Christmas, Decorating, Elf on the Shelf, Life, NaBloPoMo

November Blog Wrap Up

Well, I (sort of) made it: 30 posts in 30 days (well, more like 27 posts in 30 days, but who’s counting???)

So on this very last day, I leave you with a summary of the month, that didn’t make the blog.

The Elf Is Back on the Shelf

He arrived the Sunday after Thanksgiving and has already been into lots of mischief. I have a love/hate relationship with this Elf. I love being creative and making him do fun things every day, however, I hate when my “Move Elf” alarm goes off every night (and occasionally after I’ve fallen asleep on the couch!). One BIG benefit of the Elf is that Little Mister pops out of bed each morning to look for him (instead of waxing on each morning for 20 minutes how it’s not fair that he has to get up and go to school), and is dressed, fed, and teeth brushed 20 minutes before we need to leave for school.

I leave with this Elf Inspo from years past (our elf was masked in 2020 because, well, COVID):

We Decorated for Christmas

In lieu of sharing my entire living room Winter Wonderland, I leave you with one of my favorite nooks: My Ode to Boston.

I Have Completely Abandoned Any Thoughts of Eating Healthy

Who wants salad when it gets cold? Not this girl. And who can stay on track with so many reasons to have a cocktail, the multitude of cheeseboards I’ll encounter, and the ease of ordering take out instead of cooking because truly, online shopping is exhausting.

This is my favorite fried chicken sandwich from Mikro Depot, who also happens to have the very best french fries in the universe.

I mean, COME ON.

We Have Officially Become a White Board Family

I never imagined I’d succumb to the white board, let alone hang it on my refrigerator; but, here we are. Even with one kid and barely any type of sports or extra curricular activities, our white board is filled with appointments, reminders to return library books, and notes when we are eating the school lunch (LOVE the days I don’t have to make a lunch). My favorite part of the white board is when it’s gleaming – all empty and clean – and awaiting it’s monthly mark up.

I’m the Note in the Lunchbox Mom

It’s me, the Mom putting notes in his lunchbox or snack bag every day. Sometimes I wish him a good day, sometimes I draw a silly picture, and other times, I make Mom jokes:

Made that one up myself!

I Tried to Enjoy the Small Things

Whether it was reading an extra book in bed with Little Mister (and not writing a blog post for the night), or keeping the dogs outside a little extra on the morning walk to enjoy the sunrise, I tried to be present and in the moment. I think that’s my New Year’s resolution this year: be more present. Make more time for what’s important. And to clean out the hall closet.

This beautiful scene is literally in my backyard.

If you read even one of these posts this month, I hope you laughed a little, found a new favorite thing for yourself, or maybe tried a new recipe. Cheers to the end of blog month – and best wishes for a happy holiday season!

Life, NaBloPoMo

The New(ish) 2021 Me

I started blogging everyday for 30 days during the month of November a bunch of years ago. There was a real thing called “NaBloPoMo” (in case you see me mention it), which is short for “National Blog Posting Month”. They have since done away with this, but I kept up the tradition because 1. I love to write and 2. Having a goal made me accountable.

Every year I stressed myself out to meet the goal of writing a blog post every single day. Weekends we were busy? Check. Days when I was consumed with work and wanted to go to sleep at 8pm? Check. Nights when we’d go out and not get home until after 10pm? Check.

It was exhausting. But I did, because I held myself to the high standards and expectations that I HAD to do it, because I said I would do it. Even when Little Mister was just 3 weeks old, I blogged every night. There a photo of me in his nursery, typing away on my computer while Mr. KK rocked him to sleep.

I don’t know if its the residual pandemic effect, or that I’m just plain tired, but this is the first year I’ve ever missed a day blogging. In fact, I’ve missed TWO days so far this month, which is unheard of.

