Summer 2019

September 23rd marked the first official day of Fall. I seriously find that hard to believe because I feel like summer just started. Summer 2019 was a very eventful one for me, which is probably why it seemed to fly by. While it was a busy one filled with so many fun times, I was able to narrow it down to my top five highlights of the summer. So here, in no particular order, are my top five highlights of 2019:

1. We Solved the Case of the Missing Sock.

In early June, my Mom sent out a rather disturbing text to the girls in our family. Please see below:

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Yes, she had discovered a lone sock at our lake house in Michigan, and was trying to find its owner. I mean, Monday’s are stressful enough, so I could have gone without this very upsetting sock Amber Alert. Plus how sexist of you, MOM only sending it to the girls in our family just because it had a little pink on it! Boys can wear pink too, it’s 2019! Classic Baby Boomer. I tried to remain calm though, and sent my reply:
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As the replies kept coming in, no one claimed ownership. I felt bad for the orphan sock, I mean it looked like a great quality sock. It was no gold-toe sock, but it had nice coloring, and it looked to have a cushioned sole for ultra comfort and arched elastic for extra support. While I felt bad that the sock was all alone, I was able to go about my day and soon forgot about the sock all together. This was not the case for my mom.

A couple of weeks later I stopped at my parents house after work to find the sock (all washed and cleaned, thank goodness) front and center on the kitchen counter.

“Mom!” I said, half laughing. “You brought the sock home from Michigan?!”
“Yes, I did,” She replied, her eyes fixed on the sock in a perplexed gaze, “I just can’t seem to figure out who’s sock it is! It is just such a mystery!”

I honestly did not think it was that big of a mystery, and I really didn’t care about finding the owner of the sock because socks go missing all the time. But my mom was so determined I tried to help solve the case and come up with suspects of who it could be.

“Maybe it’s Aunt Maribeth’s sock?” I suggested “Hasn’t she been up at the lake with you a few times?” My Mom scoffed, as if I had just made the dumbest suggestion she had ever heard in her life. “No, no no.” She confidently said. “That is DEFINITELY NOT an Aunt Maribeth sock. It must be someone else’s.” Wow, did I feel foolish. My Aunt Maribeth is my Mom’s identical twin sister so how dare I even suggest this. Surely my Mother would know her identical twin sister’s socks, they have the same DNA after all. How stupid of me to even think it might be her sock!

Weeks went by and soon it was the fourth of July. While at a family party, the topic of the missing sock came up (Naturally, because who doesn’t talk about socks at parties?) and who ended up claiming the missing sock?! Aunt Maribeth! My Mom was shocked but the case was finally closed. I am still waiting for my apology from my Mom though…

But just as we thought our sock nightmare was over, we experienced a PLOT TWIST and ANOTHER sock mystery popped up in August! This time we had the opposite problem though-too many people were claiming ownership of the socks!IMG_6752

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I needed an accurate description of the socks to help me properly solve the case.

Currently, the case of the men’s socks remains open and under investigation. If anyone has any information, please contact me immediately

2. The Summer Spider Came Back

Every summer for the past couple of years we have a big huge spider that comes and makes a web on my parents’ front porch, right in front of the door, every single summer night. It’s pretty annoying because I always forget about it, walk into it, freak out, and then feel itchy for the rest of the day. No matter how many times we knock down his web, the spider rebuilds one the next night. He started out as an unwelcome guest but then we all started to kind of admire him for his persistence, resiliency and strong work ethic. He quickly became the hot gossip of the summer with my family. Below is an actual conversation we had at dinner one night:

Dad: I will say this, he’s a very hardworking spider. He’s out there every night for hours rebuilding his web. I give him a lot of credit.
Me: I agree. And he builds really good, quality webs. I’ve walked into a lot of spider webs through the years but his is definitely the thickest I’ve ever walked into. I almost feel like I’m walking into one of those fake spider webs people use as Halloween decorations his webs are so sturdy!
Bridget: Are you guys serious? Stop giving him credit! He may be hardworking but he is dumb! If he was smart he would stop building his web in front of the door and build it somewhere were it wouldn’t get knocked down every day. He’s wasting his time!

