Five Blessings

The other day I was talking to my Mom about schools doing eLearning during this Quarantine and how hard it is on both teachers and parents. “UGH” My Mom said, “I could not IMAGINE trying to do eLearning with you kids. That would be an absolute NIGHTMARE!” Wow, I thought. A little rude, MOM, telling one of your children that your worst nightmare would be spending all day with them. I THOUGHT YOU SAID WE WERE YOUR FIVE BLESSINGS?! This is not the first time she’s said this since the quarantine started. We get it Mom, your five kids were lunatics.

After I was done taking in this insult, and pulling the knife out of my heart she so casually threw in there, I started to think about how hard it would be for my Mom to be with us ALL DAY. Then I stumbled upon a photo from Easter when I was a baby. Seeing this made me understand why this would be my mom’s nightmare:

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Four of the Five lunatics pictured here. You can see the desperation on my Mom’s face. “Hurry up and take the Picture, MIKE, so I can get away from these nutcases!” Let’s zoom in on my mom a little here:

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That poor, poor woman. This is the face of someone that is in dire need of an alcoholic drink. You can see she is trying to mentally detach from the chaos that this going on around her.

I don’t want to speak for all my siblings, but I’d say most of us weren’t the most studious kids around. After school we really had no interest in doing more school work. I was probably the worst offender on this. I hated sitting down to do school work and would do anything to get out of it. I had better things to do, like play outside or see how many suction cup hooks I could get to stay on my face as you can see from this photo here:

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“Mom! Look at how I can get these suction cups to stay on my face! Don’t I look like Frankenstein?” Was I off to a poetry reading or something next with that turtle neck I was wearing? Who knows.

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Working on my dunking skills here. 2004 Holy Redeemer 8th grade gold ball basketball champion right there. Ball was life back in the day.

I must say, the five of us were pretty creative in some of the things we would do. Our parents were late in the game in getting cable so we really had to entertain ourselves. One of our favorite things to do when we couldn’t play outside was rollerblade in our carpeted living room. Talk about a cardio workout! It was not easy to roll around on that carpet. This was an activity we could only do when my Dad was out of town-he didn’t really appreciate us rollerblading inside. My Mom didn’t really mind, she saw the carpeting as better padding when her clumsy children fell.

The four of us girls also used the living room as our stage to make music videos to our favorite NSYNC, Backstreet Boys or Britney Spears hits. We’d rehearse for a few hours and then give our parents the painstaking task of not only sitting through our show, but filming it for us so we could review it later in order to perfect our dance moves and play our dance in both slow and fast motion. (Jumping off the couch or a chair and doing a spin looked a lot cooler in slow motion). Classic youngest child Jane, having grow up watching MTV with her older siblings, chose, how should I put this, some pretty risque dance moves. She loved to replicate Britney Spears in her early “Baby One More Time” days. Jane even liked to take her show on the road, volunteering to perform at different graduation or family parties. My parents soon after put the kibosh on Jane watching MTV with her siblings.

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Here we see Jane practicing one of her more modest Britney Spears dances as I pretend to step on her. A fight later ensued.

Sadly, after we redid our living room, getting reupholstered furniture and replacing the rollerblading carpet with the “8 Million Dollar Carpet” as my Dad referred to it (and we now still call it, 20 years later), we could no longer roller blade in the living room. I still remember my dad’s lecture he gave us after our living room and dining room were redone. I think he just got the bill from the interior designer so his blood pressure was a little high and he was on edge. “Now listen!” My Dad said, as the five of us sat in the TV room. We could see the beads of sweat on his bald head and the panicked look in his eyes as he thought of all the money this new living room was costing him. “I don’t want ANY of you kids rollerblading in the living room anymore! We practically had to refinance the house after installing that 8 Million Dollar carpet Mom decided to pick out! And I don’t want ANY of you kids laying on the reupholstered couch in there either! The last thing I need is your dirty, greasy, gross bodies staining that fabric! Just stay out of the living room as much as possible!”

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The last known photo of us sitting on the couch before my parents used our college funds to redo the living room.

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The pre-upholstered couch days when we could sit in the living room. You can see the dirt and food on our clothing that we were passing on to that couch.

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Just playing in the living room with our new doll Jane. Jane provided a lot of entertainment for us when she was born. Jane learned from an early age to support her own head. We weren’t going to do  it for her.

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We were all very photogenic.

 

 

If we weren’t rollerblading we were using our parents bed as a trampoline. We had a nice system going where we would line up in my parent’s closet (in order to get a running start) and use the closet doorway to hold onto, lean back and catapult ourselves onto the bed, doing our best flips and somersaults mid-air. Why enroll in gymnastics class when you have a queen sized bed you can just run and jump on? Honestly can’t believe the Jesse White Tumblers didn’t recruit us, we were so good.

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Taking a break from our gymnastics to fake read on my parent’s bed/pose for a Christmas card photo. Check me out-baby genius right there fake reading a story to everyone.

After we tired ourselves out a bit we would all get out our backpacks and sit at the kitchen table to do a little homework. It was a little crammed, and fights would break out if you accidentally got your papers into someone else’s “area” but it was fun all being together, jamming out to some music as we worked away. My mom would be in the kitchen with us, getting dinner prepped and checking on us periodically, helping with various homework problems. As the years went on, and my Mom cared less and less, (both about our homework and dinner) the younger kids relied on the older kids to help them out with homework. This system worked pretty good until we got down to Jane. We were all pretty tired by the time Jane needed help on homework. She racked up quite a few pink slips for “not turning in homework.” Sorry Jane! She turned out ok though.

