Little Lamb Leaves the Farm

Last week, my younger sister Jane left the United States to teach abroad in Prague for a year. Yes, our little lamb left the farm. For years, she had been talking about moving to a different country after she graduated college, but none of us actually thought she would do it. We just figured it was something she’d talk about but never follow through on, like how my mom talks about putting our family photos into photo albums, but we all know that will never happen. Of course we listened to Jane when she told us of her plan to move to Europe after graduation but in our heads we were all thinking, “Oh there goes the family nut job Jane rambling on about her ‘magical’ adventures again.” We all laughed because we all know there is no magic after you graduate college. Silly young and naive Jane! But when she booked her flight and paid the program deposit back in May, it was a reality check for all of us that this little lamb was serious.

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Me and Jane back in the day when she was content living in America. Mom: “Here Kathleen, hold your baby sister Jane and I’ll take your picture!” **Thinks it will be a perfect Kodak moment” Me: K. **Does not touch baby but just let’s her lean against me uncomfortably** 

We all reacted differently when Jane shared the news that she was officially going abroad. My mom was sad and told her she was not allowed to meet her future husband there, that she MUST move back to the States after a year. My dad immediately began to worry and asked if she had ever seen the movie Taken. He was not too keen on the idea that his youngest child was going to be so far away for so long. “Remember that little lamb, ‘Miss Kelly’ we saw in Dayton?!” My dad said, “That’s how I picture you in a foreign country! You’ll just be prey for all sorts of vultures! You’re too trusting of people!” It would be an understatement to say that he did not take this news very well. For my siblings and me, it was disbelief. “You’re actually leaving us?!!!!” I said, “I thought this whole ‘I’m going to move abroad’ thing was just one of your empty promises that you’d never actually follow through on! Like how you said you’d replace Bridget’s earrings that you lost a couple of years ago but you never actually did!” “HEY!” Jane responded, defensively, “I TOLD Bridget to pick out a pair and then I’d pay for them and she never did! Also, I’m offended that you thought I would never go through with my plan.” I just kept asking Jane the same question, quoting Gus Portokalos, the father in my favorite movie of all time, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, “Why you want to leave me?!” I just didn’t understand why she was leaving me and fleeing the country.

After the initial shock wore off, Jane then announced that she would be a “miser” this summer so she could save lots of money for her big move. This was also very hard for everyone to believe and we all had a good laugh. We had no idea how much misers liked to go out to the bars and eat out on the weekends. Jane did get a job nannying over the summer so she was making and saving some money. She was able to do this because I, being the saint that I am, let her borrow my car while I sacrificed and walked to work everyday. My work is less than a mile from where I live but don’t try and belittle my sacrifice. It was tougher than people give me credit for. Do you know how many lemonade stands I had to avoid on my walk home from work everyday? Summer in suburbia means lemonade stands are on every corner like Starbucks downtown. It’s easy to avoid eye contact with children yelling at you to buy lemonade when you are in the comfort of an automobile, but when you’re on foot it’s a lot harder! And do you know how many sprinklers I had to walk around in the early morning hours on my journey to work? Sidewalks are for walking, not sprinklers! Plus, with all the extra exercise I was getting, I began to worry that I would get too jacked and people would not recognize me at the end of the summer! “Is that Kathleen Kelly or Jillian Michaels? I can’t tell.” People would say. I better get into heaven after all I went through. I will keep everyone posted on my canonization process.