Love him or hate him, it wouldn’t feel like sweet summertime without him.

3. I Tried New Things

I’ve really gotten in touch with my adventurous side since my travels to Italy in the Summer of 2018 (I’m so cultured now) so I decided to try two new things this summer: Coconut water and Natty Light Pink Lemonade. One drink I loved and enjoyed all summer long, the other I immediately spit out and wanted to burn the inside of my mouth after tasting. Can you guess which was which? I’ll just tell you-I regretted the coconut water. It was disgusting. I don’t care how many health benefits it has or how hydrating it is, I will never make the mistake of purchasing coconut water ever again. I bought one 16 ounce container of coconut water in May and after I took that first sip I placed it back in the fridge where it sat the rest of the summer. I kept telling my roommates I was going to finish it, that I was just “drinking it slowly” but I think they secretly knew I had no plans to drink it, and it became a running joke in our apartment.

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I finally gave up and threw it out on Labor Day.

Natty Pink lemonade on the other hand, that was like sweet, sweet nectar. Having never tried it before, I took a huge risk purchasing an entire 30 pack of it at the liquor store, but it really worked out in my favor. Not only did I love the taste, I was basically their unofficial spokesperson, telling everyone about it and passing out cans at parties as if I was the Oprah Winfrey of Natty Light.

[Walks into backyard barbecue with 30 case in hand]: “You get a Natty Pink Lemonade! And you get a Natty Pink Lemonade! Everybody gets a Natty Pink Lemonadddddddde!!”

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It was the gift that kept on giving

4. I Enjoyed the Great Outdoors

I spent a lot of time outside this summer, whether it was at the lake or drinking on my deck or people’s patios. I even worked out a little outside this summer including going on a few runs through the neighborhood on nice afternoons. That last outdoor activity wasn’t very enjoyable though so I probably won’t do that next summer. So many people are outside during the summer, do you think I want people to see me while I’m huffing and puffing and sweating on a run? Do you know how many times I had to reroute my run just to avoid passing by a group of grade school boys coming back from getting slurpees at 7-11 or playing at the park or where ever they were coming from? And thank goodness I ran wearing headphones so I could pretend to NOT hear the younger kids screaming at me to purchase lemonade. IMG_6821

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Sorry Lemonade stand owners, I’m a Millennial, I don’t carry cash. Unless you accept Venmo or Chase Quick Pay I cannot purchase your warm, debris-filled glass of lemonade.

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This outdoor workout was especially tough because the lounge chairs did not have cup-holders so I had to physically hold my vodka lemonade the entire time I was sitting by the pool!

5. I Saved a Turtle’s Life

Yes, it is true that not all heroes wear capes because I definitely wasn’t wearing a cape when I saved the life of a turtle. I was just minding my own business, hanging out at the lake when I saw turtle headed straight towards a busy road. I would say I quickly sprang into action but I didn’t. Knowing turtles are notoriously slow, I was able to leisurely get up off my chair, go to the shed to grab a glove (Wasn’t sure if he was a snapper so wanted to be safe. Plus, I didn’t want to actually touch the turtle, who knows what kind of diseases those things carry and I hadn’t gotten my annual flu shot at this point), have my mom take my photo with the turtle, and save his life before he made it to the road.

I was very proud and so I immediately texted my family about my super hero moment:

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Borrowed Mike Sr’s heavy duty gloves.

This was a very emotional event for our entire family, as my sister Jane had “accidentally” killed a turtle driving up to the lake the year before. We were all still pretty traumatized from that, so it was nice to have some joyous turtle news for once.

