Five Blessings

The other day I was talking to my Mom about schools doing eLearning during this Quarantine and how hard it is on both teachers and parents. “UGH” My Mom said, “I could not IMAGINE trying to do eLearning with you kids. That would be an absolute NIGHTMARE!” Wow, I thought. A little rude, MOM, telling one of your children that your worst nightmare would be spending all day with them. I THOUGHT YOU SAID WE WERE YOUR FIVE BLESSINGS?! This is not the first time she’s said this since the quarantine started. We get it Mom, your five kids were lunatics.

After I was done taking in this insult, and pulling the knife out of my heart she so casually threw in there, I started to think about how hard it would be for my Mom to be with us ALL DAY. Then I stumbled upon a photo from Easter when I was a baby. Seeing this made me understand why this would be my mom’s nightmare:

IMG_7826

Four of the Five lunatics pictured here. You can see the desperation on my Mom’s face. “Hurry up and take the Picture, MIKE, so I can get away from these nutcases!” Let’s zoom in on my mom a little here:

IMG_7826 copy

That poor, poor woman. This is the face of someone that is in dire need of an alcoholic drink. You can see she is trying to mentally detach from the chaos that this going on around her.

I don’t want to speak for all my siblings, but I’d say most of us weren’t the most studious kids around. After school we really had no interest in doing more school work. I was probably the worst offender on this. I hated sitting down to do school work and would do anything to get out of it. I had better things to do, like play outside or see how many suction cup hooks I could get to stay on my face as you can see from this photo here:

IMG_7816

“Mom! Look at how I can get these suction cups to stay on my face! Don’t I look like Frankenstein?” Was I off to a poetry reading or something next with that turtle neck I was wearing? Who knows.

IMG_7817

Working on my dunking skills here. 2004 Holy Redeemer 8th grade gold ball basketball champion right there. Ball was life back in the day.

I must say, the five of us were pretty creative in some of the things we would do. Our parents were late in the game in getting cable so we really had to entertain ourselves. One of our favorite things to do when we couldn’t play outside was rollerblade in our carpeted living room. Talk about a cardio workout! It was not easy to roll around on that carpet. This was an activity we could only do when my Dad was out of town-he didn’t really appreciate us rollerblading inside. My Mom didn’t really mind, she saw the carpeting as better padding when her clumsy children fell.

The four of us girls also used the living room as our stage to make music videos to our favorite NSYNC, Backstreet Boys or Britney Spears hits. We’d rehearse for a few hours and then give our parents the painstaking task of not only sitting through our show, but filming it for us so we could review it later in order to perfect our dance moves and play our dance in both slow and fast motion. (Jumping off the couch or a chair and doing a spin looked a lot cooler in slow motion). Classic youngest child Jane, having grow up watching MTV with her older siblings, chose, how should I put this, some pretty risque dance moves. She loved to replicate Britney Spears in her early “Baby One More Time” days. Jane even liked to take her show on the road, volunteering to perform at different graduation or family parties. My parents soon after put the kibosh on Jane watching MTV with her siblings.

IMG_7742

Here we see Jane practicing one of her more modest Britney Spears dances as I pretend to step on her. A fight later ensued.

Sadly, after we redid our living room, getting reupholstered furniture and replacing the rollerblading carpet with the “8 Million Dollar Carpet” as my Dad referred to it (and we now still call it, 20 years later), we could no longer roller blade in the living room. I still remember my dad’s lecture he gave us after our living room and dining room were redone. I think he just got the bill from the interior designer so his blood pressure was a little high and he was on edge. “Now listen!” My Dad said, as the five of us sat in the TV room. We could see the beads of sweat on his bald head and the panicked look in his eyes as he thought of all the money this new living room was costing him. “I don’t want ANY of you kids rollerblading in the living room anymore! We practically had to refinance the house after installing that 8 Million Dollar carpet Mom decided to pick out! And I don’t want ANY of you kids laying on the reupholstered couch in there either! The last thing I need is your dirty, greasy, gross bodies staining that fabric! Just stay out of the living room as much as possible!”

IMG_3798

The last known photo of us sitting on the couch before my parents used our college funds to redo the living room.

IMG_7830

The pre-upholstered couch days when we could sit in the living room. You can see the dirt and food on our clothing that we were passing on to that couch.

IMG_7763

Just playing in the living room with our new doll Jane. Jane provided a lot of entertainment for us when she was born. Jane learned from an early age to support her own head. We weren’t going to do  it for her.

IMG_7753

We were all very photogenic.

 

 

If we weren’t rollerblading we were using our parents bed as a trampoline. We had a nice system going where we would line up in my parent’s closet (in order to get a running start) and use the closet doorway to hold onto, lean back and catapult ourselves onto the bed, doing our best flips and somersaults mid-air. Why enroll in gymnastics class when you have a queen sized bed you can just run and jump on? Honestly can’t believe the Jesse White Tumblers didn’t recruit us, we were so good.

