Category Archives: Clare

A Teenage Dream…The One Direction Way

By: Clare

Believe it or not, there’s not a whole lot of large social activities in Middle Ridge, Wisconsin, my home sweet home. That being the case, its been a joy for me to be able to spend time in Pittsburgh, which for a country-grown girl like me seems a bit like the land of opportunity. The street aren’t exactly paved with gold – those are just 19th century cobblestones – but I’ve been able to experience things that I never thought I’d get a chance to do.

If you’re not a teenage girl, you may have no idea who these guys are:

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If you were a teenage girl your heart would have just skipped a beat. You would’ve let out a girlish squeal, because, who can’t resist those suspenders, those too tight jeans, their styled hair and sultry stares? No? This is having no effect on you? It’s okay, I’ll pretend it doesn’t affect me either.

The hints are all there in the above picture. Those five boys have made up their own British boy band they call One Direction, which has quickly developed a LARGE cult of teen and tween girls, and has become the first British band to ever break through to the top of the American music charts with their two first albums. Ah, the power of teen love.

For a teenage girl, the pull to become a fan, or a “Directioner” as they call themselves, is strong. Imagine yourself swimming in  large river, and suddenly a huge wave comes barreling towards you. The current is strong, and suddenly you’re pulled under by the mighty force of the rushing river, and there’s no hope of escape. Can you blame me? Hey, I’m no Olympic swimmer, but I do draw the line when it comes to calling myself a made-up noun.

When my trip in Pittsburgh was prolonged and I realized I would be in town at the same time as One Direction I, being the determined young lady  that I am, decided I was going to latch on to this opportunity. And so our search for a concert ticket began. After several days of searching we finally found a reasonable ticket to purchase two days before the concert. Now that’s what I call cutting it close – Slattery style.

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The day of the concert soon arrived. Kate and Francisco came with to drop me off, dressed in style of course.

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I was ready. I could face all the hordes of teen girls, right? Maybe. The girls were a bit vexing, because where I come from, in the small country area that I traverse upon, I’m usually one of the most stylish people. In the big city of Pittsburgh, EVERYONE had cute clothes. Every other girl was wearing a crop top, the latest trend, but I was happy to be wearing stripes, which seemed pretty fashionable and classy next to what looked like the lacy bras the other girls were wearing.

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This was before I had to stand in line for about 45 minutes all by myself. Well, except for the all the cliquey girls in front and behind me.

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It was a looooonngg line.

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For the record, if I had previously thought of myself as a fan of One Direction, these girls blew me out of the park. Their conversation of how often they listen to the songs, how many of the words they know, and just why THEY LOVE THEM SO MUCH made me feel like…

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Ack!

Almost there. Just stand and smile.

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When we were finally ushered in a semi-organized fashion and I found my seat, I waited for another 45 minutes. After this relocation I sat down and tried to make friends. Attempt failed. Grrrrr girls. I decided I would much rather be hanging out with a bunch of boys at a Miami Heat game.

But I waited.

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The stadium slowly filled up.

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I passed the time by listening to the surrounding girls’ conversations. My reaction was this.

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After a few attempts at conversation, I gave up.

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I couldn’t do this. Can’t we just talk about something a little more interesting? Like basketball? Or the most historic battles of the Civil War?

Finally, the introductory band came out…a band who I had no idea even existed. The other girls did though, and my ears, which were not yet accustomed to the feverish screams that would go on for almost four more hours, suffered dearly. And so did my mood. Of course, I was seated next to the loudest screamers in the stadium, not to mention the girl who would regularly start weeping at the mere sound of her favorite member of the band’s voice.

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When One Direction came out, I finally got interested.

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The wait was definitely worth it.

I had a clear view of the stage, even if I was pretty far away.

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The band did their best to include the whole audience, no matter how far away you were, and eventually made their way to a small stage in the middle of the stadium.

They all boarded a platform that carried them over the masses of crazed girls begging to be acknowledged by one of the famous boys and through the air towards the back and then back to the front.

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The show presented some pretty impressive light effects

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and throughout the 22 songs that were played the fans remained the same: extremely loud and devoted as always.

