Baby Bird Flies Away Part II

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

5. The Fights About the Banana on the Counter

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

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

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

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

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

4. Having Meals Together

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3. Mornings With The Roommates

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

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

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

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

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“MIKE! WHERE’S MY BREAKFAST?!”-Duke

2. Being the Backbone of the Household

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

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

1. Mike And Mo

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

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

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

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Mike Sr., Mo and their five baby birds.

 

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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.

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

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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!

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

 

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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!

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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.

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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.

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

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Jane and Duke are super into art. so cultured.

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

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

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

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

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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!**

Middles Do Boston

Last week, I traveled to Boston with my sister Bridget, my cousin Meghan and my selfie stick. It was kind of a spontaneous trip, we only decided a couple of weeks prior that we should all go to Boston together. The three of us are all middle children, so we figured we should treat ourselves to this trip, since no one else is going to treat us to anything, everyone knows that no one loves middle children.
The night before we left for our trip I was up later than I had originally planned because I was having a lot of trouble packing and figuring out my outfits. Of course I needed to be prepared for anything, “going-out” outfits, “being tourists during the day” outfits, “I’m just a sporty twenty something exploring a big city” outfits, etc. My mind was racing and I was stressed out! Then, once I was finally done packing and about to climb into bed for a good night’s rest I see a spider crawling across my bedroom floor! I was livid that this spider had the nerve to crawl across the plush carpeting that my landlords/parents had just installed! I don’t know if this spider thought I was renting out my place as an Airbnb while I was away in Boston or something, but he was sorely mistaken. But in the spider’s defense, it is something I’ve thought about, I’m sure I could rent it for a pretty penny. I mean, how appealing does this sound:

“Calming studio apartment located on the second floor of a building my parents own, in the heart of Evergreen Park, ‘the village of churches.’ Sleep soundly on a luxurious twin bed from Darvin furniture, complete with Pottery Barn Teen comforter. Amenities include an AC unit, TV and possibly a mini fridge pending landlord approval. Must be comfortable with pets and Baby Boomers. Must also be willing to help said Baby Boomers in the event they have an issue with their phone, TV, laptop, or any other technology related device. Landlord may get you a doughnut in the morning though if you are polite. Message Kathleen if interested.”

Yea, I think it’s safe to say the spider was on to something, my place would rent out like crazy.

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This is the photo I would use that would make my place rent out like crazy. Please ignore the violence going on on the TV, I was enjoying a Law and Order SVU marathon.

After tossing and turning all night because I felt so itchy from the spider incident, it was finally time for Meghan and me to head to the airport (Bridget was already in Boston for work, being a business woman on a business trip). Our friend Laura was nice enough to drive us to the airport and while on our way she asked us what we were most looking forward to about our Boston trip. “I can’t wait for all the inside jokes we are going to have after this trip!” I responded. “Hopefully we’ll come up with some good hashtags for Instagram!” I mean, who doesn’t love a good inside joke and hashtag?! #MiddlesDoBoston

Once we got to the airport and through security we had a quick drink at the airport bar and then went to our gate to board. We seemed to be waiting to board for quite a while though, so I decided to pass the time by talking about movies. Usually I would have brought up some new celebrity gossip, but I had been so busy in the days leading up to our trip that I had no time to watch Inside Edition so I had zero gossip! “Have you ever seen the movie Sully?” I asked Meghan. “That was a good movie. I mean how crazy is it that you hit a flock of birds and then it takes out both engines and before you know it the plane is going down! Can you imagine being a passenger on that plane?!” Meghan looked at me like I was crazy. “Why would you talk about THAT movie right as we are about to get on an air plane?!” She responded. “And yes, I have seen it!” Whoops, my bad.
The flight there was pretty uneventful, other than a lot of turbulence due to rain. I was fine and kept busy by reading my People magazine, but Meghan did not look like she was having fun. Apparently she kept thinking about that movie or something.