IMG_7806

Taking a break from our gymnastics to fake read on my parent’s bed/pose for a Christmas card photo. Check me out-baby genius right there fake reading a story to everyone.

After we tired ourselves out a bit we would all get out our backpacks and sit at the kitchen table to do a little homework. It was a little crammed, and fights would break out if you accidentally got your papers into someone else’s “area” but it was fun all being together, jamming out to some music as we worked away. My mom would be in the kitchen with us, getting dinner prepped and checking on us periodically, helping with various homework problems. As the years went on, and my Mom cared less and less, (both about our homework and dinner) the younger kids relied on the older kids to help them out with homework. This system worked pretty good until we got down to Jane. We were all pretty tired by the time Jane needed help on homework. She racked up quite a few pink slips for “not turning in homework.” Sorry Jane! She turned out ok though.

IMG_7856

A rare photo of me doing homework. Drinking a Hi-C Juice Box to help take the edge off that stressful Math homework.

IMG_7846

What a great looking family.

After homework and dinner we focused our attention on dessert. We NEVER let our parents forget about giving us some sort of dessert every night. If you acted up or didn’t do your chores my parents used “no dessert” as a punishment. Unfortunately for me, being born a “smart-ass” as my parents so affectionately termed me, I spent a lot of nights going without dessert because of my wisecracks and sarcastic remarks. My mouth got me in a lot of trouble. I just couldn’t help myself in getting the last word in. So many times instead of having dessert, I would be laying on the kitchen floor crying as my siblings sat at the table eating ice cream or cookies.

Some nights when the dessert supply was running low my Dad would “raffle off” the last cookie or scoop of ice cream, whatever it may have been. There would be a series of coin tosses between the five of us and the winner would get the dessert. Some times it would be a real nail biter on who would be the last person standing. Many times this caused a lot of fights, usually some tears, but it was very entertaining for my Dad.We were just reminiscing about it the other day and my Dad was laughing hysterically thinking about it:

Dad (laughing so hard tears were in his eyes): “I remember you five little brats would be like vultures all wanting the last Oreo. Certain kids (I’m not going to name any names) would be sore losers if they lost and go off crying after the last coin toss. [Dad continues laughing more] Ahh that was good.”
Me: “Well, maybe you shouldn’t have been so cheap and just bought another pack of Oreos for us instead of starving your five children!”

IMG_8815

Here we are post Oreo raffle. As you can see from the Oreo remnants on my face, I was the winner of this raffle so I was very smitten.

IMG_7827

Looks like I won the Oreo, but lost my shoe on this time. I think I won dessert a few too many times as a toddler. It was my fat stage.

After us fatties got our fill of food, we finally settled down to go to bed. For some reason we found it soothing to fall asleep to various Disney movie soundtracks. Our favorite being “The Lion King.” Because what’s more relaxing than loud African music blasting in your bedroom-AHHHHHH ZENWENNAAAA BADA DEE SEE BABA (I have no idea what the actual African lyrics are to the opening of The Lion King but it sounded like that.) So we made our parents tuck us in and start the Lion King tape before they turned off the lights. Since I hated going to bed (I could never fall asleep) I would always try and delay my parents turning off the lights, asking various dumb questions to stop them. My parents favorite one of my questions that they still laugh about to this day is the time I asked them “What bones are made of.” Classic insomniac, doing anything to stop bedtime. Once we were finally all asleep, our parents finally got a much deserved and much needed break from us.

Looking back on all of this I have so much respect for my parents putting up with us every day. Sure, we were five blessings, but we were also five nutcases. Now I get why my Mom said she can’t imagine what parents are going through during this quarantine, and I can’t either. This quarantine has really made me appreciate not only my parents but all parents dealing with their own “blessings” at home. All I can say to parents out there is hang in there, be strong, and maybe buy an extra pack of Oreos.

IMG_7852

I’m literally climbing a mountain running away and my Mom and Dad (the one taking this picture) couldn’t care less.

IMG_7707

Looks like we were running out of furniture we were allowed to sit on so we had to share.

IMG_7854

I wonder if my Dad thought about leaving us in that forest

IMG_7861

Bridget and me playing with our real life doll Jane again. That was a damn good sucker and I enjoyed it very much.

IMG_7880

Why did I button my top button like a psychopath?

IMG_7828

Hood up, attitude out. I had no time for pictures.

IMG_7818

 

It’s Good To See Your Smiling Face

img_9639.jpgA few weeks ago I stopped at my parents house after work to help my Mom with some tech issues she had been having. For months she had been telling us that she needed to get a new iPhone because ‘an annoying message kept popping up saying her storage was full and she didn’t know how to get rid of it.’ Well, I highly doubted she actually needed a new phone so I told her I would stop by the house and take a look at it. Plus, I was getting tired of her using the “my storage is full” excuse when she wanted to take a picture at family gatherings. “Ok kids, I want to get a picture after dinner but my storage is full on my phone so it can’t be done on mine. Kathleen, can we do it on yours? You brought the selfie stick right?” She’d always say. (Talk about a lame excuse, am I right? Classic Mo Money) For some reason my Mom just assumes I carry a selfie stick with me at all times. I think I’m beginning to get arthritis in my arm from constantly having to be the one to hold the selfie stick in our family group photos. I needed to fix her phone so other people in the family could start holding the selfie stick. That thing is heavier than it looks.

