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!

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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.