School Days

Throughout this Fall, when scrolling through Instagram, I’ve seen a lot of people post “First Day of School Photos” of their kids. The kids are usually standing on the porch, looking all happy, neat and tidy in their school outfits, holding a cutsie little sign that says “Jack’s first day of Kindergarten” or something like that. While most people’s first thought when seeing photos like this is probably “Aww how cute!” But mine is always, “How the HECK do these parents have time in the morning before school to take these perfect photos of their kids?!” The “first day of school” photos we took on the porch when I was a kid looked nothing like the ones I have been seeing on Instagram. My family’s school photos back in the day seemed to be a little different, here are a few examples:

Exhibit A. My sister Bridget’s “first day of school photo” that apparently I decided to photo bomb. Clearly I was NOT happy that I was too young to go to school and therefore didn’t get my photo taken:

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Don’t be fooled by the hearts on my pink sweater, and the blankie I’m holding, I was ready to fight. Nobody puts baby in a corner, I wanted my own photo too.

Let’s zoom in a little on this one, shall we?

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You can see the look of betrayal on my face. How DARE my mom take a photo of my siblings and not me.

Exhibit B: My sister Maggie’s school photo:

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My Mom could have used a lesson in “staging” when it came to photography because all of these pictures have some homeless little girl in the background. Oh wait that’s me.

Exhibit C. I finally got my way and got to be in one:

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I was so happy my face hurt from smiling. Special thanks to my mom for giving me and Bridget those awful bangs, really helped make this photo even more awkward.

Growing up, we didn’t really have too much time to spare to set up a cute photo because, except for my dad, we weren’t really “morning people.” We all had an extremely difficult time getting out of bed before 7 in the morning. My mom I think had the most trouble though, with my youngest sibling, Jane, being a very close second. My Dad traveled for work during the week so my mom was usually a one woman show when it came to getting the five of us up and out the door for school every morning. We never had to set our own alarms because my mom would come in and gently wake us up. Our wonderful mom would slowly open our doors, walk over to our beds and place her hand on our backs and softly say “time to get up honey.” Sounds like a really nice way to wake up, right? And it was… BUT... that was only if you got up on the first wake up call. If you decided to get a few more minutes of shut-eye after being woken up, our sweet little Mom could do a complete 180 and somehow turn herself into a fire-breathing dragon. If one of us was still in bed while the others were downstairs eating breakfast she would stand at the bottom of the stairs and yell your name until you got up. I don’t know how she managed to change the pitch in her voice so it felt like she was sending nails into your ears when she called out your name the second time, but somehow she found a way. She only had to yell the sleepy kid’s name once or twice until they responded, yelling back down, “OH MY GOD I AM UP! I’M UP! FOR THE LOVE OF GOD JUST STOP YELLING MY NAME I’LL BE DOWNSTAIRS IN A MINUTE!!!!” I still have permanent ear damage from the days I decided to snooze a little later.

Every once in a while my Dad would be in town during the week and let my mom sleep, so he would wake us up in the morning. There was never a problem with falling back asleep when my Dad woke us up due to adrenaline pumping through your veins after the near heart attack he inflicted on us when he swung open the door, stomped in, flung open the shades and said “GET UP!”

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Want to be sure your child gets kidnapped? Then you should definitely send her to preschool with her name on her shirt. Kidnappers love an easy target.

Once everyone was up we’d all be in the kitchen, eating breakfast and packing our lunches. The best breakfast days at our house were Wednesdays and Thursdays. Wednesday was “Donut Day” when we each got a delicious prepackaged, never fresh Entenmann’s Donut. Before you could dig in to your donut though my mom made us eat her famous homemade fruit salad (recipe: crack open a can of Madarin oranges, slice up a banana, divide evenly onto 5 paper plates and you are all set!) You couldn’t touch your donut until all your fruit had been eaten. Since their were 8 donuts in a package and five kids, on Thursday’s we would each get half a donut. But we’d still have to eat the whole fruit salad which, looking back, doesn’t seem fair. My Mom was a real health nut back then I guess. The other days of the week it was either cereal or toast. Sometimes my Dad would surprise us and get Reese’s Puffs cereal. So many fights broke out over Reese’s Puffs. I remember one Reese’s Puffs fight in the morning ended with my brother throwing the empty box across the kitchen. My parents were not happy about that fight and we all got in trouble. But in our defense, if they didn’t starve us by rationing one box of cereal, or giving us donut crumbs-I mean donut halves, maybe we wouldn’t be so hangry in the mornings.

After breakfast it was off to frantically search for the pieces of our school uniform and homework papers we had left scattered throughout the house the night before. Then it was back upstairs to brush our teeth. Jane, in classic youngest child fashion, would always be the slowest getting ready and she would usually be crying because she wanted to go back to bed. Jane preferred to chill out a little and watch “The Big Comfy Couch” before getting ready to go anywhere. Through Jane’s preschool and kindergarten years, the four of us had to help get her ready in the mornings. Getting Jane dressed and ready for school was much like getting a sand bag ready for school because she literally made no effort to help or do anything at all. She actually made it harder to get her dressed because she would never take her thumb out of her mouth.

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Me and Jane chilling on the couch. Even as an infant Jane liked to coast for a while before starting her day.

Every morning for her entire year of preschool she would be brushing her teeth at the sink while one of us did her hair and the other got her backpack together. After all those things were done we did manage to squeeze in a few school photos through the years.

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I think since I was missing my two front teeth and couldn’t really eat, Mo Money was able to use the time she might have spent feeding me breakfast to take this photo.

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Do I look uncomfortable (sitting on the right) because I’m wearing a back brace or because I’m practically sitting in a Home Depot Garden center with all those flowers around me, triggering my seasonal allergies? Who knows.

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My Mom is so efficient she was able to simultaneously get my brother to feed the dog and take a photo at the same time!