In the end, if you weren’t a teenage girl, the show wouldn’t have been for. Of this I am certain, because the two moms I saw seated around me did not look very happy as they covered their ears and watched their young daughters try to catch their breath as they jumped up and down and sang along to the poppy music that was almost completely foreign to the women.

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As for me, coming from having five older brothers and tons of guy friends myself, I had trouble dealing with the thousands of girls standing in masses around, and would have much rather have hung out with boy band members and not their screaming girl fans (a girl can dream right?) but all in all, I think it was pretty darn worth it for the once-in-a-lifetime experience of seeing One Direction.

Thank you Pittsburgh, for all the fun you’ve given me, and thank you, Kate, for hosting me.

Capturing the Kings

By: Clare

As you may already know I am currently visiting my oldest sister, Kate, in Pittsburgh for several weeks. The city is full of places I want to go and people I want to see. On the list of people I decided I must see were the Farm Kings, who star in a GAC reality TV series that follows their big family’s farming life. The Farm Kings just happen to live in the country outside of Pittsburgh, and even better, Kate happens to have a job writing and taking pictures for their new magazine.

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Calling me a fan of a reality show about farming (because we all know how much I love farming) would definitely be stretching the truth, as in, stretching the truth about, say, as wide as the Grand Canyon, but I was excited to see how the Farm Kings live their life when the cameras aren’t around.

So one early morning Kate and I hopped into her city car for a jaunt in the country. And although I love the city, I must say that it was fantastic to be out in the country for a while.

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I stood by holding a grinning (but heavy!) baby Francisco

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while Kate questioned the King brothers on the current topic – chicken butchering.

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While I watched Francisco, I also observed the Farm Kings’ system of butchering which I found to be much more organized that any Slattery chicken butchering system has ever been. Kate and I noted that the six-year-old present was playing in the dirt instead of participating in the chicken butchering process, whereas I began chicken butchering as a four-year-old. But it can be noted that I have always been a chicken butchering pro.

Then, being the expert assistant that I am, I read through her notes and found that Kate is a journalist through and through, because she’s really mastered the journalist scribble, which is only legible by the writer’s eyes.

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More pictures of the farm were needed for the magazine, so Kate and I set out to capture the best shots of Freedom Farms. I was even able to use my photography skills to take some pictures, two of which will be included in the next issue.

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Kate went into super-mom mode, climbing a steep hill with a thirty pound baby weighing her down, while taking pictures.

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While everything was beautiful and organized, we did note that the King brothers’ carpentry skills weren’t as high end as the Slattery brothers’.

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We had a great time capturing the Farm Kings. To get the full story and the pictures, you should definitely go ahead and subscribe to the Freedom Farms Magazine. You can sign up here.

Indian Nights

By: Clare

Spring is turning to summer, brown is returning to green, and the world is glorious again. This was the case last Sunday night, as a warm breeze softly caressed the seemingly endless fields along our high hilltop home. My parents were away in Dallas attending my older brother’s college graduation, and  Mary and I were left to ourselves for a weekend. This got old quite fast, and so we eagerly agreed to babysitting our nieces and nephew. Someone came up with the idea to play Indians, which seemed like the perfect game for three wild children to play. First, the proper wardrobe and makeup were needed.

Adeline chose her dress carefully. It may not have fit very well with the Indian theme, but it definitely worked with the Adeline theme..which is DRAMATIC.

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Claire fit perfectly into the Indian dress Mary was as a girl, handmade by our “crafty” mother.

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We couldn’t resist putting Thaddeus in Robert’s old Indian boy outfit. And of course, Indian war paint was completely necessary.

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Watch out. He’s feisty.

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While Thaddeus went with the tough guy attitude, Claire stayed in a more melancholic mood.

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I can’t wait for summer and more Indian nights.

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On To State!

By: Clare

When the majority of your neighbors are cows, and horse and buggies don’t cause a second glance as they wander aimlessly through your local town, its a nice treat to have the opportunity to  visit a city full of culture and urban life. This was the case as I traveled to Madison last Friday to participate in State Forensics.

Although I didn’t quite manage to get away from the cows (we are America’s Dairyland, so I guess I’ll allow it)…

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I did have the chance to see plenty of other things you wouldn’t normally find on the Ridge where I live or the village of a little over a thousand where I go to school.