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A rare photo of me doing homework. Drinking a Hi-C Juice Box to help take the edge off that stressful Math homework.

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What a great looking family.

After homework and dinner we focused our attention on dessert. We NEVER let our parents forget about giving us some sort of dessert every night. If you acted up or didn’t do your chores my parents used “no dessert” as a punishment. Unfortunately for me, being born a “smart-ass” as my parents so affectionately termed me, I spent a lot of nights going without dessert because of my wisecracks and sarcastic remarks. My mouth got me in a lot of trouble. I just couldn’t help myself in getting the last word in. So many times instead of having dessert, I would be laying on the kitchen floor crying as my siblings sat at the table eating ice cream or cookies.

Some nights when the dessert supply was running low my Dad would “raffle off” the last cookie or scoop of ice cream, whatever it may have been. There would be a series of coin tosses between the five of us and the winner would get the dessert. Some times it would be a real nail biter on who would be the last person standing. Many times this caused a lot of fights, usually some tears, but it was very entertaining for my Dad.We were just reminiscing about it the other day and my Dad was laughing hysterically thinking about it:

Dad (laughing so hard tears were in his eyes): “I remember you five little brats would be like vultures all wanting the last Oreo. Certain kids (I’m not going to name any names) would be sore losers if they lost and go off crying after the last coin toss. [Dad continues laughing more] Ahh that was good.”
Me: “Well, maybe you shouldn’t have been so cheap and just bought another pack of Oreos for us instead of starving your five children!”

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Here we are post Oreo raffle. As you can see from the Oreo remnants on my face, I was the winner of this raffle so I was very smitten.

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Looks like I won the Oreo, but lost my shoe on this time. I think I won dessert a few too many times as a toddler. It was my fat stage.

After us fatties got our fill of food, we finally settled down to go to bed. For some reason we found it soothing to fall asleep to various Disney movie soundtracks. Our favorite being “The Lion King.” Because what’s more relaxing than loud African music blasting in your bedroom-AHHHHHH ZENWENNAAAA BADA DEE SEE BABA (I have no idea what the actual African lyrics are to the opening of The Lion King but it sounded like that.) So we made our parents tuck us in and start the Lion King tape before they turned off the lights. Since I hated going to bed (I could never fall asleep) I would always try and delay my parents turning off the lights, asking various dumb questions to stop them. My parents favorite one of my questions that they still laugh about to this day is the time I asked them “What bones are made of.” Classic insomniac, doing anything to stop bedtime. Once we were finally all asleep, our parents finally got a much deserved and much needed break from us.

Looking back on all of this I have so much respect for my parents putting up with us every day. Sure, we were five blessings, but we were also five nutcases. Now I get why my Mom said she can’t imagine what parents are going through during this quarantine, and I can’t either. This quarantine has really made me appreciate not only my parents but all parents dealing with their own “blessings” at home. All I can say to parents out there is hang in there, be strong, and maybe buy an extra pack of Oreos.

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I’m literally climbing a mountain running away and my Mom and Dad (the one taking this picture) couldn’t care less.

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Looks like we were running out of furniture we were allowed to sit on so we had to share.

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I wonder if my Dad thought about leaving us in that forest

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Bridget and me playing with our real life doll Jane again. That was a damn good sucker and I enjoyed it very much.

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Why did I button my top button like a psychopath?

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Hood up, attitude out. I had no time for pictures.

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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.

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.

 

 

 

Stuff My Dad Says

IMG_1976My Dad is a very funny guy. Not as funny as me of course, but I’ll give him some credit. One of the many things I love about my Dad is that you never know what is going to come out of his mouth. This keeps things very interesting and it keeps everyone laughing in our family.

A while back, my younger sister Jane and I were eating dinner with my parents, just having a nice conversation (we were probably talking about Tupperware to be honest, that seems to be dominating our conversations lately) when all of a sudden my Dad turns to my sister and me and says in a very stern voice, “Now listen! I don’t want any of you kids playing with those Ouija Boards! From what I hear they are just a channel for evil spirits!” It was silent for a minute as Jane and I looked at each other and tried to process what he just said. Then we burst out laughing.

I had noticed when going through our DVR that someone in the house kept recording shows such as Ghost Hunters, My Ghost Story and A Haunting. Clearly my father was the one recording these shows. I guess have to be better about setting the parental controls to make sure he’s not watching television shows that are obviously too scary for him.  “Well, that was random and has nothing to do with what we were talking about,” I said. “Just don’t play with them!” he said. “I hear they are only portals to these evils spirits!” “Dad, we are 27 and 23 years old, do you really think we are going out playing with Ouija boards with our friends?” I said. “Hell! I don’t know what you girls do when you go out on the weekends!” He responded.  I began to laugh again saying, “Believe me Dad, when we tell you we’re going out binge drinking with our friends at the bars, we’re telling you the truth. We’re just big boozers, not ghost hunters, so you have nothing to worry about.” “Well, I just found Mom had a Ouija Board when she was little!” He said. I was laughing uncontrollably now but manged to say, “Would that have been a deal breaker for you? If you knew when you were dating her that she had a Ouija board in 3rd grade, do you think you still would have popped the question?” For a minute he looked like he was really thinking hard about the answer to that question. Finally he said he probably would have still married her but made sure to have “a priest come in or something to get rid of any spirits that might have latched on to her.”