Things were just as hectic after school as they were in the mornings. The afternoons were filled with sports practices and games, orthodontist appointments, homework and piano practice. I absolutely HATED piano practice. Or I guess I should call it “keyboard practice” because we did not have the money or space for a real piano, so we had our lessons on a keyboard. (Our piano teacher shamed us ever week for it) On piano practice day I’d be laying on the living room floor about ten minutes before our piano teacher was due to arrive, begging my sister to do my piano homework that I had not done yet, even though I was given a whole week to do it. But, like I’ve always said, if you wait until the last minute, it only takes a minute! (I had better things to do with my time, like play catch with Christmas candles in the living room, I had no time for piano homework) “Please Bridget!” I’d beg while laying on the floor, dreading my piano lesson. “I’ll do your dinner chore all week if you just do my piano workbook for me!” Spoiler alert: I cannot play piano or keyboard at all now, but I did learn great negotiating skills.

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Here’s me fake practicing piano so there could be photographic evidence for my mom that I did in fact, practice from time to time.

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Don’t be fooled by those medals, they gave them to everyone. Not only were we bad at soccer, we were bad at taking soccer photos.

So, we may not have Instagram worthy “first day of school photos” (they definitely would not get too many double taps if they were posted on the ‘gram) but they are good for a laugh. I’m glad my mom decided to capture a more “authentic” school photo of her nutty kids, not spending too much time trying to get the “perfect Instagram photo.”

So thank you Mom, for getting those photos, getting us off to school every morning, and most importantly, helping Bridget and me realize at an early age, that we can’t pull off bangs.

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Gotta love those awkward high school years.

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Even though I look like I belong in the 5th grade with my sister Jane on the right, I was actually in high school when this photo was taken.

Summer 2019

September 23rd marked the first official day of Fall. I seriously find that hard to believe because I feel like summer just started. Summer 2019 was a very eventful one for me, which is probably why it seemed to fly by. While it was a busy one filled with so many fun times, I was able to narrow it down to my top five highlights of the summer. So here, in no particular order, are my top five highlights of 2019:

1. We Solved the Case of the Missing Sock.

In early June, my Mom sent out a rather disturbing text to the girls in our family. Please see below:

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Yes, she had discovered a lone sock at our lake house in Michigan, and was trying to find its owner. I mean, Monday’s are stressful enough, so I could have gone without this very upsetting sock Amber Alert. Plus how sexist of you, MOM only sending it to the girls in our family just because it had a little pink on it! Boys can wear pink too, it’s 2019! Classic Baby Boomer. I tried to remain calm though, and sent my reply:
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As the replies kept coming in, no one claimed ownership. I felt bad for the orphan sock, I mean it looked like a great quality sock. It was no gold-toe sock, but it had nice coloring, and it looked to have a cushioned sole for ultra comfort and arched elastic for extra support. While I felt bad that the sock was all alone, I was able to go about my day and soon forgot about the sock all together. This was not the case for my mom.

A couple of weeks later I stopped at my parents house after work to find the sock (all washed and cleaned, thank goodness) front and center on the kitchen counter.

“Mom!” I said, half laughing. “You brought the sock home from Michigan?!”
“Yes, I did,” She replied, her eyes fixed on the sock in a perplexed gaze, “I just can’t seem to figure out who’s sock it is! It is just such a mystery!”

I honestly did not think it was that big of a mystery, and I really didn’t care about finding the owner of the sock because socks go missing all the time. But my mom was so determined I tried to help solve the case and come up with suspects of who it could be.

“Maybe it’s Aunt Maribeth’s sock?” I suggested “Hasn’t she been up at the lake with you a few times?” My Mom scoffed, as if I had just made the dumbest suggestion she had ever heard in her life. “No, no no.” She confidently said. “That is DEFINITELY NOT an Aunt Maribeth sock. It must be someone else’s.” Wow, did I feel foolish. My Aunt Maribeth is my Mom’s identical twin sister so how dare I even suggest this. Surely my Mother would know her identical twin sister’s socks, they have the same DNA after all. How stupid of me to even think it might be her sock!

Weeks went by and soon it was the fourth of July. While at a family party, the topic of the missing sock came up (Naturally, because who doesn’t talk about socks at parties?) and who ended up claiming the missing sock?! Aunt Maribeth! My Mom was shocked but the case was finally closed. I am still waiting for my apology from my Mom though…

But just as we thought our sock nightmare was over, we experienced a PLOT TWIST and ANOTHER sock mystery popped up in August! This time we had the opposite problem though-too many people were claiming ownership of the socks!IMG_6752

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I needed an accurate description of the socks to help me properly solve the case.

Currently, the case of the men’s socks remains open and under investigation. If anyone has any information, please contact me immediately

2. The Summer Spider Came Back

Every summer for the past couple of years we have a big huge spider that comes and makes a web on my parents’ front porch, right in front of the door, every single summer night. It’s pretty annoying because I always forget about it, walk into it, freak out, and then feel itchy for the rest of the day. No matter how many times we knock down his web, the spider rebuilds one the next night. He started out as an unwelcome guest but then we all started to kind of admire him for his persistence, resiliency and strong work ethic. He quickly became the hot gossip of the summer with my family. Below is an actual conversation we had at dinner one night:

Dad: I will say this, he’s a very hardworking spider. He’s out there every night for hours rebuilding his web. I give him a lot of credit.
Me: I agree. And he builds really good, quality webs. I’ve walked into a lot of spider webs through the years but his is definitely the thickest I’ve ever walked into. I almost feel like I’m walking into one of those fake spider webs people use as Halloween decorations his webs are so sturdy!
Bridget: Are you guys serious? Stop giving him credit! He may be hardworking but he is dumb! If he was smart he would stop building his web in front of the door and build it somewhere were it wouldn’t get knocked down every day. He’s wasting his time!

Love him or hate him, it wouldn’t feel like sweet summertime without him.

