Saint Mom

This past Mother’s Day as my Mom, Dad, two old maid sisters and I were traveling in our Mom’s grey Honda minivan for a nice Mother’s Day dinner at my brother’s house, we had a real Hallmark moment-A huge argument over Grey Honda minivans. Since their car purchase back in 2012, my parents have a tendency to ALWAYS point out all the other grey Honda minivans on the road, and always with annoyance in their voice, as if these other soccer moms and dads maliciously copied off them.

Dad: God Almighty Mo! Look! ANOTHER grey Honda minivan! What, did they make 8 billion grey Honda minivans?! Does Honda only sell THIS one minivan make and color now?!
Bridget: Oh My God you guys LOVE to point out all the grey Honda minivans on the road, we get it, there are a lot of grey Honda Mini Vans!
Me: Really Mom and Dad, there probably aren’t as many as you think. It’s a psychological effect, since you have this make and model car your brain is now trained to notice others of the same type. I read about it in a book!
Dad: NO! The guy at the dealership said they had limited colors available for this type of Mini Van. So there really are more on the road.
Jane: Who cares, there are 16 cup holders in this baby let’s just enjoy that.
Me: Dad, can you PLEASE drive faster? You are going down these side streets at kidnapper speed, these families outside look like they’re worried you’re going to roll down your window and offer their children candy. Someone is going to call the police on us if you don’t speed up!
Bridget: Yeah, did Michael want us over for dinner tonight or tomorrow night? At this point it looks like we won’t get there until tomorrow.
Me: I’m just going to get out and walk the rest of the way so I can get there sooner.
Dad: I’m waiting for the car to properly warm up before I pick up speed! Sorry I don’t drive like Kathleen who floors it the second she turns on the car! That’s how you ruin the engine.
Mom: Ok guys, let’s just all listen to some music.

Gotta love my Mom, always trying to be the peacemaker. Either that or she was just too tired from our big family feud earlier that morning about the strawberries in the fridge. There is nothing my mom hates more than when she buys fruit and no one cleans it off, therefore, it ends up sitting in the fridge and going bad. Unfortunately, her Mother’s Day got off to a bad start when she opened the fridge that morning only to discover a container of moldy strawberries. “Ugh! Look at these strawberries!” My Mom said, with anger in her voice. “Is it THAT much work to rinse off the strawberries and eat them?! I’m going to stop buying fruit in general because NO ONE seems to know how to clean it off and it ends up being wasted!”
(Editor’s Note:My mom often makes these threats in her short bits of rage, but she never actually follows through which is good. So I am still getting the proper serving of fruits and vegetables-thanks everyone for your concern.)
“I never requested any strawberries when you went to the store,” I responded confidently. “I distinctly remember asking for apples, which were both cleaned BY ME and eaten-and delicious so thank you (I said this with a wink). I did see the strawberries in the fridge but felt absolutely no obligation to eat them since I did not request them in the first place! So blame Jane and Dad!”

I’m not sure when exactly the strawberry argument turned into the Salem Witch Trials, but things escalated very quickly as each pointed a finger at the other. No one was safe from being accused of causing the fruit to go bad. Suddenly, the kitchen seemed to get very warm and the air thick. (I knew this temperature change was from the tension in the room, since my dad controls the thermostat and there is no way he would turn up the heat past 66 degrees. ) My Dad was quick to fire back, “Well I bought that container of blackberries a week ago and no one has touched them! They’ve just been sitting in that fridge, I am the only one eating them!” “That’s because you’re the only one that LIKES blackberries!” I said, “We aren’t grizzly bears, the rest of us don’t eat blackberries they are gross!” “What?!” My Dad said in disbelief. “Mo, you eat them don’t you?” “Mmm, no sweetie,” she said. “The seeds get stuck in my teeth, I haven’t eaten them in years.” “Well, that’s what floss is for!” My Dad responded. I quickly chimed in, as I did not want my parents to get a divorce over fruit. Divorce over a doughnut is acceptable, but not berries, that’s just sad. “Let’s just all start buying raspberries, everyone loves raspberries! They go great on cereal or in your favorite summertime mixed drink! Raspberries are a crowd-pleaser!”

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All smiles after being at eachother’s throats over mini vans and strawberries!

Later that Mother’s Day night, after everyone had calmed down and the battle of the Honda minivans and strawberries were both over, I was thinking about what a saint my mom is for putting up with her nutty kids and husband for so long. She has always been a very easy-going Mom. Growing up she rarely got mad at us kids, she was patient with us, and never put too much pressure on us academically. I think deep down she knew her kids were just EXTREMELY average and we were never going to be attending Ivy League schools. She knew her children were much more likely to give her a sarcastic comment than a straight A report card. Her easy-going attitude is something I love about my Mom, and I think it’s part of the reason why we get along so well today. That and the fact that I FINALLY forgave her for giving me bangs as a child. It might be her only mistake she made as a mother and I know she deeply regrets it. I just never had the forehead to pull off bangs. I ended up looking like the Mad TV character “Ms. Swan.” (If you are unfamiliar with the Ms. Swan Mad TV character, see side by side comparison below.)