After a bumpy ride we landed in Boston and headed right to the bathroom because we drank way too much water. I was at the sink going to dry my hands when I realized there were no paper towels, only hand dryers! “That’s strike one, Boston!” I thought. Everyone knows my pet peeve is when bathrooms only have hand dryers and no paper towels. If I want  to ruin the environment with paper towels that’s my right, my prerogative! Don’t force me to be eco-friendly with your fancy hand dryers that only partially dry my hands. So with our hands still dripping with water, we then headed to the apartment we had rented for the weekend. Bridget had already checked in for us and was anxiously waiting our arrival (She was quick to switch from a business woman on a business trip to a business woman on a leisure trip). The place was nice but no one could get any cell service in the apartment. Bridget and Meghan were a little annoyed with this but it was not a problem for me since I do not ever really get text messages, other than the occasional roommate texting me asking if the dishes in the dishwasher are clean or dirty, or if I know the password to her Yahoo email. Our only other complaint besides the cell service was there was no microwave! How would we heat up our food?! Sure, there was an oven but who uses those things anymore?! After getting over THAT shock we quickly got ready and then went to dinner and a few bars near Fenway Park. I was a little disappointed because I wore a super cute outfit and looked like a bombshell babe, but no one took any pictures or posted anything on social media so it was a total waste. Other than that it was a fun night.

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Visiting the set of the 2005 blockbuster movie “Fever Pitch” staring Drew Barrymore and Jimmy Fallon.

The next day we woke up and did a ton of tourist activities including the Freedom Trail, which took us to a lot of historical landmarks in Boston. Some were interesting but others were wicked boring. (Notice how I used the word “wicked?” Only a few days in Boston and I’m already picking up the lingo!) One stop was a very old cemetery where Paul Revere was buried. All the tombstones were from the 1700s and everyone seemed to have died pretty young. I saw one headstone of a woman who died when she was 26-the same age as me! But here’s the real kicker-she had already been married! She died a lucky woman, that is for sure. Just as I was beginning to feel bad about the fact that I was still an old maid at 26, I spotted across the street probably the nicest Walgreens I had ever seen in my life. Apparently it was not part of the Freedom Trail but we stopped in anyway and we were NOT disappointed. Crown molding throughout, shiny floors, plenty of snacks and beverages, was I in heaven. After a quick stop at Walgreens we headed to the bars again to have a much needed drink after all that walking.

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Pretty Sure that’s what Paulie was saying on his midnight ride

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Super lame tea party-there were no Twisted Teas, not even Brisk brand iced tea! Not worth the stop.

Saturday was a bit more of a leisure day. We went to a roof top bar where I sustained some sunburn on my scalp and my sister suffered severe burns on her chest and back (pale kid problems). Then we rode the train, or as the locals call “The Chaaaaaarlie” (you have to say it in a Boston accent) to meet up with our other cousin, Cara. Thank goodness Bridget was our city girl and helped Meghan and me navigate through public transportation in a big city! If it was up to us we would have taken Ubers everywhere. We didn’t know any better though, we were just a bunch of Southside Bumpkins in the big city!

Sunday we had just enough time to go to brunch (Since we are basic white girls/Millennials) and then it was time to go to the airport. It was my first time flying United so I was pretty excited. Let me tell you, it’s a good thing they make coach passengers walk past the first class passengers on the way to their seats or I might have forgotten how middle class I am! So kind of them! But that wasn’t the only perk United provided, there was a little dog on my flight! And he looked thrilled to be flying United as well.

The flight back was fine until it was time to get off the plane, where I experienced my second pet peeve: when people don’t wait their turn to get off the plane. Do people not have manners anymore? Exiting a plane is just like getting communion at a Catholic church. There is an order, you wait for the row in front of you to go before you do! And if you cut the line people will talk about you and give you dirty looks. I don’t get what people don’t understand about this! Once we were finally off the plane and in the airport we were immediately reminded that we were middle children as no one was there to greet us or give us a ride home. Yes, the vacation was over and we were back to reality. We all called Ubers and headed our separate ways.

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This young man was a true gentleman and waited his turn to get off the plane. Proof that chivalry is not dead.

