Little Mister, parenting

Let’s Talk About Sports, Ba-by!

Typically, we are not a sporting household. We don’t watch sports, we don’t attend sporting events and there is little to no sports talk going on.

Me, I don’t do sports. I never played a sport growing up (is sarcasm a sport?) The closest I came was one season of softball, and I played one Powder Puff football game as a high school senior the night before Thanksgiving! Instead, I danced for 13 years. I understand the importance of them, but I’m not an avid sports fan. No one has mistaken me for Sporty Spice. I’ll go to a Sox game every once in a while, but that’s about it. The closest you’ll find me watching sports on TV is the movie Dodgeball. Also, it should be known that I don’t watch sports movies. And – before you even ask me – no, I have not seen Field of Dreams.

Mr. KK, however, IS a sports person. He played baseball his whole life and was a really great – if not humble – pitcher. He used to ski. He’s a phenomenal golfer. He’s the type of person who can watch a sport for a bit, and then attempt to play for the first time and be decent.

So where does that leave Little Mister? Unfortunately, not super sporty. He likes to be outside and to run around and play, but organized sports are not his favorite thing on earth. He didn’t grow up around sports; he’s an only child so never had an older sibling play any sports; we don’t have a “neighborhood” so he’s not around kids on the block who play sports or put together a game of kickball in the street. Perhaps we have failed our child?

We are lucky enough today to live during a time when there are sports everywhere. Not to mention, all sorts of sports – a literal sport for every body. Soccer, football, rugby, water polo, archery, running, diving…you name it, it’s available to kids these days.

Personally, I don’t care if Little Mister plays a sport or not. They are great exercise and provide a sense of team, but they are not the end all, be all for kids. They can take over your life if you let them and become a full time job. When I see stories about kids and the parents talk about how they practice every day for 5 hours, all year long, etc etc, I can’t help but think, “Don’t you guys do anything else? Go to the aquarium? Have movie day on the couch?” I mean…good lord.

I don’t think I have the personality to be a sports parent, but you never know.

We always want to give Little Mister as many experiences as we can to see what he might like, so we have signed him up for various sports in his short life. We have tried soccer, golf and basketball. We have taken swim lessons (this was more for survival than for sport). We’re trying out a bunch of things to see what – if anything – sticks.

Here are his assessments of sports so far:

Soccer

We’ve played for two seasons, one spring and one fall. For the Spring, we had 2 friends on our team. For the Fall, we had zero friends on our team. For both seasons, we had the same coach.

Little Mister’s review: “It’s ok I guess. You do a lot of running for the entire time. It’s tiring.”
When asked if he would play again: Maybe. Is there less running?

Golf

We tried golf last spring/summer. After being told there was “too much running” in soccer, we went the complete opposite side of the spectrum: no running whatsoever. In fact, when you have a cart, you barely have to walk.

Little Mister’s review: “BORING.”
When asked if he would play again: Hard no.
When he heard that I was taking golf lessons: “Why are YOU taking golf lessons? It’s so boring.”

Basketball

We just started basketball and have had one practice. Little Mister is a pretty tall kid (tallest on the team) so I’m sure when coaches and other players see him they’re like, “Oh great, here comes Michael Jordan!” When in reality, with all the jumping and “jiving”dancing” he’s doing on the court, it’s more like Michael Jackson. We need to learn the fundamentals (dribbling, not the pick up the ball and just RUN) but I’m quietly optimistic that he will enjoy the season. Plus, the coaches are patient and great! (BONUS!)

Little Mister’s review: “I loved it!”
When asked if he would play again: Yes!
When asked if he would like to get a basketball hoop for the driveway: “Nah, why do we need that?”

Swimming

Again, this one was more for learning not to sink vs joining a swim team. Little Mister made huge progress last summer with his swimming skills. He had some private lessons, plus some lessons at camp. By the end of the summer, he could swim the length of the pool, which was amazingly awesome! There is a possibility we try a swim team in the spring, but we’ll see!

Little Mister’s review: “I love swimming! I’m an awesome swimmer!”
When asked if he would swim again: “Of course! It’s the only sport I like.”

As I said, I don’t care about sports. If he doesn’t end up playing a sport, I’m ok with that. HOWEVER, I do want to expose him to group activities like sports so he could learn how to be part of a team, how to participate, what it means when people count on you, and to expand his social circle a bit.