3. I Tried New Things

I’ve really gotten in touch with my adventurous side since my travels to Italy in the Summer of 2018 (I’m so cultured now) so I decided to try two new things this summer: Coconut water and Natty Light Pink Lemonade. One drink I loved and enjoyed all summer long, the other I immediately spit out and wanted to burn the inside of my mouth after tasting. Can you guess which was which? I’ll just tell you-I regretted the coconut water. It was disgusting. I don’t care how many health benefits it has or how hydrating it is, I will never make the mistake of purchasing coconut water ever again. I bought one 16 ounce container of coconut water in May and after I took that first sip I placed it back in the fridge where it sat the rest of the summer. I kept telling my roommates I was going to finish it, that I was just “drinking it slowly” but I think they secretly knew I had no plans to drink it, and it became a running joke in our apartment.

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I finally gave up and threw it out on Labor Day.

Natty Pink lemonade on the other hand, that was like sweet, sweet nectar. Having never tried it before, I took a huge risk purchasing an entire 30 pack of it at the liquor store, but it really worked out in my favor. Not only did I love the taste, I was basically their unofficial spokesperson, telling everyone about it and passing out cans at parties as if I was the Oprah Winfrey of Natty Light.

[Walks into backyard barbecue with 30 case in hand]: “You get a Natty Pink Lemonade! And you get a Natty Pink Lemonade! Everybody gets a Natty Pink Lemonadddddddde!!”

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It was the gift that kept on giving

4. I Enjoyed the Great Outdoors

I spent a lot of time outside this summer, whether it was at the lake or drinking on my deck or people’s patios. I even worked out a little outside this summer including going on a few runs through the neighborhood on nice afternoons. That last outdoor activity wasn’t very enjoyable though so I probably won’t do that next summer. So many people are outside during the summer, do you think I want people to see me while I’m huffing and puffing and sweating on a run? Do you know how many times I had to reroute my run just to avoid passing by a group of grade school boys coming back from getting slurpees at 7-11 or playing at the park or where ever they were coming from? And thank goodness I ran wearing headphones so I could pretend to NOT hear the younger kids screaming at me to purchase lemonade. IMG_6821

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Sorry Lemonade stand owners, I’m a Millennial, I don’t carry cash. Unless you accept Venmo or Chase Quick Pay I cannot purchase your warm, debris-filled glass of lemonade.

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This outdoor workout was especially tough because the lounge chairs did not have cup-holders so I had to physically hold my vodka lemonade the entire time I was sitting by the pool!

5. I Saved a Turtle’s Life

Yes, it is true that not all heroes wear capes because I definitely wasn’t wearing a cape when I saved the life of a turtle. I was just minding my own business, hanging out at the lake when I saw turtle headed straight towards a busy road. I would say I quickly sprang into action but I didn’t. Knowing turtles are notoriously slow, I was able to leisurely get up off my chair, go to the shed to grab a glove (Wasn’t sure if he was a snapper so wanted to be safe. Plus, I didn’t want to actually touch the turtle, who knows what kind of diseases those things carry and I hadn’t gotten my annual flu shot at this point), have my mom take my photo with the turtle, and save his life before he made it to the road.

I was very proud and so I immediately texted my family about my super hero moment:

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Borrowed Mike Sr’s heavy duty gloves.

This was a very emotional event for our entire family, as my sister Jane had “accidentally” killed a turtle driving up to the lake the year before. We were all still pretty traumatized from that, so it was nice to have some joyous turtle news for once.

I am still very suspicious as to if it was a real accident or not though. It used to be that I could never imagine a family member of mine could be a cold blooded killer. But that all changed this summer when I witnessed my own mother run over and kill a toad. The poor thing never stood a chance under Mo’s 2012 eight passenger grey Honda Mini Van with stow n’ go seating and 16 cup holders. Unfortunately I was in the passenger seat when the horrific accident happened. I couldn’t believe what I saw. When I confronted my mother about it, she tried to play it off like it was nothing:

Me: Mom! Oh no! I think you just ran over and killed a frog!
Mom: Oh no, no, I didn’t run over a frog! Do you have your contacts in? That was a toad.
Me: Well excuse me, let me re-phrase: Mom! I think you just ran over and killed a toad! Plus, does it matter if it was a frog or a toad?
Mom: Well, a toad is like the frog’s ugly step sister. It’s fine. I would feel a little bad if it was a frog, but it was just a toad.

That terrible accident will forever be etched in my mind. It’s taken me a while to get over it. I feel only my sister Bridget can relate to what I am going through, as she was a passenger in the car when our sister Jane ran over and killed the turtle. As Bridget recalls, “I’ll never forget the sound of the turtle’s shell getting smashed under Jane’s tire. It sounded like we had just run over a picnic table.”

RIP Turtle and Frog/Toad. We will never forget you.

So there it is, my summer of 2019. It was definitely a memorable one, filled with lots of laughs and fun. Looking forward to what the Fall has in store for me!

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Duke enjoying the dog days of summer

Living The Lake Life

IMG_1629.jpgIn July, we had our annual “Family week” in Sister Lakes, Michigan. Each year the seven of us would spend an entire week together at my Grandparents’ cottage on Dewey Lake. As we got older, it grew harder to be able to find a week that worked with everyone’s schedules- jobs, sports, and friends’ weddings and other events got in the way throughout the years, but we always found at least a few days during our Family Week (Or in some years only a few hours) for everyone’s schedules to align and be together. While a lot has changed through the years, especially now that my parents have their own cottage across the lake from my grandparents’ cottage, much of what makes our family week so much fun, remains the same.

The day we would leave for our big week at Dewey was always a very hectic and chaotic one. Our family isn’t really organized or big “plan ahead” people so we left much of our vacation prep to the last minute. If we planned to leave the house at noon, we were lucky if we got on the road by 3:30 or so.

It always seemed my Mom would decide she needed to have her life long to-do list done before we left, as if she was leaving for a six year journey through Antarctica and not a seven day vacation a two hour drive from home. She was always the last to pack her suitcase as well.