When my Dad is not talking about Ouija boards he’s usually making fun of me. The other day I stopped at my parents after work and had a backpack on with my work laptop in it. My Dad immediately commented on this as soon as I walked in the door. “What are you doing with that backpack on?! You already look like a 12 year old, that backpack does not help your case.” “EXCUSE ME, DAD!” I responded, “But I will have you know that I am a business woman with a lot of important business things I need to carry around, and my laptop is big and heavy so I need to use a back pack! I can’t fit it all in a purse!” “Well with you wearing that thing I’m worried the police are going to see you and call us to come pick up our little girl. [Does impression of police officer] ‘Yes, excuse me, Mr. Kelly but we spotted your daughter walking down the street, shouldn’t she be in school?’ DCFS will be after us too.” My Dad really made himself laugh with that one. “Well it’s your and Mom’s fault I look so young!” I replied “You guys are the ones that gave me these genes!”

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Was I seven or seventeen when this photo was taken? We can never really know.

When he’s not making fun of me for looking like a child, he is usually teasing me about being weak. Back in February we had a span of extremely cold days, and I accidentally left a case of Diet Coke in the trunk of my car which froze and then exploded. This was devastating, all 12 cans exploded, no survivors-it was hard to see my beloved Diet Coke in that state. Then my trunk froze shut so I couldn’t open it to clean in up. I wasn’t too worried about it though because cleaning up that Diet Coke massacre seemed like a lot of work, so I was fine with having an excuse to wait to do it. I stopped home and was telling my parents this story when my Dad interrupted me in the middle of it and said “Oh no, no, the trunk is not frozen shut, you’re just a weakling.” I tried to assure him that I tried numerous times to open it with no luck because it was, in fact, frozen shut, but he would not believe me. “Well that’s because you’re like a little infant! Infants aren’t strong enough to open trunks! Here, where’s Jane?!” My Dad said, looking around the house. “She could open that trunk up for you with no problem, she’s ‘Strong like Bull.’ JANNEEEE COME DOWN HERE PLEASE!” He yelled up to her. My dad had recently had surgery so he could not do any heavy lifting, so he outsourced the manual labor to his youngest daughter. Sure enough, Jane went out and popped the trunk right open. “Oh.” I said. “I guess you were right, Dad.”

If you feel bad for me that my Dad makes fun of me, don’t. He makes fun of his other four children too. (See my Dad’s contribution to our family group text below that he sent us a few years ago when visiting Jane in college for Parents Weekend)

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Our Dad is so sweet.

While he makes fun of us a lot, he’s also taught us how to give it right back to him, and we never hold back in doing this. Because of this, we’ve had a lot of laughs throughout the years. My Dad is a big goofball, and he’s definitely passed on this trait to me. So since we are both goofy nutcases, a lot of the conversations I have with my Dad don’t even make any sense. Other people overhearing them would probably think we were crazy (which we are). Most of the things my Dad and I talk about center around my Dad’s favorite things: trains, trucks, construction equipment and Diet Coke)

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This was last summer when I was living my best life on vacation in Michigan. Sipping Diet Cokes and watching trucks, making my Dad jealous. Life was good.

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Making fun of my Dad for being a dork and reading train magazines. I did become worried when I saw there was an article in the magazine titled “Meet a Family Who Cleans Up Derailments”- didn’t want Mike Sr. to get any ideas for his own family…

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Forget about the beautiful view of the ocean and mountains, I had my eyes set on that beautiful piece of construction equipment.

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Mike Sr. putting on his safari hat to head out to do one of his favorite things-rake leaves.

When I was about four years old, for some odd reason, my Dad decided one day at dinner that it would be hilarious if he started calling me a “Soup Spoon.” So from then on most days when he would come home from work, before taking off his coat or putting down his briefcase he would come through the door and make a beeline for the silverware drawer in the kitchen, grab a spoon and say to it “Hi Kathleen! How was your day?” My siblings thought this was also very funny, but I was not a fan, so this added to the hilarity for my Dad. So, for the past 25 years of my life or so, my dad still likes to call me a soup spoon or randomly text me about soup spoons. As you can imagine this joke has never gotten old (sarcasm font used on that last sentence).

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Wise words to wake up to from my Father. Please note that he sent that text at 6:26am. 

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Classic Millennial desperate to find some wifi.

While I often refer to my dad a weirdo, lunatic, nutcase and goof, I have come to realize I am just like him. But I wouldn’t want to have it any other way. I feel lucky to have grown up with a Dad like mine. He always cheered us up when we were sad, made us laugh when we were crying and has always been there ready with a joke to help ease a stressful situation. (Usually a lame joke but a joke nonetheless). A lot of people talk to their Dad about the news, sports, or career things, but I’m happy to continue talking to my Dad about trucks, trains and construction equipment. So this one’s for you Dad. Thanks for teaching us how to always find the humor in life and turning us all into lunatics just like you.

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We got really excited for cake.

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I don’t even know what to say about this photo.

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Mike Sr. doing his fake smile, probably at his wit’s end with his kids saying through clenched teeth “just take the picture Mo.”

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Classic Jane, the Big Boozer, hit the bottle a little too hard that night and passed out.

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Apparently my mom didn’t want to be pictured with this bunch of lunatics. I don’t blame her.

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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.

 

 

Baby Bird Flies Away Part II

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

5. The Fights About the Banana on the Counter

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

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

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

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

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

4. Having Meals Together

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3. Mornings With The Roommates

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

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

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

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

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“MIKE! WHERE’S MY BREAKFAST?!”-Duke

2. Being the Backbone of the Household

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

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

1. Mike And Mo

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

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

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

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Mike Sr., Mo and their five baby birds.