In short, I would like for him to do something outside of school. And that can be anything! We are having fun doing some after school classes run by the PTA, like running club, basketball clinic and sports of all sorts.

The more we can expose Little Mister to, the better. And if he falls in love with a sport – great! I’ll get my Mom Sport Gear (portable chair, insulated cup, team shirt) ready! And if he finds something else, I’ll be just as excited about that (bonus points for cute paraphernalia). Because ultimately I’m on Team Little Mister, and whatever he decides to do.

Just not football. #sorrynotsorry

Christmas, Family, Gifts

On Being the Family’s Gift Buyer

It is no secret on this blog that I LOVE Christmas! It truly is the most wonderful time of year for me. Things I look forward to:

  • Annual Cookie Making Day
  • Decorating the House
  • Picking out the Christmas Trees
  • Decorating the Christmas Trees
  • Moving Jack the Elf all Around the House
  • The Smell of the Christmas Tree
  • All. The. Christmas. Songs.
  • Christmas Parties
  • Christmas Eve Dinner
  • Spending All of Christmas Day in Our Pajamas
  • Christmas Shopping!

Christmas shopping may be the last one listed here, but it’s one of my most favorite parts of the season. I pride myself on buying really great gifts. I do this by taking cues throughout the year, listening to family members tell stories and gleaning ideas, seeing what they could use in their lives to make them better/easier/more fun, and then just finding gifts I know they will love but they’d never buy for themselves. (There are also the “must have” gifts that I get them; not the “hot gifts of the season”, but the gifts they must have to replace something they currently use or do that drives me bananas.)

My weekly screen report showed that my phone time was up 162% last week for an average of 5 hours and 27 minutes a day. At least 2-3 hours of that time was spent researching Christmas gifts! The remaining hours were spent on Wordle, Instagram and Spotify shame listening to Christmas carols in my car.

Buying Christmas gifts makes me so happy! Most of my shopping is done online, however I do venture out on the Saturday after Thanksgiving each year with a deal friend. Granted, a lot of that shopping is for ME, because I’m not going to pass up a good deal for myself because that would just be silly.

Last year, I wrote about my role as the family’s travel agent. It appears, I am also the family’s gift guru. Right around this time of year, I start to get the requests from family members about what they could get for Little Mister or Mr. KK. So not only do I need to get them gifts for myself, but I need to find enough gifts and ideas that other people can give them too. Oh, and add in the extra layer of figuring out Santa gifts for Little Mister, too. No one needs this many gifts, especially our child.

Because of this, I try and get all of my shopping done early. That way, I have the last 2-3 weeks in December to focus on what others can get my loved ones.

Don’t get me wrong, we have some family members who are VERY difficult to buy for even for me. (They will all tell you that I am the one who is hard to buy for, but that is false! I am SO EASY to buy for.) So that takes extra time and creativity. But there is nothing better than that Eureka “Ah Ha!” moment when I uncover the perfect gift for him or her.

Wrapping Christmas Gifts

One of last year’s themes: Gray Buffalo Check with rose gold accents.

Oh, how I love to wrap gifts! Each year I try and have 1-2 wrapping paper themes/colors, and each person gets their own wrapping paper (this makes it easy to group presents under the tree and it looks really nice, too!). Then, I set aside 2-3 hours (or at least half a day if I’m doing it all at once) and get to it. I put on the Christmas music, spread out all my wrapping supplies, and put myself on Do Not Disturb mode. Sometimes I’m able to take a day off from work to tackle the wrapping. Other times, I start after Little Mister goes to bed, Air Pods in, and wrap until 1am.

So what’s it like being the family gift idea generator?

It’s hard work!

First, I have to think ahead far enough in my own gift planning to ensure that I am giving the gifts that I want to give. Once those are purchased, I will review my Plan B gift option list, the ones that didn’t make the first cut to have my name on them. These are usually low hanging fruit to give away to other people to get for someone. Once I run out of the back up gifts, the challenge begins.

For example, Little Mister needs ZERO things for Christmas. ZERO. It was hard for ME to think of Christmas gifts for him. There is no room in the playroom, we can’t fit another thing. He doesn’t even know what to put on his Christmas list. This says to me he doesn’t need anything!