But last night, I just didn’t have it in me. I had a jam-packed day that started with waking at 5:30am, showering and getting dressed, sneaking in Christmas shopping at Target before picking Little Mister up from his sleepover at my parents’ house, then off to his first COVID vaccine, back home to fold laundry, then lunch and shopping with a friend, then back home for dinner and a movie – our first official viewing of The Grinch (my favorite!) this holiday season – before heading off to bed.

Last year me would NOT be cool, but 2021 me wanted to be present, watch a movie with Little Mister, and not stress herself out. And you know what? I’m okay with it.

I write these blog posts for myself; and while I hope someone reads them and maybe gets a chuckle, I want to capture these moments. Because who knows…maybe I will write that novel one day and these blog posts will prove to be very beneficial in remembering my life (since I may be in my eighties by the time I get my act together).

My early New Year’s resolution is: to be more present, and let things go. Focus on the things I want to do, that make me happy; and not stress about the things I can’t do, or can’t control.

This has proven to be especially hard when it comes to work. I am used to a life of working and working until all hours to get things finished, so much so, that it would take over my life. I have made a conscious effort to “shut down” at dinnertime, to spend time with my family, help Little Mister with homework, read together and get myself ready for the day ahead. My boss suggested that I remove my work email from my phone, but I’m not quite ready to get that crazy. I still need to know what’s going on.

This time of year, especially, requires all sorts of attention. From scouting Black Friday deals, planning out holiday meals, mentally listing out everyone’s gifts (and then shopping for them) and making sure we remember to participate in pajama day at school, bring in canned goods for the food drive and do my “Room Parent” duties and organize a class gift for the teacher – all while making sure we have our favorite sweatshirt clean for school, a little note goes into the lunch box every day and the dog gets a walk at least once a day.

I have 9 days left of blogging every day, and I plan to do my best. I have a few blog topics brewing and hope to be able to share them all. And if I can’t, I’m okay with that (and hopefully you are, too).

Kids will be kids, Life, Little Mister, NaBloPoMo

How Kids Drive Their Parents Crazy

This is a normal conversation in our house:

ME: “Little Mister, what would you like for breakfast? Waffle? Banana? Coffee cake?”

LITTLE MISTER: “I don’t want breakfast.”

(15 minutes later, as we’re getting ready to leave for school…)

LITTLE MISTER: (in tears) “Why didn’t you give me breakfast?”

ME: “You said you didn’t want breakfast!”

LITTLE MISTER: (wailing) “But I’m hungry! I can’t believe you’re not going to give me breakfast. You’re making me so sad right now!”

True story.

This is not an isolated incident. There was the time Little Mister asked for noodles for dinner, and when we gave him noodles, he freaked out because he got what he wanted for dinner.

Or the time I gave him his red sweatshirt and he said he wanted to wear his camo sweatshirt, and he cried the entire way to school because I wouldn’t let him wear his red sweatshirt.

No joke, kids can make you feel like you’re losing your ever-loving mind sometimes!

But the fun doesn’t stop there!

Apparently, you can forget about using reverse psychology, because that doesn’t work. Case in point:

One night, when Little Mister’s ears were apparently not working, we told him that he lost his screen time. “Well, guess what?” he said. “I didn’t want to watch anything anyway. I wanted to read.”

How, exactly, am I supposed to respond to that?

Hobby, Life, NaBloPoMo

I Need a Hobby

Last year my social feed was filled with friends with extra time on their hands, who took up a hobby.

I was not one of those folks.

However, now that life is resuming and calendars are filling up and I have very little time for myself, I have decided that I need to find myself a nice little hobby.

My new hobby needs to fit the following criteria:

  • I need to be able to do this hobby at home
  • This hobby cannot require any additional time out of my day
  • Hobby must be relatively easy and inexpensive

Based on this list, I introduce my future hobby: knitting.

While I’m not yet ready to join official Stitch & Bitch groups (as much as I want to, I just love the name!), I can confidently say that knitting:

  • is something I can do at home
  • is something I can do while I’m doing something else (ie: watching TV at night)
  • may take time to learn, but once I get the hang of it might be therapeutic

For my very first knitting project, I think I will order a scarf-making kit from Stitch & Story:

I’m excited about this project! A long time ago I started knitting with one of my friends, but I never kept it up. but I’m ready to start again and actually produce something! First, a scarf! Then, a knit banana hat!