 

Baby Bird Flies Away

A few months ago, I did something that most people probably thought would never happen: I moved out of my parents house. Yup, after 27 years of sucking the life out of my Mom and Dad, eating their food, racking up their water and electric bill, I ended my lease. Of course I was cordial and informed my landlords of my intent to move a few  months in advance. Upon hearing my shocking announcement I think my parents went through all the stages of grief. “What?!” My Dad said in disbelief. “You can’t move out, you’re like a little infant! Who is going to feed and take care of you if you’re not living here?!” “Umm excuse me!” I said back. “If you recall I did go away to college for four years and I did just fine! I didn’t even lose my cell phone once!” (Still my greatest accomplishment in life) “Who is going to help us with our tech problems if you’re not around?!” was my Mom’s first question (My younger sister Jane still lives at home but when it comes to technology her skill level is that of a Baby Boomer so my mom knew she wouldn’t be any help in that department.) “Don’t you worry Mom!” I said “I’ll just be about a mile away and plan to get one of those pagers that doctors use so I will still be on call to help with tech support 24/7.” I did my best to explain to them why I was moving. “Sorry Mom and Dad, it’s nothing personal, I do love you and love living with you, but it’s like the great REO Speedwagon said, ‘It’s time for me to fly.'”

It’s hard to sum up all the things I’ll miss about living at Ma and Pa Kelly’s Old Maid sanctuary but after giving it some thought I was able to narrow it down to ten things (in no particular order) I’ll miss about living at home. 27 years of life in a house is too much to cram into one blog post, this is definitely going to have to be a two-parter. So counting down here are numbers 10-6:

10. Mo’s “My Spy” Bird House

Mo loves here birds, often reminding her family that she had a parakeet growing up. I don’t know if this was her way of hinting to us that she wanted us to get her a bird, but that was never going to happen-birds are too loud and obnoxious to keep inside. Mo may love birds, but her family does not, so last Christmas we got her the next best thing-The “My Spy” Birdhouse. I’m not sure if anyone is familiar with this bird mansion or has seen this advertised on TV, but it’s basically a birdhouse with suction cups to stick to your window so you can watch the birds in the house. Seemed like an invasion of the birds’ privacy to me, but it came with a “privacy shade” so I went ahead and ordered it off of Amazon. Wow, was this gift a hit with Mo. Please enjoy the photos below that we captured of her opening her amazing gift last Christmas.

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

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Me: “Yes Mom, we crunched some numbers and the five of us were able to scrap together enough money to buy that $10 bird house.”

Lucky for the rest of us, we all got to benefit from this gift because she had my dad hang it right on our large window in the kitchen, so we were able to watch for birds every day at dinner. Sadly, no birds seemed to want to buy (or rent if they were Millennial Birds) Mo’s My Spy Bird House, which became concerning for all of us.

 

Mom: No birds seem to be going in my bird house! Maybe I should have Dad move it to a smaller window in another room. I wonder if having it on this large window the birds can see us moving around in the kitchen and that scares them away.
Me: Whoa, Mom, I mean I know Jane doesn’t look great in the mornings but that’s a little harsh. She’s just not a morning person.
Jane: HEY! You little brat!
Me: Mom, there are no birds in that thing because you didn’t put any food in it. The birds aren’t going to go in unless there is free food.
Mom: Really? You think? Well we aren’t going to be giving these birds any free hand-outs, and you know how Dad hates when I buy bags of bird seed, so maybe I’ll try putting up the privacy shade and see if that helps first.

So, after talking it out we literally did nothing and the empty bird house continues to sit upon the large window in the kitchen. Going to miss seeing that every day!

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

 

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That little girl is so lucky-there are so many birds in her bird house like what is her secret??!!

9. Helping the Baby Boomers with Technology

Being the Baby Boomers’ 24/7 tech support was a tiring job, I worked on everything from printers, to phones, TVs and computers. I didn’t mind it though because usually it was very entertaining to me and I got a good laugh. I once showed my Mom that she could set her phone on “low power mode” when her battery got low, a feature she did not know existed and I basically blew her mind. A few weeks later she was heading out the door to babysit for her beloved grandchildren and I hear her yell up to me, annoyance in her voice, “KATHLEEN! WHAT WAS THAT THING THAT YOU DID WITH MY PHONE WHERE YOU PUT IT TO LOW POWER?! IS THAT AN EXTRA CHARGE?! I HATE WHEN AT&T CHARGES ME FOR THESE THINGS! I’M DOWN TO 20% BUT I DON’T WANT THIS TO END UP ON MY BILL!”

Another time I was rushing to leave for work, just about to head out the door when my Mom came down the stairs in her pajamas and robe. “Hi Mom,” I said, going to give her a kiss and hug, “Sorry I’m running late for work gotta go, I’ll talk to you later.” “Good morning sweetie-oh yea no problem, have a good day but just a quick question…” she said as she leaned in for my kiss and then grabbed a hold of me. “After you went to bed last night I was watching one of my murder shows and as I was fast forwarding through the commercials I accidentally hit a button on the clicker and the TV went blank! Can you look at it later?” Yea, yea sure,” I said in a rush, “I’ll look at it after work but I’m running late I have to head out.” But at that point Mo had a strong grip on me and I knew I wasn’t getting away. “Sure no problem, later is fine. But here, let me show you what I think I did,” She said as she shoved the remote in my face, still tightly grasping me. So, being the good IT worker that I am, I put down my things and fixed the TV for her and she was very grateful. Nothing makes Mo more happy than spending a morning watching one of her shows about a horrific and brutal murder while sipping her coffee and eating a yogurt. Knowing I put a smile on her face was the only payment I needed. Definitely going to miss that!