We are barely getting him any gifts. And to help combat too many gifts, gifts he doesn’t need and just plan STUFF, I have asked the Grandparents to limit their gifts to 5 gifts. AND, they cannot be sneaky and put 20 things in one box and call it a single gift. Even with the gift limit, I’m still having a hard time thinking of gifts for them to get for him. I want this Christmas to be fewer gifts, but more meaningful gifts.

This is a timely post, as it is Cyber Monday! I do have a few deals to catch…happy shopping!

Christmas, Elf on the Shelf

Hello…It’s Your Elf Calling

Well, he’s back! Jack made his appearance this morning much to Little Mister’s surprise.

Little Mister woke to find a present on his dresser. Inside was a note from Jack, a pair of Christmas jammies, some ornaments for his tree and a pair of Christmas dinosaur socks.

Then…off to find Jack!

Where could Jack be hiding on his very first day in the house? That sneaky little devil was up high on the curtain rod, where he could get a good look at everything going on…and keep an eye on Little Mister.

The antics have officially begun! My daily 10pm alarm to “do Christmas things” has been set for the nightly moving of the Elf and filling of the advent calendar (which doesn’t start until December 1 so I have a few days reprieve from that).

The trick to the Elf on a Shelf in this house is to be creative while still keeping the Elf out of reach of Bruno, who would chew him to pieces and ruin Christmas. Last year I had my mohter-in-law sew wires in Jack’s appendages so that he could move and pose more easily. LIFE CHANGING. Why these elves don’t come with posable limbs feels like a big manufacturing miss to me.

For a little inspiration, I wanted to share some of our little Elf’s shenanigans from last year…

We started the holiday season last year with a tug of war between Jack and the King of the LEGO jungle.
Midnight snack
Gone fishing.
Teaching math at dino school. We’ll never know if they ever learned anything.
Not just Elf Rules, but Life Rules.
Curious George goes to the Elf Doctor.
When your truck breaks down on the way to Bethlehem.
Giddy up!
There’s always time to color.
“Hey, Wiseman in the back, I can’t see your face. Okay, ready…say CHEESE!”
Good hygiene just ins’t for humans.

If you’re Elfing this year, have FUN! Our elf is always up to no good!

cocktails, cooking, Entertaining, Family, food, Mr. KK, recipe, thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving…Told In Pictures

This post is always meant to be one you can “read” with mindless scrolling through photos to experience our Thanksgiving. For those keeping track at home, the day started at 6:30am and ended at 10pm when the last guest left. A full day of food, laughs and drinks.

This photo diary includes recipes from our Thanksgiving meal! So here we go!

Today started before the sun came up. This is me, Black Friday shopping and simultaneously planning out the day’s timeline while lying in bed.

If you look closely you can see the reflection of the phone in my glasses.

I shared this tip last year, but here it is again. Your 2 best friends on Thanksgiving Day are: chicken stock and your phone – the alarms on your phone that is. I plan my whole day out and set alarms to keep me honest.

Next, you should be sure to taste taste everything to see if it needs more salt, or more bourbon.

Crazy hair, no makeup and full-on prep mode. Taste-testing the punch at 10:39am.

Our first step in making Thanksgiving a little easier (besides my phone alarm trick) was to make a punch ahead of time so we could eliminate the need for Mr KK to make 1,000,000 drinks before he could get a sip of his own cocktail. This punch was a crowd pleaser! Highly recommend – here’s the recipe for Bourbon Rosemary punch.

Aren’t they beautiful?

When we prep for hosting, I’m usually in charge of the inside of the house – which includes watching the dogs and entertaining Little Mister – while Mr. KK handles the outside. Yesterday was a little over 50 degrees, so we were able to set up our patio heater and chairs on our new deck in case anyone wanted to get some fresh air.

Mr. KK in his signature party day move: blowing leaves.
Two minutes before everyone arrived…let’s hope this all goes well! (Little did I know the fried turkey fiasco that was to follow!)

No one wanted to enjoy the deck…but we found 5 minutes to take a breather out there.

Let’s talk turkey…and everything else!

We did 2 turkeys again this year: a full turkey in the fryer (house in still intact) and a turkey breast in the oven. Both turkeys came out amazingly juicy! My mother-in-law preps the turkeys, and my father-in-law drives the birds over the morning of Thanksgiving and enjoys a drink with Mr. KK (and me!). Our turkey breast had a garlic and herb marinade and the fryer turkey had a rub on it.

Everyone makes jokes about my mother-in-laws breasts (we are nothing if not inappropriate) as part of tradition.

