Cleaning, Home renovations, Life, NaBloPoMo, Pandemic

What I Did (and Didn’t Do) During The Pandemic

Remember when the pandemic started? When we were all confined to our houses and visions of cleaning, organizing and DIY projects filled our heads (and your social feed)?

I watched as friends purged their basements, organized their linen closets and finally refurbished that flea market find. Children’s playrooms turned went from disarray of toys to neatly stacked bins. Kitchen cabinets were orderly. Garages were cleaned out.

But not at my house.

It seemed that during this pandemic, while everyone was putting their life (and house) in order, my life and house was going in the opposite direction. Our kitchen looked like a (6-year-old) hurricane hit it each day. We couldn’t see our tabletop because it was covered in crayons, paper and dinosaurs. Our counters were cluttered. And somehow our sink ALWAYS had dishes in it, even after I loaded the dishwasher.

Was I the only person who accomplished nothing on their house and life to-do list?

I will admit, Marie Kondo I am not. However, I thought I’d at least get something done. Mr. KK – on the other hand – created a gigantic to-do list at the beginning of Spring and basically crossed off every single item. I was lucky if I got the laundry done every week.

Instead of feeling like a total failure, I decided to make a mental list of the things I did accomplish in the last 8 months; those things I didn’t cross things off an official “to do” list, but were personal and emotional wins.

What I Did During The Pandemic

I helped Little Mister become confident in coloring and drawing. Being a lefty, our Little Mister hadn’t been a big fan of coloring or drawing. He just didn’t think he was “good at it”. So we spent lots of time with me drawing scenes for him to color and decorate with stickers, which slowly transitioned to him drawing something and asking me to fill in the rest, to us creating little “books” together with drawings and words. Now, he takes out the crayons and paper on his own and starts drawing. He’s so proud of what he draws that he asks to hang it up in his room.

I stuck with my fitness and healthy eating routine and instead of gaining the COVID 15, I actually lost the COVID 15 (and then some!)

I changed my closet over from fall/winter to spring/summer in a timely manner. Each year it turns 80 degrees and I’m still trying to find something to wear from ponchos and boots. (Never mind that I didn’t wear 3/4 of the clothes I put in the closet. If it wasn’t leggings or denim shorts, it didn’t get any wear time.)

I read. A lot. I posted a few days ago about my favorite books so far this year. Reading is something I love doing and usually I feel like I just don’t have the time. Nothing a little pandemic can’t fix.

I saved money. This shouldn’t be surprising since we literally didn’t leave the house, have any social life, or spend money on anything besides food for months on end. I didn’t go into a Target for 6 months (much to Mr. KK’s happiness). Heck, we actually made money during the pandemic because we had to cancel a few vacations!

I played. Because we’re the Little Mister’s only playmates, I spent quite a bit of time playing and pretending. We played pet store, Octonauts, Lion King, stickers, hide and seek and explorers. And just when I would think I was the worst playmate in the world, Little Mister would tell me how much he loved playing with me and I’d be suckered into another hour of being Ryder from Paw Patrol.

I stopped trying to do everything at 100%. Our house was a mess. Sometimes we ate meals that consisted of all leftovers. I worked weird hours, sometimes starting at 6am or stopping at 10pm, so I could find a work/life balance. And if something didn’t get done, so be it.

I spent a lot of time with our family. Once the weather was warm, we spent every weekend with our parents, either at our house on the patio, or at my inlaws’ or parents’ houses at their pools. And while we kept our distance (I still haven’t hugged my parents since the beginning of the year!), we were able to be together, which was the most important thing.

I lived the opposite of FOMO. During the last 8 months, we missed out on a lot of things. There were places we didn’t go, people we didn’t see, events we didn’t attend. Was it hard making decisions that would mean Little Mister might go another month (or two) without playing with another child? You betcha. Did I want a little taste of our “old life” with overnight trips and boozy boat rides? Hell to the yes. But, in the end, the health and safety of our family kept us on track. In order for Little Mister to spend time with his grandparents (who eventually came to the rescue and started watching him while we were working before school started) we had to stick to our isolated routine.

So while I didn’t rearrange my office, organize the holiday bins in the basement or clean the toy room, I did have the incredible experience of watching Little Mister grow and become confident, appreciating the little things and going to bed at the end of the weekend without Sunday stomach.

And to me, it was worth it.

food, Kids will be kids, NaBloPoMo, parenting

We Are Raising a Carb-a-holic

When our Little Mister was younger, he would eat so many different foods. Then, slowly, he started to have an opinion (the nerve!) and decide what he did and didn’t like. Gone were the days he would happily mash salmon and potatoes in his mouth, or ask to try our shrimp or eat puréed beef stew. Now, foods he ate just two days earlier were no longer in his repertoire.