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No, this is not an age progression photo. On the left is me with bangs as a child and the right is the Mad TV character “Ms. Swan.”

In addition to her easy-going attitude, I love my mom’s ability to find excitement and joy in every day simple things. A couple of months ago as I was sitting in the TV room and my mom was cutting coupons so we could put them in the coupon drawer in our kitchen and forget to use them every single time we went to the grocery store and then finally throw them out three years after they expire, I suddenly heard my mom let out a loud scream. Startled, I ran to the kitchen to make sure everything was ok. “What’s the matter?!” I asked. “AHHHH!” She responded, “THIS IS MY HAIR COLOR! This coupon is for $2 off Clairol Nice ‘n Easy Hair Color! I’ve been holding off on buying some because they try and charge you a RIDICULOUS amount if it’s not on sale or if you don’t have a coupon. I went to Target AND Walgreens the other day to check out the prices.” “Mom, you have like ten boxes under the sink in the bathroom I think you’re good on hair color for the next 30 years.” I said. “Oh I know, but you can never be to careful,” she said. “You never know when they will discontinue your hair color. Did I tell you Aunt Maribeth has been having trouble matching her color? Because they just stop selling her hair color one day!” She then proceeded to tell me a horror story about my aunt’s hair color troubles. It was very eye-opening for me. I had goosebumps by the time the story was over.

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Paws off my Mom’s stash of Clairol Nice ‘n Easy Natural Medium Cool Brown 5c/117D hair color everyone! She should have this stuff in a safe somewhere anyone could just come and steal it from under the sink!

Another reason I love my mom is for her tech skills. These skills are very limited, and that’s ok because it’s very cute and she makes me laugh when she attempts anything computer or “tech” related. I think my mom has gotten to the point in her life where she just doesn’t care or have any desire to improve her tech skills. She had five kids for a reason, and she’s going to get the most out of them. I think she decided to retire from the tech game after “The Book Ordering Incident of 2017.” For a few months we had a book just sitting on the floor in our TV room; it was a thick hardcover book that just kind of appeared one day. No one living in our house questioned it or moved it for months. Finally, when my sister came home for a family dinner one weekend she asked about the mysterious book. “Hey what’s with that book that’s been on the floor in the TV room for so long? It looks brand new.” We all said we didn’t know where it came from. Even my mom claimed at first she didn’t know anything about it, until the memory resurfaced for her. “Oh wait THAT book? Oh yeah, that was me,” she said very nonchalantly “Yeah, I was trying to pay my Reader’s Digest bill online and accidentally ordered that book instead. They make that online bill pay so confusing. I was going to try and send the book back but the cost to return it was more than I originally paid for the darn thing so I thought sheesh, FORGET IT! I guess I’ll just keep the book then!” For a minute it was dead silence as our brains tried to process this bizarre story. We still had so many burning questions. How does one end up ordering a book when trying to pay a bill? Did our Mother fall victim to an online scam? Why do we still have a subscription to Reader’s Digest? Finally everyone just burst out laughing. My mom was not phased by this at all, she just brushed it off and went about her day.

I could go on and on about all the things I love about my mom. One Mother’s Day a year is not enough to show our appreciation to her. She’s an incredible Mom and now a phenomenal grandmother. So this one’s for you, Mom! Thanks for teaching your five kids how to always find the joy and happiness in life. And thanks for loving us even though a few of us turned out weird (DEFINITELY not me I’m normal). Lastly, thanks for still loving Bridget even though she broke one of your REALLY expensive plates while washing the dishes a few years ago. You are truly a saint.

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I was giving the stare-down to my cousin who was fat shaming me for eating my cupcake too fast. IT WAS HOSTESS BRAND AND IT WAS DELICIOUS SO LAY OFF!

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I think whoever took this picture instructed me to look at Maggie and not the camera so my bangs wouldn’t break the camera.

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Bridget must have really liked those green pants.

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Great photo of me and my mom.

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Yes, my sweatshirt does say “Irish Grandma.”