Another punch for me!

Thanksgiving Menu 2022

Appetizers

Butternut Squash Soup Shooters with Creme Fresh. I used this recipe for the soup and it was delicious. The sage and ginger really added a depth of flavor.

Caramelized Onion and Gruyere Rugelach

Every Christmas I make cinnamon and sugar rugelach, but this is a savory take on one of my favorite cookies. I used this savory rugelach recipe, but substituted gruyere for the cheddar, and candied pecans for the candied walnuts, just to put my own spin on it.

Interestingly, I found the recipe in a magazine – yes, a paper magazine – and I didn’t even look it up. Well, if you click on the recipe link, you’ll see that this recipe only got 1.5 stars from 2 reviewers. From personal experience, this recipe got 5 stars across the board from our family! Perhaps it was the subtle changes I made (nuttier cheese vs boring cheddar). But I highly recommend. Plus, you make it with pre made pie dough so it’s super easy.

Getting ready to cut and roll the rugelach.
Here they are! The can brown quite a bit on the bottom when the sugar from the pecans oozes out, but that just adds flavor!

The last appetizer I made was the Spicy Whipped Feta from this blog post. Somehow, I didn’t get a pick of it, but it was also really good; I served it with baby naans.

Soup Course

Our cousin (cousin in law?) made a delicious, light soup. I’m going from memory, but it was a veal stock with chicken and mortadella meatballs, with escarole and ditallini. It was the perfect first course!

Main Meal

The turkeys were the real stars of the show, and TBH, I don’t even really love turkey. But I loved picking off the crispy skin and dark meat that fell off the fried turkey!

That is one nice looking breast (well, two actually).
Dueling carvers! And a very messy kitchen!

This is happiest Mr. KK looked after an hour of stress when the new turkey fryer pan set up DID NOT WORK and he put the turkey in the oil and it barely covered the turkey. This was after the oil wasn’t hot enough and we had to heat it for another half hour. This was all going on while we were serving up the soup course, so thankfully no one heard all the swearing going on in the front yard. But it all worked out and we ended up with one golden brown bird. The best part about the fried turkey is that a 16 pound bird cooks in about 45 minutes!

For sides, we had stuffing (made with sourdough, apples, pancetta and apricots), mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, dressing and Ina’s Cacio e Pepe Asparagus.

All assembled, it looked like this:

Little Mister was not a fan of any of the food we were serving (aren’t 8 year olds fun??) but he agreed to try some foods (which was a win). Here is his plate, which could easy be called “Deconstructed Thanksgiving” and be served in a Michelin Star restaurant for $50.

After he finished “eating” the plate looked the exact same except a small piece of turkey was gone (he gave turkey a “Maybe”), the tip of the asparagus was missing (10 minutes of chewing with a weird look on his face) and all of the sweet potatoes were gone (“this tastes like pumpkin pie filling”).

Dessert

Pecan pie, pumpkin pie and cheesecake!

I am done fighting with WordPress and why it keeps adding this photo upside down. I have tried to fix this about 4 times. You get the idea.

I hope everyone had a happy Thanksgiving with loved ones!

8:04am…time to start changing this house into Christmas!

cooking, thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Prep, A Car Accident & My First Adult Bevy Since October

Well, today was a DAY!

It started at 6am when I was up crying in the kitchen chopping onions for various holiday dishes. Last night I made my checklist like a Boomer and was ready to go this morning. On today’s prep list: stuffing, soup, cranberry sauce, appetizer prep and cocktail juices.

Me, mentally preparing myself for the day before the sun comes up.
Allergic to apples, but I still put them in the stuffing!
Can I use every pan in the house? Challenge accepted.
The most important parts of the prep…cocktail prep!

After finished my Thanksgiving prep in what I thought was record time, I found myself with a day off from work and time to spare until I needed to be at the bus stop so I headed to TJ Maxx to make a return. And when I returned to my car, I found this:

A woman got out of her car when I approached mine. “Excuse me, miss?” she said. And she immediately gained points for not calling me ma’am. “I was leaving you a note. I hit your car.” And then the day went downhill.

So a cop came, we exchanged information, I got a police report that said I wasn’t in the car when this happened and then I was on my merry way back home.

