Oh…Christmas Tree

All families have their own traditions when it comes to Christmas. For many, this involves going to pick out a Christmas tree. When most think of this event, happy thoughts come to mind. For my family, our Christmas tree experience is slightly different. My father has been campaigning for getting an artificial tree for the past 30 years. I don’t know where his hatred for real Christmas trees came from, but it is almost as strong as his hatred for large boxes of cereal. Each year around Christmas he mentions how he saw artificial trees on sale at some store, and each year we ignore him.

 A couple of Sundays ago we dragged him to the local Christmas tree lot to get our tree. On the car ride over his anger and anxiety were already starting to show. As the song from the Grinch came on the radio I said, “Hey Dad, wasn’t this song written about you?” This did not lighten the mood.
I wish I had a blood pressure monitor to attach to him while we made our way through the trees. I’m sure his heart rate and blood pressure were both through the roof as he turned over each tag on the tree to reveal the price. “Whoa Dad is that a price tag or a phone number am I right?!” I said as I saw his body stiffen after seeing the price tag. This did not lighten the mood yet again.
Every year our picking out the Christmas tree tradition involves my Dad and I arguing over which tree to get. This is because he would prefer getting a tree that is the perfect size for a doll house and I would much rather have a tree more suited for the average sized person’s home. After much negotiation, we decided on a tree. I would have liked it a few feet taller, and my Dad would have liked it a few feet shorter (heck he would have preferred just snapping a branch of a tree and bringing that home) but we compromised because that is what families do. After the decision my mom snapped this beautifully awkward picture. Let’s analyze this, shall we?
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Per usual Maggie was drunk yet again and couldn’t keep her eyes open, but she looks very happy. I look stunning as I hug the tree in my blue parka from Land’s End and my white hat from Old Navy. Sometimes it’s exhausting being so photogenic all the time. I have a smirk on my face because I have just won the Christmas tree battle yet again. And my Father… let’s zoom in a bit for this one.
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Here is a picture of a man who has the weight of the world on his shoulders. He is not happy and he is not in the Christmas spirit at this moment. His wife and three of his old maid daughters, who STILL live at home and STILL rely on him to satisfy their basic needs of food, clothing and shelter, have just forced him into buying an overpriced tree that he wants nothing to do with. If you squint you can actually see the money signs in his eyes. He can’t believe how much he is about to pay for a plant that will only be in the house for a few short weeks. I don’t know exactly what is going through his head but I believe at this moment he was thinking something along the lines of:
“Will my daughters ever move out of the house and leave my wife and me alone to make our own decisions on things like picking out a tree? Will I blow all my retirement money continuing to feed these fat pigs I call daughters? Should I post an ad on Craigslist offering a dowry to any man that takes them off my hands? Will Kathleen ever learn to shut her trap or will she continue to talk and talk for the rest of our time living together? My God, this is my nightmare.”
The picture was so terrible my Mom made us take another one so when we look back on it years from now we actually might think we were having a merry old time. Pretending to have fun is the most fun!!
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If you look closely you can see my Dad lifting his hand to reject my hug. Will anyone ever love me?

Once we got the tree home my Dad continued to point out the flaws in the tree to make himself feel better.
Dad: You know girls, this tree has a lot of empty patches. Don’t look at me when we put it up and it looks sparse. I tried to tell you.
Kathleen: Yea, well don’t look in your wallet when you need money because you just spent it all on this tree.
Upon saying this my Mom gave me the single to “stop reminding Dad how much this tree cost”. Yet again my comment did not lighten the mood. I really need to learn to stop talking.
Although things were a little tense during our tree buying experience, once we were decorating the tree everyone got into the Christmas spirit. And like any job well done, we rewarded ourselves with cake. This isn’t just any cake though, this is a christmas tree shaped cake that we decorate with m&ms. We make this cake solely for the night we decorate our tree.
Had a slice of this baby for breakfast on Monday AND Tuesday. It's just like a donut-which I had on Friday

Had a slice of this baby for breakfast on Monday AND Tuesday. It’s just like a donut-which I had on Friday

While we may not always agree on everything, cake is always there to bring us back together. Thank you, cake, for all that you do for us. And Merry Christmas everyone!