One day, he quit chicken nuggets cold turkey. What 5 year old does that? Chicken nuggets is a food group for kids under 10.

But what does the Little Mister love? CARBS. If my child could eat only white food for the rest of his life, he’d be happy. (I mean, I get it – I wish I could exist on cheese and bread, too. But there are things called balanced diets and BMI that we have to worry about).

At our recent 6 year old check up, the doctor asked Little Mister if he was eating fruits and vegetables. “Yes,” he nodded solemnly. Liar! Besides broccoli, we are anti-vegetable (tomatoes are a fruit! and corn is not a vegetable!).

Dinnertime is becoming harder and harder. Though I think I’m more bothered with Little Mister eating the same thing every night than he is. Honestly, he’d the same thing for breakfast, lunch and dinner if I let him. (Why am I not letting him? Why am I driving myself crazy???)

Part of the reason it bugs me that my child won’t eat (or try) anything is that I actually cook dinners each night. Mr. KK and I eat a pretty good meal each night, the likes of which are wasted on our child. So each night, I cook 2 meals; or, rather, I cook one meal and one additional carbohydrate.

What is on the 6 Year Old Menu

Here is what Little Mister has deemed worthy of eating:

• Grilled cheese
• Pizza (he used to ask for spinach on his pizza, or bacon and olive, now it’s just plain cheese)
• Pasta (plain, no butter or cheese. sometimes he’ll concede to sauce if he’s feeling daring)
• Pancakes (shaped like snowmen or dogs; a good go-to when we’ve gone through the usual dinner rotation)
• Broccoli (I’m proud to type this, he has not yet tired of broccoli, even though it’s the only vegetable he’ll eat so I give it to him every. single. night.)
• Strawberries
• Apples
• Any type of chip (potato, Dorito, Cheeto, you name it, my kid will house it)
• Dessert (he is an equal opportunity dessert eater)

Little Mister is a bonafide snacker. Five minutes after he finishes a meal, he wants a snack. And after his snack, he needs another snack. His snacks have snacks! We are trying to teach him how to balance his snacks. He knows enough by this time, to ask specifically, “Do I have have to have a snack that’s a fruit now?” Yes, yes you do! Though he tries to be sneaky with, “Fruits snacks are fruit. It’s in the name.” Nice try, kiddo.

I don’t imagine the days of me making 2 meals each night will end soon, because I’m pretty sure I’m not going to start eating pancakes and dry pasta for dinner. And even Little Mister’s doctor said, “You need to determine what’s too much? It is worth stressing over now, knowing he’s likely not going to go to college only eating 10 things?” And no, it’s not. He’s healthy and growing (like a week!) so he’d getting nutrition. And honestly, there are other places in my life that I can stress over rather than having to make a grilled cheese sandwich 3 times a week.

NaBloPoMo, politics, Uncategorized

The Election that Made History

I am the least political person on the planet. I don’t talk about politics, I don’t post about politics and I don’t read about politics. However, even a politics-phobe like me could not escape this year’s election.

I was proud to hear more Americans voted in this election than any other. If there was ever an election that needed all the votes possible, it was this one.

Last week, I was explaining to the Little Mister why he didn’t have school on Tuesday.

“It’s election day,” I told him. “A day that America votes on who will be the next President.”

“What’s a President?”

“The President is the person who is in charge of our country. The man who is currently the President is competing against another man who wants the job.” I explained.

“Why does that other man want the Leader’s job?” he asked.

“The new man wants to be in charge so he can make changes and make our country better.”

“Why do you want him to win?”

“Well,” I explained, “The man who is currently the President isn’t nice person.”

“Is he rude?” Little Mister asked.

“Yes. He also makes fun of people and calls them names.”

“Well that’s not very nice,” Little Mister said matter-of-factly.

“No, it isn’t. The new guy who wants to win is much nicer.”

“I want the nice guy to win,” Little Mister told me.

“Me too,” I agreed.

Leave it to a 6 year old to put things in perspective.

Now that we have the results of the election after a nail-biting 4 days after the votes were in, it’s amazing the change I’m seeing in the world. First, on the day they announced the who the President would be, the weather was gorgeous in New England (hello, 75 degrees in November!). Second, the tone and mood of my social feeds went from one of anxiety, anger and maliciousness, to one of hope, happiness and inspiration. Gone were the rants and name calling. Instead, my feed was filled with photos of sunsets and smiles, celebrations and champagne.

And third, something finally shut up the current President.

And, it turns out, the nice guy did win. And with him comes a female Vice President. Will they solve all the problems of the world? Probably not. Will they make mistakes? You betcha. But will they be strong leaders who fight the good fight and protect our country? I really think so.

Here’s to change for the good.

Books, NaBloPoMo

My Best Books of 2020

I have always been a big reader. Mr. KK jokes that he goes to sleep and wakes up seeing my face lit up by my Kindle. For me, books are a easy way to escape and take my mind off of life. And there was no better time to escape with a book than this year!