Fast forward to 3pm, when it felt like an appropriate time to have my first adult beverage since October (since October, people!), so the 3 of us went to a brewery to have a beer. And man, did it taste GOOD. Mr. KK and I had beers, Little Mister looked like this:

Mr. Too Cool for School. This in a window into his teenage years, I’m sure.

Tomorrow, is my annual Thanksgiving post in pictures. Possibly with recipes. Definitely with cocktails.

Happy Thanksgiving Eve. If you’re out drinking with your high school friends, god love ya. If you’re home drinking after your kids to go to bed, I feel ya. Cheers!

cooking, food, recipe

Your Favorite Dip, Now a Dinner

I could eat an entire meal made of up appetizers. I love everything appetizers have to offer: small dishes, cute sauces, finger foods and you can eat them without putting down your cocktail.

I have a few app favorites – but my one achilles heel is a warm and bubbly spinach and artichoke dip.

HEAVEN.

The proper (read: best) way to enjoy spinach and artichoke dip is on crispy sea salt pita chips or toasted naan. If you put that in front of me at a party, I would never leave the table, I don’t care who showed up at the door.

But I can’t just make a casserole dish of spinach and artichoke dip and eat it for dinner. (Grown ups don’t do that, do they?). So instead, I looked for another way to enjoy the flavors of the dip that I love that would be an acceptable – and healthier? – option. And guess what? I found one! This vegetarian dinner (I’m looking at YOU, Meatless Monday!) is made with spaghetti squash instead of using crackers or breads as the dip vessel.

NOTE: despite what you might think from 2 spaghetti squash posts in one month, I am not being paid by the National Spaghetti Squash Council to bring awareness to the squash. It just so happens that the old spaghetti squash is not only tasty, it’s versatile!

Cheesy Spinach and Artichoke Stuffed Spaghetti Squash

Basically, you can take your favorite spinach and artichoke dip, and at the end when everything is being mixed together, you add in the cooked spaghetti squash until blended. Then put the mixture back into the hollowed out squash shells and bake like you would a dip until everything is hot and melty.

Check out that delicious, toasty and melty spinach and artichoke stuffed squash!

First, cut the spaghetti squash in half the long way (BE CAREFUL!) and scoop out the seeds.

Then drizzle the squash insides with olive oil and salt and pepper. Place them face down on a baking sheet lined with foil and bake until soft. Let cool until you can handle them, and then scoop out all the string flesh into a bowl.

Meanwhile, make your favorite spinach and artichoke dip. I feel like everyone had a recipe for this dish that they love. I tend to mix and match. a few different recipes. This night, I cooked down the onions in oil and butter until they were soft, and then I mixed in the cream cheese and cheeses, then folded in fresh spinach and chopped artichoke hearts.

Next, add in the cooked spaghetti squash flesh. (Is there a better word for flesh? Because I’m starting to feel a little like Hannibal Lecter over here).

Once mixed, divide the mixture between the spaghetti squash shells and bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes, until everything looks melted and slightly browned.

Enjoy the right from the shells with a nice side salad or veggie.

I hope you try this as a weeknight meal. I actually made this recipe on a Sunday, stuffed the shells, and then baked them 2 days later. It really saved me time of cooking and prep on a busy school night.

Just writing this blog post had made me hungry!

Christmas, cooking, thanksgiving

It’s Thanksgiving Week, B*tches!

Or, as I like to refer to it: 5 days until Christmas is unleashed!

This is the week when it starts to feel like the holiday season. I spent today in Christmas glory at an inspirational store near her house that was filled with all the decor and scents and greenery you could ever want. It was the kind of place that had decor for houses without children or dogs. So. Much. Glass.

Here are a few photos from how beautiful it was! I could have walked around all day!

I loved this sugar plum themed tree. There were about 10 different themed trees.
Everything was beautiful blown glass; basically stuff I can have in 10 years.
These were some gorgeous christmas tress. I love when places hang them from the tops so you can see what they will look like fully opened! When we go they are all wrapped up and we have to shake it loose and use our imaginations.

So the upcoming week looks like this:

Monday: This is a big week because…(drumroll)…tomorrow is WEIGH IN DAY for the end of the Fit 2 Feast challenge! FINALLY! Tomorrow morning at 6:45am I will find out if my hard work paid off and if I lost any pounds and any body fat. If the scale does not move, I may legit cry ugly tears at the kickboxing studio. If I find out I didn’t have any cocktails or french fries or ice cream or – and this is hard to believe – CHEESE – for three weeks for NOTHING, I will be mucho mad. Then off to a full day of work. Then helping sort pies for our PTA pie fundraiser.