8. Tooling around in Mo Money’s Honda Mini Van

Now that I don’t live at home anymore, I no longer have the ability to borrow Mo’s 2012 Grey Honda Mini Van whenever I want. 16 cup holders, fold-down back seat, enough leg room to comfortably seat 7, she is a damn beauty! It will be a tough adjustment not having Mama Mini around with her automatic sliding doors. I have to open the doors for myself in my stupid Toyota Corolla, it’s exhausting!

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I can bring so many drinks with me when I am driving in Mo’s Mini van. Water, coffee, Diet Coke, Gatorade, all my favorites.

7.  The Glow in the Dark Stars on my bedroom ceiling

Those glow in the dark stars almost got me evicted back in the early 2000s when I stuck them to the ceiling without first checking with a CERTAIN landlord. I’m not going to name any names as to which of my two landlords was not very happy about it but his name just happens to rhyme with MAD. My Dad was so mad I thought I was going to be kicked to the curb with no other option but to become a Newsie at the young age of 8, working the streets selling papers just trying to get by. I actually feel bad writing about this now because I know his blood pressure is probably skyrocketing as he sits and reads this blog, thinking about those damn stars, reminding him how I ruined the ceiling drywall putting them up. While my Dad hated them, they provided me something interesting to look at while I’d lay wide awake in my bed for hours and hours trying to fall asleep. We weren’t allowed to have TVs in our rooms growing up, I needed something to entertain me. Never once did I see a shooting star though which is kind of a bummer. Now that I am grown and still an insomniac, and still don’t have a tv in my room, I miss looking up at those glowing stars.

6. Hanging out with Duke

I’ll be the first to admit Duke and I had a bit of a rough patch in his younger days, but that’s only because I felt he was personally targeting me with his puppy antics. Chewing on only MY shoes, tearing down MY pictures from the refrigerator, chewing and ruining MY 8th grade video. Thank goodness he grew out of that stage and we’ve been buddies ever since. He is always a good sport when I make him take snap chats with me too.

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Boy was that a wild weekend. My parents went away for the weekend leaving me and Duke home alone. Duke ate so many Puperoni’s that Saturday night, he couldn’t even get out of bed on Sunday.

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

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Jane and Duke are super into art. so cultured.

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

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

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

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

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Chilling on the patio with Duke-Dog Days of summer am I right??!!

I’m going to miss that furry face greeting me when I walk in the door. Duke was always excited to see me no matter what time of day or night it was-he never made snide comments about what time I would come home from the bars at either, DAD. Thank goodness my apartment is only a few miles away though so I can still visit with my good friend Duke whenever I want.

***Stay tuned for the next five in part 2!**

Little Lambs go to Italy Part IV, the Final Chapter: Don’t Let This Be Our Final Song

IMG_5340After two days in Venice it was time to head to Milan. We checked into our hotel which seemed nice but smelled weird and then went on a little walking tour of Milan. After our tour we had free time to shop or walk around more. We decided to make the most out of our time in Milan by going to a restaurant with our tour group friends, eating, and sitting there for about three hours. Honestly we were so hot and tired sitting in that restaurant was a great decision. We saw enough of Milan, no regrets.

After a few hours of loitering in that restaurant we met up with the rest of our tour group to go to our dinner event which was called “A Taste of Milan.” It was a very unique experience where a local Milan chef hosted all of us in his home and cooked for us. The food was good but the room was very small for our large group and there were no chairs so you had to eat standing up. It was basically my nightmare. Have you every tried to hold a drink and eat off a plate that YOU are holding all at the same time? It’s very difficult. PLUS, the place was so dark I could barely see what I was eating. I felt like I was dining in a Hollister store or something the room was so dark and cramped. I was very tempted to turn on the flashlight app on my phone just to see what I was eating. I was not a fan. “What’s with this stupid hipster event?!” I said to Jane, sounding like a 72-year-old man as I struggled to eat the finger food off my plate WHILE holding my drink AND standing. “I’m not a table! I only have two hands I can’t do this! There’s not even a counter to place my items on!” No one was impressed with the dinner so we decided to all head back to the hotel.

Once we arrived back at our smelly hotel I showered and Jane laid on her bed because she was very tired, probably from standing and eating. Then we both packed up because we had to leave very early the next day. “You know what would be really nice,” Jane said to me as she was folding up her clothes. “Is if YOU dried off the shampoo and put it back in the bag this time.” Wow. I thought to myself. Listen to this little sassy McSasserson here. The whole trip we had been sharing many items, because we were basically an old married couple, including our shampoo and CLEARLY this sharing arrangement was starting to take its toll on us now as we were nearing the end of the trip. Little did Jane know that I did plan to put the shampoo back in the bag, I was just letting it air dry in the bathroom a little before I put it in her suitcase, as to avoid mold. Classic youngest child jumping to conclusion. Since no one “sasses the sasser” (I am the “sasser” in the family-which, by definition is “one who sasses others” so how dare Jane try to be sassy to me.) I responded with a sassy comment right back. “Well, Jane, you know what I think would be really nice? IS IF YOU STOPPED USING ALL MY PUFFS PLUS LOTION TISSUES!” I had bought a pack of the to-go packaged Puffs Plus Lotion tissues and Jane had LITERALLY used up just about every single tissue. I had yet to use even one. I mean, had I bought Kleenex brand, go for it girl, but these were Puffs Plus Lotion tissues that I had splurged on and my nose had yet to experience the luxury. Do you know how many tissues Jane packed? Zero. She packed zero.

