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. 

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#relationshipgoals

A lot of people ask me, “Kathleen, what is your secret? How have you had such a successful relationship with your roommates for 25 years, longer than some marriages last?” Well, I’ll admit, for the first 18 years my roommates were legally obligated to live with me. And provide me with food, clothing and shelter, things that parents usually have to provide their children. But after that I swear it was all volunteer work for them. I like to credit our great roommate relationship with one thing: Good conversation. Communication is key to a good relationship. My roommates and I have lots of good conversations. Most of them center around food.

On any given Saturday you can find my roommates and me enjoying a delicious lunch at Pappy’s restaurant, a local burger place. Sometimes I get sick of eating there, but I’m not one to pass up a free meal so I always go. Every once in a while I’ll make a weak attempt to offer to pay, but my Dad always tells me I don’t have two pennies to rub together.  As we are eating our burgers my Dad always says, “We won’t need a big dinner after this huh, Mo?” Talking to my mother. When he says this I usually have to respond with something like, “Excuse me, but it is literally 12:01pm, dinner is like 7 hours away. Some of us are in our early 20s and need to eat like normal people.” With my roommates, sometimes I feel like I am eating with a teenage girl who is way too concerned with her body figure (my dad) and a toddler (my mom).
My mom is a petite woman and eats very little, and sometimes she gets the hiccups during dinner and can’t finish her meal. A couple of weeks ago she decided she had a taste for an apple. Unfortunately for her, Mother Nature made apples too big for her to finish so she left half of the apple on the counter. It was there for several hours and it was kind of grossing me out the way it was starting to get brown so I finally said, “Mom, what’s going on with this apple here? Are you going to finish it or what?” To which she responded, “Yea, I’m just digesting a bit, I’m going to finish it later.” A couple more hours passed and the apple was still sitting on the counter. So I decided put it in a plastic bag and put it in the fridge. I notified her of the apple’s change in location and she thanked me and said she was going to eat it in a little bit. A couple of days passed and the apple was still in the fridge. I asked her if I should throw it out and she said, “No, leave it in there, I’m thinking about making apple bread so I’ll use it when I bake that.” After over a week, the half eaten apple was still in the fridge. I couldn’t help but laugh and said “Mom, looks like you are still in the brainstorming stage with this apple bread, huh? Are you going to leave the apple in the fridge a few more weeks and turn it into apple sauce?” She quickly responded, “Oh, you little smart ass! I am going to make the apple bread this weekend.” Well, that apple bread was never made. After a few more weeks I decided to finally throw the fermenting apple out.

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The infamous apple that was the topic of conversation for the whole month of March.

As you can tell from the apple incident, my roommates and I only talk about important things. Another fruit that sparked so much conversation and excitement in our house were some mandarin oranges. I like to refer to the incident as “The Case of the Leaky Mandarin Oranges Container”. You see, there was a Tupperware container of mandarin oranges in the refrigerator and I noticed that it was leaking the juice out onto the shelf of the refrigerator. So I decided to bring it up to my parents while the 3 of us were having dinner.

Me: You guys, I think there might be a hole in the Tupperware container that the mandarin oranges are in. The shelf was all sticky, I had to clean it up.
Dad: Yea, you know I noticed that too. I wiped out the shelf the other day. It must be leaking.
Mom: Oh really? I didn’t notice it leaking at all. Are you sure there is a hole in the Tupperware container?
Me: Yes, we wouldn’t lie about something like that.

Well clearly Doubting Thomas/my mom did not believe us and decided she was going to perform a little experiment. She took the mandarin oranges out of the container and then filled it with water. Then she put the container on a plate to see if any of the water would leak out. (Please see picture below)

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An original science experiment performed by the one and only Mo Kelly.

