suspicious, JANE! Perks of being a 12 year old forever I guess-you get to take a smiling passport photo. She also assured me she never did any prison time so I’m glad we got that squared away before we were about to board a plane together.

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Typical Millennial snowflakes being dramatic over a minor inconvenience. As you can see, I used my extra time to perfect my Snap Chat editing skills. Jane was my first subject.

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Our delayed flight also gave us time to get a quick check-up at the airport shoe hospital. Those airplanes are full of germs so you can never be too careful.

We got two seats together, put our carry-ons in the overhead bin, and settled in for a very long flight. Jane immediately began to inflate her travel neck pillow like an 87 year old woman and passed out in seconds. I, on the other hand, knew I would not be able to fall asleep on this flight so I perused the movies and decided to watch the movie “Lady Bird.” I was excited to learn more about the life of former first lady, Lady Bird Johnson in this film until I discovered “Lady Bird” was not about Lady Bird Johnson at all! After I realized I had gotten my movies confused I kept waiting for Michael Keaton’s character to come on screen but THEN remembered he was in the movie “BirdMAN” and not “Lady Bird.” What is with all these movies with “Bird” in the title, sheesh! I finished the movie but honestly could not tell you what it was about because of all the bird mix ups.

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I was able to get this quick photo in before Grandma fell asleep with her fluffy neck pillow.

Later on they served us our delicious prepackaged and preservative-filled microwave airplane dinner. Jane rudely began to eat her dinner before I had even gotten my tray-had her parents not taught her any manners? She was nice enough to keep ordering and giving me her waters and juices. I’m literally thirsty all the time and those airplane cups are like shot glasses so I was tossing back the liquids left and right! Luckily, Jane is like a camel and can have a little bit of water and be set for days so she had no problem giving up her water and soft drinks to me. After our bellies were full we remembered the first item we forgot at home-Tweezers! We were both devastated that we forgot this major necessity. “Oh great!” I said sarcastically. “We’re both going to come back to America in two weeks looking like Bert from Sesame Street without any tweezers!” God forbid we actually buy a pair in Europe.

After what seemed like days on that airplane we finally landed in Rome. Me and prison Jane sailed through customs, grabbed our bags and then realized we did not know how to get to our hotel. We were told we could take the train to our hotel but figuring that out was a little harder than we thought. Jane and I mainly specialize in calling Ubers back home but we could not do that in Italy so trying to figure out public transportation was a bit of a challenge. We are south side suburban bumpkins, we are no city girls! We must have looked lost in the airport because a young Italian man came up to us and asked if we needed help getting somewhere. We told him we were trying to take the train to our hotel and he informed us the train workers were on strike but he had a shuttle service that he could arrange to take us right to our hotel for only 20 euro! “How convenient!” we thought. What a great idea for two young girls in a foreign country who have no idea where they are going and don’t speak the native language to take a ride from a complete stranger! So we agreed and he made a bunch of suspicious phone calls speaking Italian, then he passed us off to another Italian man who led us to a black van with tinted windows in a parking garage. Scenes from the movie “Taken” were flashing through our minds as we began to worry that maybe we were being kidnapped. We did notice other people in the van though so instead of running away and dealing with the absolute HASSLE of trying to figure out that public transportation nonsense we decided to risk being kidnapped/our lives and jumped right into the front seats of the van with our driver. Luckily, it turned out great and the driver took us right to our hotel! Phew!

We checked into our hotel room and discovered we had a room with two twin beds-just like our old room at Mike Sr. and Mo Kelly’s Old Maid Boarding House! Italy really knows how to make people feel at home! We dropped our bags and decided to walk around the area for a bit. We took some photos with all the Mopeds, scooters and motorcycles parked everywhere, saw lots of dumpsters and grabbed some coffee to try and ward off that jet lag we were starting to feel. Unfortunately, our walk was cut short as Jane had just eaten a gigantic cookie moments before we left the hotel for our walk and was now starting to feel sick. Her face was pale and she looked like she was about to blow chunks all over the place so I led us back to our hotel where we both took a very quick nap.

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Didn’t see ANY cup holders so I declined the offer to take it for a spin.

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Total dude magnet

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Could not get over this dumpster’s long, luscious eye lashes! The dumpsters in Italy really are beautiful!

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Our uncomfortably close twin beds in our hotel room. We even threw our junk all over the place just like we do at home! Our parents would be so thrilled!