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2017 Year in Review

 

2017 was quite an amazing year for the Kelly family. Yeah, there were a lot of babies born, but that’s old news. We had a lot of exciting things happen in 2017, it was a Hell of a year! Here are the top five from 2017:

  1. Mo Got an Instagram
    A couple of months ago, my mom came home and said to me, “You know, the aunts were telling me at lunch today about this APP (Over pronunciation of the word “APP” because she’s still getting used to the word) they have on their phones where they can see all of the nieces and nephews photos? Shoot, I’m blanking on the name right now….” “Are you talking about Instagram?” I replied. “Oh YES! That’s it! Can you help me set that up on my phone? Then I’m going to need a few lessons of course” She said with a wink. Being the wonderful daughter that I am, I cleared my schedule for the remainder of the day, for I knew this would not be a quick lesson, and I sat on the couch next to my mom to teach her the basics of Instagram. We set up her account and I helped her gain a few followers, I didn’t want to throw too much at her too soon. I even helped her with her first post, which she was thrilled about. “Great! So what do we do now?” She said “Wait for the photo to get over 100 likes?” I started laughing when she said this because she had about 10 followers at the time. Oh, I had so much to teach her. Mo’s Instagram proved to take up a lot of my time in 2017. Sometimes I felt like a landlord with a needy tenant when it came to my mom’s Instagram.
    Unfortunately my mom had the misconception that because I was a seasoned “Instagramer” I knew the names of every single person in every single Instagram photo. “Now who are all these girls in the photo here with your cousin Momo?” My mom said to me as she shoved her phone in my face, pointing to the Instagram post. “Mom, that’s a photo of her and her entire sorority, I don’t know any of those girls.”
    She also became very selective with her followers. Mo had zero patience for people who posted too many times a day or posted too many pictures of their kids. “Kathleen, I think I’m going to need a lesson on UNFOLLOWING some of these people” She said one day while on the couch, glasses on, looking at her phone. I could hear the annoyance in her voice. “It’s like your kids are cute but I don’t want to have to look at pictures of them numerous times a day!”

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    Mo in her element- scrolling through Instagram on Christmas morning.

  2. We tackled a lot of new shows
    While my sister Jane was home for the summer, her, my mom and I spent a lot of time watching some good shows in the basement. The three of us liked to watch pretty disturbing television, whether it’s a super juicy Dateline, 20/20 or a creepy documentary. This summer we tackled the Netflix series The Keepers together. Being a typical Baby Boomer, my Mom claimed she “didn’t know how to set up the Netflix” AKA she was being lazy. “Ok you girls go down to the basement and set up the Netflix and let me know when it’s ready and I’ll head down.” We always did what the boss told us but for some reason it always took her forever to come downstairs. This often left Jane and me sitting waiting in the basement staring at the paused opening credits. “MOMMMMMM!!!!” I’d yell up from the basement. “Where are you? We told you like five minutes ago that everything was ready to start.” “Ohhh sorry sweetie!” She’d yell back down “I thought we were waiting on Kathleen.” “THIS IS KATHLEEN YELLING UP TO YOU.” I’d respond “Oh, ok be right down!” After she said this we could hear her moving around upstairs doing whatever she thought needed to be done before she started the show with us. Then we’d hear the basement door open and she’d yell down, “DOES ANYONE WANT A PUDDING CUP?”
  3. The location of the Tupperware was moved
    One day I opened the drawer where we have kept the Tupperware FOR YEARS only to discover that it was empty. “What happened to all our Tupperware?” I yelled. I began to panic. I knew our Tupperware supply was dwindling due to the fact that SOME PEOPLE don’t know how to return Tupperware (Not to name any names but it’s my older siblings) but we couldn’t be completely out?? I need Tupperware! I’m like a depression baby, I always save part of my meal for later! Without Tupperware my leftovers wouldn’t stay fresh! Finally my mom responded to my cries. “Oh yeah, I couldn’t STAND the Tupperware in that drawer so I moved it to the pantry.” She said angrily. The pantry?? That was way too far away. My dad and I were not pleased with this move, and we made our feelings known. “Mom!” I said, “You can’t just keep changing things on us! First you switch us from a hand towel to paper towels in the first floor bathroom and now you move the Tupperware on us?! It would be polite if you consulted your roommates on these things first!” “I don’t know, Mo” My Dad said, “I don’t think this new location is going to work.” Because my mom has a heart of stone, she ignored our concerns. Now my father and I have struggled to get used to getting our Tupperware from the pantry. It’s been tough, but I think it will stay in that location for 2018 as well.
  4. I got new carpet in my room
    Sometimes, I feel like I am walking on a cloud when I’m in my room my new carpeting is so plush. My landlords surprised me one day by telling me they were replacing the carpet in my studio apartment upstairs. I was thrilled until I found out that I had to help take out the old carpeting. “Um, excuse me but I am not a boy and taking out carpet seems like a boy task.” I said. “Also, I feel like you are taking advantage of me as tenant just because I am your daughter. Would you ask an unrelated tenant to help you take out the carpet? I don’t think so.” They both gave me a fake laugh and my mom called me a smart ass while my dad handed me a pair of gloves. Apparently child labor laws don’t apply in Ma and Pa Kelly’s Old Maid Boarding House.