Mom: Ok kids, we’ll leave very soon, I just need to throw a few things in my suitcase and we will hit the road. Oh, and let me just pay a few bills, my Kohl’s and JC Penny Charge Cards, clean and dust the entire first floor, finally put all your baby photos in scrapbooks, get the house tuck-pointed, meet with the financial planner to discuss Dad and my retirement plans, and sew up the the clothes that have been sitting on my sewing box for the past five years, and then we can go. Oh and can one of you kids’ water my flowers? Thanks!

As a child, I never understood why it took her so long to get ready. I’d grab my Simba backpack, throw in my Pocahontas swim suit, Stretch Armstrong Doll, some crayons and maybe a pair of sandals and I’d be set. It wasn’t until I switched up my packing technique and travel gear last year that I realized it may take some time to get five kids ready for a week-long vacation.

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Just waiting on the porch with my Simba backpack on, ready to head up to Dewey Lake.

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The Simba backpack was a little camera shy.

No matter how late we left, a McDonald’s stop was always made a top priority because we were fattys and obsessed with McDonald’s. Plus, we couldn’t let our Mom suffer a fry attack while on the road. That would be dangerous for all of us. McDonald’s growing up was a huge treat. If any of us five kids ever found out the others got McDonald’s without us we became enraged. “YOU OWE ME NOW, MOM! YOU OWE ME!” We’d say if we were out at a birthday party or friend’s house and got home to find evidence of a McDonald’s meal. Yes, we kept score, we were that petty. As a family we were devastated when McDonald’s discontinued their Super Size Fry option. It really messed up our order. We had our fry to child ratio down to a science. But like any family, we stuck together, adjusted our order (after A LOT of trial and error) and got through it.

I still distinctly remember one trip to McDonald’s on our way up to Michigan. My Dad had to stay home to work for a few days so it was just my mom and us five kids in the car. As the golden arches came into view, my mom asked everyone what they wanted to eat. From her car seat my tiny, two year old sister, Jane, took her thumb out of her mouth and said she wanted two cheeseburgers. We all tried to dissuade her and convince her she probably couldn’t even finish one cheeseburger but she was adamant that she wanted two cheeseburgers. With fries. After we were done fat shaming her, my mom gave in and ordered her two burgers and Jane scarfed them both down very quickly. As we drove off we were still in disbelief and talking about how much Jane ate, while Jane just sat listening in her car seat, looking very content with her thumb back in her mouth. “Wait…” My older sister Maggie said. “…Did anyone feed Jane breakfast this morning?” It was dead silent as we all looked around at each other. Then all at once we burst out laughing at the fact that we forgot to feed Jane. But no one laughed harder than my Mom. “Whoops, sorry there Janie!” My mom managed to get out through her laughter. “Don’t worry sweetie, I promise we’ll feed you dinner.” We still laugh about it to this day. Jane turned out fine.

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Smiling because our bellies are nice and full with the deliciousness of McDonald’s.

Sometimes, I miss the days when we all drove up together, all packed in one car. It was so much more simple. As we got into high school and college and got busy with other things, it became like trying to solve a complex algebra equation figuring out who was driving up what car, when, and with who during our vacation week. It was always the worst being the last one up to Michigan during our family week because then you became the “Errand Betch,” running around gathering things people had conveniently forgotten and requested you bring up, or making last minute trips the store for things they had run out of so far during the week. Sadly, this year, I was the last family member to join everyone on Family Week so I was the Errand Betch and IT WAS HORRIBLE. I wouldn’t wish being my family’s Errand Betch on my own worst enemy. My family members are some needy people, let me tell you.

Here is evidence of my nightmare in our family group text:

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It’s like you give people an inch and they take a mile am I right? Classic Millennial generation.

My Mom was the worst offender though. She tried to soften her demands with her use of emoji’s but I wasn’t going to be fooled.

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Beaten and worn, I prevailed and finally did make it to the Lake. Also wasn’t aware Michigan didn’t sell carrots or pretzels, very interesting, MOM!

While it’s always a crazy rush to get to Dewey Lake, once we’re there we go right into vacation mode. Year after year, we always have a great time and lots of laughs together. Sure, we still have the occasional fights, but not like we used to when we were younger. I actually credit having the internet and technology up at the cottage now with helping to eliminate some of our fighting. I remember in the pre-internet years we got in two really huge family fights. One was about the lyrics to the song “American Pie” and the other was about what color the shutters on our house were. Half of us said they were green and the other half insisted they were tan colored. We were a family divided for days until the end of our vacation when we pulled into our driveway to finally have closure and discover that our shutters were not green or tan, but actually white to everyone’s disbelief. A simple Google search now a days could have solved both those fights in a matter of seconds. IMG_1638

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There was no room in the car to pack hairbrushes.

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We had to get my Dad’s favorite family member-the broom (on the far right), in this family photo as well.

Now we have a new generation enjoying the lake with five grandkids in the mix. It’s cool to see them play together and have fun at Dewey Lake like me and my four siblings did when we were little. And it’s such a relief that they also get a thrill out of a seeing a turtle in the lake like we did and STILL DO. My family could honestly see 30 turtles in a day and each time the thrill does not fade. You would think the turtle was doing a juggling act or providing some sort of entertainment for us instead of just popping it’s head out of the water. When a turtle makes an appearance conversation stops and everyone rushes to get a glimpse of the astonishing turtle:

“Hey can you pass the sunscre-OH MY GOSH LOOK! EVERYONE STOP WHAT YOU ARE DOING THERE IS A TURTLE IN THE LAKE! WHAT A MAJESTIC CREATURE! I CANNOT BELIEVE WHAT I AM WITNESSING RIGHT NOW THIS IS AMAZING! WHAT ARE THE CHANCES OF SEEING A TURTLE IN ITS NATURAL HABITAT OF A FRESH WATER LAKE! I AM IN SHOCK!”