Tuesday: It’s Colonial Day at school, so I’m helping out during my lunch hour. while they kids go from room to room to make different “old timey” crafts. All I know is Little Mister needs to bring in an orange (??) and I donated pipe cleaners and large popsicle sticks. Then Little Mister is double-booked for a hair cut and his first basketball practice. We really need that pre-holiday haircut, but I may have to move it to accommodate the first basketball practice.

Wednesday: Game On! I took the full day off to do all of my Thanksgiving cooking and prep. I’ll be making soup, stuffing, parts of appetizer recipes. I’ll be juicing grapefruits and lemons for cocktails. Then apron down and a manicure and dinner out for some non-challenge-worthy food (hopefully the night before Thanksgiving crowds aren’t too crazy!)

Thursday: Turkey Day! Wake up at the crack of dawn and set my 47 timers and prepare for the day! Every year on this day my blog post is a Thanksgiving in pictures…and this year will be no different!

Friday: Buh-bye gourds, hello garland! I hope to have all the fall stuff put away by 10am so I can start bringing up the Christmas bins. I plan to be decorating for at least 4-5 hours. I did concede and we will not be getting our tree this early. That will be the first weekend in December.

And you know who comes the weekend after Thanksgiving…

He’s coming baaaaack…..
Christmas, favorite things, shopping

kk’s favorite things

Just because I can’t decorate for Christmas yet, and I get shamed for listening to holiday music, that doesn’t mean I can share my favorite gifts of 2022!

This is my curated list of things that I love, that someone else in your life may love as well. It’s the unofficial gift list of the holidays!

Porte + Hall Area Rug

Image: Porte & Hall

This summer we built a deck off of our kitchen, and the french doors that used to just open up to a 5 foot drop, now open to a gorgeous outdoor space. Next summer when we start using the deck more and more, I’ll want to have a large rug that spans the doorway to catch dirt. I LOVE the print of this rug (I’m a sucker for orange!). It seems to be sold out now in this color in the Area Rug size, but you can add yourself to the waitlist to be notified when it’s back in stock.

Sea Bags Rose Gold Striped Tote

Image: Sea Bags

The long-standing joke about Sea Bags in our house is that every time I pass a Sea Bags store, I go in, but never buy anything. I have been in Sea Bag stores in Maine, Massachusetts and Connecticut over the last 5 years and am yet to purchase a bag for myself. And I LOVE the bags! I have my eye on this one in particular – the rose gold with the navy stripes feels both coastal and classy. The best part? You can customize the bag to have a zip top so nothing falls out.

Pyrex 20-Piece Glass Containers

Image: Crate & Barrel

Adulting is fun because you start putting practical items like food storage containers on your holiday lists! Yay! In an effort to stop using plastic tupperware containers we’re starting to go all glass. Because we’re crazy like that.

Melamine “Solo” Cups

Our summer house rental this year had these melamine cups and I instantly fell in love with them. Their colors were a little different (they had orange! and gray!) but they were so convenient for bringing beverages out to the pool. Plus, they were heavy enough that they didn’t blow over easily in the wind.

Rothy’s Utility Boots

You had me at Rothy’s. My favorite sneakers now come in a boot! I have been looking for the right blank ankle boots for YEARS. I could never find one that I liked; the heel was either too clunky or the boot was too shiny or looking like fake leather. These boots – albeit are ridiculously expensive – have the right heel height, are matte in color, and because they are Rothy’s we know they will be the most comfortable boot on the planet. Do they look like my hi-top black Rothy’s sneakers? Yes. HOWEVER, the sneakers have a white sole and will always look way to casual to wear out at night. Make room for these in your closet.

Duluth Reversible Poncho

It wouldn’t be a “favorite things” list without a poncho! This one is reversible and would be perfect with jeans and boots. And it’s from one of Mr. KK’s favorite stores, Duluth Trading. He’s so proud when I like something from this place. Bonus: it’s on sale!

LL Bean Vista Pants Fleece Lined

It’s not a favorite things list without something from LL Bean! I have these in the non-fleece version for spring/fall, but how awesome would it be to have a super warm pair for winter?! I love this dark gray color. And the best part about LL Bean pants is that they come in petite!