After that we headed down to the lobby for a meet and greet with our tour guide and the 49 other people on our tour group. Everyone was very nice, friendly and seemed cool! We all went to dinner and then drinks afterwards but Jane and I were so tired we called it an early night and headed back for a good night’s rest in our twin beds. The beds were pretty comfortable but they were awkwardly close together. So close in fact that Jane smacked me right in the face during the night! (She has YET to apologize for this by the way) Then at three in the morning she woke up and turned all the lights on and started to get ready thinking it was time to start the tour! She was so out of it it took me a while to convince her to go back to bed. “You dodo bird! It’s three in the morning! I yelled to her (ever so politely of course) from my bed “Go back to sleep and shut off all those lights!” When our alarm finally did go off the next day Jane woke up well rested and ready to start our tour! I on the other hand, was feeling a bit sluggish from being physically assaulted in the face and being woken up at the crack of dawn by my lunatic sister. We checked out of our hotel and got on our coach bus for our first day of Italian adventures. We were ready and excited to start day one of what was to be an amazing trip filled with fun times, great sights and awesome new friends!!

Stay tuned for Part 2…

One Big Happy Family

A few weeks ago my family went on vacation to California. This trip was about seven years in the making, I almost didn’t believe it would actually happen. But with two siblings engaged, we were under a time crunch to get one final family vacation in before the weddings. My Mom and Dad kept referring to the trip as “our last family vacation” but we kept reminding them that it really should be called “our second family vacation” since the last time we took a real family trip was when we went to Disney World pre Y2K. I don’t blame my parents for the long gap in vacations seeing as when they asked us after Disney World what our favorite part of the trip was half of us responded by saying “The pool at the hotel.” Little did my parents know they could save themselves a few grand and just take us to a public pool for a few days and we would be happy.

Is that John Lennon? Oh no that's just my sister with sunglasses on. And that little girl is way too big to be in a stroller

Is that John Lennon? Oh no that’s just my sister with sunglasses on. And that little girl ( or boy? Can’t tell with the bowl cut) is way too big to be in a stroller.