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Despite the looks on their faces WE WERE ALL HAVING FUN DAMN IT!

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Connor was nice enough to wait until after the camera flash before pulling Ava’s hair and making her cry.

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They claimed they had no money to throw in for gas for the boat so we put them to work instead. We love the nieces and nephews but they are so stingy when it comes to money.

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Baby Ciara fake sleeping on the boat to get out of doing chores. Lazy.

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Baby Michael gets really chatty after a few too many bottles of juice.

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Aunt Bridget wouldn’t share her Mini Mouse umbrella with them.

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Baby Connor raising awareness for the endangered bee species with his outfit.

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When at Dewey Lake we do what we want-calories don’t count and if you want to wear Christmas PJs in July go for it.

While our family week is always chaotic and crowded and no one ever seems to get enough sleep, I think that’s part of the reason we have so much fun. Every year, it’s such a blast just being together, laughing, hanging out and enjoying the lake life! We already can’t wait for next year!

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Best part of being up at the lake: Jane and I get to be BUNK BED BUDDIES AGAIN YEAHHHH! reliving our glory days.

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As you can see, after eating those two cheeseburgers, Jane’s shirt no longer fit.

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Our Dog clearly just saw a turtle. He was obviously still in shock.

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Cheersing to the Aunt life, to being able to play with the kids when you want, and then give them back to their parents so you can go drink.

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I told Maggie that since there are no seat belts on jet skis I had no choice but to hug her the entire ride.

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I like to make sisters uncomfortable until they are comfortable.

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My Dad was trying to take a picture of his beloved shed and we got in the way.

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Dewey=Donuts all day every day thanks to Mike Sr.

It’s Good To See Your Smiling Face

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other hot topics these days have included the new toaster they just got (Mike Sr. thinks it’s too fat and takes up too much room on the counter), the new washing machine (Mo Money HATES the new washing machine-it’s too loud) and the Shred and Electronics Recycling Day our town was having. There is nothing Mike Sr. and Mo Money love more than shredding and recycling old electronics. I was worried with this day coming up that I’d get flooded with calls from my parents asking my advice on whether or not it was ok to get rid of various cords they had been holding on to since the early 90s or computer games that only work with a Gateway 2000 desktop computer, but surprisingly they didn’t have too many questions for me.
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When a family member needs your help eating cheeseburgers you have to be there. No questions asked. Family comes first.

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

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

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

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Mo’s emoji game is on point.

 

And Holy Is My Name

Last weekend, Mike Sr, Mo Money, myself and my two other old maid sisters were vacationing in Michigan, sitting by the lake and sipping our morning coffee soaking up the view, when all of a sudden Mo ripped us from dreamland by saying, “Well, we better get going to get ready for Mass or we’ll be late!” My two sisters and I all painfully looked at each other and gave a collective sigh before we immediately started whining like four year-olds. “Noooooooo! Come on Mom, don’t we get vacationers dispensation?” I asked. “Plus the priest here just loves to talk! He makes the mass so long!” “Well, Dad and I are definitely going, you girls don’t have to go if you don’t want to…” My Mom said. We started to relax back in our lawn chairs. Just as my Mom was walking in the house to begin getting ready for church, her hand on the door knob, she turned back at us and hit us with her classic zinger, “But, you know, we have a lot to be thankful for…” Then she headed inside. Boom. Mo Money with the mic drop. There it was, the guilt bomb. The judging eyes. The look that said “Fine don’t go but I hope you bring a magazine with you to help pass all the time you’ll spend in Purgatory when your time comes.” There is nothing worse than getting guilt tripped by your Mother. Saint Peter’s judgement at the gates of Heaven is NOTHING compared to judgement from a Mom. Gosh darn it, Mom! Why did we have to be so fortunate and blessed and raised in such a loving home! Why couldn’t you have neglected us so we didn’t have all these wonderful things to be thankful for?! Sheesh!

So, like the good children and Catholics we are, we changed out of our pajamas and headed to church. Just as we anticipated, the priest talked for way too long and the mass was OVER AN HOUR. Doesn’t he know we Catholics have a strict time limit on the length of masses? The mass seemed extra long because we weren’t near any babies so entertainment was lacking. But, it was an outdoor mass so we did have some nice landscaping to look at. Plus, the biggest moth I have ever seen in my life was on one of the chairs behind us, and we got in a family disagreement about whether it was a real moth or a fake moth, so that argument made time go by rather quickly (It was real, but he made no attempt to shake our hand at the handshake of peace so he was a real rude moth if you ask me).

Once mass was over, like most Catholics, we got in the car and ripped the mass apart while driving home.

Mom: I mean his homily had a good message but sheesh! Did he need to keep repeating himself over and over?! It’s like, ‘Get the hook out!’ Am I right?
Me: Why can’t we ever say a simple, ‘Lord hear our prayer’ at the petitions?! Why does it always have to be something super long like “Please respond, ‘Infant baby Jesus, creator of all things, son of God, blessed, peaceful most high’ hear our prayer.”
Dad: I hate when they sing the “Glory to God” song in such a depressing tone. Can’t they make a more upbeat version of it?!
Bridget: That was ridiculous, that priest talked for way too long. Also, did anyone see that lady sitting a few rows in front of us still had the tag on her shirt? I was debating in my head whether or not I should tell her.
Jane: I still don’t think that was a moth, that thing was way too big. I think it was a cross breed of some sort of other insect.