In just a few short minutes water started to leak from the container onto the plate, confirming my father and my suspicions that the Tupperware container was, in fact, leaking.
Mom: (Pointing to her experiment) Oh, look at that! Looks like there is a hole in the container after all!
Me (Laughing): Wow! Dad and I were right! You could have saved yourself the trouble of performing such an intricate experiment and just believed us when we told you the container was leaking.
Mom: Well I didn’t see it leak in the fridge so I just wanted to make sure before I threw out the Tupperware.
Me. That was a great experiment though, I think you missed your calling as a 6th grade science teacher!
Mom: Oh, you smart ass!

Other topics of conversation include “the size of muffins now a days”, shower heads, and of course, rats. But the one thing we talk about the most is probably ice cream. My roommates love their ice cream and we always have these ice cream bars called Cupid Bars in stock at the house. It’s basically vanilla ice cream with a hard outer shell of chocolate around it. The other day my dad and I were sitting in the tv room when my mom came in. I could immediately tell by the look on her face that something was wrong.

Mom: Kathleen, have you had a Cupid Bar yet?
Me: No, why?
Mom: Well, let me know when you have one, I want to talk to you about it after.
Me: Umm… ok, why?
Mom: I think the chocolate on the outside tastes odd. It’s like a different consistency or something. I think I am going to call and complain.
Dad: Yea Mo, I noticed something different about them too. Usually when you bite into them a thick piece of chocolate breaks off, like breaking up concrete with a jack hammer. On this batch of Cupid Bars the chocolate seems too soft.
Me: Well you better call soon because it seems like they are still being eaten pretty fast. I don’t really think we can eat them all and then call to complain about it.
Mom: You’re right, I am going to call tomorrow. Something is not right with them. You know me and my heightened taste buds. Remember when I was the only one who thought something was off with that bag of Tostitos chips and it turned out they were expired?

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Oh my God this soft chocolate is an embarrassment to ice cream bars every where. Get out of here.

Well, Mo ended up being all talk because she never did end up calling on those Cupid Bars. And they were all eaten.

When we aren’t talking about food my dad is usually giving me a hard time about going out on the weekends. Since there is a bit of a generational gap between me and my roommates, we don’t always agree on what activities we consider fun. Sunday mornings we usually have a conversation like this:

Dad: Kathleen I went into your room this morning and it smelled like a brewery! I felt like I was getting drunk just by being in there!
Me: What were you doing in my room you creep?
Dad: I was opening the windows so Mom and I didn’t pass out from the fumes!
Me: Yea, yea, ok, sure. Just stay out of my room you weirdo.

I do have to be careful on my use of sarcastic remarks with my roommates since they are also my landlords. I like to keep them in check with my witty comments but I also don’t want to walk up the stairs to bed and find an eviction notice taped to my bedroom door.

The three of us may not always see eye to eye, but we make our living situation work. We aren’t afraid to speak our minds and we joke around a lot. Three is never a crowd in our house!

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These two, they keep me young!

 

 

 

Everybody Knows, it Hurts to Grow Up

 “One day down, infinity to go”, that is what I said to my sister on the train ride home after my first day on the job. Unlike school, working doesn’t have an end date. Don’t get me wrong I like my job, but it looks like my company doesn’t observe Columbus Day, Flag Day, or Summer Vacation. This could be a problem. I guess at least us women have maternity leave to look forward to. Sorry boyz. 

It has been almost a year now since I graduated college. In that year I have been forced to begin to grow up, and let me tell you, it’s not easy. There have been many obstacles and hardships along the way. Joining the workforce comes with its own set of challenges. Two of those challenges I encounter on my walk to and from the train: Pigeons and slow walkers. They are both equally annoying and I feel like giving both parties a good kick in the rear to get the lead out of their pants. Many days I want to scream, “Get out of my way stupid pigeons! Not all of us have the luxury of flying everywhere they go! Some of us have a train to catch!” But I know if I said this I would look like a crazy person, so I have refrained from yelling this thus far.
Another challenge-picking out an outfit each morning. For me, the bottom part is easy because I pretty much own just two pairs of nice pants, a grey pair and a black pair. I rotate the pants every week-Monday, Wednesday, and Friday are grey pants day, while Tuesday and Thursday are black pants day. I wear the grey pants an extra day because they are comfier than the black pair. But picking out a top is like trying to solve a math problem. “Ok today I’ll wear the striped sweater. Wait I can’t wear stripes, I wore a striped shirt Tuesday and I can’t wear stripes two times in one week. Ok I’ll wear this blue shirt. Wait I wore that at the beginning of March what if people remember?!”
Yet another challenge-Lunch. Lunch can make your day a good one or a bad one. If I have a bad lunch I have nothing to look forward to in the mornings. If it were up to me I would eat salsa and chips each day for lunch but that’s not socially acceptable in the workplace so I usually settle for a sandwich. Sometimes I’ll make myself a salad. By that I mean I put iceburg lettuce in a Tupperware container and douse it will ranch dressing. Salad days=bad days. I’m sorry but salads just don’t keep me full and satisfied. I’m not a bunny.