Since Jane was living at home again over the summer, her and I got to spend a lot of time together. We no longer shared a bedroom but we still saw each other in the hallway and other common areas of Ma and Pa Kelly’s old maid sanctuary. We also had similar work schedules so we were usually up in the mornings at the same time and we went to bed at the same time. We had some great conversations while brushing our teeth together in our upstairs bathroom. Our “Kids” bathroom vanity has double sinks so we would stand next to each other chatting while brushing away, washing our faces or flossing. One night, after I had JUST cleaned our bathroom hours before, I watched Jane as I brushed my teeth and she washed her face. After a few minutes I paused my electric toothbrush and finally said, “Um, excuse me, Jane? I just had a quick question that I’ve been meaning to ask you.” She stopped washing her face and looked at me, thinking I was going to ask her about something very serious. “Yea, what is it?” She said, a little concerned. “Have you ever been to Splash Mountain in Disney World?” I asked. Her concern then turned to confusion. “No, why?” she said. “Oh, ok” I said, “I was just wondering. I wasn’t sure if you were maybe trying to relive your experience on that ride the way you are splashing away over there as if you’re Hayden Panettiere washing your face on a Neutrogena commercial, getting water all over the counter tops that I JUST cleaned.” She just laughed and rolled her eyes. “Aren’t you a little smart ass?” She said. She will definitely miss my sarcastic remarks while she is in Prague.
Another time while we were both brushing our teeth Jane was trying to talk to me about how she calculated the amount of time on average people spend on morning and night time routines. She was explaining how she came to her final number but honestly I could not hear her and I really did not care. I’m hard of hearing and I had just replaced the battery in my electric toothbrush so it was louder and more powerful than ever! I finally stopped my toothbrush and cut her off. “Jane, I’m sorry but you’re going to have to stop talking. I just came here to brush my teeth and go to bed, not to solve a math problem on the ACT.” It’s like we get it Jane, you graduated college with honors.

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Nothing makes you feel more like an adult than brushing your teeth everyday in a bathroom papered with hippos.

As the summer rolled on and Jane’s departure date got closer, my parents became more and more sad. It was crunch time for them to get everything in before Jane left. They threw her a going away party, we took our Christmas card picture and then we had NUMEROUS “Last Family” meals to the point where it was getting ridiculous. My Mom kept adding family dinners so everyone could say goodbye to Jane. It was starting to get awkward how many times we were all seeing each other. “Are we all going to have to meet again tomorrow for a ‘Family Snack’ between lunch and dinner as another goodbye meal to Jane?” I asked my mom sarcastically as we finished up our 800th family dinner. (She ignored my question and instead just called me a smart ass.) We even had a last family lunch at my parents’ favorite burger place in the neighborhood, Pappy’s. This lunch temporarily distracted Mike Sr. and Mo from their sadness about Jane’s departure upon their discovery that Pappy’s had switched from Coke to Pepsi products. Being die hard Diet Coke fans, my parents were LIVID that they could no longer drink Diet Coke with their lunch there. For the first time in many months we had a meal where the conversation did not center around Jane’s big move but rather how Diet Pepsi does not agree with my father’s stomach and how my mom thinks it tastes flat. Somehow they managed to drink the poison some people call Diet Pepsi, finish their meals, and make it home safely.

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We wore America hats at Jane’s going away party just as a subtle reminder to Jane that she was born in the USA.

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My very heartfelt and not passive aggressive at all sign I made for Jane’s party.

Before we knew it, it was time for Jane to leave us. My parents were sad but I reminded them that I will still be here and many people think I look just like Jane so there’s really no difference. Hours after she left, Duke moved his things into Jane’s room and took over her bed, but I’m sure he is sad that she is gone. (Don’t worry Jane, we told him about your “No eating Puperoni in bed” rule.) I was sad for Jane to leave me too. It was nice having another Millennial home with me to take care of the Baby Boomers and I will definitely miss our conversations while brushing our teeth. But I know that she will have the time of her life and I hope to visit her in the Spring. I’m sure the year she is gone will fly by and before we know it, our little lamb will be back on the farm.

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Wore my funeral dress to work and sent Jane this Snap Chat on the day she left. Unfortunately I could not find a black veil. 

 

 

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Middles Do Boston

Last week, I traveled to Boston with my sister Bridget, my cousin Meghan and my selfie stick. It was kind of a spontaneous trip, we only decided a couple of weeks prior that we should all go to Boston together. The three of us are all middle children, so we figured we should treat ourselves to this trip, since no one else is going to treat us to anything, everyone knows that no one loves middle children.
The night before we left for our trip I was up later than I had originally planned because I was having a lot of trouble packing and figuring out my outfits. Of course I needed to be prepared for anything, “going-out” outfits, “being tourists during the day” outfits, “I’m just a sporty twenty something exploring a big city” outfits, etc. My mind was racing and I was stressed out! Then, once I was finally done packing and about to climb into bed for a good night’s rest I see a spider crawling across my bedroom floor! I was livid that this spider had the nerve to crawl across the plush carpeting that my landlords/parents had just installed! I don’t know if this spider thought I was renting out my place as an Airbnb while I was away in Boston or something, but he was sorely mistaken. But in the spider’s defense, it is something I’ve thought about, I’m sure I could rent it for a pretty penny. I mean, how appealing does this sound:

“Calming studio apartment located on the second floor of a building my parents own, in the heart of Evergreen Park, ‘the village of churches.’ Sleep soundly on a luxurious twin bed from Darvin furniture, complete with Pottery Barn Teen comforter. Amenities include an AC unit, TV and possibly a mini fridge pending landlord approval. Must be comfortable with pets and Baby Boomers. Must also be willing to help said Baby Boomers in the event they have an issue with their phone, TV, laptop, or any other technology related device. Landlord may get you a doughnut in the morning though if you are polite. Message Kathleen if interested.”

Yea, I think it’s safe to say the spider was on to something, my place would rent out like crazy.

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This is the photo I would use that would make my place rent out like crazy. Please ignore the violence going on on the TV, I was enjoying a Law and Order SVU marathon.

After tossing and turning all night because I felt so itchy from the spider incident, it was finally time for Meghan and me to head to the airport (Bridget was already in Boston for work, being a business woman on a business trip). Our friend Laura was nice enough to drive us to the airport and while on our way she asked us what we were most looking forward to about our Boston trip. “I can’t wait for all the inside jokes we are going to have after this trip!” I responded. “Hopefully we’ll come up with some good hashtags for Instagram!” I mean, who doesn’t love a good inside joke and hashtag?! #MiddlesDoBoston

Once we got to the airport and through security we had a quick drink at the airport bar and then went to our gate to board. We seemed to be waiting to board for quite a while though, so I decided to pass the time by talking about movies. Usually I would have brought up some new celebrity gossip, but I had been so busy in the days leading up to our trip that I had no time to watch Inside Edition so I had zero gossip! “Have you ever seen the movie Sully?” I asked Meghan. “That was a good movie. I mean how crazy is it that you hit a flock of birds and then it takes out both engines and before you know it the plane is going down! Can you imagine being a passenger on that plane?!” Meghan looked at me like I was crazy. “Why would you talk about THAT movie right as we are about to get on an air plane?!” She responded. “And yes, I have seen it!” Whoops, my bad.
The flight there was pretty uneventful, other than a lot of turbulence due to rain. I was fine and kept busy by reading my People magazine, but Meghan did not look like she was having fun. Apparently she kept thinking about that movie or something.

After a bumpy ride we landed in Boston and headed right to the bathroom because we drank way too much water. I was at the sink going to dry my hands when I realized there were no paper towels, only hand dryers! “That’s strike one, Boston!” I thought. Everyone knows my pet peeve is when bathrooms only have hand dryers and no paper towels. If I want  to ruin the environment with paper towels that’s my right, my prerogative! Don’t force me to be eco-friendly with your fancy hand dryers that only partially dry my hands. So with our hands still dripping with water, we then headed to the apartment we had rented for the weekend. Bridget had already checked in for us and was anxiously waiting our arrival (She was quick to switch from a business woman on a business trip to a business woman on a leisure trip). The place was nice but no one could get any cell service in the apartment. Bridget and Meghan were a little annoyed with this but it was not a problem for me since I do not ever really get text messages, other than the occasional roommate texting me asking if the dishes in the dishwasher are clean or dirty, or if I know the password to her Yahoo email. Our only other complaint besides the cell service was there was no microwave! How would we heat up our food?! Sure, there was an oven but who uses those things anymore?! After getting over THAT shock we quickly got ready and then went to dinner and a few bars near Fenway Park. I was a little disappointed because I wore a super cute outfit and looked like a bombshell babe, but no one took any pictures or posted anything on social media so it was a total waste. Other than that it was a fun night.

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Visiting the set of the 2005 blockbuster movie “Fever Pitch” staring Drew Barrymore and Jimmy Fallon.