I read a LOT of books in the last 8 months. So many, that I can’t even recall all of the titles. Even when going through my Kindle I had to open up the book and read a few pages because I couldn’t remember if I had read the book or not! Then there were some books I knew I read, but the prose didn’t look familiar at all (we’ll chalk that one up to the book not really leaving a big impression on me).

Here are many of the books I’ve read this year. I have a very technical rating system:

Love it!
Decent read.
Meh.

The following books all receive my LOVE IT! rating:

The Things that Keep Us Here by Carla Buckley.

This is a book about a pandemic that I read during a pandemic. Granted, their situation was a LOT worse than ours was, but still. This was written in 2011, so you may find yourself wondering why they didn’t order groceries online or get dinner from Seamless.

Sometimes you just need to laugh! And both of these books delivered! Do You Mind If I Cancel by Gary Janetti and A Very Punchable Face by Colin Jost had me stifling giggles in the predawn hours while all the boys slept soundly.

Elin Hildebrand will always have my heart. There are no better books to read in the summer. I somehow have lived in New England my entire life and I am yet to visit Nantucket (it’s on the list!), but after reading Elin’s books, I feel like I’ve been to Nantucket; like I’ve felt the warm sand between my toes on the beaches, peeked in the windows of the downtown shops and tasted the plump, juicy tomatoes from Bartlett’s Farm. This summer, in addition to re-reading some of my favorites of hers (as I’m known to do), I also devoured both of her new releases for 2020: Troubles in Paradise (the third book in the trilogy) and 28 Summers. Both were fantastic.

Both of these books brought New York City to life in these stories set decades ago. Park Avenue Summer about a young woman who goes to work at Cosmo for Helen Gurley Brown and The Address about a woman who takes a job at the brand new Dakota Hotel, filled with glitz and glamour.

I loved all of these books for different reasons. Heart Bones by Colleen Hoover was a sweet story by an author I admire. The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett tells the story of twins separated and the different paths their lives took. Finding Mrs. Ford by Deborah Goodrich Royce is part love story part mystery with twists until the end. In Five Years Years by Rebecca Serle is the type of book you can read and read and read (and that’s exactly what I did – I couldn’t put it down and read until 3:30am when I finished it!) about a woman who experiences something and reevaluates her life. Lastly, The Wives by Tarryn Fisher is a thriller to the end and all sorts of crazy.

And for the days you just need a little bit of chick lit, Kristan Higgins and Brenda Novak delivers! My One and Only and Always the Last to Know are funny and easy reads. One Perfect Summer tackles the question of what happens if you do a genetics test and find out info that’s suprising.

The following books all receive my DECENT READ rating:

Some of these books are best sellers – and some of you may have loved them more than I did. I’ve read everything by Allison Winn Scotch and Jennifer Weiner, so I was excited to read their new releases Cleo McDougal Regrets Nothing and Big Summer. I enjoyed both of them, but they weren’t my favorite, favorite of the year. But worth reading. The Jetsetters and Beach Read were both good – though they started a little slow – but both good for a vacation read.

The following book received my MEH rating:

I am probably alone on this one since this book was an immediate best seller. But I found myself reading Luster by Raven Leilani just to read it – I had invested myself in half of the book and couldn’t just stop. The writing was a little choppy for me and I found it a little far-fetched where the heroine ended up living (no spoiler alerts here).

I know there were more books than this, at one point I was reading 3 books a week!

There were many I started but didn’t finish because either my load ended or I just couldn’t relate to the content to continue and I was only 15% of the way through the book so I felt ok abandoning it.

My bookshelf is full and I’m at my limit for requests at the library so I’m ready to hunker down this winter and lose myself in a book.

Entertaining, Pandemic, Uncategorized

Entertaining: 2020 style

I LOVE to entertain. When we bought our house and gutted renovated it, we opened up all the walls to create one big kitchen/dining/living room area that was conducive to gatherings.

During “normal” times, when Mr. KK and I were preparing to entertain, it could be an all day affair getting ready. From planning to shopping, by the time our event rolled around, we were exhausted! But, oh! How times have changed.

Our Pre-Pandemic Entertaining Checklist looked like this:

• Clean house top to bottom
• Plan out a food menu (usually a theme)
• Plan out drink menu (possibly with a specialty drink)
• Prepare food all day
• Set table, clean glassware
• Light candles around the house
• Create music playlist
• Get dolled up
• Send the dog (and sometimes child!) out for the night
• Run around like a madwoman the entire event

Once lockdown was instituted, we had to get creative in order to see our family, socially distanced and outside. The first 45 days of the pandemic the only way we say our parents was on video chat. But when the weather started getting warmer, we created a safe “party” environment outside.