Most people get to shopping as soon as they arrive in Madison, but my friend and I decided we were there for strictly sightseeing as we ambled along State Street and stared into the colorful, assorted storefronts.

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A quick stop at the Cold Stone Creamery was necessary, however.

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Turns out, no matter how delicious the ice cream, eating the cold dessert on the freezing streets of Madison with a vicious wind chilling you to the bone is not quite as enjoyable as you would hope, so we proceeded onward in search of a more warm adventure. What we found at the end of State Street was just the trick…Wisconsin’s majestic, sprawling Capitol Building.

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I was delighted at the idea of warmth AND a historical building.

So through the old revolving doors we went.

Our quick impromptu tour inside (conducted by myself..I took us wherever my heart led me) involved a lot of responsible and practical acts on the part of my friend and her chaperon father, and a lot of wreckless, Slattery-like acts on my part. This involved trying (unsuccessfully..dang) to find a way up to the balcony of the Capitol, sliding down multiple banisters, and sneaking into the Hearing Room, which may or may not have been a place that I was allowed to be in. But it’s all good, me and Governor Walker are like besties.

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I quickly got a picture and then ran soundlessly out after I was reminded that this is the 21st century, and there were probably several cameras trained on me in that room.

Despite all my messing around, I was reminded of how beautiful Wisconsin’s Capitol building is. There’s an amazing amount of symbolism involved in the architecture and artwork, it’s a shame I don’ remember much of what they taught me about it in the 4th grade.

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Once we left the Capitol, we made a quick random detour into a Wisconsin apparel shop, to look at unoriginal, insanely overpriced t-shirts. I tried on a cheesehead just for the heck of it, despite my extreme disdain for all things Packer-related.

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Pretty soon we had spent enough time fooling around, and made our way back through State Street to the UW-Madison campus, where we were to perform that night.

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Night fell over the city.

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I performed, earning myself a perfect score, and then it was time to get back to good ol’ rural Wisconsin. And, although I do love experiencing the hustle and bustle of Madison,

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I’m just fine with my Ridgetop view.

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Furs on the Farm

By: Clare

As I glance carelessly out the window, giant snowflakes are racing each other down from the sky to the ground, where they have collectively formed a white blanket over and across the wintry Wisconsin woods. The weathermen have predicted more than a foot of snow for today, and every school in the surrounding vicinity is canceled for the day. For a while I was content to wander aimlessly about the house, periodically checking Facebook and trying (and failing) to get the Netflix to load. And then, suddenly, I was hit with a brilliantly irrational..idea..

Next week, Mary is traveling to Pittsburgh to visit Kate for a few days. She’ll be taking along with her an assortment of various items that were left behind by our classy Grandma Slattery after she passed on. Next week Kate will not only be the proud owner of the usual china plates and cups, but also of the two impractical fur coats that our grandmother used to wear, along with a bright red pleather jacked. These coats weren’t originally supposed to go exclusively to Kate, but we knew as soon as we saw them that they just might not be the right fit for winter weather on an organic farm. For our own entertainment, we decided we might give you a little glimpse on the practicality of furs and pleather on the farm..

The one plus of a good fur coat is that it makes for a very classy glass of wine, even if it may be the middle of winter, and you are sitting precariously on a rusted blue metal folding chair.

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The fur coat I sported was heavy and cracking, and it all together felt like I was wearing a blanket of lead.
Also, I am somewhat ashamed to admit I have a bit of a phobia of chickens.

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Perhaps this is because I spent much of my childhood running from the many roosters we owned that liked to chase little kids down and peck at their bare legs.

This is generally my attitude towards them.

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I was wearing a lead blanket (not to mention the stiletto boots I was stumbling around the farmyard in), and I was in the midst of a little house filled with big chickens. While our old lab chewed on a thousand year old carcass of something or other below my boots.

Well played, Mary (who was gleefully laughing as she snapped photos), well played.

Alright, time to play the tough girl.

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Once I got over my discomfort, I began to glamorously collect the eggs.

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Oh, beautiful little egg.

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How, glorious, how positively divine.