Although the mass was a little long, we were glad we went. Mothers are always right. And my Mom was definitely correct in saying that we as a family have a lot to be thankful for. My parents instilled this in us from a young age. They supported these values by sending us to Catholic school and teaching us the importance of attending church weekly. Growing up, we always went to mass together as a family. The seven of us jammed in one pew always created a lot of excitement. Fights between us siblings would usually occur, causing my parents to strategically sit between certain siblings, using themselves as human shields when fights broke out. A lot of fights happened during the Palm Sunday Mass when we would take a palm and slowly try to stick it in the other person’s ear while they weren’t looking. This would especially make my Dad mad because I’m pretty sure Palm Sunday mass is his favorite mass of all time and we were distracting him. He loves being able to play a role in the gospel and he really gets into character. So much so that we usually have to tell him to tone it down a little as he yells very loudly over everyone else in church, “BARABBAS, BARABBAS! FREE BARABBAS!” or “CRUCIFY HIM!” He was never able to join the drama club in high school so I think he feels this is his time to shine. While our Dad always looked forward to Palm Sunday mass, for the rest of us, it caused a lot of anxiety, at least for the first half of the mass, as we were all wondering if the priest would let us sit or make us stand for the extra long gospel. You never forget those Palm Sunday masses where you had to stand the entire gospel.

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

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

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Did Mo Money send us to Catholic school because of the great education we would receive or because she knew we would have to wear uniforms and she wouldn’t have to do as many loads of laundry?

During crowded Christmas and Easter masses, it was not uncommon for one of us kids to faint. I still remember standing during the “Our Father” prayer and turning to see my sister Maggie looking white as a ghost, (More white than her usual pale complexion) and then hearing my Dad whisper yell to my brother from the other end of the pew “MICHAEL! CATCH MAGGIE! SHE’S GOING TO FAINT!” Unfortunately Michael didn’t realize what my Dad was telling him in time and Maggie made some weird noise and then hit that church floor pretty hard. The rest of us weren’t really phased by seeing my Dad help her up from the floor and take her to the back of church to sit outside for a bit because honestly, Maggie could get a paper cut and she’d faint. But the rest of the congregation seemed a little horrified.  “Oh she’s totally fine,” We nonchalantly told the extremely concerned strangers who were staring. “She does this all the time. A little fresh air and she’ll be back in time for communion.”

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

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After she celebrated Holy Saturday a little too much, we placed bets on when Jane was going to start to feel “a little faint” at this Easter Sunday Mass.

As we got older, and after we made our First Holy Communions, our parents trusted us to go to mass without them, which we did. Reflecting on it now, my parents are actually pretty lucky we all kept the faith after my mom made the four of us girls all wear THE SAME communion dress at our First Holy Communion. Talk about a fashion faux pas! Puffy sleeves may have been in style when my oldest sister made her communion but by the time I made mine, puffy sleeves were totally out of style. It was definitely a cross to bear. Despite having to wear an out of style dress from the early 90s, my First Communion was still “the best day of my life” apparently: 

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Spelling has never been a strong skill for me.

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

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Jane trying to choke me after I told her she would have to wear the puffy sleeved communion dress too. Also, guarantee after my mom reads this blog she’ll say to me “I loved that communion dress! I thought it was really cute on ALL you girls!”

When we did go to mass on our own, we were always sure to grab a church bulletin as proof to Mike and Mo that we actually attended. A church bulletin is basically a receipt to the mass. We all knew that without our receipt our parents would start asking lots of questions about the readings to test us and see if we actually attended. We NEVER left mass without a bulletin.

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Passing down all my wisdom to my nieces and nephews: “Auntie Kath’s Life Lessons.” Look for it on the Best Sellers List soon.

So, although sometimes masses can be a little long, my siblings and I have all continued to go as adults. Because our Mom is right, we have a whole lot to be thankful for. We are very blessed and lucky.  And Mom is always right…right Dad?

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Even dressed as an angel my mom still found a way to put me in a turtle neck. Mo is a huge fan of the turtle neck look.

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

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Our dog was never baptized and never went to Catholic School so you can see the worry and panic in his eyes in this photo, wondering if the “All Dogs Go To Heaven” rule still applies to him.

 

 

 

Adulting

Earlier this month I hosted my first big rager with my new roommates. Since I still keep  in touch with my old roommates, and wanted things to remain cordial since our split, I extended the invite to them. “Hey Mom and Dad,” I said one night as I stopped by to eat their food “Did you see the email invite about our Saint Patrick’s Day party? Are you coming?” “Ohh, I’m sorry sweetie,” my mom responded sympathetically. “Dad and I can’t make it, we will be in Florida.” Woooooowwwwwwww, I thought to myself. First off, how dare they miss MY party. Second, classic Mike Sr. and Mo Money living their best lives, always off vacationing somewhere. “Sheesh mcgeesh!” I said “Do you guys even live here anymore?! It’s like if you’re not in Michigan you are in Florida!” After I was able to get the knives out of my heart that my parents just threw at me, I informed them that I needed to borrow their coolers and chairs to which my dad immediately began making comments and jokes about how I was going to fill the coolers with lots and lots of alcohol. I didn’t deny this because, I mean of course I was going to do just that, I’m also trying to live my best life just like they are. But it did turn in to a bit of a light-hearted argument between the two of us. I think this fight was a result of separation anxiety and emotions being high with the three of us still trying to cope with our split. But we eventually made up and even though I was still salty that my old roommates were not coming to my first big party, I sent them a very sweet text before they left for their trip:
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Yes, it’s been quite an adjustment for the three of us living apart. The baby boomers have had to get used to a much quieter house-I know they miss their favorite “smart ass” (as they so affectionately called me) terribly. And I have been learning to navigate the obstacles that come with living on my own and being an actual adult. Luckily, I’ve had a little help from the Baby Boomers along the way.

What was my first obstacle I tried to tackle on my own you ask? Assembling furniture- and let me tell you, I don’t EVER want to do that again. Talk about a chore! I ordered some cheap furniture off Amazon thinking it would arrive at my door all set up and ready for my new place. Nope, it arrived as a bunch of pieces of wood. It took me about six hours to put together my nightstand only to realize that I accidentally bought a child’s nightstand that was sized to go with one of those transitional beds kids have when they outgrow their crib but aren’t quite ready for a big bed yet. It was way too small for my new adult bed.

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This was the most traumatizing experience of my life.