We were exhausted when we arrived home but it was a great trip. We even discussed plans for our next trip! Watch out 2018, because the Middles are going international!

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Brick sidewalks and cute streets are so Boston.

Janie Had a Little Lamb

Earlier in May, my youngest sister Jane graduated from the University of Dayton. Being the fifth child in our family to go to UD, we all made the final voyage to good old Dayton, Ohio for the grand finale. My parents, Mike and Mo, thought the whole thing was pretty bitter-sweet. They couldn’t believe after five kids and 13 consecutive years at the University of Dayton, it would all be over after Jane’s graduation. I could tell they were excited for the weekend. My mom even emailed us all an itinerary of the events for the weekend, which included dinner reservations, what time the ceremony was, and meeting Miss Kelly the lamb. Yes, Jane had a newborn lamb named after her. More to come on this later.

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I received this email from my mom when we were sitting on either end of the couch. Baby Boomers and their smart phones, am I right? What ever happened to human interaction?

In addition to being excited, my parents were also proud of all Jane’s accomplishments. “Kathleen, did you know Jane is graduating Summa Cum Laude?” My mom said to me a few days prior to the big weekend. I couldn’t tell if she just wanted to share her good news about her youngest child or remind me that I graduate college without ANY honors. Being smart isn’t everything, MOM! “Oh, yea, yea, that’s great,” I said flatly, not even trying to hide the fact that, frankly, being a typical middle child, I didn’t really care. “Honors are nice and everything, Mom, but remember how I had the same cell phone through all four years of college? That was pretty impressive, am I right?!” (NOTICE ME! LOVE ME! Was what I was really screaming inside)

Having the same phone all throughout college is probably my greatest accomplishment in life. I mean does my mom even realize how rare that is in the college environment? Sure, lots of kids graduate from college with honors, but how many are able to hold onto their cell phone freshman through senior year? Not many I bet.

Originally all of us were going to leave on Friday for the graduation, but my roommates, AKA my parents, decided to leave on Thursday night to make it in time for some award ceremony the NerdBomber was being honored at on Friday morning in Dayton. So that meant I had to hold down the fort while they were gone that extra day. AND it also meant I had to be the one to drop Duke off at the dog-sitter’s house. I was very distraught over this. I didn’t want Duke thinking I was the one abandoning him for the weekend! It would be so hard to drive away with his sad face staring at me as I left. Plus, I didn’t want the dog hair in my car. I had just vacuumed it and didn’t want it getting all dirty. Even though I protested, my roommates still made me do it. And they left quite the honey-do list for me to complete after they left. They conveniently “forgot the cameras” and had to have me bring them. Sometimes it’s hard being the glue that holds my family together.

Friday morning came and it was time to drop my buddy Duke off. Luckily, my sister came home and went with me to drop him off. I was so upset I had to stop at Dunkin Donuts and treat myself to a coffee and a doughnut.

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“Wait don’t take my picture yet I have something in my teeth.”-Duke

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“OMG are you serious?! I literally just told you not to take my picture, I was trying to get a piece of Dog Chow that was stuck in between my teeth out you betch.”-Duke

I felt like a mom dropping her child off at preschool for the first time. “Wow, Duke is going to be really sad when we leave him. He really likes me,” I was explaining to my sister on the way over. But when the time came to leave him at the dog-sitter he was actually excited! He didn’t even look back at me! I couldn’t believe it. I was so insulted. After all the walks I took him on and Pupperoni I gave him through the years, he goes and treats me like this?

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My face as Duke lectures me on how I need to take my car in to get my oil changed and tires rotated. Blah, blah, blah. Classic older bro worrying about his little sister’s safety.