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If there’s one thing that we do on the farm in winter, its haul, cut, collect, and stack wood. The wood stove doesn’t run itself!
Maybe this bright red pleather jacket would be a good suit for the job..

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Now that I’ve collected the wood, maybe I should stare off into the distance and ponder life’s greatest mysteries for a while. This coat makes you want to do that – solve mysteries, fight crime.

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The glamour leaves me, along with my sense of balance, as soon as I step outside the barn.

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Maybe this outfit isn’t so practical for hauling wood.

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We couldn’t help but pull out the white, fur-trimmed cape from one of Mary’s recent stunts as a winter bridesmaid as well. And it turns out fur capes aren’t very good for helping big brothers for carpentry projects, either.

Whaddya think, Rob?

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Judging by his tight smile, I’m guessing its a no.

They do look dramatic set against the backdrop of a tall, red-brick German church, however.

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Yes, I’m betting these coats will be much more at home on Kate as she parades through Pittsburgh than weighing me down in my daily work in Wisconsin.

Good-bye, impractical jackets, and thanks for the snow day entertainment!

 

March for Life 2013

By: Clare

At the beginning of the school year, I decided I was sick of school. This was probably, oh, you know, around mid-August. Before school had even started. I decided I wanted to travel the country. So I vowed to travel to a different state every school quarter, and so far I’ve upheld my vow. I’ve logged in an impressive 14 excused absences, all while staying on the A-honor roll. Pretty good, if you ask me. The first quarter I spent a two weeks in Pittsburgh visiting Kate, and being able to greet my newest nephew Francisco right before we left.  It was so wonderful, and I had so many adventures, I was even motivated to write a blog post about it. Which is sadly something I do not find myself yearning to do, as I would much rather….wait..I wouldn’t rather do my homework, but I kind of have to.

The second quarter I found myself not far from Wisconsin, but still outside of Wisconsin and into greater hick country..Minnesota, for my wondeful cousin Cale’s wedding. This was amusing, as the weekend we Wisconsinites invaded Minnesotan territory was the same weekend as the playoff game between our rival teams – The Green Bay Packers vs. The Minnesota Vikings. As a kid, I tricked myself into thinking that I was a serious Vikings fan, but really, the only reason I “liked” the Vikings was because my cool older brother did, and I have always been one who likes to stand out in a crowd. But a Vikings fan in the midst of a bunch of Packer-Backers just gets lots of dirty stares, and not much admiration.

I started the third quarter out with an impromptu trip to Washington D.C. to attend the 40th annual March for Life, along with my brother, Robert, sister-in-law, Nicole, and adorable nephew, Lukas.

The March was extremely cold, but very inspiring, and as a bonus I got to realize that Washington is definitely not the place I want to live in when I grow up, contrary to what I used to think. Too many people, not enough space!

But even with all the people who were there, the body heat wasn’t enough to heat us all up. Except Baby Lukas, who slept peacefully all day in his warm cocoon.

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And when he finally woke up, his stylish mother was there to transport him to a spot where he could better look around. I’m pretty envious of Nicole for being able to look awesome, despite freezing temperatures and a large baby strapped to her stomach. But definitely not envious of the large baby thing. I’d rather not be hunch-backed when I grow up, thank you very much.

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Speaking of stylish mothers and babies, Nicole’s wonderful friend, Haley, and her adorable dinosaur son was with us as well.

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And totally not speaking of stylish mothers and babies, Nicole’s not-so-little little brother, Joe, was able to make it to the March as well.

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He came all the way from Kansas on a bus with his fellow college students to get there. Talk about dedication. If I spent a 23 hour road trip on a bus with 50 other kids on it, by the end of the road trip, it would no longer be me and 50 other kids.  It would be me and 49 dead bodies.

The speeches were great, and the number of people and level of passion and dedication for such a wonderful cause was great to see.

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And then we got to the Supreme Court building, which turned out to be under a bit of construction, prompting them to put up a large banner in front of the building that fooled a lot of people into thinking it was the real front….well, it fooled me at least, until Carpenter Rob pointed out the hoax.

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All in all, I’m so very glad I got to experience the March for Life, and I hope to do it again in the future. But for now, its just nice to be back home. Though thanks to this creative Wisconsinite’s flag, I still felt a little like I was being led home.