So, after I finished fixing the sound on her laptop, I moved on to her phone. It only took me about 2 seconds to realize why her storage was full-She had about 3,000 photos on her phone. You may think since she has five children and five grandchildren that these would be all family photos, but no. My Mom had thousands of the most random and useless photos on her phone that should have been deleted years ago. Some of the pictures I came across were:

  • a picture of a light bulb
  • a picture of a Carson’s 20% off coupon
  • a photo burst of a church bulletin
  • A blurry picture of a PowerPoint slide on her computer screen
  • Numerous photos of what looked to be a Poison Ivy rash on my Dad’s arm
  • A video of a faucet at Home Depot (I think she meant to take a picture but accidentally took a video instead.)

Here are some other Kodak moments she captured on her phone:

After telling my mom what the issue was, she agreed to let me go through and delete what I thought were dumb photos. I began doing this and stumbled upon some very strange photos. “Mom!” I yelled to her from the kitchen as I sat at the table deleting photos for her “Why the heck do you have a photo of a dead bird on your phone?!” What kind of sick person has a photo of a dead animal on their phone? I began to question if I really new this mom of mine that I though was so sweet. “Oh hold on sweetie let me see that photo.” She paused the murder show she was watching in the TV room to come take a closer look with her reading glasses. “Oh THAT bird!” she said excitedly. “Yea, look at how interesting that bird’s beak is! I’ve never seen a bird like that! I keep meaning to text it to my college roommate to see if she might know what type of bird it is! She really knows her birds. Don’t delete that one yet please.” “Mom,” I replied with a laugh. “You took this photo in 2014! That was five years ago! Do you really plan on still sending it to your friend at this point?!”

img_0889-e1562531977960.jpg

The disturbing bird crime scene photo my Mom has on her phone.

Well, the dead bird photo was classified as a ‘do not delete’ photo so it stayed on her phone and I’m sure my mom still has yet to send it to her friend. But, I was able to delete some photos to give her some room on her phone and she was very grateful that her ‘little tech girl’ (as she likes to call me when she’s not calling me a ‘little smart ass’) came over to help her once again.

Even though I moved out of my parents house almost a year ago, it really doesn’t feel like it all that much because I find myself over at Mike and Mo’s Old Maid Boarding House quite often. In fact, I don’t think my dog Duke has even realized yet that I actually don’t live there anymore. But my old roommates and I have a good system going now since I moved out. I come home and provide them with IT services, humorous & sarcastic comments (As I’m sure they miss having their “Little Smart Ass” living with them full time), and they provide me with food (They really love feeding me which I appreciate because it saves me trips to the grocery store), Diet Coke and their interesting stories.

Just the other day my Dad was telling us how he had to break up a “cat fight” early one morning. We were all on the edge of our seats as he told the story. He literally broke up a fight between two cats that were hissing at each other. I was so glad no one was hurt in the scuffle. Talk about scary stuff. You never know what these pet parents are teaching their pets these days. Then my mom topped his exciting story with her own story about how she went shopping before Father’s Day to get water shoes for my dad but accidentally ended up buying water shoes for herself instead. Major plot twist!! Did not see that one coming.

Besides sharing stories, we also have some great conversations too. The other day when they were feeding me dinner we had a riveting conversation about one of my dad’s favorite shows, Ice Road Truckers:

Dad: Kathleen, want to watch Ice Road Truckers with me after dinner?
Me: Absolutely not. I have no desire to watch that boring old man show with you.
Dad: Oh come on it will be fun!
Mom: I thought that show was canceled?
Dad: I have some recorded from previous seasons.
Mom: What’s the guy’s name on that show that has all the kids?
Dad: The guy with the 12 kids? Ahhh… Hmmmm… Oh Hell what’s his name?!
[Several minutes go by as we anxiously wait for my dad to tell us the name]
Mom: That’s ok if you can’t think of it. I was just wondering.
Me: And I really never cared what his name was in the first place, so don’t hurt yourself trying to think of it.
Dad: No, hold on, it’s really going to bug me if I don’t think of it!
Mom: You could tell me his name was… Josh or something and I’d believe you, I don’t know any of the characters on that show.
Dad: ALEX! Ahhh yes! I remembered it! Alex is his name! He’s a Catholic too.

Other hot topics these days have included the new toaster they just got (Mike Sr. thinks it’s too fat and takes up too much room on the counter), the new washing machine (Mo Money HATES the new washing machine-it’s too loud) and the Shred and Electronics Recycling Day our town was having. There is nothing Mike Sr. and Mo Money love more than shredding and recycling old electronics. I was worried with this day coming up that I’d get flooded with calls from my parents asking my advice on whether or not it was ok to get rid of various cords they had been holding on to since the early 90s or computer games that only work with a Gateway 2000 desktop computer, but surprisingly they didn’t have too many questions for me.
7332870F-3266-4B48-BFF9-64AD7698E325

IMG_6450

When a family member needs your help eating cheeseburgers you have to be there. No questions asked. Family comes first.