I decided I wasn’t going to let Duke ruin our fun road trip and tried to put it behind me. I quickly forgot about him once my siblings and I started discussing where we would stop for lunch. When you have a five hour car ride, stopping for food is about the only thing you have to look forward to. “I’m fine with just about anything, EXCEPT Burger King. You guys know I ALWAYS have a bad experience at Burger King,” I said. “Oh and Maggie you CANNOT pick the place. You lost that privileged the Dayton Graduation car ride home incident 2008.” What incident am I referring to? Sit tight and I will explain the nightmare:

In 2008 my oldest sister graduated from Dayton. On the way home that weekend we had a three-car caravan going because my parents love caravans even though their children hate them. We had Walkie-Talkies going between the first two cars since this was before all of us had cell phones. My dad and Maggie were leading everyone in the first car. I was riding shotgun with my mom and some of my other siblings in the second car. We had some discussion on where we would stop for lunch over the Walkie-Talkies, but nothing was decided. All of a sudden my father and Maggie get off at an exit. I saw a sign for McDonald’s at the exit so I thought everything was OK and we continued to follow them. Then, to my bewilderment, my father’s car passes the McDonald’s. I begin to panic as I see an Arby’s in the distance and nothing else. “WHAT ARE THEY DOING?! THEY CAN’T BE HEADED TO ARBY’S CAN THEY?!” I scream. My siblings look up from the back seat and I can see the fear also begin to take over them. I grab the Walkie-Talkie from my Mom. “MAYDAY! MAYDAY! WHAT ARE YOU DOING?! YOU PASSED THE MCDONALDS!” I yelled into the Walkie-Talkie. But they ignored my cries and parked in the Arby’s parking lot. Apparently my father and Maggie wanted to eat there. The rest of us could not believe we were being forced to eat Arby’s. Had we done something wrong? Did our parents not love us anymore? Sometimes in life things happen that force a child to become an adult. I became an adult that day at Arby’s. Innocence was lost and I was never the same.

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I was having flashbacks to the Arby’s incident 2008 when we passed this sign going through Indiana.

My sister agreed that Maggie was not allowed to pick, so we chose Culver’s. Culver’s never disappoints. Butterburger? Yes, please! (While there my sister Bridget and I got into a mild argument over fries and cheese curds, but I don’t want to air all my family’s dirty laundry here.) After our bellies were full we continued on to what was a pretty uneventful ride. It took us a little longer than planned so we had to quickly get ready at the hotel and then it was off to dinner and then a bar near campus.

Saturday morning we all met for breakfast at the hotel. I must say, Mike Sr. must have splurged on the hotel because the breakfast was darn good. Chocolate milk AND french vanilla creamer for coffee? I mean, I was blown away. Was I at the Ritz-Carlton or the Holiday Inn? I honestly wasn’t sure. We were all texting trying to figure out what time everyone was meeting for breakfast while my mom kept trying to make her room “the party room.” It was getting a little pathetic.
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My mom was desperately trying to find friends to hang out with her room while I was overly excited about the chocolate milk.

After breakfast it was time to meet Miss Kelly the newborn lamb. To explain, Jane was an education major at UD and her cooperating teacher who oversaw her student teaching lives on a farm. One of the sheep on the farm had a newborn lamb and Jane’s cooperating teacher liked Jane so much that she named the lamb “Miss Kelly” after Jane. Great, so Jane graduates with honors and gets a lamb named after her. Youngest children get everything. We played with the lamb a lot and then of course my two unmarried sisters and I had to take a “Miss Kelly” picture with the lamb. I mean when is the next time there will be four Miss Kelly’s all in the same place?! At the rate we are going the lamb will be the first of the four of us to become a Mrs.

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Four Miss Kelly’s. Each one whiter than the next.

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Miss Kelly the aspiring talk show host. Much like the other Miss Kelly’s, she also is a fan of Inside Edition.

After a lot of time taking pictures and playing with Miss Kelly we headed back to the hotel to shower because Miss Kelly was cute, but she smelled pretty bad. And the lamb was kind of dirty too. After that it was off to another party where I stayed out way too late which I very much regretted the next morning.