Microfiber Super Absorbent Hair Towel

I will try anything for better, less frizzy hair and this towel gets rave reviews. Plus, this feels like a great thing for after the pool, too. Starting with drier hair before trying to dry it – genius!

Peepers Duke Readers in Orange

Now that I’m – ahem – old, and I need readers, I love how fun and colorful they are. I have a few pairs that are my go-to, and Peepers has so many different styles. How do I not yet have an orange pair? How awesome are these!

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Those are some of my favorite things this year. Happy shopping!

Little Mister, school

Help Wanted: Everywhere

We are three years into life with COVID/pandemic/new normal and companies are still having a hard time hiring staff. Last year I wrote this post about the restaurant industry, and the hit they were taking financially because they couldn’t hire people to work, so they couldn’t fill table, therefore they couldn’t make money.

This is crazy to me.

I know this isn’t affecting every industry, but it feels like it’s affecting most of them. Yesterday afternoon we took Little Mister to his annual physical. We arrived on time, and had to wait until there was a free nurse to take his vitals, etc. There was someone ahead of us who WAS NOT HAPPY waiting. She was so rude and condescending to the nurse behind the window who was calmly explaining that they were short staffed. Ms. Rude wasn’t having it and continued to make snide remarks. When we were called into a room finally – ahead of Ms. Rude, thank you very much – the nurse said to us, loudly in the direction of the Rude Family in the waiting room, “Thank you so much for being nice and patient we are doing out best!”

One place where we are seeing the biggest impact of unfilled jobs is with the school buses. Every day we get an email that this bus or that bus isn’t going to be running, and that’s it’s going to be combined with another bus. They cannot hire bus drivers. I’m not making light of a bus driver’s job: it is hard, and thankless; driving kids around and being responsible for their safety…that is a big responsibility.

And when these buses don’t run, and other buses pick up the slack, it throws off the whole morning. The kids are on the bus longer while they take up an extra route, they are late to school, and the bus drivers are irritable. One day, one of the bus routes from our elementary school wasn’t going to run so they were combined with a bus from another elementary school. And then the kids from our school had to do their entire route, drop the kids at the other school and then drove across town to be dropped at our school. So…they likely got to school around lunchtime.

As a parent, you take a big leap of faith putting your child on the school bus. Last year, we drove Little Mister to school and picked him up (between the first year in the school and COVID, we weren’t ready to commit to the bus yet). But the time commitment for that was not sustainable for another year. So this year, Little Mister took the bus. I was certain that I would be riding the bus the first day with our very shy child, but he surprised us both by walking right onto the bus. He didn’t even wave goodbye.

After a few days on the bus, Little Mister informed us that the bus took too long, he spent too much time on it, and basically he gave it a rating of 0/5 stars. “I’d prefer it if you drove me and picked me up from school.”

Oh, really? Let’s not get into the things I’d prefer in this life.

Little Mister is a shy kid, who won’t go out of his way to talk to new people. So I imagine the bus ride was long and quiet for him. After a few weeks, he discovered that the time would go by faster if he was reading, so now he reads both ways on the bus. And there are no complaints from this parent. Choosing to read? Yes, please!

Our bus is on the tamer side, but I’ve heard some buses are loud and crazy. I can’t even imagine having to drive a bus with 30 screaming kids on it. So I understand why we are missing so many bus drivers…no one wants the job. But on the other hand…someone needs to take the job!

Case in point: today, the bus came 10 minutes early. Ten minutes is a lot of time in the morning, it could be the difference between shower or no shower, breakfast or no breakfast, pants or no pants. Thankfully the bus driver saw Mr. KK and Little Mister in the driveway – and then running down the driveway – and stopped to wait. Because she never stops to wait, even when she’s early. Today she was early because she was trying to squeeze in an additional bus route because one bus wasn’t running at all.

Then, the last 2 days have been half days and the bus was 25 minutes late dropping off Little Mister. The first day it happened, I was starting to get nervous. I was running through a bunch of scenarios in my head – none of them good, mind you – and cursing myself for not having Little Mister memorize my phone number. It didn’t help that the town was picking up the leaves on the curb that day, and were stopped right in front of my house. So I’m standing there, the guy with the blower is literally blowing leaves around me while the machine picked up the piles. Finally I couldn’t take it any longer and I called the school. I knew the secretary would know what was going on. Except a man’s voice answered. The principal! What was he doing answering the phone?

