It’s Good To See Your Smiling Face

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Mo’s emoji game is on point.

 

#justmomthings

Every weeknight after dinner, I ask my mom the same question, “Mom, want to watch Inside Edition now?” I’m always hopeful she’ll say yes, but 9 times out of 10 she’ll respond with, “Sure sweetie, but can I make a quick phone call first?” Ugh, I think to myself, Maureen “Phone Calls” Kelly is back at it again. When she says “quick phone call” what she really means is that she is going to call all four of my siblings, and it won’t be short phone calls in the least bit. And when she pulls out her Bluetooth so she can chat hands free in the house I KNOW Deborah Norville is going to have to wait because we won’t be watching Inside Edition until the next day.

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Little Mo and her five blessings. My brother thought he was above the laws of fashion and could pull off stripes on plaid.

Any time I see her on her Bluetooth I have flashbacks to my college days, talking to my mom on the phone. My mom loves her 5 kiddos and she was always very good about calling us while we were away at college. On the rare occasion I would call her first, she greeted me with one of two responses: The first being, “Hi sweetie! Can I call you back in about 15 minutes? I’m eating a Dove Bar!” (When a mom chooses ice cream over her own child, that can damage the child’s ego a little bit, just saying from experience) And the second response was “Hi sweetie, can I call you right back? I want to use my Bluetooth so I can work at my desk while we chat.” I obviously never saw her face when she said this since we were on the phone, but I am 100% certain she winked.

Don’t get me wrong, I was happy that she was able to multitask while talking to me, but I hated the Bluetooth solely because of what I liked to call “The Bluetooth switch.” At the end of every phone conversation with my mom on her Bluetooth she would end by saying “Ok, now I am going to put Dad on” and what followed I can only describe as sounding like if someone pulled the audio tapes from the show Cops, and only the parts of the show where they were in the middle of a chase. There was always a lot of static, a lot of strange noises and it always sparked the same conversation:

Mom (talking to my dad): Mike, Kathleen is on the phone. Here, I’ll let you use my Bluetooth. [static and inaudible noises begin as the Bluetooth goes from my mom’s ear to my dad’s ear]
Dad: Oh hell! I can hardly see the damn thing it’s so small! [static ensues]
Mom: No, Mike, honey, you’re putting the Bluetooth in you ear wrong. It’s upside down. Here let me help you.  [more inaudible noises]
Dad: Mo, I don’t think this thing is working. [screams “Hello” into the phone numerous times]
Mom: No, Mike, sweetie it’s on. Just adjust it in your ear a little bit. There you go.
Dad: [yells into the phone] KATHLEEN CAN YOU HEAR ME?! KATHLEEN?!
Me: You know I could hear before, but I think you blew my ear drum yelling into the phone so I may go deaf.
Dad: Ok, perfect. Hold on now I’m going to put Duke on.

While I could have set my phone down, gone to the library to study, then met my friends for a drink at the bar in the amount of time it took for my mom to transfer her Bluetooth to my dad’s ear, I always enjoyed those conversations. Growing up, we were fortunate enough to have our mom stay at home with us, and we all maintain a close relationship with her to this day. She was very much a laid back mom, a “cool” mom if you will, and I find it a miracle that she did not go crazy being with 5 lunatic children every day.

Each night after dinner we would start running around the house as if we just drank Red Bulls, which I find a miracle in itself that we had that much energy seeing as my mother fed us dinner portions that were just barely enough to sustain life.

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You can see my mom is trying to hide her worried look with a smile, wondering if her children will always be this awkward.

While we caused a lot of trouble through the years, she hardly ever got mad at us. In fact, I’ve only seen her get really mad a few times. Once being a couple of weeks ago when they didn’t have the right amount of Hawaiian rolls she wanted at the grocery store. She flew into the house like a bat out of Hell. “Ugh I am so mad! Of course they don’t sell 12 packs of Hawaiian rolls at the store anymore! You can only get them in packs of 4 or 24! I feel like calling the company and complaining! It’s a marketing scheme is what it is, trying to rip off the general public!” I had to hose down the trail of fire she left in the hallway after she came in.