IMG_6140

No matter what we talk about or do when I go over to my parents’ house we usually have lots of laughs. We’ve come a long way since when I first moved out and was getting accused of taking fans from the house (my family is very particular about our fans) or being pestered about going through my mail or going through my coats in the coat closet. Now my parents seem to really enjoy having me stop by. I’m not sure if this is because I finally returned the coolers I borrowed from them or if they really are starting to enjoy my company.

IMG_0286

In my defense, when it was agreed that I could borrow the coolers for my party, we never agreed on a time frame of how long I could use them for.

After any visit, whether I was over for dinner, helping them scan something, fixing the TV, or just stopping in for an afternoon Diet Coke, as I’m leaving my parents tell me to text them when I get back to my apartment so they know I got back safe and sound (even though I only live about a mile away). Each time I text them that I got back to my apartment they tell me “We always love seeing your smiling face.” Mom and Dad, I always love to see your smiling faces too.

IMG_B6156DC4A86B-1

Mo’s emoji game is on point.

 

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.

E3718199-AB88-4C3C-BF66-1CE2BF01C7E6

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

Holy 1

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

Holy 3

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.”

IMG_9242

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

451B2CBA-9DBD-41B8-85AF-EA521DD466C0

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: 

IMG_9243

Spelling has never been a strong skill for me.

IMG_9245

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

IMG_9244

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.

A5577ACF-624C-4FB9-9AC6-E5063D1BED81

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?

IMG_9236

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.

Holy 4

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

Holy 2

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.

 

 

 

Stuff My Dad Says

IMG_1976My Dad is a very funny guy. Not as funny as me of course, but I’ll give him some credit. One of the many things I love about my Dad is that you never know what is going to come out of his mouth. This keeps things very interesting and it keeps everyone laughing in our family.

A while back, my younger sister Jane and I were eating dinner with my parents, just having a nice conversation (we were probably talking about Tupperware to be honest, that seems to be dominating our conversations lately) when all of a sudden my Dad turns to my sister and me and says in a very stern voice, “Now listen! I don’t want any of you kids playing with those Ouija Boards! From what I hear they are just a channel for evil spirits!” It was silent for a minute as Jane and I looked at each other and tried to process what he just said. Then we burst out laughing.

I had noticed when going through our DVR that someone in the house kept recording shows such as Ghost Hunters, My Ghost Story and A Haunting. Clearly my father was the one recording these shows. I guess have to be better about setting the parental controls to make sure he’s not watching television shows that are obviously too scary for him.  “Well, that was random and has nothing to do with what we were talking about,” I said. “Just don’t play with them!” he said. “I hear they are only portals to these evils spirits!” “Dad, we are 27 and 23 years old, do you really think we are going out playing with Ouija boards with our friends?” I said. “Hell! I don’t know what you girls do when you go out on the weekends!” He responded.  I began to laugh again saying, “Believe me Dad, when we tell you we’re going out binge drinking with our friends at the bars, we’re telling you the truth. We’re just big boozers, not ghost hunters, so you have nothing to worry about.” “Well, I just found Mom had a Ouija Board when she was little!” He said. I was laughing uncontrollably now but manged to say, “Would that have been a deal breaker for you? If you knew when you were dating her that she had a Ouija board in 3rd grade, do you think you still would have popped the question?” For a minute he looked like he was really thinking hard about the answer to that question. Finally he said he probably would have still married her but made sure to have “a priest come in or something to get rid of any spirits that might have latched on to her.”

When my Dad is not talking about Ouija boards he’s usually making fun of me. The other day I stopped at my parents after work and had a backpack on with my work laptop in it. My Dad immediately commented on this as soon as I walked in the door. “What are you doing with that backpack on?! You already look like a 12 year old, that backpack does not help your case.” “EXCUSE ME, DAD!” I responded, “But I will have you know that I am a business woman with a lot of important business things I need to carry around, and my laptop is big and heavy so I need to use a back pack! I can’t fit it all in a purse!” “Well with you wearing that thing I’m worried the police are going to see you and call us to come pick up our little girl. [Does impression of police officer] ‘Yes, excuse me, Mr. Kelly but we spotted your daughter walking down the street, shouldn’t she be in school?’ DCFS will be after us too.” My Dad really made himself laugh with that one. “Well it’s your and Mom’s fault I look so young!” I replied “You guys are the ones that gave me these genes!”

IMG_1984

Was I seven or seventeen when this photo was taken? We can never really know.