First, chairs were moved to be a respectable distance apart.

Second, everyone brought their own drinks and snacks.

Third, do you best to resist hugs from the Little Mister.

Based on the above, our Pandemic Entertaining Checklist looked like this:

• Blow off patio
• Pull up takeout menus on our phones

I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed get togethers more than I have this year! No stress, no running around, no prep.

I could get used to this!

Happy Friday!

Boomers, Generations, getting old, Life, NaBloPoMo

How the Boomers are Different from Gens X, Y, Z

If this pandemic has showed me anything, it’s the generational gap between younger generations and the Boomers.

First off, raise your hand if at the beginning of the pandemic you had trouble keeping your parents home. I thought I was going to have to put homing devices on everyone in my life over 70. I found myself saying things like, “How imperative is it that you have hot dog buns right now?” Finally, and thankfully, it clicked. And all of my Boomers finally took my (not so subtle) hints and stayed under house arrest home.

Second, TV coverage. My parents and in laws had their TVs on 24/7 following COVID coverage. The actual television is on. And sometimes, multiple TVs are on in different rooms, all on the same station. CNN has viewers for life with that crew.

But the dedication to physically watching news on television isn’t the only difference between me and the “older generation”. In fact, last year I wrote this post about how our generations do things differently.

But the differences don’t end there!

A few months ago, Mr. KK and I were at his parents house. His mother was showing us things she found after cleaning out an armoire, when she held up a large bag of metal.

“Look at all these belt buckles I found!” she said.

And there, in the bag, must’ve been about 20 belt buckles of varying shapes and sizes. Yes, I said belt buckles. Personally, I don’t own a belt (short, pear-shaped women should never wear a belt!). Mr. KK own two belts (one black and one brown). But the buckles are attached to the belt. There’s no switching up the buckle depending on his mood (“I’m feeling feisty, let’s bust out the turquoise studded silver!”).

Epsom salt. I recently was reading a book about a twenty-something who needed an epsom salt bath to help blisters that she had on her feet. (This book was obviously a book about millennials written by someone much, much older). Honestly, until I looked it up just now, I had no idea what epsom salt was even used for (it has 20 surprising uses! Who knew it could help with constipation and acne!). I do, however, distinctly remember it being in our linen closet growing up.

Over the summer – in an effort to complete at least ONE project during all of our time home together – Mr. KK needed to measure something. “I wish we had a yardstick,” he said, “that would be perfect right now.” There are three types of people who likely own a yardstick: mothers over 70, their mothers, and seamstresses. And I am none of the above. My mother had (has?) a yardstick. It was kept in the hallway closet, standing up in the corner (where and how else do you store something that’s 3 feet long?). I think we used it to measure how much snow we got during one of the blizzards.

The ye old address book. If you’re under 20, you likely don’t even know what an address book is. If you’re Gen X, you likely had one in your childhood for all those “pen pals” you might have corresponded with from summer vacations or camp. This is also the reason why you might still have stamps, because you’ve physically mailed a piece of parcel in your lifetime. Boomers live and die by the address book. Not only does it hold addresses and phone numbers (to LAND LINES), it usually is adorned with a variety of paper clips and scrap pieces of paper, the likes of which are not limited to: business cards for painters, exterminators or carpenters; reminder cards for doctor appointments; and a funny comic ripped from the newspaper.

Boomers have check books and they know how (and still do!) use them. I am the first person to tell you that I have a checkbook. I remember the day I got it with my Big Girl checking account. However, just because I HAVE a check book, doesn’t mean I USE a check book. I have had the same set of checks for years and years and years (and probably will until I die, frozen in time on the same check number from 2005 when I was issued checks with my new married name! If you owe me money and you want to pay me by check, just hold onto it…until you can pay me electronically.

Don’t get me wrong, I feel the generational gap between me (Gen X) and millennials. And I’m sure they could name a million things that I do – or own – that is completely foreign to them. Things such as: I enjoy flipping through magazines (PRINTED magazines), I always have a book of stamps, and I handwrite my to do list every day (so that I can physically cross things off!).

And I’m comfortable with my Gen X-ness. I’m sure Gen Z has never felt the little thrill of opening the mailbox and seeing the latest issue of their favorite glossy magazine just sitting there, begging for a creased spine and leisurely read. And honestly, I feel bad for them.

Kids will be kids, Life, Mornings, NaBloPoMo, parenting

What I Do “Right”, According to My 6 Year Old

Today was my morning to bring the Little Mister to school at Grandma’s House of Remote Learning. We backed out of the garage and waved at Mr. KK in the window. After a few waves I put the car in drive, turned the wheel, and off we went down our long driveway.

“MO-O-O-OM!” Little Mister whined (loudly) from the backseat.

“What is it?” I asked. We literally just left the house, what could be wrong already?