Plus, I just read Sutton Foster’s memoir, Hooked, which – you guessed it! – is about knitting!

Hopefully, I finish this knitting project before next November so I can share it on the blog!

Age, getting old, Life, NaBloPoMo

You’re Only As Old As You Feel…Until They Tell You Otherwise.

They say age is just a number.

But then they also tell you – in a variety of ways – that no matter how young you feel, you are, in fact, OLD.

I remember the first time I was Ma’amed. I was awkwardly ordering at a Starbucks with their exclusive sizing language when the extremely young barista said, “Here’s your change, Ma’am.” The word rang in my ears. I silently repeated the word in different voices and tones in my head. I was far to young to be a Ma’am…wasn’t I?

Oh, but society is tricky! Just when you’re feeling good and young and NOT your age, whammo! It’s time for a medical test that “people your age” start to have. Or, if you’re a woman and you’re pregnant at age 35 or later, you are considered of “Advance Maternal Age” and quickly shuffled off to a “special” office with “expert” doctors and “personalized” care. You’re suddenly in a decade that is being called “[YOUR AGE] is the new [INSERT YOUNGER DECADE HERE]”.

Personally, while I know that time is passing, I still have a misconceived notion of how long ago things happened. This is me exactly:

I can’t be the only one who is time-challenged.

I have a headshot that I use that Mr. KK took of me over a decade ago that I still unabashedly use because 1. I love this photo of me and 2. In some weird way, I still think I look like this. (Sad, I know.) I feel like almost no time has passed, when in reality, a dozen years have gone by and our lives have changed so much (we had a kid, which contributed to me no longer looking as young and relaxed as I do in that photo), so perhaps I hang onto that photo because I wish I STILL looked like that. I also still have the blue scarf.

Interestingly, while my mind may still feel young(ish), my body hasn’t gotten the message because GOOD LORD why do so many things hurt? And when one thing starts to feel better (my back), something else starts to hurt (my shoulder). Speaking of shoulders, a few years back I was having so much shoulder pain I went to see a massage therapist who basically said, “You have frozen shoulder. It happens to women around your age.” Hmph!

Physical aging aside (eye sight, crawling out of bed every morning, constant nerve pain), I am aging out of “cool” social platforms. Case in point: TikTok. I just…can’t. I mean, I do, a bit, for my job. But personally, no thank you. I already have ZERO time in my life, and I imagine a constant stream of videos that never, ever stop would be such a time suck out of my life, that I would open TikTok on Tuesday, and before I knew it, it was Thursday afternoon and I haven’t slept or eaten, and Little Mister has lost 2 teeth.

I suppose in a few years, Little Mister will be my tie to all things social and cool. He’ll want to be on the latest social platform that is yet to be invented by some future 17 year old billionaire. I’ll have all the knowledge of cool parent phone spyware and be not only up on what he’s doing, but still somewhat cool. When we have dance parties now in our kitchen – and Little Mister asks me to “Please don’t sing” and “Do you have to dance like that?”, I like to tell him how much I’m looking forward to chaperoning his school dances and busting out with some signature moves while he and his friends look on. Fun fact: I will absolutely do this.

I will continue to use my out-of-date headshot (maybe even for my obituary?), and remain young mentally. Fashionably, I will age; I will wear what’s comfortable, even if everyone is hating on skinny jeans and I still have a pair I feel halfway decent in.

And I will still let myself think that 1980 was twenty years ago, and that me and millennials are “around the same age” because, well, why not?