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    This new carpeting better be covered under my renters insurance.

  5. We gained a new roommate-Cardboard Jane
    My sister Jane decided to abandon us and live in Prague for the last couple of months of 2017, which made my parents sad. Being the awesome roommate that I am, I ordered a cardboard cutout of Jane. It can be exhausting being the glue that holds this family together sometimes. Was it expensive? Yes. But it paid for itself in all the memories we made with Cardboard Jane.

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    Don’t forget to support her head, Cardboard Jane!

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    Here we are slaving away in the kitchen all day getting ready for Thanksgiving dinner! Stay away from the stove cardboard Jane, you’re flammable!

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    Cardboard Jane could kind of be a creep sometimes.

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    Cardboard Jane being lazy and spending her day lounging on the couch.

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    Cardboard Jane trims the tree!

    This is the reason I cannot be left alone and need parental supervision at all times, I go and do dumb stuff. But Cardboard Jane turned out to be very popular! Although her personality was a little flat, Cardboard Jane was a great listener and was super easy going, she just went where ever anyone carried her, unlike Prague Jane who went to a different country to get away from her family.

    Yup, 2017 was one for the books. 2018 has some big shoes to fill, but I can’t wait to see what it has in store for us!

 

 

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.

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Mike Sr. helping the biker babes.

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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.

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This snap chat was a great conversation starter.

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

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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?!

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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!

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Annoying Duke while he tries to do his morning stretches.

Mom and Dad Who Are You?

Growing up, I always thought I knew my parents to a tee. Their personality traits, likes, dislikes, and pet peeves. After all, I lived with them for a whole 18 years before I went away to college. But now that my four prodigal siblings have moved out and it’s just the three of us, I’ve learned that I didn’t really know them as well as I thought. Living with my parents has allowed me to discover so much more about them, and I’m sure they have discovered a lot more about me. Here are a few very important things I’ve observed about Mike and Mo:

  1. Mike Sr. loves to take out the trash
    Where we live, garbage pick-up day is on Tuesday morning, and it has been this day for as long as I can remember. Growing up, one of us kids was always assigned the chore of “emptying the wastebaskets” in all the bathrooms and bedrooms so it could go in Tuesday morning’s trash pick-up. As you can imagine, this caused a lot of fights between the five of us kids as to whose turn it was to take on this horrific and exhausting task. If my Mom accidentally assigned the same kid to “emptying the wastebaskets” two weeks in a row, she was dead to that child.
    When I moved back home after college, I started to notice that my dad took on this Monday night chore, which was fine with me because I didn’t want to do it. But then I started to notice he became more aggressive with emptying the waste baskets, going through and emptying them a couple times a week. Then it got to the point where if I threw a single Q-Tip in the bathroom wastebasket I felt my father was going to sneak up behind me and empty that wastebasket so there wasn’t a single piece of trash in it. I finally had to confront him about his addiction to emptying the wastebaskets, to which he adamantly denied.
    Since my father travels on business a lot during the week, he can’t always be there to empty the wastebaskets, so I would have to cover for him. I decided to use the information of knowing he loves emptying the waste baskets to my advantage, so I decided to start texting him pictures of myself in the act of emptying the wastebaskets to taunt him while he was away making enough money to continue to feed his 25 year old deadbeat daughter.

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The selfie stick is the gift that just keeps on giving.

My Dad’s love of emptying the wastebaskets has become a running joke between the two of us. As you can see, it’s the main thing we text about. He still claims that he doesn’t LOVE emptying the wastebaskets, that it’s just something that needs to be done, but I know the real truth.

2.  Mo is sick of pretzel rods
My dad does the grocery shopping every Saturday morning, so he keeps inventory of what’s in the fridge and what everyone likes to eat. One Saturday morning, as my mom and I were lounging on the couch with our coffee, watching a juicy Dateline episode that she recorded the night before, my Dad came up from the basement and said to me, “Kathleen, I noticed you haven’t been eating your yogurt that’s in the basement fridge. Do you not like yogurt anymore?” I paused the Dateline episode because I needed my parents’ full attention when I responded to this question. “Ah yea,” I said. “I’ve been meaning to  make an announcement about that. I’m pretty sick of yogurt these days. So if you could stop getting it from the store, that would be great.” And before anyone had time to process my big news my mom chimed in and said, “Well, while, we’re making announcements, I have one too. I just wanted everyone to know, and I know this is shocking, that I’m burned out on pretzel rods.” “Whoa, whoa, whoa, excuse me?” I immediately said. “You can’t just piggy back off my announcement with your own big announcement! You totally just stole my thunder.” Wow, I thought, talk about rude. I felt like Taylor Swift when Kanye West jumped on stage when she was accepting her award at the VMA’s. My own MOTHER “Kanye West’ed” me.
I have to admit though, this did come as a big shock to me. My mom has loved pretzel rods for as long as I can remember. When we were growing up, each day after school she’d boot us from the tv room so she could watch Jeopardy with her Diet Coke and pretzel rods. It took my father and me a few minutes to get over the initial shock of what my mother just said. Did we even know this women at all anymore? While it did take us awhile to come to terms with it, we finally accepted it and said we’d support her in whatever food she decided to replace the pretzel rods with. And that food turned out to be Famous Amos cookies.