I am still very suspicious as to if it was a real accident or not though. It used to be that I could never imagine a family member of mine could be a cold blooded killer. But that all changed this summer when I witnessed my own mother run over and kill a toad. The poor thing never stood a chance under Mo’s 2012 eight passenger grey Honda Mini Van with stow n’ go seating and 16 cup holders. Unfortunately I was in the passenger seat when the horrific accident happened. I couldn’t believe what I saw. When I confronted my mother about it, she tried to play it off like it was nothing:

Me: Mom! Oh no! I think you just ran over and killed a frog!
Mom: Oh no, no, I didn’t run over a frog! Do you have your contacts in? That was a toad.
Me: Well excuse me, let me re-phrase: Mom! I think you just ran over and killed a toad! Plus, does it matter if it was a frog or a toad?
Mom: Well, a toad is like the frog’s ugly step sister. It’s fine. I would feel a little bad if it was a frog, but it was just a toad.

That terrible accident will forever be etched in my mind. It’s taken me a while to get over it. I feel only my sister Bridget can relate to what I am going through, as she was a passenger in the car when our sister Jane ran over and killed the turtle. As Bridget recalls, “I’ll never forget the sound of the turtle’s shell getting smashed under Jane’s tire. It sounded like we had just run over a picnic table.”

RIP Turtle and Frog/Toad. We will never forget you.

So there it is, my summer of 2019. It was definitely a memorable one, filled with lots of laughs and fun. Looking forward to what the Fall has in store for me!

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Duke enjoying the dog days of summer

Living The Lake Life

IMG_1629.jpgIn July, we had our annual “Family week” in Sister Lakes, Michigan. Each year the seven of us would spend an entire week together at my Grandparents’ cottage on Dewey Lake. As we got older, it grew harder to be able to find a week that worked with everyone’s schedules- jobs, sports, and friends’ weddings and other events got in the way throughout the years, but we always found at least a few days during our Family Week (Or in some years only a few hours) for everyone’s schedules to align and be together. While a lot has changed through the years, especially now that my parents have their own cottage across the lake from my grandparents’ cottage, much of what makes our family week so much fun, remains the same.

The day we would leave for our big week at Dewey was always a very hectic and chaotic one. Our family isn’t really organized or big “plan ahead” people so we left much of our vacation prep to the last minute. If we planned to leave the house at noon, we were lucky if we got on the road by 3:30 or so.

It always seemed my Mom would decide she needed to have her life long to-do list done before we left, as if she was leaving for a six year journey through Antarctica and not a seven day vacation a two hour drive from home. She was always the last to pack her suitcase as well.

Mom: Ok kids, we’ll leave very soon, I just need to throw a few things in my suitcase and we will hit the road. Oh, and let me just pay a few bills, my Kohl’s and JC Penny Charge Cards, clean and dust the entire first floor, finally put all your baby photos in scrapbooks, get the house tuck-pointed, meet with the financial planner to discuss Dad and my retirement plans, and sew up the the clothes that have been sitting on my sewing box for the past five years, and then we can go. Oh and can one of you kids’ water my flowers? Thanks!

As a child, I never understood why it took her so long to get ready. I’d grab my Simba backpack, throw in my Pocahontas swim suit, Stretch Armstrong Doll, some crayons and maybe a pair of sandals and I’d be set. It wasn’t until I switched up my packing technique and travel gear last year that I realized it may take some time to get five kids ready for a week-long vacation.

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Just waiting on the porch with my Simba backpack on, ready to head up to Dewey Lake.

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The Simba backpack was a little camera shy.

No matter how late we left, a McDonald’s stop was always made a top priority because we were fattys and obsessed with McDonald’s. Plus, we couldn’t let our Mom suffer a fry attack while on the road. That would be dangerous for all of us. McDonald’s growing up was a huge treat. If any of us five kids ever found out the others got McDonald’s without us we became enraged. “YOU OWE ME NOW, MOM! YOU OWE ME!” We’d say if we were out at a birthday party or friend’s house and got home to find evidence of a McDonald’s meal. Yes, we kept score, we were that petty. As a family we were devastated when McDonald’s discontinued their Super Size Fry option. It really messed up our order. We had our fry to child ratio down to a science. But like any family, we stuck together, adjusted our order (after A LOT of trial and error) and got through it.