Bruno, dogs, Life, NaBloPoMo

The FOMO Is Real

Last year, we added a pandemic puppy to our family. And let me say, it has been a challenging year and a half. Bruno is a medium-sized dog (a little bigger than we thought he would be), is constantly into everything, and I must blurt out, “Where’s Bruno?” at least a thousand times a day. Because if I can’t see him, he’s doing something he shouldn’t be. But he’s a big goof and we love him. And it’s no coincidence that the word ‘NO’ is at the end of his name.

Adopting a puppy during a pandemic meant all the “pros” were also cons.

PRO: you are home 24/7 and can effectively potty train the puppy!

CON: you are home 24/7 and your puppy turns into velcro dog, develops separation anxiety and can’t handle it when you leave a room.

Move over Millennials and Gen Z, Bruno has you beat when it comes to FOMO.

I think every pet has a preferred parent. It could be the one who gives out extra treats when the other isn’t looking, or the one who snuggles them on the couch. In my case, I have become Bruno’s “person” because I’m the one who takes him on long walks every day.

These walks serve a dual purpose: 30 minutes of exercise for me (at least) and hopefully wearing out Bruno so that he will take a nice, long nap. Because a tired dog, is a well-behaved dog.

And because I’m Bruno’s person, he is extremely attached to me. And he’s afraid I’m going to do something fun (read: go outside for a walk) without him. It’s like having a very unflattering stalker.

Bruno’s FOMO looks something like this:

While I’m playing with Little Mister in the playroom.
While we’re in the living room.
While I’m trying to work.
Sharing my chair, again, when I’m trying to work.
Whenever I try and leave the house.
And…when I’m blogging.

I spared you all and didn’t post a photo of Bruno joining me in the bathroom every time I’m in there, standing in front of me, staring at me.

In the early spring, when we started going out again, we could not leave the house without Bruno freaking out. He’d be in his crate, scratching at the bottom like crazy, whining and crying. One time, he moved his crate halfway across the kitchen floor because he was trying to get out so badly! We were prisoners in our own home! It took a bit of training, leaving for short periods, and some “herbal” remedies of a spray and some calming drops to get him to be calm when we put him in his crate when it’s time for us to go out.

We didn’t know when we adopted him he’d become velcro dog, but I suppose being with us 24/7 trained him to think we’d always be around. Sometimes Bruno’s FOMO is cute and it makes me feel very loved and admired…at a very close distance. And I hear that Rockwell song in my head, “(I Always Feel Like), Somebody’s Watching Me…”

COVID, Kids will be kids, Life, Little Mister, NaBloPoMo, Pandemic, parenting

Should Kids 5-11 Get the COVID 19 Vaccine?

Last month, we were all invited for dinner at the house of Little Mister’s bestest friend. It was October and still warm, so the plan was to eat outside. However, Mother Nature was like, “Oh no, you’re not!” and it proceeded to be rainy and cold. The soirée became an inside party.

Little Mister asked me before we getting ready to leave, “Do I have to wear my mask inside?”

I hesitated for only a second. We knew the family, and I know how conscientious they are. And I make my family practically live in a bubble, so…

“Not tonight,” I replied.

Little Mister’s face lit up like a Christmas tree. “I DON’T??? Hooray! This is the best day ever!”

And my heart broke a little bit.

Never did I imagine that my child’s “best day ever” would be not having to wear a mask at a playdate.

Now that we are back in school in person full time, he is wearing a mask all day long. And guess what? It doesn’t bother him. When we venture out of the house, he puts his mask on while we are still in the car, driving to our destination. At his annual pediatrician’s appointment, she wanted to look in his mouth and asked him to remove his mask quickly. “Will I get the virus if I do?” he asked sincerely.

With the news that the COVID-19 vaccine has been approved for use on children 5-11 years old, you’d think we’d all be running to get in line. But, I’m not running. Or even fast walking. I’m meandering at a leisurely pace…using the time it takes me to get there gather up as much information as I can.

I should be thrilled! A vaccine! To help prevent COVID! So why am I hesitating? For starters, I am 100% fine doing something to myself, however, when it comes to my child, that’s a different story. What if he has an adverse reaction? Why wasn’t the test group larger? Do they know enough about the effects of the vaccine on the Littles?