When he’s not making fun of me for looking like a child, he is usually teasing me about being weak. Back in February we had a span of extremely cold days, and I accidentally left a case of Diet Coke in the trunk of my car which froze and then exploded. This was devastating, all 12 cans exploded, no survivors-it was hard to see my beloved Diet Coke in that state. Then my trunk froze shut so I couldn’t open it to clean in up. I wasn’t too worried about it though because cleaning up that Diet Coke massacre seemed like a lot of work, so I was fine with having an excuse to wait to do it. I stopped home and was telling my parents this story when my Dad interrupted me in the middle of it and said “Oh no, no, the trunk is not frozen shut, you’re just a weakling.” I tried to assure him that I tried numerous times to open it with no luck because it was, in fact, frozen shut, but he would not believe me. “Well that’s because you’re like a little infant! Infants aren’t strong enough to open trunks! Here, where’s Jane?!” My Dad said, looking around the house. “She could open that trunk up for you with no problem, she’s ‘Strong like Bull.’ JANNEEEE COME DOWN HERE PLEASE!” He yelled up to her. My dad had recently had surgery so he could not do any heavy lifting, so he outsourced the manual labor to his youngest daughter. Sure enough, Jane went out and popped the trunk right open. “Oh.” I said. “I guess you were right, Dad.”

If you feel bad for me that my Dad makes fun of me, don’t. He makes fun of his other four children too. (See my Dad’s contribution to our family group text below that he sent us a few years ago when visiting Jane in college for Parents Weekend)

060

Our Dad is so sweet.

While he makes fun of us a lot, he’s also taught us how to give it right back to him, and we never hold back in doing this. Because of this, we’ve had a lot of laughs throughout the years. My Dad is a big goofball, and he’s definitely passed on this trait to me. So since we are both goofy nutcases, a lot of the conversations I have with my Dad don’t even make any sense. Other people overhearing them would probably think we were crazy (which we are). Most of the things my Dad and I talk about center around my Dad’s favorite things: trains, trucks, construction equipment and Diet Coke)

img_6368.png

img_6369.png

This was last summer when I was living my best life on vacation in Michigan. Sipping Diet Cokes and watching trucks, making my Dad jealous. Life was good.

IMG_4669

Making fun of my Dad for being a dork and reading train magazines. I did become worried when I saw there was an article in the magazine titled “Meet a Family Who Cleans Up Derailments”- didn’t want Mike Sr. to get any ideas for his own family…

IMG_6367

Forget about the beautiful view of the ocean and mountains, I had my eyes set on that beautiful piece of construction equipment.

IMG_6093

Mike Sr. putting on his safari hat to head out to do one of his favorite things-rake leaves.

When I was about four years old, for some odd reason, my Dad decided one day at dinner that it would be hilarious if he started calling me a “Soup Spoon.” So from then on most days when he would come home from work, before taking off his coat or putting down his briefcase he would come through the door and make a beeline for the silverware drawer in the kitchen, grab a spoon and say to it “Hi Kathleen! How was your day?” My siblings thought this was also very funny, but I was not a fan, so this added to the hilarity for my Dad. So, for the past 25 years of my life or so, my dad still likes to call me a soup spoon or randomly text me about soup spoons. As you can imagine this joke has never gotten old (sarcasm font used on that last sentence).

048

Wise words to wake up to from my Father. Please note that he sent that text at 6:26am. 

047

Classic Millennial desperate to find some wifi.

While I often refer to my dad a weirdo, lunatic, nutcase and goof, I have come to realize I am just like him. But I wouldn’t want to have it any other way. I feel lucky to have grown up with a Dad like mine. He always cheered us up when we were sad, made us laugh when we were crying and has always been there ready with a joke to help ease a stressful situation. (Usually a lame joke but a joke nonetheless). A lot of people talk to their Dad about the news, sports, or career things, but I’m happy to continue talking to my Dad about trucks, trains and construction equipment. So this one’s for you Dad. Thanks for teaching us how to always find the humor in life and turning us all into lunatics just like you.

IMG_4374

We got really excited for cake.

296

I don’t even know what to say about this photo.

img_4376.jpg

Mike Sr. doing his fake smile, probably at his wit’s end with his kids saying through clenched teeth “just take the picture Mo.”

027

Classic Jane, the Big Boozer, hit the bottle a little too hard that night and passed out.

enhance

Apparently my mom didn’t want to be pictured with this bunch of lunatics. I don’t blame her.

IMG_4304

Baby Bird Flies Away

A few months ago, I did something that most people probably thought would never happen: I moved out of my parents house. Yup, after 27 years of sucking the life out of my Mom and Dad, eating their food, racking up their water and electric bill, I ended my lease. Of course I was cordial and informed my landlords of my intent to move a few  months in advance. Upon hearing my shocking announcement I think my parents went through all the stages of grief. “What?!” My Dad said in disbelief. “You can’t move out, you’re like a little infant! Who is going to feed and take care of you if you’re not living here?!” “Umm excuse me!” I said back. “If you recall I did go away to college for four years and I did just fine! I didn’t even lose my cell phone once!” (Still my greatest accomplishment in life) “Who is going to help us with our tech problems if you’re not around?!” was my Mom’s first question (My younger sister Jane still lives at home but when it comes to technology her skill level is that of a Baby Boomer so my mom knew she wouldn’t be any help in that department.) “Don’t you worry Mom!” I said “I’ll just be about a mile away and plan to get one of those pagers that doctors use so I will still be on call to help with tech support 24/7.” I did my best to explain to them why I was moving. “Sorry Mom and Dad, it’s nothing personal, I do love you and love living with you, but it’s like the great REO Speedwagon said, ‘It’s time for me to fly.'”