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But, for all I know, I could have been walking behind a herd of cows, because let me tell you, that march was slooow going. Mooooo!

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On The Night Before Christmas

By: Clare

Yeah, I know, more Christmas posts. But this one’s just informative. Okay, so I won’t  be giving you any vital information that could be used to launch a rocket, or telling you the secret to preventing old age (although my Dad probably could, and it would inevitably involve fermented beets and pounds and pounds of garlic). You might find it semi-entertaining, though, if you’re into drama.

Take a look at this picture.

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You may have thought, “Wow, that’s a big Christmas tree”, or “Wow, it looks like Colleen has no arms”, but really I’d say when I look at this picture I see three very tall girls, with very long hair, who look pretty put-together and happy.

Put-together? Maybe.

Happy? Now.

But this is the after shot.You see, for the Slattery girls, Christmas Eve Mass is a yearly tradition that we look forward to because it means dressing up and posing for pictures. This is more Kate’s forte than anyone else’s but we try to follow in the footsteps of our oldest sister. But no matter what, whether all four of us are together on Christmas Eve or not, we can never, ever get through the preparation for Mass without some minor (sometimes…often…major) drama moments. There have been a multitude of them throughout the years, and there are always tears. At this point I would like to take a moment to clarify which one of us is usually crying. That answer would not include me. It’s split pretty evenly, really. Mary and I just yell. Kate and Colleen are really good at bringing the tears. And I mean really good.

So, if you’re wondering what a before-Christmas-Mass picture looks like, here’s about how each of us would look…

Kate

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Mary

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Colleen

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And me..

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And this is about how we look all together, just add in a dress or two, one mirror, and five makeup cases..

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But, Christmas is a beautiful time of the year, and I’m actually pretty endeared to the whole process of Christmas Eve Mass preparation, because you get some quality entertainment, and some great memories.

Despite sisters attempting to strangle each other..

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It all turns out beautifully…

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I hope you and yours had a very blessed, and beautiful Christmas yourselves!

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First Time Driver

By: Clare

Learning to drive is a real milestone in a teenagers life, and is greeted with an incredible amount of excitement and joy when the time finally comes for you to hop behind the wheel for the first time. Although, when you live in the farming community of Cashton, chances are most every kid has already been driving the tractor, the four-wheeler, the snowmobile, or the big, rumbling Ford F150 for quite some time already. I, on the other hand, had experienced neither the joy of learning to drive (legally), or the exhilaration of driving at a young age (illegally). I was just fine with being driven around by my parents or eight other siblings at any point in time. Riding in a moving vehicle gives me time to listen to music, to think, and to quietly read in the passenger’s seat. Although, yes, I did have to admit it would be nice to have the ability to get out of the house a little more often, where the average age of residents’ is around 683 years of age.

And, so, I found myself sitting in a windowless room for the first few weeks of winter, listening to my driving instructor go on, and on, and on, and on about “the good old days”. Wahhhoo. I would say the two weeks of driving instruction passed by about as fast as a sloth runs a marathon. Or as fast as I could run a marathon.

Anyway, the time has finally come for me to begin the actual driving stage. I reluctantly went to the DMV and retrieved my permit. At least I think its mine. I mean, the name on it is right and everything, but the girl in the picture looks it little more like a brainwashed cow or something…

My very first time driving was on a road I had traveled countless times before, with who but my mother in the passenger seat beside me. My mother makes first-time driving quite interesting. I’ve watched my Mom coach five siblings through first time driving, starting with Mary. And Mary was the worst of them, which as a five-year-old in the back seat was quite entertaining. So I know by now how my Mom will react when, say, I get too close to the yellow lines, or, say, I get too close to the white lines. Most of the time I don’t purposely drive badly when I’m around her, but sometimes it can’t be helped. Mind you, I don’t do anything extremely dangerous on the road. I’m not that stupid, but when I’m the road I do tend to get a little ADD.

Of course, as a beginner driver you have to practice your driving basics with the driving instructor. I must note that our driving instructor is a very talkative person, and I also happen to be a very talkative person. Also, when I get behind the wheel I suddenly become an incompetent fool who finds it necessary to note every single thing you pass. When driving through a  town I hadn’t been in before, I began to rate each large house we passed in my head, and decide whether or not I would want to live there. My driving instructor also found this a fun thing to do, so for a while our conversation was something like this.