I still distinctly remember one trip to McDonald’s on our way up to Michigan. My Dad had to stay home to work for a few days so it was just my mom and us five kids in the car. As the golden arches came into view, my mom asked everyone what they wanted to eat. From her car seat my tiny, two year old sister, Jane, took her thumb out of her mouth and said she wanted two cheeseburgers. We all tried to dissuade her and convince her she probably couldn’t even finish one cheeseburger but she was adamant that she wanted two cheeseburgers. With fries. After we were done fat shaming her, my mom gave in and ordered her two burgers and Jane scarfed them both down very quickly. As we drove off we were still in disbelief and talking about how much Jane ate, while Jane just sat listening in her car seat, looking very content with her thumb back in her mouth. “Wait…” My older sister Maggie said. “…Did anyone feed Jane breakfast this morning?” It was dead silent as we all looked around at each other. Then all at once we burst out laughing at the fact that we forgot to feed Jane. But no one laughed harder than my Mom. “Whoops, sorry there Janie!” My mom managed to get out through her laughter. “Don’t worry sweetie, I promise we’ll feed you dinner.” We still laugh about it to this day. Jane turned out fine.

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Smiling because our bellies are nice and full with the deliciousness of McDonald’s.

Sometimes, I miss the days when we all drove up together, all packed in one car. It was so much more simple. As we got into high school and college and got busy with other things, it became like trying to solve a complex algebra equation figuring out who was driving up what car, when, and with who during our vacation week. It was always the worst being the last one up to Michigan during our family week because then you became the “Errand Betch,” running around gathering things people had conveniently forgotten and requested you bring up, or making last minute trips the store for things they had run out of so far during the week. Sadly, this year, I was the last family member to join everyone on Family Week so I was the Errand Betch and IT WAS HORRIBLE. I wouldn’t wish being my family’s Errand Betch on my own worst enemy. My family members are some needy people, let me tell you.

Here is evidence of my nightmare in our family group text:

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It’s like you give people an inch and they take a mile am I right? Classic Millennial generation.

My Mom was the worst offender though. She tried to soften her demands with her use of emoji’s but I wasn’t going to be fooled.

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Beaten and worn, I prevailed and finally did make it to the Lake. Also wasn’t aware Michigan didn’t sell carrots or pretzels, very interesting, MOM!

While it’s always a crazy rush to get to Dewey Lake, once we’re there we go right into vacation mode. Year after year, we always have a great time and lots of laughs together. Sure, we still have the occasional fights, but not like we used to when we were younger. I actually credit having the internet and technology up at the cottage now with helping to eliminate some of our fighting. I remember in the pre-internet years we got in two really huge family fights. One was about the lyrics to the song “American Pie” and the other was about what color the shutters on our house were. Half of us said they were green and the other half insisted they were tan colored. We were a family divided for days until the end of our vacation when we pulled into our driveway to finally have closure and discover that our shutters were not green or tan, but actually white to everyone’s disbelief. A simple Google search now a days could have solved both those fights in a matter of seconds. IMG_1638

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There was no room in the car to pack hairbrushes.

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We had to get my Dad’s favorite family member-the broom (on the far right), in this family photo as well.