“I didn’t get to say goodbye to Lance,” Little Mister huffed at me. Lance is our neighbor’s dog, a gigantic white horse that barks incessantly at all hours of the day and night. There is no love lost for Lance.

“We didn’t get to say goodbye and it’s ALL YOUR FAULT!” Little Mister yelled, crossing his arms across his chest and scowling out his window.

Ah, yes. Of course it was my fault. You see – we have reached the stage in childhood where everything is my fault. My child literally blames me for every bad and horrific thing that happens. Here are some examples of what has recently been my fault:

  1. Little Mister stubs his toe on the kitchen chair, while I’m 15 feet away at the stove.
  2. The wifi blips and the movie we’re watching cuts out. Totally my fault.
  3. Little Mister is building a tower of animals that is not structurally sound to begin with and the entire thing topples over. MY FAULT.
  4. Little Mister tells me he doesn’t want a cookie, so I put the cookies away. Little Mister then has a tantrum because I put the cookies away without giving him one. Mom’s fault!
  5. Little Mister runs and jumps on a bean bag pile, misses, and bangs his knee on the hardwood floor. Even though I’m in a completely different room, you guessed it: my fault!

So today, when I drove away from our house on our way to school without letting Max say goodbye to the dog who was not even outside, and was told it was my fault, I couldn’t let it go.

“So you not saying goodbye to Lance is my fault?” I ask. Not because I need clarity, but because the accusation is so ridiculous.

“Yep,” he says. “Just like everything else.”

Ouch.

“Let me ask you,” I say, as if I’m talking to a thirty year old, and not my 6 year old who apparently thinks I’m responsible for all of the horrible things in his life. “Is there anything you think I do right?”

Little Mister thinks about this for a minute.

“You cook right,” he says.

Cooking! Ok, I’ll take it.

“Anything else?” I ask.

“Hugging. You hug perfectly right.”

Awww. Now we’re talking.

“What else does Mommy do right?”

“You play with me right,” he says. “And you watch movies the right way.” I’m not quite sure what the right way is to watch movies. Maybe, staying awake? Lying on the couch? Singing all the songs?

“Wow, thank you!” I tell Little Mister. “It makes me feel good to hear all those things that I do right and that not everything is my fault.”

Little Mister sighs, obviously growing tired of our conversation. “You don’t do everything wrong. But it is your fault I didn’t say goodbye to Lance.”

Who was not even outside! I want to scream. But I keep my mouth shut, another thing I do right. Sometimes.

Only Child Pandemic
NaBloPoMo, Pandemic, parenting

Parenting an Only Child During a Pandemic

The pandemic has been hard on everyone. But there is one group of people who are challenged each and every day, drowning in guilt and desperately needing a break. Their heroic efforts must be recognized.

Please, a moment of acknowledgment for: the parents of only children.

No one experienced a quarantine with a child quite like the parents of those children with no siblings. No built in playmates or distractors.

The KK household is unique in that three only children live here. And each of us had a different reaction to being home with each other 24/7 for months on end:

Mr. KK: “This is great! I love all this family time!”
Me: ((thinking to self: where in this house can I hide to be alone?))
Little Mister: “Can you play with me? I’m bored.”

Starting in March, the Little Mister left his daycare one day and just never returned. All of a sudden he went from spending every day with other kids, playing and learning, to spending all day with two (boring) parents who were trying to work full time, simultaneously feeling guilty for not playing with their child. Super fun times.

On top of being stuck at home, we don’t live in a “neighborhood”. Our house is on a main road, and while we live down a very long driveway with a secluded yard, our neighbors consist of (also boring) married 50 somethings, not exactly exciting for a 5 year old. So the Little Mister’s playmates because Mom and Dad by default. So while working all day long, Mr. KK and I were juggling entertaining the Little Mister while keeping our sanity (and our jobs).

At first, we tried to keep Little Mister on a schedule, because – after all – one day he’d be going back to daycare and would need that routine. After a few days of pulling a kid out of bed against his will (I was finding it hard to answer the question, “Why do I have to get up? Where are we going?”) we made the decision to let him sleep as late as he wanted to. I know for some kids that would mean 6am – maybe 6:30am – wake ups. But our kid was a sleeper, so some days we wouldn’t see his little bed head emerge until 9 or 10am. This little plan accomplished two polar opposite things: 1. Mr. KK and I had quiet time in the morning to get a jump start on work, so we felt less guilty about needed to break or an hour in the day to play with Little Mister and 2. It was near impossible to get Little Mister to be at a decent hour because he was getting up late and not exerting enough energy in the day to be tired. (Hilariously, Mr. KK and I were exhausted by 8pm every day, so there were night when we all went to bed at the same time, and 99% of the time I was the first one asleep in the house).