Cupcakes and Wedding Cake

Prince William and Kate better step aside, because I am pretty sure I attended the wedding of the century this past weekend when my brother married his beautiful wife in Cleveland. The wedding weekend started off on a bit of a rocky start though. My parents, sister Bridget and I intended to leave at 6 in the morning on Friday while the rest of the family left a few hours later, but we were running late. Then we had to stop at the bakery to pick up a dessert for the rehearsal dinner and our cupcakes weren’t ready! Clearly the bakery workers do not know our family because if they did they would know that NO ONE messes with the Kelly family and their baked goods. After waiting about 20 minutes we finally got our cupcakes (we already had our cookies in the car) and got on the road. The ride from Chicago to Cleveland is usually about 5 hours, but since we had to stop about 15 times to feed my father’s Diet Coke addiction, it took us a little longer. Plus, he drives incredibly slow. I love the guy to death, but I’m pretty sure I saw a snail pass us on the highway. Fortunately, we spotted the golden arches in the distance (McDonald’s) – it was like seeing a rainbow after a horrific thunderstorm – and stopped there for lunch. I took the liberty of ordering two large fries instead of one large and one medium for the group. My Dad thought this would be too much but we ate them all, so I’m going to go ahead and take credit for the one bright spot in the awful traveling experience.

Once we arrived at our hotel we hurried to get ready for the rehearsal at the church and then to the dinner. The cupcakes and cookies at the rehearsal dinner were displayed beautifully. My intention was to have both a cookie and cupcake, but my plans were crushed. I am not as wise as my older sister, Bridget, who noticed the cupcake to cookie ratio right away and thus, altered her plan of attack. I first ate a cupcake and then when I went back for round 2 -my cookie – they were all gone. I was visibly upset and went back to my table to be consoled by my sisters:

Me: Gosh darn it I didn’t get a cookie!

Bridget: Yeah, that’s because you didn’t strategize as well as I did, dummy. You see, there were only 12 Mrs. Field’s cookies, but 48 cupcakes. I noticed the cookies were going very fast so I grabbed a cookie and later will go back for a cupcake

Boy was she smart to do that. We had so many cupcakes left over, and since we can’t let any dessert go to waste, we forced ourselves to eat them. I think I was averaging 6 cupcakes a day by the end of the weekend. Obviously I had 2 for Breakfast since they are just like a donut. The others I had to squeeze in between meals.

Saturday was another early morning because our appointments to get our hair and makeup done started at 7:45 am. We were also late for that due to my younger sister Jane having to run back up to our hotel room to get a water bottle. You see, I grabbed myself 2 water bottles because I know the importance of hydration and she selfishly thought one of them was for her. Typical youngest child if you ask me. I’m a middle child, survival of the fittest is my motto so I’m always prepared and never share. But we made our appointments and my mom and sisters looked beautiful. I looked stunning.

A couple of hours, and a few cupcakes later, it was time for the ceremony where I was finally able to fulfill my prophecy of reciting the cliche wedding reading of Corthinians 12:31-13, “Love is patient, love is kind.” And wow did I put on quite the show. My adjustment of the microphone, my dramatic pause for emphasis before I said the ending line of “love never fails.” I’m actually getting choked up just thinking about it.  I feel I truly had my audience on the edge of their seats wondering what love really  is with every word I said.

After the ceremony concluded we took a few pictures (Get ready for the Kelly family Christmas card 2014) and headed for the reception, which was a blast. My sister and I were lucky enough to capture this beautiful moment of our mother and brother during the Mother Son Dance. Obviously we were very emotional.
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We spend most of Sunday counting the amount of likes we got on Facebook.  I’m happy to report we reached our goal of 70 likes. Thanks everyone! Couldn’t have done it without you!

But unfortunately, unlike love, good times must come to an end. And before we knew it we were leaving Cleveland to go home. We didn’t leave empty handed though, No. As if 30 leftover cupcakes weren’t enough for our fat ass family, we also took home a box of leftover wedding cake. I really wish I was kidding, but I’m not.
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Individually wrapped pieces of cake-perfect for breakfast on the go.

As we drove through Indiana, the Sunday Blues started to set in. Luckily we all took Monday off from work, and since not working is one of my favorite things to do, my Sunday blues were kept to a minimum. That is until we stopped at Burger King. Now as anyone who has driven from Chicago to Cleveland will know, there are not many places to stop and eat. You have very limited choices. Burger King was really our only option. I can feel you all judging us so stop it! I am not a fan of Burger King because every time I go I have a bad experience. The King and I have somewhat of an abusive relationship; each time I go he does me wrong, and yet I keep crawling back in desperation. I say it will be the last time but it never is, the evil demon I call hunger gets the best of me time and time again. There was a KFC right next door but for some reason it was ridiculously expense. I love KFC, but I wasn’t going to let Colonel Sanders pull one over on me like that. After eating my burger patty between two stale buns, my cold fries and sub-par fountain Diet Coke, I was really regretting my choice.
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This was taken pre-Burger King, obviously.

Sunday was a bitter sweet day. We were sad that the wedding was over, but thrilled that our “Fit for 14” diets were finally over. Those last couple of days were really hard, if I wasn’t so committed to our “Fit for 14” pledge I might have had 7 cupcakes the day before the wedding instead of 6. It was all worth it though for an amazing weekend. Cheers to the bride and groom! One boy down, four old maids to go in the Kelly family!

Is Lent Over Yet?