Now we have a new generation enjoying the lake with five grandkids in the mix. It’s cool to see them play together and have fun at Dewey Lake like me and my four siblings did when we were little. And it’s such a relief that they also get a thrill out of a seeing a turtle in the lake like we did and STILL DO. My family could honestly see 30 turtles in a day and each time the thrill does not fade. You would think the turtle was doing a juggling act or providing some sort of entertainment for us instead of just popping it’s head out of the water. When a turtle makes an appearance conversation stops and everyone rushes to get a glimpse of the astonishing turtle:

“Hey can you pass the sunscre-OH MY GOSH LOOK! EVERYONE STOP WHAT YOU ARE DOING THERE IS A TURTLE IN THE LAKE! WHAT A MAJESTIC CREATURE! I CANNOT BELIEVE WHAT I AM WITNESSING RIGHT NOW THIS IS AMAZING! WHAT ARE THE CHANCES OF SEEING A TURTLE IN ITS NATURAL HABITAT OF A FRESH WATER LAKE! I AM IN SHOCK!”

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Despite the looks on their faces WE WERE ALL HAVING FUN DAMN IT!

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Connor was nice enough to wait until after the camera flash before pulling Ava’s hair and making her cry.

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They claimed they had no money to throw in for gas for the boat so we put them to work instead. We love the nieces and nephews but they are so stingy when it comes to money.

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Baby Ciara fake sleeping on the boat to get out of doing chores. Lazy.

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Baby Michael gets really chatty after a few too many bottles of juice.

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Aunt Bridget wouldn’t share her Mini Mouse umbrella with them.

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Baby Connor raising awareness for the endangered bee species with his outfit.

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When at Dewey Lake we do what we want-calories don’t count and if you want to wear Christmas PJs in July go for it.

While our family week is always chaotic and crowded and no one ever seems to get enough sleep, I think that’s part of the reason we have so much fun. Every year, it’s such a blast just being together, laughing, hanging out and enjoying the lake life! We already can’t wait for next year!

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Best part of being up at the lake: Jane and I get to be BUNK BED BUDDIES AGAIN YEAHHHH! reliving our glory days.

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As you can see, after eating those two cheeseburgers, Jane’s shirt no longer fit.

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Our Dog clearly just saw a turtle. He was obviously still in shock.

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Cheersing to the Aunt life, to being able to play with the kids when you want, and then give them back to their parents so you can go drink.

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I told Maggie that since there are no seat belts on jet skis I had no choice but to hug her the entire ride.

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I like to make sisters uncomfortable until they are comfortable.

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My Dad was trying to take a picture of his beloved shed and we got in the way.

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Dewey=Donuts all day every day thanks to Mike Sr.

Summer Where’d You Go?

As I was walking to my car in the freezing cold, snow hitting my face, lips and hands already turning purple, I started to think back to summertime. This summer was quite an eventful one for my family as my parents bought something they have been wanting for years: a lake house.

happy hourOn a sunny Thursday afternoon back in early June of this year I pulled up to Ma and Pa Kelly’s Old Maid Boarding House after a hard day’s work at the office and noticed my roommates (a.k.a my parents) were sitting out in the backyard enjoying a drink. This was not uncommon, as they often had a happy hour drink before dinner (HUGE Thirsty Thursday people, but they did seem to be starting a bit early on this particular Thursday). “You two drunks are starting the boozing a bit early today don’t you think?!” I yelled, loud enough for the whole neighborhood to hear, as I walked up the driveway to join them. Just as I was about to grab a drink for myself I noticed my mom was filming me with her phone. In typical “Mom” fashion she had the phone angled at an extremely unflattering low angle with her thumb covering half the lens. “Whoa! Mom, why are you filming me? And remember what I said about the angle! Always angle above! You’re going to make me look like I have 17 chins. Don’t think I’m going to help you upload this to your Instagram when you film like that.” She ignored me and said excitedly, “Guess what Dad and I did today?!” Before I had time to guess she yelled “We bought a cottage!!” While my initial reaction was pure joy, I suddenly felt a pit in my stomach, for I realized this meant we would never, EVER get the washing machine fixed at home. I got over this rather quickly though and grabbed my drink to celebrate the new home purchase with them.

For as long as I can remember my parents had always talked about buying a lake house, but we never thought they’d actually do it. We had been going up to my Grandma’s cottage on Dewey Lake in Sister Lakes, Michigan for our entire lives. Besides the occasional sibling fights, we always had a blast spending time up there. Lots of great Dewey Lake memories through the years.