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Mo and her two youngest watching Jeopardy back in the day. (I’m the one on the left) It got pretty tight on that couch with five kids, a mom, bags, book bags and all the other junk we threw on that couch. (looks like Girl Scout Cookies and grocery bags in this photo)

3. My Dad has trust issues with Tupperware
A couple of weeks ago, while the three of us were sitting down to a nice dinner of leftovers, my Dad brought up something that I could tell had been bothering him for a while:

Dad: You know, Mo, I put these pineapple chucks in this Tupperware container and the lid doesn’t seem to fit quite right.
Mom: I’ve noticed that too, I think this new dishwasher has been shrinking the lids. Dishwashers these days are way too powerful, I think it’s done some damage to my nice plates too.
Me: You guys always blame stuff on the dishwasher! Dad, the lid doesn’t fit because the top is Betty Crocker brand and the bottom is Rubbermaid brand so they don’t go together.
Dad: Where does it say that?! No, I’m sure these two fit together. (At this point my dad proceeds to try to jam the lid on top of the Tupperware container.)
Me: Would you like me to get a hammer from your tool box so you can better jam that lid onto the bottom? Look right here, the bottom says Rubbermaid and the top says Betty Crocker.
(Now Mike and Mo both take out their reading glasses and begin to inspect the Tupperware for several minutes, discovering that, in fact, the top and the bottom are two different brands.)
Dad: Oh Hell! You practically need an electron microscope to see the damn names on there!
Mom: (said with disgust) I don’t think it’s right that the two companies both make Tupperware containers with red lids. Each company should have a different color lid. They shouldn’t both be allowed to make Tupperware with red lids!

I got a good laugh out of how heated our Tupperware container conversation continued to get. Our dinner conversations always seem to come back to Tupperware. Ever since then my dad has been very cautious about the containers he uses. And he always takes out his glasses to inspect the top and the bottom, usually while making a sarcastic comment. “Do I need to get my PhD to be able to find a top and bottom to put away this pineapple?”

4. Mo hates to toss food.
My mom is a great cook. But these days, she has grown pretty tired of cooking, and I don’t blame her, she cooked meals for her husband and five kids every night when we were little. So the times when she cooks dinner have grown few and far between. But when she does, she cooks in mass quantities as if she is still cooking for five growing children. I also suspect it is so she can be sure there are a lot of leftovers. My mom loves leftover nights because this means she doesn’t have to cook. She is very skilled at making a meal and then stretching it to serve us the next four or five nights. And she’s not picky, she’ll take other people’s leftovers too. Have food you don’t want to finish? Send it Mo’s way, she’ll take it. All these leftovers can sometime be a burden for me because the task of finishing them seems to always fall on me since my parents both eat like birds. If we can’t finish all the leftovers and some food needs to be tossed, my parents make me feel guilty. “It’s a shame we have to waste this” my mom will say as she dumps the food in the garbage while her accusing eyes stare directly into mine, piercing my soul. “I can’t finish all the leftovers!” I say, “I’m only one person! That dinner you made on Monday is like the loaves and the fishes! The food just keeps multiplying in the fridge! I can only eat so much!” “Oh no, I’m not blaming you.” She’ll say even though she is 100% blaming me.
Her biggest pet peeve though is if she gets lunch meat from the store and you don’t finish it. For anyone that has read the book The Little Match Girl they know it’s a story about a little girl who is sent out to sell matches but doesn’t sell any. She is afraid to come home because her father will beat her for not selling any matches. So she stays outside in the cold and ends up dying. Pretty depressing for a children’s book if you ask me. Well, in this reoccurring lunch meat situation at our house I am like the little match girl. If I don’t finish the lunch meat I feel like I shouldn’t even bother coming home for fear of what my mom will do. “Oh my God, oh my God!” I say to myself in a panic as I see the “best if used by” date approaching on the turkey. “I have to find a way to finish this!” I frantically try to come up with a plan and see when I can fit a turkey sandwich into my week’s schedule. Sometimes I don’t meet the deadline and disappoint my mother. Just like the Little Match Girl feared disappointing her father by not selling any matches.”You know I’m going to stop getting lunch meat if you and Dad aren’t eating it.” She says angrily. She always says this, but doesn’t really mean it. And the vicious lunch meat cycle continues.