Playing with neighbor kids wasn’t an option, and neither was playing with friends. I had us on lockdown, and I knew exactly where we were going (nowhere) and doing (nothing). I didn’t have those same details for friends of ours. So with no other choice, we found ourselves with fluid work schedules (and understanding employers): squeeze as much work in as possible while also playing Octonauts and Paw Patrol.

And while there were some days that we were both so busy at work that it had to be a “movie day”, the last thing we wanted was for that to become the norm. It was time to get creative, and give Little Mister things to look forward to.

Indoor camping. We moved the furniture, blew up the air mattress, popped in a movie and made deconstructed s’mores (a ramekin parfait of crumbled graham crackers, a spoonful of Fluff and a drizzle of hot fudge, topped with more crumbled graham crackers). Mr. KK was a trooper and slept on the air mattress with Little Mister. The first camping night I slept on the couch. Subsequent camping nights I snuck off to my bed.

indoor camping
I hope I never have to sleep on an air mattress again in my life.

Outdoor movies. The patio that Mr. KK built last year was our refuge this year. We’d set up comfy seating, pop some popcorn and wait until the sun went down to turn on our favorite movies. Disney+ was a godsend during these crazy times.

Scavenger hunts. Little Mister loved these! Hand drawn pictures (because we couldn’t read yet!) made it easy to explore the yard and find everything.

Can a girl get some props for her visual scavenger hunt?

Swimming. Thank goodness it was summer and that both sets of parents have pools. This was going to be the year we hired a private swim teacher, but, oh well. There’s always next year. (The 2020 Mantra)

Drawing and stickers. Being a lefty, Little Mister wasn’t a super confident colorer or drawer. That changed this summer. I would draw a “scene” for him and he’d decorate it with stickers and then spend hours using his imagination playing with them. Or, I’d draw characters from his favorite show and we’d color them and cut them out and play with them. I’m waiting to be recruited by Disney for my mad drawings of Simba and Mufasa to illustrate the next Lion King sequel.

I mean, just look at that Rafiki!

Being home with an only child the last 8 months has been hard. I unrealistically thought I could be an amazing employee and an amazing mother; however, I quickly found out that on most days I felt like I was half-assing both jobs.

I learned that I can’t be everything to everyone, all the time. I learned that it’s ok to be human. I learned that kids (well, my kid) remembers staying in and baking cookies with me more than he remembers family outings. I learned that sometimes it’s going to be a movie marathon day, and that’s ok. I learned that I am horrible at playing Batman, but I’m a really great at making up stories and imagination games.

I learned that even when I felt I was failing, I was succeeding in Little Mister’s eyes. And most of all, I learned that I needed to give myself a break.

Amazon, Grocery store, NaBloPoMo, Pandemic, Type A

Online Shopping for the Win

Chances are, if you weren’t big on online shopping before March, you quickly became a new staple on the Amazon/UPS/FedEx delivery route. I know my parents have.

I have always been an Amazon star customer (an, but with the pandemic my status has risen to new levels. We bought EVERYTHING online.

This basically summed up the KK household while a pandemic was swirling around us:

I am not claiming authorship for this hilarity; it was a screen shot I had so the author is unknown to me.

Since we were all in lockdown, all clothing shopping was done online. We were transitioning from Winter into Spring, and Little Mister had ZERO clothes that would fit him. Enter Target, Old Navy and Kohls, and lots of comfy clothes that were perfect for wearing…around the yard. That was about as exciting as summer was going to get, it seemed.

And the boxes started piling up.

Amazon as usual was my go-to. Personal care items. Dog food. Toys. Protein shakes. (Still no disinfecting wipes!) Could the virus live on packages? I had no idea, so I let them sit in the garage for a few days “de-germing” before bringing them into the house. And even then I washed twice after opening them. The Poor Little Mister started asking, “Can I touch that? Is it from the warehouse?” Who is going to pay my for child’s therapy sessions in 10 years??

Halfway down the driveway? Seriously? I thought we had something special!

Online shopping was just so…easy. Click, click…it’s here! Even Little Mister discovered the joys of online shopping. Look at it on the screen, Mom clicks a few buttons, it’s here in 2 days! (Have to teach them early!)

But perhaps the biggest change for me came in the form of grocery shopping. This was new territory for me. I LOVE going to the grocery store. Sneaking out of the house on the weekends before anyone was awake, preferred seasonal beverage and list in hand, walking the aisles, making a weekly menu in my head as I went along. I tried online grocery shopping once last year and it was…fine. But physically going to the grocery store allowed me to change my mind on the fly about what we would make, should something catch my eye. It allowed me to change gears should something not be in stock. I could make my own substitutions and decide when I need to jump ship and find an entirely different product. That sort of customization is very limited with online grocery shopping.

This became the norm. Groceries dropped at the garage while I hid in the house and waved from a window.