The next morning we got back on our bus for our drive to Monterosso Al Mare where we ate some pesto paninis and walked around. Then we took a boat to Cinque Terre! That place was by far everyone’s favorite stop. We rented day beds on the beach and we were right by a bar that made delicious alcoholic slurpies with fresh fruit and played country music. What could be better? After a few hours hanging at the beach we took the train back to our hotel. That train ride was quite the experience-it was very hot and crowded. This Southside bumpkin would have much rather called an Uber. Our hotel was very old and creepy and very confusing to get around. Our room number was 133 but we were actually on the third floor which made no sense at all. But the shower was the best shower out of all the hotels we stayed at!  Plus we got there so late Jane had no time to put an extremely large towel on the bathroom floor to use as a shower mat so I could move freely around the bathroom without worrying I was going to trip and break my face.

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Pale White kids take on the sun

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Jane thinking about McDonald’s

After Cinque Terre we traveled to Pisa to see the Leaning Tower and it was honestly one of the most anti-climatic experiences of my life. By this point we had already seen like four leaning bell towers so the Leaning Tower of Pisa did not impress Jane or me at all. I was more concerned about the architectural industry in Italy and why they cannot seem to teach their architects how to design buildings that are straight. While other people took photos in front of the tower Jane and I decided to entertain ourselves by taking photos of all the tourists pretending to hold up the leaning tower. We laughed our heads off because they looked ridiculous.

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Jane and I are both going to Hell for taking these photos. But I think if we can travel together we will can manage spending eternity together.

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I call this one “Jane when she’s hungover.”

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Jane asked if I wanted my photo taken in front of the Leaning Tower of Pisa and I said I would rather have my photo taken with this garbage can. She laughed but then I actually made her taken my picture with the garbage can.

After Pisa we went back on the bus, drove for a few hours, and then stopped for a wine tour and tasting. The wine was good but then the lady was kind of a bitch and kicked us all out after she realized we were poor young people and weren’t going to buy anything else from her. After that we got back on the bus to make our way back to Rome. We checked into our sketchy hotel and then face-timed with our sister, her husband and their baby because it was baby Michael’s 1st birthday! It was basically a one way conversation since Jane and I did all the talking and baby Michael didn’t even ask us a single thing about our trip, which I thought was kind of rude and selfish-he just kept making classic baby noises so we hung up and went on our walking tour of Rome. It was around 8pm when we started our tour which turned out to be the perfect time to go-the streets were less crowded and the temperature was a little cooler. We saw a lot of statutes, lot of old buildings and then threw a coin in some fountain. After that it was time to hit the bars.

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Jane the boozer next to her favorite tower of the trip-the beer tower.

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“Kids! Do you see this heating bill?! Now do you understand why I keep the thermostat in the house so low?! Put a sweatshirt on you’ll be fine!”

The next day was the very last day of our trip! We got to sleep in a little bit (8:30am) and then we had a guided tour of the Colosseum. That place was cool but I thought it could use some tuck-pointing work. Looked like they had really let the place go. I really wanted to walk in the middle of the Colosseum and scream “ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?!” like Russell Crowe in the movie Gladiator but apparently they don’t let people go in the center of the ring anymore. Maybe, if certain people had kept the place up and gotten it tuck-pointed YEARS ago tourist would still be able to walk around the center but, oh well.

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The place was a mess. Total gut job.

After the Colosseum we got lunch with our friends and walked around Rome a bit. Then we headed back to our hotel where Jane and I got into a fight about a thank you note. We had our Farewell dinner that we needed to get ready for but we were both so tired we decided to take a quick nap. Jane set a 20 minute timer for our nap on her phone and I don’t think she even finished setting her phone down on the bedside table before I heard her snoring away. As Sleeping Beauty snored, I spent my 20 minutes looking up the signs and symptoms of narcolepsy as I was convinced Jane has this disorder after traveling with her for two weeks.

A half hour later Jane was ready and well rested for our farewell dinner as I, the insomniac, rushed to finish covering up the bags and dark circles under my eyes from my sleep deprivation. After that, we headed down the stairs all dolled up for our fancy farewell dinner with our group. While walking down the stairs Jane and I got in to our last ridiculous argument of the trip, and it was a big one. Awe, the last fight-what a bittersweet moment. To summarize it, Jane asked me if I felt like it was graduation night, like I was “graduating from this tour,” to which I responded “no” because it did not feel like a graduation at all to me. Then she proceeded to get very mad at me because I answered no and told me I should have just been polite and agreed with her. I then yelled back that she asked me how I “felt” and I in no way, shape or form felt the slightest bit that I was graduating from something, but rather, that it was my last night on a trip to Italy because that’s what was happening. She was mad that I couldn’t understand why the night would be like a graduation, and I was mad at Jane for being mad at me for not feeling like it was graduation night. This fight continued on for way too long.

Our dinner was delicious and then it turned into our group having a big dance party. After that we went out to an American bar because how else would you spend your last night in Rome?! It was an awesome night and we were so sad to say goodbye to all our new friends.

We couldn’t believe how fast the trip went. Before we knew it the 12 day trip had come to an end and we were at the airport, looking for a McDonald’s, waiting to board our flight home. We saw so many cool places and met AMAZING people who we now are lucky to call friends! It was a trip of a lifetime we will never forget.

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Just a 12-year-old ready to head back to America-the land of free bathrooms and plenty of water.