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Living my best life hanging with my boyz and reppin’ my favorite Native American friend, Pocahontas back in the day up at Dewey Lake

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Good times back in the summer of 2009 when I had to wear a t-shirt for a week because I got such bad sunburn the first day of our vacation. Had a super cool looking farmer’s tan though.

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When my parents told me they bought a lake house, at first I wondered how they were able to afford such a large purchase. Then I saw this photo and realized that they must have saved a substantially large sum of money through the years by feeding me mere compost scraps such as muffin wrappers and not real food. Really cut that grocery bill in half and I was pretty happy just to be licking a muffin wrapper so it was a win-win.

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Awful bangs + a blue Hawaiian Punch Mustache = 1994

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I still don’t think it’s fair that Mom and Dad got chairs and we had to stand.

Unfortunately, with this new summer home purchase, my parents were gone a lot living their best lives at their new summer home, leaving Jane and me orphans at home to fend for ourselves and basically be the backbone of the household. They would leave for long weekends at the lake, leaving us not sweet little love notes, but notes that said things like “Can someone please return my library book? It’s due tomorrow.” or “The dishes in the dishwasher are dirty. There wasn’t enough in it to run.” and “Please water the house plants while we are gone.” These may seem like simple tasks but do you know how many house plants Mo has?! Watering her houseplants is time consuming! She has a bad habit of taking in other people’s dying houseplants and nursing them back to health as if she’s running her own little plant emergency room. When her plants in the kitchen began to encroach on my seat at the dinner table, I finally had to confront her. “Mom, what’s with this indoor vegetable garden on the table you got going on here?” I asked one day as we were sitting down to dinner. “Oh yes!” She said enthusiastically, “I’m growing some fresh basil and parsley! Is it in your way?” “Not at all,” I responded, “I always loved eating at the Rainforest Cafe. I’m glad you could re-create the experience for me here at home with all this shrubbery surrounding my food so thank you.” “Well aren’t you a little smart-ass” was all she said back to that and the plants stayed exactly where they were.

All this new responsibility was a little stressful for me as I was also preparing to go on my SECOND business trip of my business career. When would I have time to buy a business woman briefcase to put all my important business files in for my business trip if I was tied up watering plants and returning library books?! No one takes you seriously if you’re on a business trip without a business briefcase. But, being the modern day Renaissance woman that I am, I did manage to maintain my image as a successful career woman and keep up with the demands of the household.

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She didn’t even have time to write out the word “thanks” we got a “thx.” Classic Baby Boomer.

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One time at dinner I asked the Basil to pass the salt and got totally ignored.

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Jane and started to become jealous of Duke-My parents always left food in the fridge for him.

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Didn’t have time to purchase my briefcase to put all my important business files in for my business trip but it was nice to have a vacation away from watering plants.

So, the summer of 2018 pretty much went like that. Mike and Mo spent lots of time at their new cottage, while Jane and I held down the fort back home. But if I have to continue returning library books or become a botanist in order for my parents to continue to live their best lives up at Dewey Lake, I’ll gladly do it. I can’t think of two people more deserving of some lake time than them. So here’s to you Mike and Mo. Thanks for working so hard, spoiling your five kids and just being the best. Cheers to many more years of good times at Dewey Lake.

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Mike and Mo celebrating the closing with my Dad’s 6th child, his Chevy Impala. 10 cup holders in that baby. 

 

Summertime, Baby!

892.JPGAs the fourth of July holiday draws near, I honesty can’t believe how fast this summer is flying. While it’s been a busy June, the start of the summer of 2018 has DEFINITELY been more relaxing than the summer of 2017, when half my family decided to make a pregnancy pact and all be pregnant at the same time. Last summer, I felt like Steve Martin in Father of the Bride Part II running around trying to prepare for the birth of the babies, never knowing when the the moment would come.