There are many other things I’ve learned about Mike and Mo, but these are just the important things. Maybe I never noticed these personality traits of theirs growing up because I used to only see them as my parents, but now they are my buddies. It’s been fun getting to know them better. They are pretty great roommates/landlords!

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This photo of me and the roomies was taken on the worst day of my entire life-my college graduation day. 

Just Me and the Boomers

Now that fall is here, and my sister is back at school, things are back to normal at the ol’ Ma and Pa Kelly boarding house. Just me and the baby boomers again. Which is probably a good thing because I was starting to feel neglected with my other siblings being home again. There was even one day during the summer where I suspected my mother had made a sandwich for my sister (the youngest) to take to work and not me. If she thought she could get away with this, she had another thing coming. I’m a middle child so obviously I’m going to take every chance I can get to call out a parent on being unfair. Middle children look out for number one-ourselves. To confirm my suspicions I texted my sister and once I had my answer, I texted my mom about the situation. Below is her BS response:

turkey

I think my greatest and most rewarding accomplishment in life has been downloading the emoji keyboard on my Mom’s phone and teaching her how to use them.

I thought this incident required further discussion in order to successful repair our roommate relationship, so I confronted her about it when I got home from work. I asked her if she remembered the story in the Bible about the Prodigal Son. But, being a typical Catholic, she needed a bit of a refresher on it since she probably hadn’t picked up a bible since her 8th grade confirmation.  I explained to her how my sister, Jane, home from college, was like the Prodigal son (prodigal daughter in this case) and how I felt like the other son in the story who was out working in the field while they slaughtered the fattest calf in celebration of the Prodigal Son’s return. I can especially relate to the other son because my Dad sometimes makes me pick up sticks from our lawn, which is similar to working in a field. After my mom fully understood the parallels between the the two stories, she quickly apologized. While I told her it would take her a while to earn back my trust, I did forgive her, because that’s what roommates do.

While my roommates sometimes make mistakes, they really are quite enjoyable to live with. I really have gotten the chance to understand the Baby Boomer generation more and they are an interesting breed. After living with and studying them so long, I feel as though I could write a whole thesis paper on Baby Boomers. Here are a few things I’ve learned:

First off, they never cease to entertain me. Mike and Mo really make me laugh sometimes. I’m not sure if they actually mean to, or if it’s just our generation gap. For example, about a year ago, my mom came home very excited to show me her newest purchase, which was a measuring cup. When she took it out of the bag I started dying laughing. “What is the point of that?!” (Please see picture below).

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Mo’s favorite measuring cup

At first glance, you might think, oh that’s just your average measuring cup. But let me give a little perspective in the next photo of this measuring cup.

measuring-cup-two

It’s actually the tiniest measuring cup in America

Mom: Why are you laughing so hard?
Me:  Is that measuring cup for Thumbelina? We are never going to use that. That’s too funny! It’s cute though.
Mom: Oh, you little smart ass! It’s a teaspoon and tablespoon measuring cup! And I will too use it.
Me: I just don’t get the point of it, we already have teaspoons and tablespoons.
Mom: Well you just wait and see. You’ll probably be asking me to borrow it pretty soon!

Well, needless to say I was right and it has hardly ever been used, it just sits in the cabinet collecting dust and taking up space. After about ten months my mom did use it once and she was sure to let me and my dad know. “Just so everyone knows, I am using my little handy measuring cup here!” And that was the last time she ever used it. Also, for the record, I have never asked to borrow it either.

Another thing my mom is pretty funny about is where we keep the coozies. The other day I went to grab one from the cabinet in the kitchen to use for my Diet Coke so my hands didn’t get cold (I have poor circulation-cold hands warm heart) and they were no where to be found.

Me: Mom! Did you move the coozies again?!
Mom: Ugh, yes, I just couldn’t stand where they were in that cabinet! I’m just having a hard time finding a good place for them now with this new kitchen!
(editor’s note: We redid our kitchen 3 1/2 years ago, also the cabinet layout did not change so I struggle to understand why she is having trouble finding a place for them)
Me: Ok well where are they now? That’s about the 17th time you’ve moved them.
Mom: I know, and I may move them again. They are in the pantry for now but I don’t really like that spot either.

It’s been about a month since that move. I think that’s the longest the coozies have been in one location since the “new” kitchen. I will update everyone on where they end up next month.