Sunday was the graduation ceremony so we had to be up pretty early. Thank God I had chocolate milk and french vanilla creamer with my coffee to get me through the morning. We arrived late at the ceremony (classic us) so we were up in the nose bleed section of the UD arena. By the time we got to our seats I felt like I needed an oxygen mask we were so high up. As I was trying to catch my breath I look over to see my Mom pull a glow stick out of her purse and start to raise it above her head. I couldn’t help but burst out laughing. “What are you doing with that thing?! I said laughing. “We’re at Jane’s graduation, not Blue Man Group.” “Oh you little smart ass,” she said. “I’m trying to get Jane’s attention! I texted her to tell her to look for a blue glow stick so she knows where we are sitting.”

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Mo and her glow stick.

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Me mocking Mo and her glow stick. And at that moment Mo came to terms with the fact some of her children will always be smart (Jane) and others will always be smart asses (me).

As anyone who has ever attended a college graduation will know, sitting through those things is pure torture. Anyone who says they enjoy college graduations is either a liar or needs a psych consult. We were so high up in the stadium for Jane’s graduation that I wasn’t getting any phone service and they didn’t have any lights on in our section so I couldn’t even read any of the magazine’s I brought so I literally had nothing to do but sit there and make fun of my mom and her glow stick. Time was moving incredibly slow. Once the ceremony was finally over our reward was moving Jane’s stuff out of her house, cleaning up from the previous night’s party and then a five hour car ride home. To make a bad day even worse, we stopped at Wendy’s and it was awful. That red head usually serves good food but this time she disappointed us immensely.  Our burgers were cold and our fries tasted reheated. We all went around and tried to rate our meal, but there was confusion on if we were rating our food out of five stars or ten stars so we all crossed “Food Critic” off our list of dream jobs and left Wendy’s tired and dissatisfied.

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Wendy is my least favorite red-head right now. I was very hangry when I sent this Snap Chat.

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Spoiler alert: I had to do all those things. I reminded my parents numerous times that I shouldn’t have to go to Jane’s college graduation because she didn’t go to mine. She claims she had her “Senior Prom.” I question the morals of any person who chooses music and dancing over the academic milestone of a family member.

Despite our rough Sunday, overall it was a fun trip. While we may no longer have any kids at Dayton, I’m sure it won’t be my last trip to UD. Flyers for life!

It’s a Duke’s Life

I vividly remember the day Duke became a part of our family. It was a warm spring day in April of my my senior year of high school. Some time had past since our family dog had passed away and we were ready to be dog owners again. My younger sister and I had spend the previous weeks researching where we could find Boxer puppies for sale and finally found some in Danville, Illinois. My Dad does a lot business there and is familiar with the area so we easily convinced our parents to make the 3 hour trek from Chicago to take a look at some adorable puppies. We were all very excited so the ride seemed to take forever. Actually, it did take forever since my Dad was driving and he is an extremely slow driver. I was beginning to worry the dogs would be fully grown by the time we got there. Had I ridden to Danville on a turtle, I probably would have gotten there faster.

Once we arrived all the puppies were sleeping outside in the backyard (apparently no one told them we were coming). We gave them some time to wake up, coast for a bit, maybe have a cup of coffee and read the front page of the paper, while we did the whole meet and greet with Duke’s parents. They were a nice couple, the father pretty big, looked like his nails could have used a trimming but I didn’t want to judge. Duke’s mother was a bit too much to handle; she was extremely hyper. I give her credit for her enthusiasm but dat bitch was saggy (Bitch is the term used for a female dog, I’m not being rude). Her tummy nearly hit the ground it was so stretched out. I politely suggested maybe she sign up for a few Pilates classes to strengthen her core after having all those kids and my mom quickly came to her aid. “Leave her alone she just had puppies!” That was 5 weeks ago Mom, stop making excuses for her.