In working I have learned that you can’t come into the office without watching the weather on the news, otherwise you will have nothing to talk about. Thank goodness for the Polar Vortex this winter. It really provided me with a good “ice-breaker” (pun definitely intended on that one) in starting conversation with my new coworkers. Some of my favorite go-to phrases include, “Cold enough out there for ya? (chuckle)” and “I think we may only have one season this year-Winter! (another chuckle)” But the Polar Vortex did come with its disadvantages. You see, everyone who knows me well knows I get cold very easily, thus my lips and nails turn purple. When your lips are purple, people ask questions like “Do you have purple lip gloss on?” Many times I’ve had to stop myself from saying “No I don’t have purple lip gloss on! This is not 1998 and I’m not a spice girl!” Luckily my office doesn’t keep the thermostat as low as my father does so I have been able to avoid this awkward encounter.
I have also learned about things I never wanted to know about. 401K? More like 4-0h Hell no! You’re going to take money out of my check and put it into an account that I can’t touch until I’m 59?! I could be dead by then, I don’t take a daily multi-vitamin! And tax day? When I was little tax day meant hamburgers at McDonald’s were 39 cents and cheeseburgers were 49 cents. Now I actually have to do my taxes. So upsetting.
In a way though, a part of me will never grow up. At least while I’m still living with my parents. I mean our upstairs bathroom has hippo wallpaper covering it. We all love this wallpaper so it will never come down.
"It's probably just water weight...right?'

“It’s probably just water weight…right? and my slippers add a few pounds.”

Pictured above is a hippo from our bathroom wall. I like to call her “College Girl Hippo” Maybe she had a little too much fun going out celebrating that Physics test she aced. Maybe she ordered a late night pizza because she got a little hungry after the bars. Now its Sunday, she’s feeling guilty, she steps on the scale to see how much damage she did, and she doesn’t like that number she sees. Now that I’m a college grad, older, wiser, and more mature, I want to tell her “Oh honey we’ve all been there, just have fun and enjoy your college years. You’re more than just a number on a scale!”
This Mama Hippo (center) is thinking what I'm sure my own mother has thought numerous times, "Why the hell did I have all these kids for?!"

This Mama Hippo (center) is thinking what I’m sure my own mother has thought numerous times, “Why in the hell did I have all these kids?!”

In addition to our childlike wallpaper, I still have glow in the dark stars on my bedroom ceiling. This is not by choice though. When I first wanted to put them up my Dad didn’t want me to for fear it would ruin the ceiling when we tried to take them down. Finally he relented and I put them up. Years later when I tried to take them down, pieces of drywall kept coming down with them- dear ole’ Dad was right. Therefore those stars will remain up forever. If you read this, sorry Dad! In my defense though, there is no feeling quite like sleeping under the stars.

How lucky am I to have this be the last thing I see before falling asleep?! Is that the big dipper in between the smoke detector and the light fixture?!

I have been having a hard time coping with the fact that I have been out of college for almost a year. I can no longer tell people I JUST graduated college, and this is hard to come to terms with. But I guess we all have to face the facts and grow up sometimes. I’ll grow up, eventually, but I still have some fun left in me before I do.