The second thing I learned is they can sometimes be forgetful. Mike and Mo have taught me a lot about patience in their older years. Stories they tell while we are sitting down to dinner can sometimes take a little longer than they used to. Here is a typical dinner conversation for the three of us:

Dad: So Kathleen, I meant to tell you, I was downtown having lunch with some customers last week at….. (pause) at…. (pause again) oh Hell! What was the name of that restaurant? Mo, what was it called?
Mom: I’m not sure what restaurant you’re talking about, sweetie.
Dad: Yea, you’d know it, remember we went there a couple of years ago for dinner, we took your mom and it was a hassle to get to because they had that street blocked off due to that damn festival.
Mom: Oh, oh, oh, yes I know what you’re talking about but I’m blanking on the name. All right hold on let me think for a second. (stops eating to look up at the ceiling and think for a while) Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse?
Dad: Nah that wasn’t it. (looks up at the ceiling and thinks about it some more while mumbling off some names he thinks it might be close to )
Mom: What street is it on again? I can picture the outside of it I just can’t think of the name.
Dad: Oh Hell! It’s on the tip of my tongue why can’t I think of it?!
Mom: Blackie’s? Petterino’s?
Me: Excuse me, but is the name of the restaurant at all relevant to the actual point of the story? Because if it’s not I really  think we should just move on. I will be OK if I don’t know the name of the restaurant you ate at. I have to be at work tomorrow at 7:30 a.m. so if you could try and wrap up this story before then, that would be great.

After about what seems like 6 hours, my dad finally did remember the name of the restaurant. And no, it was not pertinent to the point of the story in the least bit.

Another thing I’ve learned from Mike and Mo is to be patient with Baby Boomers on anything relating to technology. Teaching them to download a picture from an email, copying and pasting, or helping them change a setting on their phone is a daily occurrence in our house. The other day I was helping my mom attach a few pictures to an email she was sending to her siblings. Neither of us was in the teaching/learning mood so I finally just took her computer and did it for her. Once I was done I gave her laptop back to her so she could write what she wanted in the email and I swear her fingers could not have been on the keyboard more than 2 seconds when I hear her say “Oh, uh-oh. Something just happened. I don’t know what I did but I must have hit something and the email is gone.” I couldn’t help but feel bad for the poor thing as she looked up at me, reading glasses on the tip of her nose, eyes wide in panic.She was in a total state of shock and confusion. Sure enough, she had somehow managed to reek havoc in the two seconds she had her computer back-erasing the email and closing out all her open tabs. We both had a good laugh and then I reattached the pictures to the email for her because we both didn’t want to be up for another 3 hours if I let my mom try it for herself.

The third and final thing that I have learned are Baby Boomers are creatures of habit. Mike and Mo like to do almost the same thing every weekend: On Saturday they go to lunch at Pappy’s, then 4:30 mass (sitting in the same section) and then they watch episodes of this super old show that’s in black and white called Perry Mason while eating ice cream. Since Baby Boomers are so inclusive, they always invite me to join to which I flat out deny

Dad: Kathleen, would you like to stay in tonight and watch Perry Mason with us?
Me: Oh thanks but as extremely boring as that sounds I’m going to have to take a pass. I’m actually going to the north side tonight so I’ll see you guys tomorrow.
Dad: Oh! Mo, how about that! Kathleen “North Side” Kelly is abandoning us yet again! She only lives with us during the week and then we are lucky if we see her at all on the weekends. Last weekend I was about to put your face on a milk carton we hadn’t seen you in so long.
Me: Dad, you KNOW if I don’t go out on the weekends I get irritable. This time apart is good for all of us. Distance makes the heart grow founder! And don’t be so dramatic, I’ll be back in time tomorrow for you to pay for my lunch at Pappy’s.

Since I always follow through on my promises, I made it back on the south side just in time to get lunch with the Baby Boomers. And it was delicious. For some reason free food just always tastes better than food you buy yourself.

Yes, I have learned a lot about the Baby Boomer generation since living with Mike and Mo, as I’m sure they’ve learned a lot about Millennials-hopefully that we’re not as bad as people think we are! So cheers to you Mike and Mo, thanks for continuing to teach me new things every day and keeping me entertained!

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This vacation was crazy. We all had so many Diet Cokes that day none of us even remember taking this picture.