I am especially grateful that I haven’t had to help my mom host any baby showers this summer either. Last June, my mom thought it would be a good idea to host my sister’s baby shower at our house. She must have blocked out the memory of all the years we had to host graduation parties at our house when she made this decision. With 5 kids it seemed each year someone was graduating from grammar school or high school and we had to throw a party at our house for it. Unlike my mom, those horrific memories of preparing for the graduation parties were burned in my mind, and I knew getting ready for this baby shower would not be much different than those graduation parties. The cleaning, the errands, preparing the food and drinks, the decorations. It’s exhausting. I still remember as a small child getting ready for my brother’s graduation party. Per usual we were up to the last second trying to get our normally messy house in shape for the outside world.  I distinctly remember the panic I felt when I was sweeping and out of the corner of my eye I saw our first guests walking up the driveway. My siblings soon saw the guests too, and we all looked at each other, frozen in fear with our cleaning supplies in hand. We said nothing, but we didn’t need to, the terror in our eyes said enough. After no one moved or talked for what felt like hours I finally shouted to my mom. “Mom! Aunt Kathy and Uncle Jim are here already! What do we do we’re not done cleaning the dining room!” “WHAT?! ALREADY??!” My mom responded frantically “Did we not say four on the invitation?! It’s just a few minutes after four why are they here already?!” At this point we’d go into crisis mode-a drill we knew all too well. My mom would run upstairs to change, do her makeup and take the curlers out of her hair while us kids would handle things downstairs. One kid would go make small talk outside with the firsts guests (stalling them from coming inside) while the others would start shoving papers, shoes, backpacks and any other junk ANYWHERE we could hide it-cabinets, drawers, closets etc. I must say, as long as no one opened any doors, our house looked pretty darn good!

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Don’t bother calling DCFS on my behalf. Sadly this picture was taken 15 years ago so the statute of limitations is up, there’s no saving me now.

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Big smiles after being told we would not be hosting a party for Bridget’s Kindergarten Graduation. Michael was so excited he forgot to support baby Jane’s head. She turned out semi-ok still though.

While I tried to convince my mom to have it somewhere else, she insisted hosting the shower at our house wouldn’t be that bad. And as it turns out, she was actually completely wrong. It was WORSE than getting ready for those graduation parties. For one, our workforce was less since only two kids lived at home instead of five. Poor Jane and I were worked like dogs-cleaning, getting balloons, alcohol, food, decorations etc. Meanwhile Duke, the only real dog in the house, did no work at all which I thought was completely unfair. Also, we had no clear theme since my sister didn’t know if she was having a boy or a girl! (Spoiler alert: She had a boy). And don’t even get me started on setting up the tent. Putting that tent together nearly ripped my family apart. Then once the shower started Jane and I thought we were off the hook but no, our work continued. Again, I related to Steve Martin but this time in Father of the Bride Part I when they host his daughter’s wedding reception in his backyard and he doesn’t even have time to eat at the party! And to make matters worse for us, Mo was CONVENIENTLY leaving for a vacation with Mike Sr. the day after the shower so poor Jane and I were left with the clean-up as well!

 

 

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The one thing we forgot to put away before the baby shower. Mo claims it was a tomato plant. Sure, mom, ya big hippie. I’ve read books about the 70’s, I know what happened back in the day.

So, how have I spent the summer of 2018 so far now that I haven’t had any baby showers, you ask? Well, this summer I’ve been caring for a different kind of baby, my favorite kind of baby actually, my Baby Boomers, Mike and Mo. Baby Boomers are a lot like newborn babies except they require a lot more care and attention because they need help with just about everything technology related.

