Little Lamb Leaves the Farm

Last week, my younger sister Jane left the United States to teach abroad in Prague for a year. Yes, our little lamb left the farm. For years, she had been talking about moving to a different country after she graduated college, but none of us actually thought she would do it. We just figured it was something she’d talk about but never follow through on, like how my mom talks about putting our family photos into photo albums, but we all know that will never happen. Of course we listened to Jane when she told us of her plan to move to Europe after graduation but in our heads we were all thinking, “Oh there goes the family nut job Jane rambling on about her ‘magical’ adventures again.” We all laughed because we all know there is no magic after you graduate college. Silly young and naive Jane! But when she booked her flight and paid the program deposit back in May, it was a reality check for all of us that this little lamb was serious.

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Me and Jane back in the day when she was content living in America. Mom: “Here Kathleen, hold your baby sister Jane and I’ll take your picture!” **Thinks it will be a perfect Kodak moment” Me: K. **Does not touch baby but just let’s her lean against me uncomfortably** 

We all reacted differently when Jane shared the news that she was officially going abroad. My mom was sad and told her she was not allowed to meet her future husband there, that she MUST move back to the States after a year. My dad immediately began to worry and asked if she had ever seen the movie Taken. He was not too keen on the idea that his youngest child was going to be so far away for so long. “Remember that little lamb, ‘Miss Kelly’ we saw in Dayton?!” My dad said, “That’s how I picture you in a foreign country! You’ll just be prey for all sorts of vultures! You’re too trusting of people!” It would be an understatement to say that he did not take this news very well. For my siblings and me, it was disbelief. “You’re actually leaving us?!!!!” I said, “I thought this whole ‘I’m going to move abroad’ thing was just one of your empty promises that you’d never actually follow through on! Like how you said you’d replace Bridget’s earrings that you lost a couple of years ago but you never actually did!” “HEY!” Jane responded, defensively, “I TOLD Bridget to pick out a pair and then I’d pay for them and she never did! Also, I’m offended that you thought I would never go through with my plan.” I just kept asking Jane the same question, quoting Gus Portokalos, the father in my favorite movie of all time, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, “Why you want to leave me?!” I just didn’t understand why she was leaving me and fleeing the country.

After the initial shock wore off, Jane then announced that she would be a “miser” this summer so she could save lots of money for her big move. This was also very hard for everyone to believe and we all had a good laugh. We had no idea how much misers liked to go out to the bars and eat out on the weekends. Jane did get a job nannying over the summer so she was making and saving some money. She was able to do this because I, being the saint that I am, let her borrow my car while I sacrificed and walked to work everyday. My work is less than a mile from where I live but don’t try and belittle my sacrifice. It was tougher than people give me credit for. Do you know how many lemonade stands I had to avoid on my walk home from work everyday? Summer in suburbia means lemonade stands are on every corner like Starbucks downtown. It’s easy to avoid eye contact with children yelling at you to buy lemonade when you are in the comfort of an automobile, but when you’re on foot it’s a lot harder! And do you know how many sprinklers I had to walk around in the early morning hours on my journey to work? Sidewalks are for walking, not sprinklers! Plus, with all the extra exercise I was getting, I began to worry that I would get too jacked and people would not recognize me at the end of the summer! “Is that Kathleen Kelly or Jillian Michaels? I can’t tell.” People would say. I better get into heaven after all I went through. I will keep everyone posted on my canonization process.