Me: “OH! I really like that house! Its so pretty and big!

Driving Instructor: “Ohhh, that is a nice one.”

Me: “OH! That house would be nice, but I don’t really like the color scheme. Its just too much.”

Driving Instructor: “Yeah..oh! There’s a stop sign there. There’s a stop sign there! What do you do at a stop sign, Clare?

Me: “You stop. I just forgot to, but you have a brake over on your side of the car, so I figured you could do it.”

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This might not go over well in the real world, but you know, right now I’m all “c’est la vie” when it comes to driving. At this point, I’m waaay more into thinking about Christmas than driving our old minivan. And who wants to drive around in the snow? Oh wait, there isn’t any snow around here! Ahhhh, Wisconsin, you’re failing me!

To Grandmother’s House We Go

By: Clare

I distinctly remember squeezing into the very back of a suburban along with my brother Raphael, wearing my puffy maroon winter coat and itchy, white hat whizzing down the interstate on Christmas day. By “very back of a suburban” I do not mean the last seat of a suburban, I mean the small space behind the last seat, right in between the seat and the back door. Suburbans can hold a lot of people, but they can’t quite fit all nine of the Slattery kids, plus a mother and father. I spent four hours lying on the cold floor of the that rusty car with my mopey older brother. Even though I was cold and totally uncomfortable, I was lovin’ life. I was on my way to Grandma Slattery’s, a land of clean carpeted floors, endless candy and cookies, brats & burgers, and cable TV. It was my haven, where I could eat junk food and watch Disney channel all day long without a care in the world. As the years rolled along, annual trips to Grandma’s house were a little less crowded, but just as enjoyable. It didn’t matter if it was the middle of summer, or the middle of winter, Grandma Slattery was always ready to welcome us. A lover of road trips and extreme laziness (this being my only job at Grandma’s house) I jumped at the chance to visit Grandma anytime there was an opportunity. I’m so glad I was able to spend the time with her that I did, as our grandmother passed away last week.

The trip we made exactly one week ago for the funeral to stay at her house one last time was extremely bittersweet for me. This time, several vehicles were taken, and I (being the sweet, sweet, youngest child that I am) chose to go with my parents. With Dad charging down the interstate at a  good 50 mph , I had plenty of time to contemplate. I realized that the trip alone to Grandma’s house was something I had cherished about her. So, I’d like to take you along. Virtually, of course. I’m not going to kidnap you and drag you there. As a matter of fact, I don’t even have my permit yet, thanks to my mother conveniently losing my birth certificate. But that’s another story.

Well…ONWARD HO!

We are here:

We need to travel across the land of milk and cheese to Sheboygan. This is a good four hour trip, so I would stock up on the Corn Nuts and bring along some good books. Be sure to have a small fleece blanket and a pillow. I like to stretch out in the back seat and get really paranoid and imagine the cops pulling us over and fining me for not wearing a seat belt and/or us getting into a serious accident and me dying tragically because I wasn’t wearing a seat belt. But that’s just me. You can take off your seat belt and think like a sane person if you would like.

Traveling with the Slattery  parents means if you want the radio turned on, it will be on one station and one station only- NPR, where they speak of intelligent things in very whimsical, intelligent voices. BUT, if you’re lucky and you’re traveling on the right day, you may just catch a Garrison Kiellor show! This I can enjoy. BUT, if you’re traveling on a Sunday in the fall, and you’re in Wisconsin, you’ll be stuck listening to the Packers game. At this point, I think I would have preferred actually getting into a car accident/being pulled over to having to listen to the game. I am seriously anti-football, anti-Packers, and in most cases, just plain anti-Wisconsin.

Eventually, you’ll make it out of the winding back roads and onto the Interstate. On the interstate, you’ll enjoy watching every single car behind you pass you, as Patrick Slattery obliviously drives on. Don’t look at the speedometer, whatever you do. It’s really frustrating watching someone drive a car as if it is a tractor. Sometimes I have to roll the window down and stick my face outside for a good minute or two to calm myself down.