One thing that has kept me earning my room and board is the smart TV in our basement. My siblings and I got this for our parents as a Christmas gift and it completely backfired on us-me in particular. My Dad loves his television shows so we thought he would enjoy a bigger, sharper TV for his basement “lair” as we call it. Boy, were we wrong, Mike Sr. is not a fan of new TVs and all their “bells and whistles.” Just about every night I get summoned to the basement by my father’s calls. “KATHLEEN! THE TV IS BROKEN AGAIN!” It’s never actually broken, he just doesn’t really know how to use it. Last week, I heard my nightly call from my father, and dragged myself down to the basement where I found him sitting perfectly still in his La-Z-Boy recliner, a blank stare on his face as he waited for his in-house cable repair man-aka ME-to come and “fix” his TV so he could watch Railroad Alaska or Highway Thru Hell or whatever dumb old man show he was watching that night. I became irritated because I could tell he made no effort to solve the problem on his own, and I was tired of constantly being the cable man of the house.

Me: What, are you paralyzed from the neck down or something??!! Can you not move and reset the cable box? You’re just sitting there! Did you even TRY to get up and resolve this issue on your own??!!
Dad: I pushed the AT&T button and it didn’t work! These damn TVs now a days you need about 8 million clickers just to turn the thing on! Why can’t we have one of the old TVs where you push the power button and that’s it!
Me: YOU DON’T NEED 8 MILLION CLICKERS! HERE, LOOK!
(At that I grabbed the remote and in about 2 seconds I had his show on)
Dad: Well how in the Hell did you do that so fast?!
Me: Dad, we’ve been over this a thousand times before, you have to learn! I won’t always be here to fix the TV for you.
Dad: Hey, at the rate you’re going who knows if you’ll ever get married and move out, you may be an old maid living with us forever, which is fine by me because we will need someone to take care of us when we are old.
Me: You already ARE old. And I told you many times before, I’m putting you right in a nursing home. And not one of those fancy and fun nursing homes like Smith Village. That place is like college for old people. Way too fun and expensive for you. You’ll go wherever the state tells you.

Another thing that has kept me busy this summer is my recent purchase of an Alexa that I put in our kitchen. Our radio went out and I thought we needed an upgrade so I bought an Alexa for the house. After I set it up I hosted a training session for the Boomers, showing them how to use it and all the features it has. Since then my Dad has been shouting commands at her, to which the device ignores because he keeps calling the thing “Siri” and not “Alexa.”

Dad: (Leans down and places face about an inch from Alexa and shouts) SIRI! HOW MUCH DOES A CSX HEAVY WEIGH?
Me: Dad, a couple things: 1. It’s not Siri it’s Alexa, 2. you do not need to shout and lean in so close to the thing 3. I highly doubt she knows much about freight trains.
Dad: Ahh see she’s not that smart then if she can’t even tell me how much a CSX Heavy weighs, is she? But I know you can tell me, Kathleen.
Me: Yes, I know this only because you’ve ingrained it in my brain since I was about two years old. It weighs 216 tons.

My mom is the opposite when it comes to the Alexa. She will be in different rooms whispering with her hand covering her mouth so that the Alexa doesn’t hear her, acting like she’s a prisoner that doesn’t want a guard to hear her escape plan.

Mom: (Said in whisper voice from the family room) Kathleen, I have a question about you know who (pointing to Alexa in the kitchen) but I don’t want to say her name and accidentally turn her on!

The Baby Boomers are still getting used to the smart TV and having Alexa as another “roommate.” But I’m confident once I can properly train them on using these things they’ll learn to enjoy them. It’s a lot of work taking care of my Baby Boomers but they are worth it! Yup, it might have been a busy June, but summertime living is always easy with Mike and Mo!

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Me being the backbone of the household while the two drunks behind me enjoy another Twisted Tea.

 

Summer of ’16

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

sunburn

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

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

Bird text

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

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

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

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

Bird text 2

Nothing like a dead bird text to ruin your day.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hot dogs

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

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

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Apparently Duke did not want my mom in the picture.

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

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

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

 

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.

saddle shoes

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.

the gang

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.

water wings

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!”