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Our seats on the flight home were across the aisle from each other-probably the farthest we’d been apart in two weeks. (Jane quickly fell asleep after waving)

Little Lambs go to Italy Part 1: Getting There

 

IMG_4800In July, my sister Jane and I took the trip of a lifetime-a two week tour through Italy. Most people, when preparing to go to a foreign country and spend a whole bunch of money on such an expensive vacation, might spend weeks or even months planning out every  detail-places to visit, hotels to stay at, transportation, budgets, etc., but not us. We were pretty last minute in everything. I mean, who has time these days to plan out a trip to Europe?! Definitely not two twenty somethings, who live at home with their parents, have no kids or family to take care of, households to maintain or real adult responsibilities to take up their time. We were ACTUALLY busy. Jane was halfway through The Office series on Netflix and I was trying to power through the last season of Nurse Jackie. Plus, if you wait until the last minute, it only takes a minute! That’s our motto! So, a few short weeks prior to our departure, at about 11:00 p.m. on a Tuesday night, Jane and I decided to finally book our flights and throw a couple of grand at a tour company we knew really nothing about except that they plan the trip details and logistics out for you, so we were sold.

We were pumped for this new adventure but our dad wasn’t 100% thrilled that his two youngest were leaving the good old USA and traveling abroad together. When he’s not calling us “Millennial snowflakes,” he often refers to Jane and me as “two little lambs”- young, naive, and too trusting of the world. “Oh great, you two will be traveling together,” my Dad said sarcastically. “I can just imagine you two walking down the streets of Italy ‘La-de-da life is beautiful, hey where’s the beer?! Where’s the party at?!’ I’m going to need to pray extra hard you two don’t get kidnapped!” I quickly tried to reassure my Dad and remind him that I was a young business woman with TWO SUCCESSFUL business trips under my belt, not one, but TWO. So I was pretty confident I could manage a trip abroad while caring for my younger sister. He had no reason to fret. Was I worried about spending every single moment for two weeks with my sister? No, not really. I have known her a pretty long time and we’ve vacationed together a few times before-Michigan basically every year and Disney World once in the late 90’s with the family-so I knew we would get into some extremely stupid fights, but we’d both come back alive. We travel well together for the most part.

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Jane being lazy and needing my help down the slide on a family vacation in Michigan.

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Special thanks to my mom for dressing me (far left) like a 45 year old father of four with that white bulls hat and blue and white windbreaker to ensure no one would want to kidnap me during this family trip to Disney World. I bet I was wearing ankle high white socks and gym shoes too.

After days of planning out our outfits and figuring out how to fit everything we needed for two weeks into two tiny suitcases, the day finally came for us to depart on our big trip. Our Dad drove us to the airport all alone because apparently our mom doesn’t love us and thought it was more important to go couch shopping with her other daughter. Being a gentleman he made sure we got into the airport ok, said goodbye and then left us at the terminal. We checked our bags and then got in line to go through security and that’s when we ran into the first few hiccups of our travel journey.

“Uggghhh man look at this security line, airports are the worst am I right?” I said. “What are you talking about?!” Jane responded. “There are like two people ahead of us, this is the shortest I’ve seen it in a a long time!” “Ugh well my carry on backpack is so heavy I’m getting tired of standing.” I said. “Hey wait,” Jane said. “Do you have room in there for the shampoo? I had it packed in my suitcase but thought it might spill so I took it out last minute and don’t really have room in my carry-on.” Well, being the selfless older sister I am, I responded, “Yea sure, let me just move around some things.” I took my backpack off and started to rummage through my items and rearrange them in my backpack. While doing this I pulled out the huge jug of contact solution I had in my backpack. I looked up and noticed Jane was looking at me like I had just pulled out a bomb. Before I could ask her why she was looking at me with such a frightened look on her face she whisper yelled at me, “What are you doing with that?! You can’t go through security with that!” I was still confused, “What are you talking about?! I need contact solution for my contacts! Not all of us can have perfect 20/20 vision, JANE!” Stupid healthy Jane, I thought to myself, always rubbing in that fact that she’s perfectly healthy and I’m not. “No you dummy!” she responded “Liquids have to be 4 ounces or less! You can’t carry that on the plane!” “Oh shoot!” I said, “I forgot that was still a thing! Ugh darn! Well, I’m just going to have to risk it, I’m not throwing out this jug of contact solution, I JUST bought it from Meijer and it set me back 15 dollars I am NOT just going to throw it out!” Even though I said this with confidence, internally I began to panic and question everything I knew about airport security. I started to bombard Jane with my questions as if she was head of the TSA. “Shoot Jane, can I go through security with my watch? What about my earrings do I need to take them off?! And my ring?!” She politely told me to shut up. A few minutes later, as we moved up in the line right before we were about to take off our shoes and put our bags on the conveyor belt, the TSA officer monitoring our line looked over at the two of us and called Jane over. Oh no, I thought, he knows about my jug of contact solution! To my bewilderment though he simply asked Jane how old I was. We both looked at each other confused as to why he was asking Jane about MY age. Especially since a lady NEVER reveals her age. Turns out he was asking because people traveling with children 12 and younger can skip taking off their shoes and go through the express security line and he thought I was 12. He was absolutely shocked to learn I was 27. Jane could not stop laughing. “Oh shut up Jane! You’ll be jealous when I’m 40 and still look 12!” Karma caught up with Jane though and her bag got flagged going through security and had to be searched. Turns out it set off the alarm because her bag was too “dense” most likely, they said, from having too many books in her bag. When the TSA agents told us this I laughed and said, “Haha Jane you dork!” I don’t think this helped my case in proving I was NOT a 12 year old but it was worth it.

Once we got through security we had plenty of time to kill because our flight was two hours delayed! So we found the nearest bar and posted up there for a while-making our dad proud! After what seemed like forever, we finally were starting to board the plane. While waiting in line Jane’s passport photo caught my eye and I became frightened, as I thought I might be traveling with a potential serial killer. “That’s interesting,” I said to Jane, “I had no idea they let people use their mug shots as their passport photos too. When did you do time in prison, Jane?” She gave me a shove and claimed they wouldn’t let her smile for her photo, yet I was allowed to smile for my passport photo? Very suspicious, JANE! Perks of being a 12 year old forever I guess-you get to take a smiling passport photo. She also assured me she never did any prison time so I’m glad we got that squared away before we were about to board a plane together.