Instacart (for all of its faults) allowed me to do this within limits. I liked that I could text with my shopper while s/he was shopping. It was like making a new friend every time I put in a grocery order! Some shoppers were better than others, engaging in my witty banter (“Any TP? Two-ply only, please!”) and sending me photos of products to make sure they were the right ones.

And, of course, I likely annoyed them with my Type A personality. For example, I had Pillsbury refrigerated pie crusts on my list one week. My shopper sent me a photo of a frozen round pie crust saying, “This is the only one they have – do you want it?”

No, I didn’t want it. It was a completely different product than the one I had requested. Also? My shopper was in the wrong section of the store. So I did what any other expert grocery shopper would have done: I passive aggressively led them to the correct part of the store.

ME: “No, thank you! If they don’t have the one in the red box near the butter and cans of crescent rolls then please don’t get any!”

The next text was pic of the exact item I was looking for with a note that said, “I found it! Last one!” with a smiley face.

Am I crazy? Yes.
Did I get the right pie crust? Also yes.

We used online grocery shopping for quite a few months. In the early summer, Mr. KK started going to the grocery store again. (Perhaps he was tired of listening to me complain that the lettuce was the wrong shade of green? Or he no longer wanted to support the avocado farmers after that time I thought I ordered 4 avocados but instead ordered 4 bags of avocados. I’m still burping up guacamole.)

With Mr. KK going to the store, I had my very own personal online grocery shopper with the added bonus that this shopper knew exactly what I liked (thin-stalked broccolini) and what I wouldn’t stand for (Lay’s chips substituted for Cape Cod).

I finally, after 6 months of avoiding it, finally went to the grocery store for the first time. I went on a Tuesday, in the middle of the day, to avoid the weekend crowds. And it was…fine. The directional arrows are a little annoying; doubling back down certain aisles definitely makes the time in store even longer. It was eye opening to see some of the empty shelves (still no disinfecting wipes!), and amazing to see who are mask wearers and who aren’t (and that no one is really standing up to anyone asking them to follow the rules posted on the door). I have gone back to store two other times, both at 7am on the weekends when no one else was in the store (those could also have been the designated senior citizen hours, but seriously, this pandemic has aged me decades and I feel I now qualify).

One positive that has come out of this year is that I have found my job when I retire: online grocery shopper.

I would be the perfect employee for a few reasons:

1. I love being in the grocery store.
2. I know where everything is, including sneaky items like QTips (baby aisle) and Bisquick (not with the other pancake mixes but in the baking aisle).
3. I’d make sensible substitutions (if they request a box of spaghetti, I would replace it with another long pasta, NOT a short, tubular one).
4. I’m very adept at spending other people’s money.
5. It’s safer than driving an Uber.

I’d be happy to start my client base now. I’ll even go to specialty stores! Reserve your spot now!

Uncategorized

2020: You STINK.

Well, we made it.

This was the one year that my fingers itched to write a blog post outside of the month of November. But I held fast to tradition – and waited – so here you have it: 30 posts in 30 days.

This sh*tshow known as 2020 has taken its toll on everyone. As I share our ‘pandemic life’ and what the last 8 months have been like, please know that I am very thankful that our lives have more or less stayed pretty close to “normal”. I know others have not been as lucky, as the economy took a nose dive and essential workers had no choice but to leave the house every day, possibly risking their lives (and their family’s lives). I share my stories (and complaining!) with the understanding that we have been very fortunate. But come on, you can’t make this sh*t up!

Let’s kick of the month like we always do with a recap of the year thus far:

January. Did January even happen? If I could go back and talk to January KK, I likely would say something like this: “I know it’s cold, girlfriend, but get your ass out and DO something. GO somewhere. Take your time walking the aisles at Target. Remember how good you felt the day after your hair appointment. Savor that restaurant meal. Find extra time to be alone…TRUST ME.”

February. In what can only be described as pure luck, Mr. KK and I flew down to Charleston for a long weekend getaway with friends. It was a last-minute trip with expiring air miles, but so, so much fun. Great food, great drinks and great weather. And THANK GOD we went. (I seem to remember purchasing anit-bacterial wipes in the airport to wipe down the seats and tray tables on the plane because maybe I had heard inklings about something going on in China?)

Oh, Charleston, had we only known you’d be our only trip this year.

March. The beginning of the madness. We started the month with our Little Mister having his first stomach bug. (Want to know an easy way to clean vomit out of every crevasse in your backseat of your car, carseat and floor mats? Yeah, me too.) The end of the second week was the beginning of the end (as we knew it).

Suddenly we found ourselves all home, all day. I have always worked from home, but now Mr. KK was a remote worker, so we set up a make shift desk for him in the kitchen. While the Little Mister’s daycare didn’t close, we chose to not send him. We quarantined away from our parents (and in doing so, our babysitters!). Those first weeks were filled with uncertainty: How long will this last? Will our family get sick? Is 2pm too early to start drinking?