It’s hard to sum up all the things I’ll miss about living at Ma and Pa Kelly’s Old Maid sanctuary but after giving it some thought I was able to narrow it down to ten things (in no particular order) I’ll miss about living at home. 27 years of life in a house is too much to cram into one blog post, this is definitely going to have to be a two-parter. So counting down here are numbers 10-6:

10. Mo’s “My Spy” Bird House

Mo loves here birds, often reminding her family that she had a parakeet growing up. I don’t know if this was her way of hinting to us that she wanted us to get her a bird, but that was never going to happen-birds are too loud and obnoxious to keep inside. Mo may love birds, but her family does not, so last Christmas we got her the next best thing-The “My Spy” Birdhouse. I’m not sure if anyone is familiar with this bird mansion or has seen this advertised on TV, but it’s basically a birdhouse with suction cups to stick to your window so you can watch the birds in the house. Seemed like an invasion of the birds’ privacy to me, but it came with a “privacy shade” so I went ahead and ordered it off of Amazon. Wow, was this gift a hit with Mo. Please enjoy the photos below that we captured of her opening her amazing gift last Christmas.

IMG_2886

My Dad is paying no attention to my Mom’s excitement, only thinking about recycling all that wrapping paper. Mike Sr. loves recycling.

IMG_2887

Me: “Yes Mom, we crunched some numbers and the five of us were able to scrap together enough money to buy that $10 bird house.”

Lucky for the rest of us, we all got to benefit from this gift because she had my dad hang it right on our large window in the kitchen, so we were able to watch for birds every day at dinner. Sadly, no birds seemed to want to buy (or rent if they were Millennial Birds) Mo’s My Spy Bird House, which became concerning for all of us.

 

Mom: No birds seem to be going in my bird house! Maybe I should have Dad move it to a smaller window in another room. I wonder if having it on this large window the birds can see us moving around in the kitchen and that scares them away.
Me: Whoa, Mom, I mean I know Jane doesn’t look great in the mornings but that’s a little harsh. She’s just not a morning person.
Jane: HEY! You little brat!
Me: Mom, there are no birds in that thing because you didn’t put any food in it. The birds aren’t going to go in unless there is free food.
Mom: Really? You think? Well we aren’t going to be giving these birds any free hand-outs, and you know how Dad hates when I buy bags of bird seed, so maybe I’ll try putting up the privacy shade and see if that helps first.

So, after talking it out we literally did nothing and the empty bird house continues to sit upon the large window in the kitchen. Going to miss seeing that every day!

IMG_4754

Any Bird would be living large in Mo’s “My Spy” Bird house

 

IMG_4753

That little girl is so lucky-there are so many birds in her bird house like what is her secret??!!

9. Helping the Baby Boomers with Technology

Being the Baby Boomers’ 24/7 tech support was a tiring job, I worked on everything from printers, to phones, TVs and computers. I didn’t mind it though because usually it was very entertaining to me and I got a good laugh. I once showed my Mom that she could set her phone on “low power mode” when her battery got low, a feature she did not know existed and I basically blew her mind. A few weeks later she was heading out the door to babysit for her beloved grandchildren and I hear her yell up to me, annoyance in her voice, “KATHLEEN! WHAT WAS THAT THING THAT YOU DID WITH MY PHONE WHERE YOU PUT IT TO LOW POWER?! IS THAT AN EXTRA CHARGE?! I HATE WHEN AT&T CHARGES ME FOR THESE THINGS! I’M DOWN TO 20% BUT I DON’T WANT THIS TO END UP ON MY BILL!”

Another time I was rushing to leave for work, just about to head out the door when my Mom came down the stairs in her pajamas and robe. “Hi Mom,” I said, going to give her a kiss and hug, “Sorry I’m running late for work gotta go, I’ll talk to you later.” “Good morning sweetie-oh yea no problem, have a good day but just a quick question…” she said as she leaned in for my kiss and then grabbed a hold of me. “After you went to bed last night I was watching one of my murder shows and as I was fast forwarding through the commercials I accidentally hit a button on the clicker and the TV went blank! Can you look at it later?” Yea, yea sure,” I said in a rush, “I’ll look at it after work but I’m running late I have to head out.” But at that point Mo had a strong grip on me and I knew I wasn’t getting away. “Sure no problem, later is fine. But here, let me show you what I think I did,” She said as she shoved the remote in my face, still tightly grasping me. So, being the good IT worker that I am, I put down my things and fixed the TV for her and she was very grateful. Nothing makes Mo more happy than spending a morning watching one of her shows about a horrific and brutal murder while sipping her coffee and eating a yogurt. Knowing I put a smile on her face was the only payment I needed. Definitely going to miss that!