Since Jane was living at home again over the summer, her and I got to spend a lot of time together. We no longer shared a bedroom but we still saw each other in the hallway and other common areas of Ma and Pa Kelly’s old maid sanctuary. We also had similar work schedules so we were usually up in the mornings at the same time and we went to bed at the same time. We had some great conversations while brushing our teeth together in our upstairs bathroom. Our “Kids” bathroom vanity has double sinks so we would stand next to each other chatting while brushing away, washing our faces or flossing. One night, after I had JUST cleaned our bathroom hours before, I watched Jane as I brushed my teeth and she washed her face. After a few minutes I paused my electric toothbrush and finally said, “Um, excuse me, Jane? I just had a quick question that I’ve been meaning to ask you.” She stopped washing her face and looked at me, thinking I was going to ask her about something very serious. “Yea, what is it?” She said, a little concerned. “Have you ever been to Splash Mountain in Disney World?” I asked. Her concern then turned to confusion. “No, why?” she said. “Oh, ok” I said, “I was just wondering. I wasn’t sure if you were maybe trying to relive your experience on that ride the way you are splashing away over there as if you’re Hayden Panettiere washing your face on a Neutrogena commercial, getting water all over the counter tops that I JUST cleaned.” She just laughed and rolled her eyes. “Aren’t you a little smart ass?” She said. She will definitely miss my sarcastic remarks while she is in Prague.
Another time while we were both brushing our teeth Jane was trying to talk to me about how she calculated the amount of time on average people spend on morning and night time routines. She was explaining how she came to her final number but honestly I could not hear her and I really did not care. I’m hard of hearing and I had just replaced the battery in my electric toothbrush so it was louder and more powerful than ever! I finally stopped my toothbrush and cut her off. “Jane, I’m sorry but you’re going to have to stop talking. I just came here to brush my teeth and go to bed, not to solve a math problem on the ACT.” It’s like we get it Jane, you graduated college with honors.

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Nothing makes you feel more like an adult than brushing your teeth everyday in a bathroom papered with hippos.

As the summer rolled on and Jane’s departure date got closer, my parents became more and more sad. It was crunch time for them to get everything in before Jane left. They threw her a going away party, we took our Christmas card picture and then we had NUMEROUS “Last Family” meals to the point where it was getting ridiculous. My Mom kept adding family dinners so everyone could say goodbye to Jane. It was starting to get awkward how many times we were all seeing each other. “Are we all going to have to meet again tomorrow for a ‘Family Snack’ between lunch and dinner as another goodbye meal to Jane?” I asked my mom sarcastically as we finished up our 800th family dinner. (She ignored my question and instead just called me a smart ass.) We even had a last family lunch at my parents’ favorite burger place in the neighborhood, Pappy’s. This lunch temporarily distracted Mike Sr. and Mo from their sadness about Jane’s departure upon their discovery that Pappy’s had switched from Coke to Pepsi products. Being die hard Diet Coke fans, my parents were LIVID that they could no longer drink Diet Coke with their lunch there. For the first time in many months we had a meal where the conversation did not center around Jane’s big move but rather how Diet Pepsi does not agree with my father’s stomach and how my mom thinks it tastes flat. Somehow they managed to drink the poison some people call Diet Pepsi, finish their meals, and make it home safely.

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We wore America hats at Jane’s going away party just as a subtle reminder to Jane that she was born in the USA.

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My very heartfelt and not passive aggressive at all sign I made for Jane’s party.

Before we knew it, it was time for Jane to leave us. My parents were sad but I reminded them that I will still be here and many people think I look just like Jane so there’s really no difference. Hours after she left, Duke moved his things into Jane’s room and took over her bed, but I’m sure he is sad that she is gone. (Don’t worry Jane, we told him about your “No eating Puperoni in bed” rule.) I was sad for Jane to leave me too. It was nice having another Millennial home with me to take care of the Baby Boomers and I will definitely miss our conversations while brushing our teeth. But I know that she will have the time of her life and I hope to visit her in the Spring. I’m sure the year she is gone will fly by and before we know it, our little lamb will be back on the farm.

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Wore my funeral dress to work and sent Jane this Snap Chat on the day she left. Unfortunately I could not find a black veil. 

 

 

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Middles Do Boston

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Brick sidewalks and cute streets are so Boston.

Janie Had a Little Lamb

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Mo and her glow stick.

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

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

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

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

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

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. 

I am NOT Making the Christmas Cookies

Last week, my younger sister went back to school after being home for over a month on her Christmas break, which, to me, officially marked the end of the Christmas season. Looking back, our family’s Christmas this year was a good one, although it got off to a very rocky start. In fact, our Christmas started out no where near holly, jolly, merry or bright.

