They Say It’s Your Birthday

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

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

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

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

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

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

Spoiler Alert everyone I wished for my OWN Birthday Bonanza.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stone Walls and Sheep

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

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

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

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

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Molly is really strong you guys.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Oh How the Years Go By

This end of March marked the 2nd anniversary of my 21st birthday. Or as I like to call it, my sweet 23rd. It also happened to be my sister’s 25th birthday. Terrible planning on my parents’ part. Yes, 23 years ago my sister received the greatest birthday present anyone could ever ask for-me. It is hard to believe I’m already 23. It’s hard for a lot of people to believe it as well seeing as I don’t age. I’ve looked this way since 8th grade, I’m timeless.  Blink 182 says “Nobody likes you when you’re 23.”  I hope this isn’t the case. I need people to like me otherwise my confidence level will go down the drain!

 My sister and I used our birthday to take a break from our Lenten promise of giving up sweets-“Kathleen and Bridget fall the first time”.  Actually we ate sweets in a week long celebration of our birth. Don’t worry though, once the celebrations ended we supported each other in getting right back on track-“Bridget helps Kathleen carry the cross”.

Bridget was conscientious of preventing cataracts from a very young age. Thus, she wore a visor to protect her baby blues from the light even indoors

Bridget was conscientious of preventing cataracts from a very young age. Thus, she wore a visor to protect her baby blues from the damaging effects of the light even indoors.

My mom kept asking me to give her my birthday list, but when you are a sophisticated 20 something such as myself, its hard to come up with things. It was so much easier when I was younger to make my birthday list because I always asked for the same 4 thing for about the first ten or twelve years of my life:
1. Moon Boots
2. Go cart
3. Mini Trampoline
4. Stilts
What can I say, I was an adrenalin junkie in my younger years. Nothing gives you a rush quite like jumping on a mini trampoline or strapping on a pair of stilts to be closer to the ceiling. And what is better than feeling the wind in your hair as you drive an obnoxiously loud go-cart? Unfortunately I never got anything on that list. I was such a deprived child. I think my parents were trying to suppress my thrill-seeking personality. Or they knew that all those things were junk and I would get tired of them in about 3 days. Who needs those toys anyway? Instead we Kelly kids made our own fun. On hot summer days we would get into our swim suits and go running through our neighbor’s sprinkler system. Nothing screams “The family with all those kids down the street are a bunch of Hill Billys” quite like running around someone else’s property while they try to water their grass. Other days we would set up elaborate traps to try and catch bunnies. And by elaborate I mean we would put a carrot in a box in the backyard and watch from the window to see if any rabbits would fall for our trick. Those damn rabbits outsmarted us every time though. Other days we would climb the tree next to our house with a pair of binoculars in hand and blatantly spy on the neighbors. We took “Neighborhood Watch” to a whole new level. On outings to the mall we would run into stores and pose like the mannequins in the store front window. My Mom was smart and kept a good distance away from us when we did that.
This year it was very hard to come up with things to ask for. I knew I wanted a new bathing suit for the summer (Not to run through other people’s sprinkler systems though) so I decided to look through the Victoria’s Secret Catalog that came in the mail. Sheesh what a mistake that was! How am I supposed to pick out a bathing suit when all of the models are in those ridiculous poses? No one sits on the beach like that! I can’t pick out a super cute swim suit when they are all contorting their bodies like that, it’s distracting!! I don’t even know why I was looking through the Victoria Secret Magazine though, I would be better off finding a bathing suit in the Limited Too catalog since I pretty much have the body of a 12 year old.

Duke demonstrating for us how people actually lounge on the beach.

Duke demonstrating for us how people actually lounge on the beach.

 I did get myself a quite wonderful gift though. You see, for Christmas Santa got me a gym membership, and for my birthday Kathleen canceled it. I know what you all are thinking. Wah this girl is lazy, she has no self-discipline. And you know what I have to say to that? You’re right. But I ‘m sorry, I just like myself too much to be the type of person that belongs to a gym. I just don’t believe I deserve that sort of  punishment. I like to keep myself happy and I like to keep my running shoes looking like new. Plus there are just not enough hours in the day to work AND work out. I had to choose one or the other. The job brings home the bacon so that stays.  Also Bridget and I started re-watching all the episodes of the O.C. so that take precedence over everything.
What I really wanted for my birthday money can’t buy:
1. Smaller ear lobes (Ok maybe money can buy plastic surgery but ain’t nobody got time for that!)
2. The super power “Stretchy limbs” so I never have to get up to get anything ever again
3. A job that pays me just to live my life and have fun
4. And of course, an unlimited supply of “Bear Claw” cake that I can eat and not get fat.
I have come to terms in my 23 years of life that I will never get these things. Its ok though, as long as I have chocolate, I know things are going to be ok.