8. Tooling around in Mo Money’s Honda Mini Van

Now that I don’t live at home anymore, I no longer have the ability to borrow Mo’s 2012 Grey Honda Mini Van whenever I want. 16 cup holders, fold-down back seat, enough leg room to comfortably seat 7, she is a damn beauty! It will be a tough adjustment not having Mama Mini around with her automatic sliding doors. I have to open the doors for myself in my stupid Toyota Corolla, it’s exhausting!

IMG_4668

I can bring so many drinks with me when I am driving in Mo’s Mini van. Water, coffee, Diet Coke, Gatorade, all my favorites.

7.  The Glow in the Dark Stars on my bedroom ceiling

Those glow in the dark stars almost got me evicted back in the early 2000s when I stuck them to the ceiling without first checking with a CERTAIN landlord. I’m not going to name any names as to which of my two landlords was not very happy about it but his name just happens to rhyme with MAD. My Dad was so mad I thought I was going to be kicked to the curb with no other option but to become a Newsie at the young age of 8, working the streets selling papers just trying to get by. I actually feel bad writing about this now because I know his blood pressure is probably skyrocketing as he sits and reads this blog, thinking about those damn stars, reminding him how I ruined the ceiling drywall putting them up. While my Dad hated them, they provided me something interesting to look at while I’d lay wide awake in my bed for hours and hours trying to fall asleep. We weren’t allowed to have TVs in our rooms growing up, I needed something to entertain me. Never once did I see a shooting star though which is kind of a bummer. Now that I am grown and still an insomniac, and still don’t have a tv in my room, I miss looking up at those glowing stars.

6. Hanging out with Duke

I’ll be the first to admit Duke and I had a bit of a rough patch in his younger days, but that’s only because I felt he was personally targeting me with his puppy antics. Chewing on only MY shoes, tearing down MY pictures from the refrigerator, chewing and ruining MY 8th grade video. Thank goodness he grew out of that stage and we’ve been buddies ever since. He is always a good sport when I make him take snap chats with me too.

IMG_6139

Boy was that a wild weekend. My parents went away for the weekend leaving me and Duke home alone. Duke ate so many Puperoni’s that Saturday night, he couldn’t even get out of bed on Sunday.

IMG_6091

Living with mostly girls his entire life, Duke has the patience of a saint.

IMG_6097

Jane and Duke are super into art. so cultured.

IMG_6101

I let Duke ride in my Toyota Corolla and the first thing he did was complain about the lack of cup holders. So ungrateful.

IMG_6088

Mike Sr. keeps the thermostat set so low Duke has to keep his paws warm somehow.

IMG_3746

After that I never gave Duke coffee again, he went right back to Dog Chow.

IMG_6102

I was trying to be domestic and work in the kitchen but Duke is anti-gender roles so he was trying to stop me.

IMG_6090

715

Chilling on the patio with Duke-Dog Days of summer am I right??!!

I’m going to miss that furry face greeting me when I walk in the door. Duke was always excited to see me no matter what time of day or night it was-he never made snide comments about what time I would come home from the bars at either, DAD. Thank goodness my apartment is only a few miles away though so I can still visit with my good friend Duke whenever I want.

***Stay tuned for the next five in part 2!**

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.

031

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

Disney

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.

Image-1 (31)

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.

Image-1 (32)

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.

IMG_4819

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.

img_0015.jpg

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

IMG_0027

Total dude magnet

IMG_4845

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

IMG_4826

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…

Summertime, Baby!

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

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

IMG_6040

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

IMG_6041

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

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

 

 

IMG_4665

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

IMG_1572 (1)

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

 

Dad, the Washing Machine’s Broken

A few weeks ago, I opened the washing machine to switch my laundry into the dryer only to discover that my clothes were still soaking wet because the washer didn’t properly drain all the water out! Like any tenant would do, I immediately informed my landlord of this terrible inconvenience. “DADDDDDDDDD! THE WASHING MACHINE IS BROKEN!” I yelled from the basement. He quickly came down the stairs to check it out. “Yup, I noticed this happening when I did laundry yesterday,” He said. “I’m going to have to call the repair man. Until then you’ll have to wring out your clothes by hand over the laundry tub.” “Ughhhhh that’s so annoying! Wring my clothes out? What am I, a pioneer woman? That’s so much work, and it will hurt my wrists!” I responded. “Well maybe if you weren’t such a weakling it wouldn’t hurt your wrists so much.” He said. “You’re like a little infant. Here move aside, I’ll show you how it’s done.”