 There was some concern that there may be fights on this trip. When seven people are forced together for 5 days with no escape, confrontation is usually inevitable. And we have a long history of getting into stupid fights. As much as I hate to admit it, I’m usually involved in the fight if not the one who instigated it. So I would like to share with you a few of our most memorable:
A couple of years ago, while in Michigan, my older sister Bridget came down to the beach pretending to be one of the 3 blind mice. She deliberately hit me with her “seeing eye stick” (Which was an old bamboo fishing pole by the way) so I grabbed it. She pulled it out of my hands, resulting in a severe splinter on my hand. Since my hands are my best feature, I was mad and asked her to apologize. She would not so the fight continued with yelling and snippy comments. Later in the day, while we were all frolicking in the lake, Bridget, sounding alarmed, informed us that she had lost her hair rubberband somewhere in the water. This hair rubberband was very dear to her since she had had it for almost ten years. The family immediately starting helping her look for it in the shallow water. Lucky for me, I had an advantage over the rest of the search party because I am a weirdo and I had been snorkeling, thus, I had my flippers and goggles on. Still wanting revenge for the splinter incident and with anger in my heart, I was determine to find the hair tie. Within minutes I had found it-I now had the power. The family rejoiced but I quickly informed Bridget that I would only give it back if she apologized. She still would not. So I threatened to throw her precious hair rubberband in the deep part of the lake. Her response “Go ahead and throw it. See if I care.” Well that was all I needed. I wound back my arm and threw it as far as I could into the lake. I can still see it flying high in the air (I used to play third base in little league so I have quite the arm) against the sun and then hitting the surface of the water. It was never seen again. My entire family, witnessing this, told me I was a jerk so I yelled something and then left the water to go inside and cry tears of anger. After that day the fight ended but neither of us ever apologized.
A more recent fight we had just a few weeks ago was over fast forwarding through the commercial breaks while watching “The Sandlot.” Bridget and I were both laying on the couch (head to toe of course) and the remote lay just out of arms reach on the coffee table. I wanted her to fast forward since I did it the last couple of times so I figured it was her turn. She wanted me to do it since it was my idea to watch the movie. Words were exchanged, the term “Bitch” was thrown out there a time or two, and neither of us picked up the remote. So we sat through all the commercials, even though we did not have to, and then went to bed. After a good night’s sleep we both realized what a ridiculous argument it was but we were both afraid to even bring up the fight for fear it would cause another.
I can’t only throw Bridget under the bus though. A few years ago Jane and I got in a vicious fight over who would turn off the lamp on our bedside table. Both of us were too comfortable in our beds to reach out our arm and switch off the lamp. I said she should do it since the switch was a few inches closer to her. She wanted me to  do it because she claimed she turned off the light the night before. Jane finally relented and turned off the light but she was very angry. Since my mother taught us that we should never go to bed angry, I kept saying “I love you” to her until she finally said “I love you too but I don’t like you right now.” That was all I needed to drift peacefully off to sleep…after laying in bed for numerous hours since I am an insomniac.
Lastly, my father and I got into a slight disagreement over a box of Honey Nut Cheerios. You see, I really like Honey Nut Cheerios so while at Sam’s Club with my mom, we picked up 2 large boxes that would last me for quite some time. I was just ecstatic to be able to start each morning with my favorite cereal. One morning, when I opened the cereal cabinet the box of Honey Nut Cheerios was gone. “Ok, don’t panic” I told myself. Frantically, I searched around to no avail. Finally, not really wanting to know the answer, I checked the garbage can. I had to cover my mouth to muffle my scream. There, empty and lifeless in the trash, was my box of Honey Nut Cheerios. Luckily, I remembered the second box was stashed away unopened, but I was determined to find out who was responsible for causing me so much pain and anxiety. I needed to find out who this “Cereal Killer” was (see what I did there?) So that night at dinner I very nicely and calmly brought up the subject:
Me: “Who the heck finished off my Cheerios?! I literally never get any food in this house because some pig always eats it before I can get to it!”
Dad (in a stressed out tone): “Well that was me! I HAD to finish them and I don’t even LIKE Honey Nut Cheerios! Who the Hell bought that huge box anyway?!”
Me: “Mom and I did because it was a great deal at Sam’s Club. Sorry for trying to save this family money by buying in bulk. Why would you eat them if you don’t even LIKE them?!”
Dad: “Well I was afraid they were going to get stale! And that box was taking up too much room in the cabinet!”
Me: “I was preventing them from getting stale by tightly closing the plastic bag with a clothes pin! I’m sorry the cereal was stressing you out so much. I didn’t know it was such a burden.” (Sarcasm font)
Dad: “Well don’t buy them again. OK?!”
Feeling bad, I waited a few days to open the second box. But once I did I sent my dad this email to help him cope:
From: Kathleen Kelly
Date: Tue, Sep 10, 2013 at 10:47 AM
Subject: Please Read
To: Mike

Dear Father,

I am writing to inform you of an important matter, and I’d rather you hear it from me than from someone else. At approximately 10:03 a.m. today, September 10th, 2013, I opened the box of Honey Nut Cheerios.
Seeing as you are a lunatic and feel it is your civic duty to polish off the entire box as fast as possible for fear of the cereal getting stale (Even though you don’t even LIKE Honey Nut Cheerios), I sincerely apologize for placing this heavy burden on you. You may think it’s cruel and unfair of me to do this to you, I can only image the stress you must feel of both having to finish an entire box of cereal and provide for a wife and five fat pigs. But at only 110 calories per serving, and the potential to help lower cholesterol, I feel I am really doing you a favor. You may not understand my good intentions now, but I think when you are older you may realize I only opened the box out of love for you.
Please accept my deepest and most heartfelt apology in advanced. And please know that I, and the two other old maids that still live at home and suck every last penny from you (Maggie and Bridget), will do our best to take some of the weight off your shoulders and help eat the box of honey nut cheerios.
Mom and Duke are also here to offer there love and support for you in this great time of need.  If there is anything else I can do to help ease this great burden, please don’t hesitate to call me. Again, I truly am sorry for the inconvenience this has caused you.
Best Regards,
Kathleen C. Kelly
Luckily, there were no major fights on this vacation. But while discussing the movie “Now and Then” Bridget and I did get into a small disagreement about if Chrissy slaps or punches Roberta in the face after she fakes her own death. We couldn’t find a YouTube video of the scene while in California so the argument could not be solved. The jury is still out on that one. The argument never escalated though so we aren’t considering it a fight.
Overall, this family vaca was pretty uneventful as far as fights go. There were no physical or verbal arguments-I guess this means we are growing up. We may get along better, but I think I still have a few fights left in me.