The trouble began on Christmas Eve morning. We had a smaller group this Christmas Eve with my brother in Cleveland with his wife and my sister with her husband’s family, it was just my parents-Mike and Mo, my sisters Bridget and Jane, and myself. Yes, it was another Old Maid Christmas at the Kelly house. There was still lots to do to prepare for Christmas and we were short handed with our skeleton crew. Old Maids can only do so much work! To make matters worse, when my younger sister Jane finally rolled out of bed a little after noon, we discovered she had been stricken with a “mysterious illness” which left her couch-ridden the entire day. And by that I mean she was severely hungover. We had both gone out the night before and Jane must have made a little too much merry. I guess she took Merry Christmas very literally.

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Three Old Maids in their natural habitat-their parents home. Drinking their parents’ wine, and sitting on their parents’ furniture.

One of the things I love about Jane though is that whenever she is hungover she always denies it and instead claims to have some sort of chronic illness. “I think I have Crohn’s Disease” she’ll say, coincidentally the morning after consuming mass amounts of alcohol at the bars with her friends. Crohn’s Disease has been her go-to illness lately whenever she is hungover at home. I told her she’s going to have to start switching things up and use other diseases and illnesses, otherwise my parents are going to start catching on. I said if she was looking for suggestions for the morning of New Years Day, Tuberculosis might be a nice change of pace.

With Jane busy dying on the couch/looking up illnesses on WebMD, many of the Christmas duties fell on Bridget and me, one of which, was making the Christmas cookies. And boy, was that a chore. It’s very misleading when you see these families in Christmas commercials and Christmas movies all gathered together in the kitchen smiling and laughing, having a grand old time as they bake delicious cookies because in reality that’s not how it is at all. They don’t show you all the prep and clean-up that goes into those damn cookies. All the bowls and pans that need to be washed, the worry of accidentally overcooking or under-cooking the cookies. It’s a lot of pressure! Those Christmas cookies didn’t bring us together at all. In fact, they nearly ripped our family apart. Between the five of us at home, no one wanted to make them at all. My mom made it very clear on Christmas Eve morning that she was not going to partake in any holiday baking. “Now listen, girls” she said in a scolding tone as soon as we came downstairs, “I am NOT making those Christmas cookies! One of you kids will have to make them. I am going to make the bacon ahead of time for Christmas Brunch tomorrow and then I am out of this kitchen!”

I had never heard someone talk about Christmas cookies with such anger and hate in their voice. It was quite the rude awakening. Bridget and I both looked at each other stunned. We hadn’t even been up for three minutes and we were already in the dog house. I quickly glanced at my mom’s waistline to see if she was wearing a belt, as I was afraid she might take it off and begin beating us with it. Luckily, she was still in her robe.

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Don’t let that sweet and innocent face fool you. Of course I’m talking about Ronald Reagan’s face on the book my dad is holding. Mo means business when she’s in her blue robe.

I’m my mother’s daughter so I also did NOT want to make those cookies. I really tried hard to negotiate my way out of doing it, to no avail.

Me: Do you really think we need to make the cookies this year? Does anyone even eat those cookies anymore? Let’s just pick up a pack of Oreo’s and call it a day.
Mom: Well we are stuck making them because Dad already made the dough last night. So the hard part is pretty much over, you girls just have to finish the rest.
Me: Oh Dad, if you started making the cookies I think you should follow through on the project and finish them. Isn’t it so rewarding being able to complete a project from start to finish? You always taught us never to half-ass anything, so I’m really doing you a favor.
Dad: Oh yea, nice try! I did my part making the dough, you girls need to pitch in now.
Me: Well we really should have sat down and discussed this as a family a couple of days ago because Bridget and I never agreed to this baking thing.

Just after I finished getting that smart ass comment out of my mouth, I turned around and fear overcame me, for I thought the ghost of Christmas past had appeared in the kitchen to haunt me. But to my relief, it was just Jane, pale as a ghost from her Crohn’s Disease or Scarlet Fever or whatever she was calling her hangover that day. Somehow she gathered the strength to pull herself off the couch and join us in the kitchen for our domestic dispute over the cookies. “I’ll make the cookies” she stated in a weak voice. “Ew, no” Bridget responded “We aren’t letting you touch those cookies with your illness. Go back on the couch, you look awful….no offense.” She added. It’s true, poor Jane really did look terrible. She reminded me of Grandmother Willow from the movie Pocahontas. Not because she was giving out great advice like Grandmother Willow  did in the movie, but because her coloring was off and she looked a little shriveled up, probably from being extremely dehydrated.