The whole long car ride there my mom kept telling my younger sister, Jane, and I that we could pick out the puppy. She said we did all the work to find the litter of puppies (which we did) and that since our other 3 siblings were away having a grand old time in Ireland, we could represent the kids and choose our new family dog. We carefully inspected each puppy, spending time with each to see which one would be the best fit for our family. Finally we had picked out what we thought was the cutest puppy in the bunch. We scooped him up, and brought him over to our parents who were on the other side of the yard. “Mom, we picked out the puppy!” We said excitedly. Her back was to us at first but when she turned around I saw that she was carrying 2 puppies, one in each arm. Without hesitation she responded, “Mmmm no that’s a ‘flashy Boxer’ we don’t want that one. They’re cute when they’re puppies but once they grow up they aren’t as cute. Definitely not that one. But you girls can help me choose between the 2 puppies I am holding!” Flat out denied. Talk about an empty promise. After we got over the initial shock and picked our jaws up off the ground, we put our dream dog back with the other rejects and “helped” our Mom choose between the two identical looking puppies in her arms. One dog was sound asleep in my mother’s left arm, while the other was looking around and panting with it’s tongue hanging out of it’s month as if it was 120 degrees in her right arm. We decide the one with the huge tongue had more personality so we chose him. That big tongued dog became our Duke.

Young Duke and his big tongue

Young Duke and his big tongue

It would be an understatement to say that our first few years with Duke were ruff-whoops-I mean ‘rough’. That “personality” that first drew us to Duke turned out to be quite destructive. He chewed up furniture, stairway railings, and even tore down wallpaper in our hallway. In his defensive the wallpaper was out dated, very ’90s-ish’ and I agreed with him that it needed to go. I think he was inspired by the shows on HGTV we would watch together and was just taking some initiative in redecorating the house. He also chewed up a picture of me that was hanging on the fridge and tore up my 8th grade graduation video. I did not come to his defense on those occasions due to the fact that I felt personally attacked by Duke.

I remember my parents calling me a number of times while I was away at college threatening to send Duke to “the farm” after he had ruined something else. I knew that they were bluffing and didn’t actually want to send him away, they aren’t that heartless. I mean sure, yea, they would promise their children they could pick out a puppy and then break that promise without a second thought but they wouldn’t ever get rid of the family pet. Someone just needed to whip the little brat dog into shape. And I knew just the man to do it-my Dad. He had trained 5 kids, surely he could train a dog.

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Duke’s “Whoops, did I do that?” face. He puts it on every time he gets in trouble.

After many months of my Dad working with Duke things slowly started to get better. With lots of training and discipline he wasn’t nearly as bad or destructive as he used to be. And Duke turned his behavior around too (wink).  Although he still had a bit of an attitude and got into trouble every now and again, Duke was allowed to stay. He patched things up with my parents and they are closer than ever now.

While Duke may have a solid relationship with my parents, his relationship with me can be a little rocky at times. We love each other but we also fight a lot. We are both Aries (he March 26th and I March 29th) so it’s only natural for us to butt heads, we are the rams. Duke, like a typically boy, can always take things too far though. The other day, after we had a small quarrel, I was walking by while he was laying on the floor and he deliberately reached out his paw to try and trip me. I thought it was extremely immature of him. He’s 42 in dog years, when is he going to grow up? But at the end of the day we always apologize to each other and become friends again. This is mostly because we truly need each other. He needs me to feed him and to go on walks, and I need him for sending snap chats to my friends.

I just wanted him to look nice for Easter mass. He cleans up nicely,doesn't he?

I just wanted him to look nice for Easter mass. He cleans up nicely, doesn’t he?

I had to break the news to him that he didn't have thumbs when he tried to take a selfie. It didn't go over so well.

I had to break the news to him that he didn’t have thumbs when he tried to take a selfie. It didn’t go over so well.

Duke and his girls having fun on vacation.

Duke and his girls having fun on vacation. Duke was a little over served that night if you can’t tell.

Although he can be selfish and whines a whole heck of a lot, he is a part of our family and we love him. Sure he has an attitude and can act like a teenager, but he has more personality than any other dog we have had. We may not always get along but we have fun. Looking back now I am glad my mother broke her promise about letting my sister and me pick out the puppy. If she hadn’t done this, we wouldn’t have Duke, Moms do know best! Thanks Mom!

Roommates, siblings, pink robe wearing besties.

Roommates, siblings, pink robe wearing besties for life.