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I still have nightmares about this day and this stupid nightstand that was pretty much made for a doll house.

A couple of lessons I learned here. First, look at the dimensions when you order something online. Second, nightstands aren’t really necessary if you have a cardboard box-Flip that box over and you have a perfectly good piece of furniture. And finally, just before you begin to assemble furniture stop, call your Dad, and have him do it instead. I was done being Rosie the Riveter after putting together that tiny nightstand and was not about to begin working on anything else. Thank goodness Mike Sr. was there to finish the task for me.

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This is a perfectly good nightstand, I just can’t spill anything on it or it will disintegrate.

Another thing that I’ve had to get used to living on my own in a new apartment is not really having a close relationship with my landlord. I knew my last landlords pretty well since they also raised me. My current landlord is a complete stranger-couldn’t even tell you what he looked like! A pro to not being related to my current landlord is that he has never asked me to weed the patio or do household chores like my old landlords used to do. But he also has not once gotten me a donut or made me dinner like Mike Sr. and Mo Money would so that’s a con. Seems pretty rude too, what’s a girl gotta do to get a donut every once in a while? I thought they were included with my rent payment?

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I tried to explain to my old landlord that I should be appropriately compensated for my manual labor, suggesting maybe he make an adjustment in that month’s rent but Dad was not going for it.

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I have yet to wake up to a note like this from my new landlord. He only leaves us notes when we are late on our rent. Super rude.

I’ve also noticed that once you are not living with your parents anymore you have a lot more adult things to worry about so that has taken some getting used to as well. Right now one of my biggest concerns is making sure I break in my big mattress evenly and don’t put a dent in it. When I moved out I treated myself and bought a queen bed. I had always had a twin bed at my parents and thought I deserved a big bed in my new apartment. But it turns out it’s almost TOO MUCH bed for me! I feel like a fish going from a fish bowl to a lake with all that extra space-it’s overwhelming. (I almost said ocean but I feel like that analogy would have been more appropriate if I bought a king bed) I like to sleep on the same side so now I’m worried I’ll put a dent in that side. It’s been stressful! How do I avoid this?! Do I flip the mattress?! Do I rotate it?! And how often am I supposed to do this?! Every month?! A few times a year?! These are the things that keep me up at night.

I think the hardest adjustment for me has been getting used to my MUCH longer commute to work. When I lived at home it only took me three minutes to get to work. But now that I’m living in an apartment a whole three miles away from my parents’ house my commute time has DOUBLED! Yes, it now takes me six minutes to get to work! Plus, unfortunately I now have to drive past two grade schools so if I get caught in that school drop-off traffic that’s easily another two to three minutes added on there. That mini van grid lock traffic can be quite the headache. I mean I get parents want to pull over and give their child a kiss goodbye before they head off to school but don’t they know I am running late and in a rush to get to MY job?! Like shoot them a text later or something I have places to be, let’s move it along people. I’ve started to listen to the traffic report on the news in the mornings before I leave to see how bad my commute is going to be that day. If it’s a special guest day or a Christmas pageant or show and tell day or whatever at one of those schools I might as well just work from home because that makes for a NIGHTMARE commute for me.

Even though I am on my own, being an adult and everything, I do try to go back to the old neighborhood and visit the parents from time to time. It’s nice re-visiting the old place but it’s crazy how fast things have changed since I left-and not always for the best. For example, on my last visit home I noticed my parents switched from Heinz ketchup to Hunt’s ketchup. So I guess it’s a good thing I moved out when I did. Honestly, I couldn’t believe they switched to Hunt’s. You would think they’d be saving money now that I moved out. I made a mental note to start to bring my own ketchup when I go there from now on. But, without me there to offer my advice they are free to do as they please and buy whatever ketchup they want I guess.

So yes, it has been an adjustment for all of us getting used to our new living situation. I know the Baby Boomers miss me but they seem to still be living their best lives just like I am. It will take some time but we’ll adjust, we’ll get by!

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Yes, I know I look like a preschooler even though that photo is from my Junior Year in High School. Headbands were in style back then so LAY OFF!

Frosty Lives To See Another Year

A couple of weeks ago, I stopped at my parents’ house to help my Mom put away all the Christmas decorations because even though I moved out, I continue to be the backbone of the household. I honestly don’t think there is anything more depressing and exhausting than putting away Christmas decorations. I thought making Christmas cookies was terrible. Well, that task is a walk in the park compared to the chore of packing up all that Christmas spirit come January. As a stood in the Dining Room wrapping up the Christmas trinkets and Knick-knacks in newspaper, watching my hands turn black from all the newspaper ink, I started laughing about how tacky and ridiculous some of our old Christmas decorations are. Most of them are about 30 year-old homemade projects that we made in preschool that we continue to hang up every Christmas.

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One of Jane’s masterpieces I like to call “receding hairline” angel. Nothing says “Christmas time” quite like this angel with the creepy grin, who looks like it’s flying around on the prowl to kidnap some children.

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I made this one. I probably could have done a better job distributing the green glitter but IT’S CALLED ART OK YOU GUYS!

Every January we try to purge and get rid of some of these decorations, but we never do because someone always seems to have an emotional attachment to something.  For the past decade my oldest sister Maggie has been trying to throw out the Frosty the Snowman Candle but her four siblings will have none of it. I remember the first time she tried to put him in the garbage, chaos and outrage ensued throughout the house. Frosty sparked quite the argument. I thought I even heard one of my siblings yell “crucify her” from another part of the house. Yes, things got heated but Frosty stayed cool through the whole thing and Maggie lost the battle. Plus, Frosty the Snowman is my Dad’s favorite song, we couldn’t POSSIBLY get rid of Frosty!

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Frosty taunting Maggie with that big smirk on its face, knowing it will be able to enjoy at least one more Christmas.