The next day we woke up and did a ton of tourist activities including the Freedom Trail, which took us to a lot of historical landmarks in Boston. Some were interesting but others were wicked boring. (Notice how I used the word “wicked?” Only a few days in Boston and I’m already picking up the lingo!) One stop was a very old cemetery where Paul Revere was buried. All the tombstones were from the 1700s and everyone seemed to have died pretty young. I saw one headstone of a woman who died when she was 26-the same age as me! But here’s the real kicker-she had already been married! She died a lucky woman, that is for sure. Just as I was beginning to feel bad about the fact that I was still an old maid at 26, I spotted across the street probably the nicest Walgreens I had ever seen in my life. Apparently it was not part of the Freedom Trail but we stopped in anyway and we were NOT disappointed. Crown molding throughout, shiny floors, plenty of snacks and beverages, was I in heaven. After a quick stop at Walgreens we headed to the bars again to have a much needed drink after all that walking.

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Pretty Sure that’s what Paulie was saying on his midnight ride

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Super lame tea party-there were no Twisted Teas, not even Brisk brand iced tea! Not worth the stop.

Saturday was a bit more of a leisure day. We went to a roof top bar where I sustained some sunburn on my scalp and my sister suffered severe burns on her chest and back (pale kid problems). Then we rode the train, or as the locals call “The Chaaaaaarlie” (you have to say it in a Boston accent) to meet up with our other cousin, Cara. Thank goodness Bridget was our city girl and helped Meghan and me navigate through public transportation in a big city! If it was up to us we would have taken Ubers everywhere. We didn’t know any better though, we were just a bunch of Southside Bumpkins in the big city!

Sunday we had just enough time to go to brunch (Since we are basic white girls/Millennials) and then it was time to go to the airport. It was my first time flying United so I was pretty excited. Let me tell you, it’s a good thing they make coach passengers walk past the first class passengers on the way to their seats or I might have forgotten how middle class I am! So kind of them! But that wasn’t the only perk United provided, there was a little dog on my flight! And he looked thrilled to be flying United as well.

The flight back was fine until it was time to get off the plane, where I experienced my second pet peeve: when people don’t wait their turn to get off the plane. Do people not have manners anymore? Exiting a plane is just like getting communion at a Catholic church. There is an order, you wait for the row in front of you to go before you do! And if you cut the line people will talk about you and give you dirty looks. I don’t get what people don’t understand about this! Once we were finally off the plane and in the airport we were immediately reminded that we were middle children as no one was there to greet us or give us a ride home. Yes, the vacation was over and we were back to reality. We all called Ubers and headed our separate ways.

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This young man was a true gentleman and waited his turn to get off the plane. Proof that chivalry is not dead.

We were exhausted when we arrived home but it was a great trip. We even discussed plans for our next trip! Watch out 2018, because the Middles are going international!

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Brick sidewalks and cute streets are so Boston.

Stone Walls and Sheep

Many times, I’ve heard people say things like, “The best day of my life was the day my child was born” or “My wedding day was the best day of my life.” Well, clearly those people have never taken a trip to Ireland because it was probably the best 9 days of my life. When I got home I told my family that there was not one minute of my trip that I was not having fun.

It took me a quite while to pack for the trip, I was afraid I was going to forget something. But I figured as long as I had the essentials-toothbrush, selfie stick, and various color headbands-I would be ok. I was very excited about my trip but I also felt a little guilty that I was going to miss Duke’s birthday. He was turning the big zero-seven. I mean, that’s 49 in dog years, it’s a big birthday to miss. I kept joking with him about how he’s getting old; I told him he’s already got one paw in the grave! He didn’t appreciate my jokes. But seriously though, he’s a Boxer and they have a short lifespan. I tried to make up for missing his big day by giving him a few pieces of Pup-eroni, so we were on good terms when I left. Oh, I also was going to miss my Dad and sister’s birthday while I was gone too. They got over it. I’m pretty sure I texted them.

I flew over with my sister and her husband, who were going to Ireland to visit some of his family. It was nice to have some company on the plane, even though I was a third wheel. The flight was long but I kept occupied watching some B list movies and eating the food they brought me every two minutes. I thought about reading but that was as far as I got on that one. Once we landed I met my cousin Molly, who I was staying with, at the airport. After a quick nap we met up with my friend Meg and hit the ground running with sight seeing and admiring the amazing architecture and decor of the inside of different pubs.