As my Dad wrung my clothes out over the laundry tub and I looked on, offering no help at all, he told me tales of when he was growing up and how they had to use some sort of contraption to wring their clothes out. Naturally I had no idea what he was talking about, as I was born in the 1990s and not the 1700s, which is apparently when my father was born. “Now, did you use this laundry contraption thing before or after you finished churning the butter?” I asked. In a mocking tone my dad responded, “Ohhh I’m Kathleen and I have a witty comment for everything.”

A few days later the repair man came and delivered the devastating news to my parents-they needed a new washing machine. My parents were very upset by this. My sister Jane (my other sibling living at home) and I were not surprised though as that washing machine was older than we are. We were actually quite pleased to finally have a washing machine that was made in this century. As the days passed though, there was no sign of our landlords replacing the washing machine anytime soon. Finally Jane brought it up at dinner one night.

Jane: What’s going on with the washing machine? When are we getting a new one?
(Jane and I often used the term “WE” when talking about home maintenance/repair projects when really we do not plan to have anything to do with the task.)
Me: Yeah, I put in a work order for a new washing machine like weeks ago and have heard nothing back on the status of my request from my landlords.
Mom (Said with irritation in her voice): Ugh, Yeah I need to pick a day to go out and look for one. What I definitely don’t want is one of those awful ‘Energy Efficient’ ones that they have now. Have you girls ever used one of those?
Me & Jane: I don’t know, probably when we were away at college.
Mom (Even more irritation in her voice): UGH, THEY ARE TERRIBLE! First, the water will only start to fill up the machine once you close the lid. Then, the water just BARELY covers the laundry that’s in the machine….

At this point Jane and I waited patiently as my mom paused her story for dramatic emphasis, looking each of us directly in the eyes, making sure what she just said about the water level in new washing machines had resignated with us.

Me: Ok got, it, energy efficient ones don’t use as much water. Please continue your story.
Mom: So it’s like there’s not enough water to let the clothes soak in! I mean do your clothes even get clean then?!

At this point we realize the amount of hate our mother has for energy efficient appliances and regretted even bringing up the topic of a new washing machine. We wished we could take it back, but by then it was too late. We set something off in her, and now she was on a tirade listing off other things that bother her. She covered specifics on just about every topic you could imagine-from baby and bridal showers to birthday cards, canoe trips, grocery stores and more. It was as if this tiny woman was letting out 63 years of anger and frustration. We we shocked by some of it but I can’t say I’m surprised that my mom hates energy efficient appliances though. She’s a Baby Boomer so I’m sure the urge to use up the earth’s precious resources like water, leaving hardly anything for future generations, comes naturally to her.

IMG_4126

The foe wood at the top really gives it a homey, “Cabin in the woods” type feel.

Once my mom finished, our washing machine conversation continued.

Dad: Mo, how long do you think we’ve had that washing machine? 30 years or so?
Me: Judging by the foe wood on the washer, I’d say close to 35 years. I hear that style was popular back in the 80s.
Dad (said defensively): That was a damn good washing machine! They don’t make machines like that anymore. It’s too bad we have to get rid of it!

One of the things I’ve learned about my Dad in the 27 years that I’ve known him is that he has emotional attachments to appliances and furniture. A word of advice to the public: Don’t EVER say anything bad about his vacuum. I mean the thing is absolutely awful-it’s heavy, hard to push on carpeting and makes the house smell every time it’s used. Not to mention that it looks like it was made in the 1920s. It might have been Hoover’s very first vacuum model. But for some reason my Dad thinks it’s the best thing ever made.

IMG_4128

You may have seen this exact photo in your history book.

Although we had a wonderful conversation about getting a new washing machine, as of today we still don’t have a new one. According to the Baby Boomers, if you put your laundry on a certain water level and certain spin cycle and turn the button while the machine is in the middle of the spin cycle, it works just fine. So this machine may just stick around for a few more years.

While my Landlords may get a D- in the appliance category, they get an A+ in all the other amenities they provide their tenants-Mike Sr. provides us donuts, cookies and cupcakes on the reg and Mo still makes dinner for her kiddos from time to time. The portions she feeds us would leave even Thumbelina with hunger pains, but we appreciate the meals nonetheless. AND most recently, they switched from Kleenex brand tissues to Puffs Plus! My nose never felt so soft!

Image-1 (24)

Real adults eat smiley face cookies.

Image-1 (25)

On special occasions she’ll let us have butter on our toast.

I better start working on my wrist strengthening exercises, because I may be wringing out my clothes for a little while longer. New washing machine or not, Mike and Mo are still the best landlords around.

IMG_4130

Photo taken the day I signed my first leasing agreement with the landlords. The three people to the right served as notaries/witnesses. Also super embarrassing that everyone can see my weight listed here. I should have blocked that out, I was still working off some of that weight I gained in the womb.

Spring Break Adventures

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

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

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

IMG_8424 (1)

Mike Sr. helping the biker babes.

IMG_8433

I age backwards about ten years when I wear a hat

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image-1 (6)

This snap chat was a great conversation starter.

IMG_8453

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

IMG_8454

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

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

Dad update

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

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

Image-1 (8)

Annoying Duke while he tries to do his morning stretches.