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Actual photo I took of Jane on Christmas Eve. Yes Grandmother Willow, the path home from the bar is never the easiest one. Well said.

Finally, Bridget and I accepted our fate of being the ones that had to make the cookies. We started them as soon as my mom was done making the bacon, but unfortunately for us, it wasn’t soon enough. The cookies took a lot longer than we planned and so we were running late for church. Mike Sr. was not happy. And to make matters worse, Grandmother Willow couldn’t even go to church because she was still too crippled. Mike and Mo were not happy with their three youngest children.

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Duke was kind enough to help Bridget and me in the kitchen. If you look closely you can  even see the flour on his muzzle from baking all those cookies.(Ok but if I’m being honest he really didn’t do that much work. I mean the guy doesn’t have thumbs, he was dropping cookie sheets left and right. After that he pretty much just sat there and drooled.)

Our bad luck didn’t stop there. Since we were running late there were no seats left at church, which my parents blamed on Bridget and me. We ended up sitting in the choir loft behind a gigantic organ where we could not see or hear anything. We could have all sat in front of a wall wearing ear plugs in the comfort of our own home for an hour and had the same experience as we did during that mass. Also during the mass, my mom and dad kept suggesting that I go sit at this lone folding chair in the corner of the choir loft away from all the other pews so I could “see the altar better.” After a while I was starting to become suspicious of their suggestions, thinking they were trying to abandon me. I had heard stories of parents leaving their children at safe places such as churches or fire stations when they could no longer care for them, but I never thought MY parents would do it to ME. If they thought they could get rid of me that easy, they were wrong. I wasn’t going to fall for their trickery.

After my parents came to terms with the fact that their three youngest children will always disappoint them, they changed their attitudes and we actually ended Christmas Eve on a good note. We watched It’s a Wonderful Life and ate pizza. Bridget and I could especially sympathize with Uncle Billy watching the movie this time around because just like Uncle Billy, we also couldn’t do anything right on Christmas Eve. At least in my parents eyes.

Christmas Day things really turned about for the better though. We just figured Santa was going to bring the three of us coal this year after how mad he was at us the day before, but to our pleasant surprise he actually left us gifts! But that’s not even the best part of Christmas Day. The greatest moment was when we witnessed a real life Christmas miracle. Yes, Jane, who was stricken with [Insert any disease from the Oregon Trails computer game-Typhoid Fever, Cholera, Dysentery, Measles- really, take your pick, any will do, you just can’t call it a hangover] just hours before, made a miraculous recovery! She was totally cured!

Seeing my younger sister Jane finally get up off the couch that Christmas morning made all the trouble we went through the day before worth it. And isn’t that what Christmas is all about? I hope next Christmas is just as magical as this one was.

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Celebrating the successful completion of the Christmas cookie project on Christmas morning.

 

Summer of ’16

The Labor Day holiday is both exciting and depressing. It’s nice to have a long weekend but sad knowing that it’s the end of summer and that winter is coming. Woof. As I look back at my summer I can’t help but smile thinking about all the fun things that happened. And surprisingly I only got 3 major sunburns! My lowest in probably ten years.

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Spent the rest of the summer trying to even out that farmer’s tan.

The summer was off to a rather interesting start as we found some unusual guests that had taken up residency in our garage. I discovered them when I was being a good child/tenant and went to take the garbage out. I opened the garage to grab something and there they were. I didn’t know what to do but I knew they couldn’t stay. There is only room for one freeloader in this household and that’s me. Get your own nest, birds, this nest is taken. After I was finished trash talking to the birds about being in my territory I texted my roommates to see what I should do.

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I was a little scared when I saw my mom’s response to my text. “I’ll take care of it”? What does that mean? Is she the Terminator or something? Was she planning on shooting them Old Yeller style? I mean I definitely wanted the birds out of the house but I didn’t want anyone to get hurt here. I was also surprised because Mo loves her birds. I can’t imagine she would do anything to injure them.