 

Summer Breeze, Makes Me Feel Fine

With the recent streak of warm weather in Chicago, I found myself thinking a lot about summer. Growing up, my siblings and I had it pretty good in the summer months. We were fortunate enough to live close by to my Grandma’s house, and she had a backyard most kids only dream of, complete with a pool, swing set, and sandbox.
Each day during the summer we would wake up and get right into our swim suits and beg our mom to take us to our Grandma’s so we could hang out with our cousins and swim. Sadly, our mom was a mean mom and had a rule that we couldn’t go swimming until all five of us finished our assigned pages in our workbooks. Boy, did she drive a hard bargain! Yes, she made us exercise our minds during the summer months (As if doing school work nine months out of the year wasn’t enough). I have to admit, I was usually the one delaying things because it took me so long to finish my workbook pages. The other four kids would be at the kitchen table diligently working in their books while I would be laying on the TV room floor complaining about having to do school work in the summer. As soon as my mom would leave the room I would plead with one of my siblings, “Bridget, come on! Please just do my work book for me! I don’t want to do it! Ugghhh! I’ll empty the waste baskets for a month if you just do it for me!” To which everyone else would yell back, “Kathleen! Stop being a baby and do your workbook so we can go! Hurry up we are all waiting! Everyone is going to be at Grandma’s before us!” Finally, I would get up off the floor and huff and puff over to the table to join the other nerds in doing school work.

saddle shoes

Ah yes, my pre-pool summer outfit. My saddle shoes matched perfectly with my African pride shorts and purple wife-beater top. I was quite the fashionista back then.

Whether I half-assed it through my assigned pages, or somehow bribed a sibling to do it for me, we always ended up happily on our way to the pool. We would all pile into the station wagon and jam out to my mom’s Don McLean/Jim Croce double sided cassette tape as we drove the all of 2 miles to Grandma’s. (This cassette was great except for the fact that “American Pie” cut off at the four minute mark and we didn’t get the whole eight minute song. This made for some awkward moments later in life when the song came on at wedding receptions and we abruptly stopped belting out all the words halfway through the song). Once we arrived at Grandma’s it was nothing but fun times with our cousins and aunts. There were really only two rules at the pool: 1. You damn well had better make sure your hands were completely dry before you dug into the bag of cheese popcorn. No one likes soggy popcorn. 2. No sand in the pool. If you were playing in the sandbox and wanted to go into the pool you first had to be hosed down by one of the adults. That water was so cold it was torture. It’s funny, looking back, it seemed my mom always volunteered to hose down kids with the icy cold water. Almost as if she enjoyed it. I swear I saw her smiling once when she was spraying me down but my vision was quickly blurred as the pressure from the sub-zero water hit my eyes so I can’t be 100% sure.
Sometimes, when we wanted a little break form the pool we would climb around the swing set. The safety of the swing set was questionable due to the fact that it was put in in about 1968 and some of the metal had rusted out. We were usually pretty good about staying up to date on our tetanus shots though so it was never really a problem. Plus, you get a cut on your arm just stick it in the pool. The high amounts of chlorine would kill any infection. The burn let you know it was killing the germs! Once we got bored with the swing set it was back to the pool we went.

the gang

The whitest kids in America.

Once our eyes were practically bleeding and resembled that of a crazed drug addict from all the chlorine, we knew it was time to head home. Usually we arrived back just in time to do a quick run around through the sprinklers before dinner. Not our own sprinklers, of course, but that of our elderly neighbors next door to us. Their sprinkler system would go off at about 5:30 every evening which perfectly coincided with when we would arrive back home every day. Nothing screams “We are hillbillys” quite like running around through the sprinklers on someone else’s lawn. After a quick dinner we would head back outside to ride bikes or set up traps to try and catch rabbits, keeping with the hillbilly theme. We didn’t jump on the whole “cable TV” bandwagon until later in life so we had to entertain ourselves somehow.

water wings

Either I just finished smoking some weed or I got too much chlorine in my eyes. It was too long ago so I can’t remember which one it was. (Side note my eye brows look like they are dangerously close to forming one big uni-brow.)

All that swimming really tired us out so at night we would kick back with a movie. Each week we would take turns on who got to pick out the movie at the video store. If you picked out a movie and it turned out to not be a big hit with the others, then naturally you’d blame it on someone else. “Well I was being nice and picked that movie for Michael so it shouldn’t even count as my turn! It’s really Michael’s fault the movie was so bad!” My parents would watch their movie upstairs while we watched our movie in the basement. The second the movie ended and the credits started to roll all of us would race upstairs as if our clothing was on fire because we were brats and no one wanted to have to stay and rewind the movie. Some were better than others in sensing when the movie was about to end and could get a head start. The unlucky kid left rewinding the video would usually yell up the stairs, “I hate you guys! You are all jerks!” While the rest of us would laugh and laugh.
Now that we are older we spend our summers a little differently. Things like work  and other responsibilities tend to get in the way of some of our fun but we still hang around the pool together from time to time. But these days instead of drinking juice boxes by the pool we’ve graduated to more adult type beverages. No matter what though, we will always look back fondly on our summers as kids, and we have our generous grandma to thank for that!

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The woman who made all of our summer fun possible. Looks like my slicked back hair-do was inspired by Uncle Jesse from Full House. “Watch the hair, huh!”