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Typical Millennial snowflakes being dramatic over a minor inconvenience. As you can see, I used my extra time to perfect my Snap Chat editing skills. Jane was my first subject.

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Our delayed flight also gave us time to get a quick check-up at the airport shoe hospital. Those airplanes are full of germs so you can never be too careful.

We got two seats together, put our carry-ons in the overhead bin, and settled in for a very long flight. Jane immediately began to inflate her travel neck pillow like an 87 year old woman and passed out in seconds. I, on the other hand, knew I would not be able to fall asleep on this flight so I perused the movies and decided to watch the movie “Lady Bird.” I was excited to learn more about the life of former first lady, Lady Bird Johnson in this film until I discovered “Lady Bird” was not about Lady Bird Johnson at all! After I realized I had gotten my movies confused I kept waiting for Michael Keaton’s character to come on screen but THEN remembered he was in the movie “BirdMAN” and not “Lady Bird.” What is with all these movies with “Bird” in the title, sheesh! I finished the movie but honestly could not tell you what it was about because of all the bird mix ups.

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I was able to get this quick photo in before Grandma fell asleep with her fluffy neck pillow.

Later on they served us our delicious prepackaged and preservative-filled microwave airplane dinner. Jane rudely began to eat her dinner before I had even gotten my tray-had her parents not taught her any manners? She was nice enough to keep ordering and giving me her waters and juices. I’m literally thirsty all the time and those airplane cups are like shot glasses so I was tossing back the liquids left and right! Luckily, Jane is like a camel and can have a little bit of water and be set for days so she had no problem giving up her water and soft drinks to me. After our bellies were full we remembered the first item we forgot at home-Tweezers! We were both devastated that we forgot this major necessity. “Oh great!” I said sarcastically. “We’re both going to come back to America in two weeks looking like Bert from Sesame Street without any tweezers!” God forbid we actually buy a pair in Europe.

After what seemed like days on that airplane we finally landed in Rome. Me and prison Jane sailed through customs, grabbed our bags and then realized we did not know how to get to our hotel. We were told we could take the train to our hotel but figuring that out was a little harder than we thought. Jane and I mainly specialize in calling Ubers back home but we could not do that in Italy so trying to figure out public transportation was a bit of a challenge. We are south side suburban bumpkins, we are no city girls! We must have looked lost in the airport because a young Italian man came up to us and asked if we needed help getting somewhere. We told him we were trying to take the train to our hotel and he informed us the train workers were on strike but he had a shuttle service that he could arrange to take us right to our hotel for only 20 euro! “How convenient!” we thought. What a great idea for two young girls in a foreign country who have no idea where they are going and don’t speak the native language to take a ride from a complete stranger! So we agreed and he made a bunch of suspicious phone calls speaking Italian, then he passed us off to another Italian man who led us to a black van with tinted windows in a parking garage. Scenes from the movie “Taken” were flashing through our minds as we began to worry that maybe we were being kidnapped. We did notice other people in the van though so instead of running away and dealing with the absolute HASSLE of trying to figure out that public transportation nonsense we decided to risk being kidnapped/our lives and jumped right into the front seats of the van with our driver. Luckily, it turned out great and the driver took us right to our hotel! Phew!

We checked into our hotel room and discovered we had a room with two twin beds-just like our old room at Mike Sr. and Mo Kelly’s Old Maid Boarding House! Italy really knows how to make people feel at home! We dropped our bags and decided to walk around the area for a bit. We took some photos with all the Mopeds, scooters and motorcycles parked everywhere, saw lots of dumpsters and grabbed some coffee to try and ward off that jet lag we were starting to feel. Unfortunately, our walk was cut short as Jane had just eaten a gigantic cookie moments before we left the hotel for our walk and was now starting to feel sick. Her face was pale and she looked like she was about to blow chunks all over the place so I led us back to our hotel where we both took a very quick nap.

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Didn’t see ANY cup holders so I declined the offer to take it for a spin.

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Total dude magnet

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Could not get over this dumpster’s long, luscious eye lashes! The dumpsters in Italy really are beautiful!

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Our uncomfortably close twin beds in our hotel room. We even threw our junk all over the place just like we do at home! Our parents would be so thrilled!

After that we headed down to the lobby for a meet and greet with our tour guide and the 49 other people on our tour group. Everyone was very nice, friendly and seemed cool! We all went to dinner and then drinks afterwards but Jane and I were so tired we called it an early night and headed back for a good night’s rest in our twin beds. The beds were pretty comfortable but they were awkwardly close together. So close in fact that Jane smacked me right in the face during the night! (She has YET to apologize for this by the way) Then at three in the morning she woke up and turned all the lights on and started to get ready thinking it was time to start the tour! She was so out of it it took me a while to convince her to go back to bed. “You dodo bird! It’s three in the morning! I yelled to her (ever so politely of course) from my bed “Go back to sleep and shut off all those lights!” When our alarm finally did go off the next day Jane woke up well rested and ready to start our tour! I on the other hand, was feeling a bit sluggish from being physically assaulted in the face and being woken up at the crack of dawn by my lunatic sister. We checked out of our hotel and got on our coach bus for our first day of Italian adventures. We were ready and excited to start day one of what was to be an amazing trip filled with fun times, great sights and awesome new friends!!

Stay tuned for Part 2…