Also – but not as important – is Little Mister’s fear of needles and the self-induced anxiety he gives himself whenever he thinks he needs a shot. Someday I’ll tell you about getting the flu shot this year…

A mom friend to whom I was telling about my hesitation, shared this article with me, which is basically the 5-11 COVID-19 Vaccine Guide for Dummies. And I appreciate this non-scientific explanation of what is going on with the vaccine and the young test groups.

Giving the COVID-19 Vaccine to young children is such a personal decision. I’m not sure what the availability of the vaccine will do for the mask mandate in school – will it be removed? Because if the answer is yes, that would definitely sway my decision. Because as much as I want to believe first graders are awesome about mask wearing – and they are pretty good – I know little kids can’t help but be on top of each other…and the few times I’ve been in the school I’ve seen mediocre mask wearing at best by lots of the kids.

I have booked Little Mister an appointment for his first vaccine. We have a few weeks to think it over and make a final decision. If we do it, he’ll be fully vaccinated by Christmas. And a COVID-free holiday sounds amazing!

Life, Pandemic, parenting, sleep, Type A

I Don’t Come with an “Off” Button

My social feeds are filled with blog posts and articles about how totally over everything Moms are. And I’m a sucker and I read every one of them, finding myself nodding along and whispering “Ohmygod yes!” I prefer the articles that do not Dad/Partner bash. In our house Mr. KK and I share most of the duties, however, I’m still exhausted; not because he’s not doing his share, but because he is not even aware of the running to-do list in my head. Because for all the wonderful things Mr. KK is, a mind reader he is not.

This exhaustion is both mental and emotional. I’m tired of being prepared. I’m tired of mentally trying to predict our family’s needs before they even have them. I’m fatigued from trying to “get ahead” for busy days and holidays.

Momming is hard.

I don’t want this to be taken that it’s just “Moms” who are like this because that’s sexist and leaves out too many modern-day households. It’s a personality trait, that this Mom (unfortunately) happens to have.

It’s not you, it’s 100% me.

What It’s Like Having Your Brain “On” All the Time

A typical day for me looks like this:

5:00am: Naturally wake up, no matter how many hours of sleep I’ve gotten.
5:01am: Start my morning routine: Check all 4 email accounts, delete junk, flag ones to address later; Scroll through social feeds to see what “news” broke overnight, see what dogs need a home (not that we’re looking) and vicariously live through friends who had an exciting night out. Check calendar of meetings for the day.
5:15am: Launch VRBO and Airbnb apps to continue the search for our family vacation house next summer. Find discouragement in how many houses are already fully booked for 2022.
5:45am: Support the economy! At any given time I have carts filled at at least 4 retailers. So-and-so has an upcoming birthday and we need a gift. Little Mister is outgrowing everything he owns. Didn’t Mr. KK say he needed socks? We’re running low on cleaning products.
6:00am: Good morning, Google! I use this time to “research” stuff for our lives, which can include: finding a place for a date night with Mr. KK; thinking ahead to Thanksgiving, I’d really like to change up what’s on the menu; where can we go to look at peak fall foliage this weekend; what was that book someone mentioned at work that I need to read? What gifts are new for boys this Christmas?
6:30am: FINALLY I can wake Mr. KK up for the day! I have SO MUCH to talk to him about from my morning activities!

And so it goes, every day. By the time I get out of bed, I’m mentally drained. Should I use that time to exercise? Probably. But if I get up then the dogs will wake up and get up and then Mr. KK has to get up and it’s a vicious cycle of tired, cranky beings who are up way earlier than they need to be. Plus, that vacation house isn’t going to book itself.

Why Can’t I Just Stop Thinking About Stuff?

Because it’s not how I’m wired. My brain just doesn’t shut off; there is ALWAYS something to be thinking about. This morning, I read this article about a mom doing nothing, and even in that nothingness, she did a bunch of things. But those things are second nature, so they don’t feel like chores or an item on a to-do list.

