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…

Saint Mom

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Bridget must have really liked those green pants.

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Great photo of me and my mom.

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Yes, my sweatshirt does say “Irish Grandma.”

Mom and Dad Who Are You?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I am NOT Making the Christmas Cookies

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Summer Breeze, Makes Me Feel Fine

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

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

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

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The whitest kids in America.

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

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

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

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

The Stages of My Life

A few months back we were all sitting in the TV room, looking for something interesting to watch, with no luck. I suggested we pop in a few home movies. This was mostly because I spent countless hours slaving away converting our home videos from VHS to DVD per my mom’s request and people were going to appreciate my hard work damn it! Once I hit play I had the usual reaction to seeing myself in the past: “Oh my God did I really sound like that?! Talk about an obnoxious voice” and “Mom, why did you keep taking us to that hair salon?! We look like boys!” As the years flashed by us on the screen, I began to see distinct stages in my life. These stages are not ones I am particularly proud of, but I guess they made me into the weirdo I am today.

Stage 1: I have no soul

I know I have touched on this before, but I am seriously convinced that I was born without a soul, it was just a few years late in entering my body. I think my soul didn’t get the memo on my birth. Better late than never though right? Every time I mention it my mom responds with “Oh no honey, you were a happy baby.” Really Mom? Show me one picture or video where I am smiling before the age of three. I have yet to see any documentation of this. People without souls cannot feel happiness.

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Only someone without a soul would be this unhappy on vacation. I was showing off a lot of cleavage in that swimsuit too-a little inappropriate for a family vacation. Shame on my mother for dressing me like that.

Stage 2: Wild Child

Once my soul did enter my body I became a weird freak with endless energy. I did strange things like tie plastic bags to my arms  and jump out of trees in an attempt to fly, rollerblade on the living room carpet, and try to catch bunnies and squirrels. I was either strange or really dumb-still trying to figure out which one. It’s a miracle I had any friends. I also refused to brush my hair, something I deeply regretted in my later years, which made me look like Tarzan. I still wince when I look back at pictures. I wish my mother had forced me to run a brush through my hair every now and then.

Oh my God I love the Hanson Brothers! Play "Mmm Bop" for us! Oh wait, that's me and 2 of my sisters. I'm the brat with her arms folded. God I wish someone handed us a hair brush

Oh my God the Hanson Brothers! I love them! Play “Mmm Bop” for us! Oh wait, that’s me and 2 of my sisters in our backyard. I’m the brat with her arms folded. God I wish someone handed us a hair brush

My parents are saints for putting up with me. If I were them I would have smacked me and then given me Xanax to make me calm down a little bit. It must have been concerning for them to have created a child as strange as I was.

My Mother looks like she just picked up these kids from the insane asylum. I'm the one with the hat that says "Kathleen", a hat perfect for being abducted.

My poor mother looks like she just picked up these kids from the pediatric insane asylum. I’m the one with the hat that says “Kathleen”, a hat perfect for being abducted.

Stage 3: I am awkward and ugly

I know this may be hard for people to believe, but I wasn’t always the bombshell babe I am today. I was actually quite unfortunate looking for a while there. I was scrawny, sickly pale, had braces, frizzy hair, thick dark eyebrows, and a nose my face had yet to grow into. I was also extremely annoying. I thought I was pretty funny too when really I was not at all. Watching this stage on the screen was hard on the eyes for everyone. I should have worn a brown paper bag over my head from 6th through 10th grade. Woof.

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Yikes. Not sure who the dog is in this picture.

Stage 4 (My final stage): I am done growing

Last year, on a sunny fall afternoon, I was at The Home Depot picking up a bag of gords for the fall centerpiece I was making for the dining room table (typical Sunday errands). While at the self check-out (since I’m an independent woman who don’t need no cashier) I was scanning the bar code on the bag of gords, minding my own business, when I felt a hand on my shoulder. I turned around to see a sweet elderly lady with a Home Depot apron on. Once I turned she said to me, “Excuse me, but where is your mother?” I was very confused. “Huh?” I said. She replied, “When I saw you coming to the self check out, I thought, this girl can’t be more than 14 years old. Why is she here all by herself?” I thought to myself, ok, old lady, you of all people should not be discriminating others based on age. But I was not about to tell this lady that I was actually 24 so I played it off and said my mom was in the car. Most people would be embarrassed in these types of situations but since it happens to me so often it didn’t bother me in the least bit. Lots of people mistakenly think I am about ten years younger than I actually am. It’s as if around the age of 12 or 13 my body just kind of said, “This is good, I think I’ll stop here.” It was evident in the home videos that my growth started to plateau around 8th grade. My mom tells me I’ll appreciate looking young when I am 40 or so. Since there is really nothing I can do about it I have tried to embrace my youthful look, hey maybe I’ll even try to get a job as a child actor, my possibilities are endless. The only time it can be annoying is when I try to purchase alcohol. More recently I was stopped at the grocery store check-out while buying a case of beer. The cashier did not believe I was 21 and thought my ID was fake. She even called over the manager. Like give me a break lady, I was buying Bud Light not Busch or Natural Light, obviously I’m over 21.

After a few DVDs we had had enough. While watching these home videos had provided us with lots of laughs we were also reminded why we only watch these every once in a while. Everyone goes through stages they aren’t proud of, but it’s all part of growing up. I am interested to see what my future stages will be, I guess we will have to sit down and watch our home videos again in another 25 years!