Another time someone suggested we get rid of the “Red Ball” Christmas candle but that idea was quickly nicked due to its involvement in “Kathleen’s Candle tossing incident of 2002.” What was this incident you ask? Well, I was bored one school night and decided to make up a game where I repeatedly threw that red ball candle as high in the air in the living room as I could without it touching the ceiling. (Not to brag but I was pretty good at the game until I got too cocky). On one of my final tosses I wanted to see just how close I could get to the ceiling without actually hitting it. Well, turns out I am A LOT stronger than I may look because I threw it just a little too hard and a lot too high, hitting the living room ceiling and leaving a big, bright red mark on it. I immediately panicked because I knew my parents could be home at any moment so I stacked a bunch of dining room chairs on top of each other and attempted to scrub the red mark off the ceiling but it was not coming off. Mike Sr. and Mo Money were not too happy when they came home and saw the mark. But really, I still feel like the whole thing was kind of their fault because they were the ones who made up the rule that we could not watch TV on school nights. Had I been watching TV like all the other kids in America, maybe I wouldn’t have been tossing a candle around. Mike Sr. ended up having to repaint the entire ceiling so now the mark is gone, but my siblings like to hold on to the candle as a reminder of how dumb I was as a child.

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My sister Bridget texted me this in early December. 17 years later and I’m still getting made fun of about the red ball candle incident.

The older I get, the more of an appreciation I have for all parents at Christmas time and all the effort they put in to making sure their kids have a happy, memorable Christmas. I remember one Christmas my Mom decided to be an ambitious Santa and she made all five of her kids one of those fleece-tie blankets. We came down the stairs Christmas morning and there under the tree were five blankets, a different pattern for each of us marked with our names. We started to run towards them to see which blanket was ours. “Careful kids,” My Mom casually cautioned from the couch as she sipped her coffee in her robe, still looking a little sleepy. “I’m pretty sure I left sewing needles in a few of those blankets so be sure to CHECK FOR NEEDLES before you use your blanket. I started to check last night but then was just too tired so I thought ‘forget it’ so it’s YOUR RESPONSIBILITY to check for needles before you decide to use your blanket or put it on your bed.” Just recently we were talking about this great gift but I think it sparked PTSD in my mom. “Ugh! I am NEVER doing THAT again!” My Mom said with disgust. “I don’t know what I was thinking! I was working on those darn blankets until about 3 in the morning and then you kids woke us up to open presents around 6! That was terrible!”

Santa, I think, got a little tired over the years. Being the fourth of the five kids I began to see Santa’s steady decline in energy and enthusiasm in his response to our letters. Every year we would leave Santa some milk and cookies on the table near the tree and a note with lots of questions. In the beginning Santa answered all our questions, but towards the end there Santa got a little short with his responses. I remember writing out a long letter with some of my siblings to Santa, asking numerous and detailed questions. When we woke up Christmas morning, Santa did leave us a letter in response, but all it said was “Dear Kelly Kids, to answer your questions, I use Magic. -Santa” He also ignored my gift requests. Every year I asked for a go-cart, Moon boots and a mini trampoline and I NEVER got them. I was a deprived child. Those moon boots would have come in handy when I was trying to scrub that candle mark off the ceiling.

By the time Jane, the fifth child, was into Christmas, believing in Santa and all that fun, Santa seemed to have no time for any magic or nonsense like that. “Wow!” Little Jane said after we had just finished opening all our presents. “Santa was really good to us this-” But before she had time to finish what she was saying my mom cut her off. “Mmmm yea,” my mom said, paying no attention to what Jane was saying. “Kids, I have the receipts to all those gifts, you are NOT going to hurt my feelings if you want to return something but if you do let me know ASAP! I am NOT spending the new year in the mall making a bunch of returns like last year! But I also DO NOT want to see any of the clothes I bought you hanging in the closet WITH THE TAG STILL ON a few months from now.” I saw Jane looking very confused wondering why our Mom would have receipts to gifts Santa brought, but then she got distracted playing with a toy and her confusion turned to happiness again.

I’m sure by the time Christmas rolled around my Mom and Dad were exhausted from all the shopping, decorating, long, boring Christmas Pageants and trying to send out a decent Christmas card. I know it was a long process trying to pick a photo that hid the fact that their five kids were lunatics. Fights always broke out when we were trying to take our Christmas card photo-Someone would hit someone, then someone would be crying, etc. Then you think you get your act together and have a good photo only to realize that someone had their eyes closed. Blinking during photos is a huge problem in our family because our baby blues/baby greens are very sensitive to the light.

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Why am I in the back looking like I’m not part of the family at all but photo-bombing some other family’s picture? There was plenty of room on that step for me to squeeze in. As you can see we went with the “Turtle” theme with the turtle necks and Ninja Turtle shirt.

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Kohl’s must have been having a pre-Christmas sale on khakis, or Mo had some Kohl’s cash she needed to burn.

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So awkward that me, Maggie and Bridget showed up wearing THE SAME DRESS. What are the chances?! We all refused to change.

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Mo was a huge fan of utilizing the stairs for the Christmas card photos, no matter how uncomfortable her children were.

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I had to hold on to the railing for support after the leg injury I sustained posing for the first few takes.

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Children of the corn take 1.

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Take 2

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Mike and Mo must have thought, “Since our kids are at the most awkward stages of their lives, let’s take this year’s Christmas Card photo at 7am in the woods so they look awkward AND extremely tired.”

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Those were happy tears Michael was crying… We swear!

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Apparently I got distracted easily. Some things never change.

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Michael looking thrilled, Jane looking like she’s the host of a daytime talk show.

So after contemplating putting some of those Christmas decorations in the donate pile, I finally just wrapped them up and put them back in our Christmas decorations box. I figure we can always decide next year if we want to get rid of anything. To outsiders our decorations may look weird and tacky (because they are) but they bring us happiness, and that’s all that really matters!

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Baby Jane posing as if this was going to be on the cover of Baby Gap’s Christmas Catalog. Meanwhile I’m in the front looking like Dennis the Menace with my overalls and weird smile.