On the second day of my trip we went on a hike and the views were unbelievable. I’m so glad we had a selfie stick with us to capture the breathtaking scenery. While on our walk we encountered an Irish horse who literally thought he was the Beyonce of horses. He was totally posing and trying to impress us as we walked by. Molly and I fell for his charm and decided to take a picture with him. We couldn’t get a normal picture though because we kept trying to position ourselves behind the other. Everyone knows when you stand a little bit behind someone in a picture your head looks much smaller and daintier than the other person’s. I really tried my best to push her in front, I didn’t want people talking about how terrible I looked in pictures, especially if they were going to be posted on social media. I could almost hear the conversations that would ensue if I was in front, “Molly, it looks like you and your very large headed cousin had a great time while she was visiting!” No, I could not let that happen.

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Molly is really strong you guys.

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The horses pretended they didn’t know we were taking their picture.

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“I am the black stallion, bow to me!”-The horse (said in booming voice)

After the hike we really worked up an appetite. I suggested we hit up the KFC I spotted in Dublin, I had never been to an Irish KFC before and really wanted to experience all that Ireland had to offer, but instead Meg made us a delicious home cooked meal.

The next couple of days we were busy exploring Dublin. We did a tour of the Guinness Factory and became experts on pouring the perfect pint, went to a Gaelic football game, walked around a lot, and did some shopping. I treated myself and bought an Irish knit sweater. I was a little worried that if I wore it I would immediately be mistaken for a Dublin native and people would be stopping me and asking for directions and things like that, but I took the chance and wore it anyway.

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Just a kangaroo and her joeys at the Guinness Factory. As you can tell I really got into character, Molly was kind of half-assing it.

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We made some new friends at the Gaelic football game. Yay! go sports!

After we had our fill of Dublin we headed to Galway which was awesome. I was even lucky enough to celebrate my sweet 25th while there. Unfortunately, there was a little mix up on what age I was turning. You see, we were celebrating me being a quarter of a century old at a bar in Galway and there was a band playing. Molly decided to sneak up to the band and tell them it was my birthday. For some reason they thought it was my 16th birthday and announced that over the loud speakers. They then told everyone in the packed bar to wish me a happy 16th birthday, so everyone yelled “Happy 16th birthday Kathleen!” But don’t worry I played it off. I’m not sure why they thought it was my 16th birthday, maybe it was the green headband I was wearing. I knew I should have worn the white one that day. I also don’t know why people thought it was ok for a 16 year old to be celebrating her birthday in a bar on a school night. I guess that’s just the Irish culture for ya!

Then after two days of Galway and celebrating my 16th birthday, I headed to Roscommon to meet up with my sister and brother in law. While there I saw the countryside of Ireland, walked around some castles, visited with a cow, and even fed some lambs! I didn’t charge them for the feedings, I was nice and did it pro-bono since the sheep community has always been very generous in providing me with sweaters and warm blankets. Plus, I felt bad for the little lambs, it’s not their fault their mothers can’t provide for them. It’s really a shame, these young sheep women get knocked up, they have no jobs to pay for proper lamb care, no help from the sheep dads because they run off to lounge in the fields before the lambs are even born, and then they just expect the government to take care of them! It’s a vicious cycle.

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As you can see the sheep mom is swallowing her pride and letting me help take care of her triplets. 

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Me and Bessie the cow. Don’t worry, I asked and she is not related to that dumb cow of Mrs. O’Leary’s who started the great Chicago fire. That would have been awkward.

Once I was done playing Saint Francis of Assisi I headed back to Dublin for the last hurrah of my trip. I was very sad it was coming to an end, the days just flew by!

I learned a lot while in Ireland. I learned that it’s not only rainy there but it’s windy too. I also learned that they love stone walls in Ireland. I felt like every time I turned around there was another stone wall.

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We were really enjoying that ocean breeze and not uncomfortable at all!

Now that I’ve been out of the United States I cannot even begin to tell you how cultured I am. I’m basically an expert on world travel now so if anyone needs any advice just let me know. I left Ireland sleep deprived, dirty, and with a cold, but I wouldn’t have it any other way because it was time of my life! I can’t wait to go back!

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Me and my lovely hosts. Clearly I missed the text that said we were all supposed to wear white sweaters that day.