I had always said that March was the longest month, but 2020 gave new meaning to that phrase.

April. If March was the longest month, April felt like an eternity. We were deep in isolation, not leaving the house for anything. The weather was getting better, but it still wasn’t warm enough to really spend time outside. I hadn’t gone to the grocery store since mid March (a favorite activity of mine), and was relying on grocery delivery services. There was a paper towel and toilet paper shortage. It was hard to find the usual items we liked from the stores. Grocery store shelves were bare. It felt like Armageddon. I celebrated my birthday in quarantine, on a family video call, with a cake delivered to our garage by my mother-in-law.

Do birthdays count during a pandemic? Or will I come out of this the same age as when I went in?

May. I had to cancel our trip to Mexico at an adults only resort, celebrating our 15 year anniversary. I mean, COME ON, 2020. (But we did get all of our money back, thankfully.)

June. I lost my grandmother early in the month. She was 99, and had lived alone until February of this year, when she moved into a nursing home. Her health started to decline and she slept a lot. Some days she’d have moments when she would wake up feisty as ever, and others she was talking to people in her room who had been dead for decades. When the pandemic hit in March, visitors were no longer allowed to see her. Thankfully my aunt – my grandmother’s daughter – worked at the facility so she was able to visit with her and give us reports. On days when my grandmother was lucid, did she wonder where we were? And why we stopped visiting her? It was heartbreaking to think about, and deep down I knew that I would never see her alive again. Then, in June, she passed away. While her health had been failing, she did have to go on oxygen. And her posthumous COVID test was positive.

Me and Gram.

July. Oh, July was fun. I got Lyme from a tick bite. I couldn’t go in the sun for weeks with the antibiotics I was taking. So on top of not being able to go anywhere or do anything because of the pandemic, I couldn’t even do the only thing we were able to do in isolation: be outside at our parents’ pools.

In better news, we added to our family! When things are crazy, why not get a pandemic puppy! Meet Bruno! He is slowly finding his place in our family, and Rocco is (even more slowly) starting to accept that he’s not going anywhere. Our “doxie mix” puppy is 24 pounds at 6 months! He’s like a small horse.

August. Happy 15th Anniversary to Mr. KK! We didn’t get to go to Mexico, but we did get to enjoy lobster rolls outside in the rain (even if we were wearing masks and I was nervous the whole time). Also? We cancelled our big family vacation to Maine with our parents. Hey, that just means more time at home! Awesome.

Yay! Lobsters rolls in the rain! I feel just like we’re on a secluded beach in Mexico!

September. Oh hooray, school. Let’s add some more difficult decisions into this year. In school. Remote. Hybrid. I was exhausted from the school year before it even started. What a way to start kindergarten. This was supposed to be a year of making friends, learning to share, and getting your feet wet with what this whole school thing was about. We chose to do remote learning with our Little Mister, because we had the ability to do so. We set up a little classroom at his grandmother’s house and we alternate sitting with him each day. Having this remote learning opportunity has taught me two things: 1. I could never, ever be a teacher. Ever. 2. It is amazing to witness your child learning. Not just having them come home and tell you what they did (though getting that info is like pulling teeth), but instead, watching their faces as the teacher is talking and actually seeing it “click”. Pretty amazing.

Our Kindergarten “classroom”. I think Grandma is enjoying reliving her “teacher” years!

October. When this pandemic started, I didn’t think Little Mister would be celebrating his birthday in isolation. But here we were in October, trying to make the most of it! No kids, no blowing out candles, no bounce house. But we made it as fun as possible with a jungle theme and animal masks. These kids are troopers.

November. I’m not quite sure what the rest of the year holds, especially as COVID cases continue to rise. One thing I can promise for November is 30 days of posts!

I have been extra vigilant throughout this entire year, so much so that Mr. KK thinks I’m a little crazy. But, every choice was made for a reason. Remote school so Little Mister can spend time with his grandparents (and have someone watch him after school so Mom and Dad could get some work done). The hope of celebrating Thanksgiving together (admittedly, it’s going to be a little too cold to force the family to each turkey on the patio…)

This year forced us to spend a LOT of quality family time together. We spent time with Little Mister (and each other) that we would normally not have gotten. We appreciated the simplicity of weekends where we had nothing to do, weren’t rushing around or on a timetable. We picked one thing to do each day and enjoy, instead of cramming 5 things in and not having as much fun as we thought we would.

I will say, the hardest part of the pandemic was not explaining to Little Mister what was going on and why we needed to stay home, but instead, was trying to get our elder generation to STAY HOME.

We are all looking forward to when this “yucky virus” (as Little Mister calls it) goes away. But until then, we’ll enjoy the family time and appreciating the little things that might normally go unnoticed.