Well, luckily Mo didn’t do anything to hurt them. And we let them stay in the garage for a while. In fact, we bent over backwards for them. We made sure the garage was left open so they could get some air flow and give their deadbeat mother the chance to come back if she wanted to do the right thing. Do you know how risky it was for me to leave the garage open? I have a 12 speed bike in there and a pogo stick, both could have easily been stolen. I never once heard a thank you from those birds. My mom grew extremely concerned for the birds’ well being and would text us with updates throughout the day on the birds. It must be her motherly instinct that kicked in and wanted to protect them. I’m a middle child so I wasn’t overly concerned for them but I did try to give them water and some food. I was pretty proud of myself so I told my mom, only to get a harsh reply.

Me: How are the birds doing, Mom? Did you see I put out some water and sunflower seeds for them? Just call me Saint Francis of Assisi, I’m so good to all animals.
Mom (in a harsh, snippy tone): Oh yes, I saw that. The seeds you put out were definitely too big, they can’t eat those. I’m actually worried they might choke on them. I may run out and get some proper birdseed for them later.
Me: We’ll SORRY! We can’t all be bird experts! Judge me!

I only want her approval! Why won’t she love me?!

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Nothing like a dead bird text to ruin your day.

Sadly, I think both birds died. They kind of just disappeared one day. All that was left of their little nest in the garage were a few feathers and those gigantic sunflower seeds I maliciously put out to sabotage them, or so my mom thought.

After the trauma of the whole bird saga I felt I needed to get away for a while and collect my thoughts. It was perfect timing because I was scheduled to go on my first ever business trip! It’s really no big deal, I was just a business woman going on a business trip. I thought about buying a briefcase just for the occasion but last minute decided against it and just used my trusty Jansport backpack. (I’ve had my Jansport since fourth grade. Mo spurged and got me one with the leather bottom, they have a lifetime warranty. They don’t make backpacks like that anymore.)Let me tell you, business trips are awesome. I finally was able to put that business degree to good use. I felt super grown up too until the friends I made on the plane asked me what high school I went to. Only a small hiccup though, they were nice people. One of my new friends even carried my bag through the plane and put it in the top bin for me. Now that is service! We swapped business stories and we ended up being on the same plane home as well!

Once we landed I headed right for me hotel which was super nice. I was so impressed I took a picture of the lobby to send to my mom.

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To answer your question, yes, those palm trees are real.

I had never stayed in a hotel by myself before but it was great, definitely going to try and do that again. I didn’t have to share the small bottles of shampoo and conditioner with anyone, I could use as much as I wanted. AND I was able to use two towels after getting out of the shower, one for my hair and one for my body. But the best part was the bed. I had an entire king size bed to myself! Do you know how many times I was able to roll over without falling off the bed? 6 flips, 3 full rolls. Since I have a twin bed at home I was initially shocked with the amount of room I had. I felt like a fish going from a fish bowl to an entire ocean. The conference I attended was great too, learned a lot.

As many business people know, the world doesn’t stop for a business woman, you just have to keep on going. Right after getting back from my business trip it was time for a leisure trip to Michigan with my family. My brother and I like to refer to it as the “Vienna Beef Hot Dogs trip.” You see, most of my family was already up in Michigan but my brother and I had to work so we drove up a few days later. You would think my parents would be excited about us coming up but apparently they were more concerned about us bringing up Vienna Beef hot dogs. I guess the grocery store in Michigan didn’t carry them and they already had the buns and didn’t want them to go stale.  The amount of calls, voicemails and texts my brother Michael and I received from my parents regarding the hot dogs was comical. If the hot dogs could have driven themselves up to Michigan, I’m sure my parents would have preferred that.

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We were worried we’d be removed from the will if we forgot the hot dogs.

Once the hot dogs had arrived safe and sound, everyone was able to finally relax and enjoy themselves. We had lots of laughs, hung out on the boat and ate a lot of food. We even tried to take a nice family picture but Duke had other plans

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Apparently Duke did not want my mom in the picture.

Let’s zoom in a little closer, shall we?

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Duke claims there was a mosquito he was hitting on Mo’s face, but we didn’t believe him. Had he had thumbs he could have done some serious facial damage. He was in the dog house after that stunt he pulled. Pun 100% intended.

As summer usually goes, it went by way too quickly. I swear I did some other important stuff this summer, but these were the highlights.  Fall has some big shoes to feel, because the summer of ’16 was one for the books.