I would like to apologize in advance if I or anyone else in my family acts mean toward you in any way. You see, Lent has just started and everyone in our house has given up either chocolate or all sweets. And judging by the amount of sweets we normally consume in a day, our daily caloric intake has just been cut in half. If you were us you might be a bit cranky too. Yes, Fit for ’14 has finally started. I guess we are going to have to be hungry bitches for a while in order to transform into skinny betches so please be patient with us.

I decided to give up chocolate for Lent. It wasn’t my first choice but since my Dad does the grocery shopping for this old maid shelter we call home I had to give up some sort of sweet by default. Back in my college days I used to give up Facebook which was always a challenge. And since “Sunday’s don’t count” in Lent, I always did what I liked to call “Sunday maintenance” on my Facebook page. This is when I would untag any unflattering pictures of myself, see if anyone wrote on my wall (no one ever did), and check to see if anyone was trying to contact me via Facebook message. Giving up Facebook was socially isolating but giving up chocolate-that’s just plain dangerous for anyone in my family.

It has been a week since Lent started now and our bodies are still in shock. We suffer chronic fatigue, sudden headaches, irritability, and hallucinations from our Lent induced sugar deficiency. Luckily we managed to eat almost all the junk food in the house up until Fat Tuesday. “Gotta get it in before Lent” was our excuse for eating mass amounts of chocolate before Lent started. The week before Ash Wednesday we made “the bear claw” cake for my sister’s birthday. You might be wondering what a “bear claw” cake is. Well you see since we make homemade frosting for our cakes the consistency tends to be a bit runny. Thus, all the frosting runs to the sides of the cake. Well,  my dad had this brilliant idea to cut slits in the cake before placing the frosting on, therefore the liquid-like frosting would fill in the slits in the middle and not all go to the sides. The slits look as if a bear scratched the cake with his claws; therefore the “bear claw” cake was born. This cake is adored in our family. I hard to say this without tears in my eyes, but sadly we were not able to eat the last piece of the cake. On Ash Wednesday there were heated discussions about whether or not one of us should just eat the cake even though we gave it up for Lent. Some argued it would be a sin in itself to waste a delicious piece of cake like that, while others said we could not break our Lenten promises. In the end the biggest fat ass of the family ate it. No, not me, Duke took one for the team and ate it up. But I can assure you that that last piece of bear claw cake will forever be “the one that got away” in all of our hearts.

As you can see, not having donuts has physically taken a toll on me. I almost pulled a Mariah Carey and checked myself into the hospital for extreme exhaustion.

As you can see, not having donuts has physically taken a toll on me. I almost pulled a Mariah Carey and checked myself into the hospital for extreme exhaustion.

The Bear Claw cake before the frosting is poured on.

The Bear Claw cake before the frosting is poured on.

Every night when we sit down for dinner someone shares with the rest of the family some sort of horror story about how they were at a work conference or a party where there were desserts available that they could not have. The person telling the story then goes into intricate detail about the sweets while others at the table ask questions. If it was cookies, we want to know how many chocolate chips were in each cookie, if brownies were involved, the fudgy-ness of the brownie is described, and if it was cake everyone needs to know what type of cake (Chocolate, vanilla, Fun-Fetti, Red velvet, etc.) and what type of frosting was applied on top (butter cream, whipped frosting, etc.). The stories told of desserts at the table do provide a nice variation from the 2 things we normally talk about at dinner-Duke and the neighbors. Now I hate to admit it but sometimes we use our own nicknames when talking about the neighbors. This is either because we don’t know their names or because we have determined that the nickname we came up with is more fitting than the person’s given name. Here is an actual dinner conversation that took place last month:

Me: There were about 5 police cars outside Brawny Paper Towel Man’s house earlier today.

Everyone: Who?

Me: You know the guy a couple house down from us, I think he lives with his brother.

Dad: Oh the one that lives across the street from Mr. and Mrs. UNFRIEDNLY? I don’t know what is with those mopes but every time I say hello they just ignore me.

Mom: Oh I know who you’re talking about now but you are giving him way too much credit, the real Brawny Paper towel guy is MUCH better looking than the man a couple doors down. Mike honey remember it was his brother, the Abominable Snowman, that we saw at the barbecue last summer.

Dad: Oh that was him? He was an odd fellow.

It’s embarrassing but my family is just not good with names. I think my father passed down this gene to us. He can’t even remember the names of his own kids. “Bridget would you-I mean Maggie, I mean Jane, oh Hells bells, whatever the Hell your name is would you hand me the scissors?” “My name is Kathleen Dad, and here are the scissors.” So far he has not gotten me confused with Duke yet so I consider myself lucky.

We Kelly’s have a long Lenten road ahead of us. There may be some slip-ups on the whole no eating sweets thing but Jesus fell three times right? Just gotta get right back up again.