I should have introduced myself as “crazy mom” or “worry wart” because he assured me that the bus did leave a few minutes late (more like 20) and that he was on his way home.

Thankfully he arrived home safely – if not a little annoyed. (Same for me; I was annoyed. I spent 40 minutes of my work day standing at the end of the driveway! I don’t have that kind of time! I thankfully work from home. What about the parents who go to the office every day – these crazy bus schedules have got to be messing with their productivity!

We are powering through, because the bus affords us less time in the car, and less time away from work. Also, it allows us to avoid the pick up line. If you ever want to get back at someone who has wronged you, send them to the parent pick up line to get your kid for a week. It’s not for the faint of heart.

Bottom line: if you need a job, please apply to be a bus driver. If you retired early and are looking for a few hours of work a day, please apply to be a bus driver!

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to shop for the best holiday gift ever for our bus driver to show our appreciation.

Christmas, Decorating, Mr. KK, shopping, Target

I’m Torn Between 2 Seasons

I think we can all agree that when November rolls around, summer is officially over. (I tend to hold onto summer for as long as possible, and will consider 65 degree October days basically an extensions of summertime). However, global warming is starting to mess with my logic, considering it was 75 degrees and sunny this past November 12th. The next day it was 20 degrees cooler, but that’s New England for ya.

November is a tricky time of year for me. We host Thanksgiving each year, so naturally I look forward to having everyone over, curating a menu and signature cocktail and eating, eating eating! Our house is decorated for fall, with leaves and pumpkins and oranges and browns. This is the first year I really got into fall decorating; and since orange is an accent color of our family room, the decor fits in seamlessly.

I love little houses! I have them out all year round, and decorate around them with the theme of the season.

But the problem with November, is that it’s not December.

While I like Thanksgiving, I LOVE Christmas. Like, LOVE LOVE. It is my most favorite time of the year (even better than birthday week), and each year I am itching to get started early. I am, however, shamed for these thoughts by Mr. KK and Little Mister. In fact, I took Little Mister to Target with me in October, and I happened to find some Christmas decor items in my cart (not sure how they got there?). When we got home, the little tattletale went right up to Mr. KK and yelled, “MOM BOUGHT CHRISTMAS STUFF!”

Thanks, a lot, dude. After I took you to Target for toys.

I also made the mistake of putting on Christmas music one morning while I was driving Little Mister around, and he ratted me out again! Where is this kid’s allegiance?

I’ve had our fall decor up two months now and I’m getting tired of it. I ran the idea of switching to Christmas BEFORE Thanksgiving, however Mr. KK was not too keen on the idea of eating turkey next to a tree.

So, the fall decor will stay up until the clock strikes midnight on Thanksgiving night and then it’s all Christmas, all the time.

When we were first married, Black Friday used to mean a fun day of shopping and lunch. Then we had Little Mister and after a two years of Black Friday fun when he could be in a stroller, we realized that crowded shopping and lunch we not as fun with a toddler. After that, Black Friday became Christmas decorating day!

So this year, the seasonal switcheroo will start early on the Friday after Thanksgiving, and go all day until it’s done. It takes hours to transform the house, and even longer with Little Mister wanting to “play” with my decorations. I’m not particular about much, but the Christmas decorating, that is MY project. Everything has a place, and I use photos from previous years to ensure the decor is where it should be.

And, of course, I have already been secretly purchasing new holiday decor items.

Here are some of my favorites:

Lit Village Stocking Holder from Threshold™

I loved this item at Target from last year, but it sold out quickly. I was so happy to see it back this year! I won’t be using it as a stocking holder; instead, it will fit nice on a shelf in my built in bookcase. And it lights up! How cute is that!

Flocked Bottlebrush Tree from Threshold

My decor color scheme tends to be in the cream, silver and gold family, so this tree will fit right in. It’s pretty tall, too, so will add some great height on the tops of our built ins. Also comes in green with colorful ornaments.

Bottle Brush Trees Gift Wrap White – Wondershop™

The key to a successful Christmas is having a strong wrapping paper game early on the season. I have already identified my wrapping color scheme for the season, and am up to my armpits in new wrapping paper, ribbons and gift tags.

T-minus one week until Operation: Christmas here at the house. Just have to get through turkeys and pumpkin pie, but my eye is on the prize. I’ll even be able to share photos before the end of November!

What’s your POV: Christmas decor before or after Thanksgiving?