The small town of Montello marks the halfway point.

Congratulations, you’re halfway there!

I have always loved Montello. Every single time I’ve gone to Sheboygan, we’ve never failed to stop and take a quick break at the local Kwik Trip. Kwik Trip is nothing special. Its just a gas stop- there are plenty of them scattered all over the state. Its what’s outside that certain Kwik Trip.

This little beaut’s the only waterfall I’ve seen in my life. The big hole that the gushing water’s filling up used to be a granite quarry, I believe. They made the best granite around. It was so good in fact, that granite was taken from this quarry to be made into the tomb for Ulysses S. Grant. I think I got those facts right…I haven’t ever really read the tourist sign very closely. In the summer, a few swans are released into the enclosed area, and make that their home. I used to love to throw chips at the big hissing birds, and watch their ugly black feet paddle beneath the glassy surface. I’ll miss those swans.

Continue on to Ripon-birthplace of the Republican party.

My father lived in Ripon for several years working as editor of the local newspaper as a young twenty-something. He was even voted “most eligible bachelor” of the small town.

Now on to Fond du Lac. As an easily embarrassed pre-teen, I used to dread this town. Every time we passed through, we had to stop, find a place right by the road where my dad would cajole us all into doing jumping jacks while shouting “BEAT FONDI BEAT FONDI!” This was an old tradition from his high school days, when Fond du Lac and his South Sheboygan High School had some kind of rivalry. Over the years, somehow this tradition had died down, and I, in the midst of a melancholic state, had decided we needed to bring it back one last time. So, we found a little field with a small set of bleachers, conveniently set back from the main road…

Ready?

“BEAT FONDI! BEAT FONDI!”

Hey, guess what? Fondi was our last stop! You’ve made it across the state!

I doubt any of you will be making this trip in reality any time soon, if ever, but I hope you enjoyed coming along for ours.

Sheboygan really is a neat place, and if you’re ever near it, be sure to take a look around. If there’s one thing you want to do, check out the magnificent Lake Michigan, a Slattery tourist spot favorite.

Whether summer..

..or winter..

We always take the time to stop and stare out across the big blue expanse.

Ah, Sheboygan travels, how I will miss thee..

Adventures in Pittsburgh

By: Clare

Its been two weeks, and I can’t procrastinate any longer.

Two weeks since my trip to Pittsburgh to see my biggest, baddest sister have the biggest, fattest baby ever. But I didn’t really watch her have the baby. Yuck. Aaand I’m pretty sure half of the words I used to describe Kate and the baby aren’t really legit words.

Two days after I started a new school year as a sophmore, I was already plain tuckered out and sick of high school, so it was real relief to be able to hop on a plane (for my very first time!) and head out to Pittsburgh to wait for the baby boy to arrive.

But first was the bus…

Which meant..waiting..for the bus. And arriving..at the wrong bus stop.

And waiting at the airport…

and walking. I.hate.walking.

Pittsburgh is a beautiful city, and there was so much to see and do. Due to the fact I kept forgetting to bring along my camera, I was able to really sightsee and enjoy everything.

Like getting a birds-eye view of the expansive, intricate city.

And getting the view through  a child’s eye.

Dear little Princess Olympia is like no other.

She’s makes for some great photo ops.

Yes, we went up, down, and all around Pittsburgh. Everything was an adventure.

Like the park-where you can ride ducks like they’re bucking broncos.

and fly through the air like you’re Superman!

Speaking of flying through the air, Kate got me involved her awesome dance studio’s newest class-aerial silks.

As a farm kid who grew up climbing trees, ropes, and anything else that I could fall from and break bones/scratch me up and leave scars, aerial silks was almost second nature.

Almost.

Until I woke up the following morning, and was seriously soar. Which would have been okay, had my older sister decided to lend a helping hand, literally, and give a back massage. But being two weeks overdue at the time, she wasn’t feeling too hospitable.

Yes, that baby just didn’t want to be born. Which meant my mother and I elongated our trip, and I got to miss another week of school. Which was fine by me. Until I came back and collected all my homework.

But the baby was born! Late, very late. And not on his own time. Because his own time, probably would have involved him being born walking.

Welcome, Francisco!