The second thing that made her very mad was a canoe trip she took with my younger sister and her Girl Scouts troop back in 2009. She may not be able to remember our graduation dates, or what she had for dinner last week, but she can tell you every single moment of that Girl Scouts trip seven years ago. And she will tell it to you with the same anger and passion in her voice as she did the day she returned from the trip. They say people are never the same after a traumatic experience such as war or prison. But those people have never been on a Girl Scouts canoe trip. They don’t know what it’s like. My mom saw things on that trip, I know she did, because she was never the same after that. I think it’s safe to say she can cross “Girl Scout Troop Leader” off her list of possible careers if she ever decides she doesn’t want to be a nurse anymore.

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Why am I the only one wearing a life jacket in this picture? Doe no one else care about boat safety?

In addition to keeping her cool, she always encouraged us and complimented us even when we didn’t deserve it. Whenever one of us took a bad school picture she never told us we looked awful. She gentle said “Oh no, that’s not a bad picture of you, your lips just looked a little chapped.” My mom telling us our “lips were chapped” was code for “this is actually a terrible photo of you and I definitely won’t be framing it.” But she never said that, which was very nice of her. And whenever we would get upset because we studied very hard for a test but a classmate did way better she would give us a hug and say, “EQ over IQ kids.” Which meant, “Yeah, you kids are pretty dumb and I know you’ll never be the smartest kid in the class, but your personalities are ok.”

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Clearly I was trying to reclaim my status of being the youngest child by sitting in that stroller. That was a damn good Coca-Cola though.

So while I do get a little irritated that we fall behind schedule with Inside Edition because of her phone calls (I need to stay up-to-date on all the celebrity gossip) I try to remember that she is making those phone calls out of love. And maybe one day I will move out of my parents’ house and she will be calling me to chat. But that’s most likely a good twenty years down the road. Thanks for being a cool mom, Mom. Keep those Bluetooth calls coming.

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I know what you’re thinking, “Are they wearing white after Labor Day?!” No, this picture was taken in July.

 

The Few, the Proud, the Maureens

My mom, Maureen, is the best. I think everyone should have a Maureen in their life. She’ll make you laugh, make you feel loved, and hardly ever get mad at you. I have been fortunate to be able to have my mom as a roommate for the past 24 years. I think she thought she could get rid of me when she dropped me off at college but lucky for her I moved right back in once my four years were up. You’re welcomed Mom. I’m preventing you and Dad from becoming empty nesters. Within the last year we have been spending a lot more time together. With my other siblings married, moved out or away at college and my Dad traveling a lot during the week on business we have had a lot of “Kathleen and Mo” time.

Unfortunately I had resting bitch face in our first few years of rooming together

Unfortunately I had resting bitch face in our first few years of rooming together. Mo still stuck it out with me though thank goodness.

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Mo can rock a turtle neck better than anyone.

Little Mo and I like to do a lot of different activities together, a lot of which center around TV. Each day we record Inside Edition and watch it when I get home from work. This is where we both get all of our important news for the week. Sometimes we have to pause the show to comment on how the host, Debrah Norville, is so full of herself, always showing old clips of her glory days out in the field reporting or promoting her new book which I will not buy or read. We get it Debrah, you’ve been on TV for a long time. That reporter Lisa Guerrero is no better though, always making the simplest stories more dramatic. I think she’s out to get Debrah’s job. Deb does have a pretty good gig, it would be easy to become jealous of her. And Deb is getting up there in age, she’s no spring chicken anymore, I’m sure they will be looking for a younger Deb to replace her in the not so distant future. We also don’t like when they reference anything from The View. No one should be giving that show any credit, it really needs to die. Inside Edition needs to stop boosting The View’s ego. While these things annoy us about Inside Edition we are very loyal to the show and can’t stop watching.

Another thing we like to do is watch movies. If I don’t go out on a Friday night we usually like to lounge on the couch with a good movie. Unfortunately I had to take away my mom’s movie picking privileges after a few terrible choices. I just could not trust her anymore. Her first strike was a couple of months ago when she suggested we rent the movie Still Alice, she said she had read the book and wanted to watch the movie. Obviously I had not read the book since we all know I would rather do anything else but read, so I trusted her and settled on the couch to watch the movie. Well, let me tell you, if you are in a happy mood and want to feel extremely depressed, then watch the movie Still Alice. It was probably the saddest movie I had ever seen. I really felt angry and betrayed by my mother, not because the movie was depressing, I could handle that, I was upset with her because she didn’t even warn me that Kristen Stewart was in the movie. And she had a leading role as Alice’s daughter! She knows I hate Kristen Stewart ever since she did those vampire movies. The girl always looks like she just woke up from a nap and she moves at a snail’s pace. She is super pale too, I am seriously concerned about her vitamin D levels. It’s not healthy to be that white. Sit out in the sun and have some caffeine every once in a while Kristen.

The second strike was when she suggested we rent the movie Foxcatcher which turned out to be the most boring movie ever. No, it was not about a man trying to catch a fox,  although that would have been a lot more entertaining. This was about a wrestling team. It was painful watching some of the out-of-shape men in the movie wear those wrestling leotards. The movie really dragged on, watching water boil is more action packed than the movie Foxcatcher. After that I gently had to explain to my mom that I could no longer trust her to pick out good movies and that I was revoking her rights to do so. She took it pretty well, although I don’t think we have watched many movies since then.

One time we decided to get up off the couch and go cross country skiing. That's a mistake we will never make again.

One time we decided to get up off the couch and go cross country skiing. That’s a mistake we will never make again.

When you have a roommate for so long you also get to know the person’s pet peeves. My mom has two major pet peeves. The first is when I forget to turn on the night light in our kid’s bathroom. I know she’s annoyed when the next day she casually mentions “You know, I turned the night light on in your bathroom last night, I noticed you hadn’t turned it on yet”. That’s when I know I’m in the dog house. My mom believes it is important to have the night light on in case someone gets up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom they can see where they are going. I always forget this because I am not usually concerned about the safety of others because I’m too busy thinking of myself. Sorry mom! The second is when you use metal utensils on her nonstick pans. Don’t you ever, EVER, use anything but plastic or rubber utensils on her nonstick pans or you will be written out of the will. If you scratch up her pans you scratch up her heart as well.

Although we hardly ever argue, we do disagree on some things, but only really important things like when we run the dishwasher. I like to keep the dishwasher on a schedule, running it every night so that we know the dishes are clean in the morning. My Mom likes to wait until the dishwasher is jam packed, which leads to running the dishwasher at any old time. If there was room for one shot glass she would wait to run the dishwasher until the next day. This in turn leads to complete chaos. Frantic group texts will go out asking, “Does anyone know if the dishes in the dishwasher are clean or dirty?!” We are a family that rinses our dishes before we put them in the dishwasher (we’re not animals) so it’s hard to tell. There have been more times than I would like to admit that I have used dishes only to realize they were dirty. There is no worse feeling than that.

I think there is a point in everyone’s life where your parents become not just your parents anymore but your friends. They stop yelling at you and actually seem to enjoy your company, it’s a great feeling. I believe my siblings can agree with me when I say we were blessed with a wonderful Mom. She is sweet but will become feisty if anyone messes with one of her kids. She is our mom, protector and most importantly our friend. Thanks for being a great roommate for the past 24 years Mom! Hey just think, if you’re lucky I could be living with you and Dad for another 24 years! Let the good times roll!

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The whole family plus a bag of apples.