Even when I take some time to head out on my own – hit up TJ Maxx or Homegoods, or even the grocery store – I’m still thinking about everything else in my life except what I’m going. Mr. KK will get random texts from me while I’m shopping about an event a few months away, or a reminder to ask me about an item I read about in bed that morning.

Were You Able to Relax a Little During 2020?

Sort of.

I had more time to think about things (not sure if that’s a good thing, or a bad thing?) because we were doing less. Our weekends weren’t filled with playdates and soccer games or gatherings with friends. I had more time to be my crazy, Type A, controlling self. That’s good, right?

I liken my exhaustion to after a year of having more time to do things, that precious time was taken away. So now I’m back to doing the same amount of thinking/planning/researching/living in fewer available hours. We’re back to scheduling activities for Little Mister on weekends so he doesn’t turn into a hermit who only gets to play with and see his parents. Because as fun as I think I am, this kid needs to be with other kids, outside of our house, playing with friends his own age.

We’re back to going to the grocery store. Which – silly as it sounds – can sometimes be hard to fit into the weekend. While I loved the ease of online shopping and delivery, I want to squeeze my own avocados and ensure I get the correct food times when I’m unpacking the bags.

We’re in First Grade! In school, with daily drop off and pick up (at super inconvenient times!) and homework, which requires a good half hour a day to discuss said homework, complain about doing the homework, then completing the homework in 5 minutes.

We’re trying soccer! So we’re on the hook for one practice a week (on a Monday night…seriously, who has their shit together on a Monday for this?) and a game on Saturday.

Mr. KK and I are both super busy at work. So I find myself juggling schedules, finding time to be present with Little Mister in the few hours we have together, carving out work time when I can (sorry for the 10pm work emails, people!) and, oh yeah, doing all the other house stuff that needs to get done.

I’ve taken on the role of the Vice President of the PTA this year, and I’m Little Mister’s Room Captain. I know I don’t need to do this, but I want to do this – I want to be present in Little Mister’s school and community. So I carve out time for event planning and goody-bag making as well.

Where Do We Go From Here?

Hopefully to the couch, to take a nap. (But who am I kidding? I can’t even relax enough to take a nap!)

I will take it one day at a time. I will do what I can without sacrificing what’s important each day. Some days, Little Mister is emotional and needs more one-on-one time, other days he’s happy to take his iPad in the other room for a bit and chill by himself.

I will leave dishes in the sink if I can’t get to them.

I will leave laundry undone as long as we have underwear.

I will order take out if I’m too tired to cook.

I will say “no” to a 5pm meeting at work if I just can’t make it work with everything going on at home.

I will try and find time each day to get some type of exercise (even walking the dog!) because it makes me happy.

I will TRY and sleep until 5:30am each day. (But make no promises)

Life, Pandemic

What I Did in 2021: A Recap

Hello, November – otherwise known as the month I blog for 30 straight days and share mundane details of my life and bore you all to death!

I always start the month with a recap of what the year leading up to this momentous occasion looked like. I think we all were trying to find any semblance of normal again. And while we did start living again, I can’t help but feel I’m mentally and emotionally scarred from 2020.

Here is the 2021 recap…

Winter

We were still in cocoon mode, enjoying nights by the fireplace and pretending that a 30 degree day was warm enough to sit on a patio at a brewery. Pandemic Puppy Bruno was slowly finding his place in our home (and in our hearts) and turns out, he is an amazing snuggler (which is the way to Mr. KK’s heart).

We were still a few months away from our first COVID shot, so we stayed close to home. We avoided restaurants and any place inside and crowded. We played board games and made cocktails. We did crafts. We camped in the living room. We tried new recipes. We did remote kindergarten. We lit the fire pit and had friends over on a snow-covered patio when the temperatures in January reached a balmy 40 degrees. We freaked out with every sniffle and cough. We tried to make the best of it.

Spring

Spring brought optimism that maybe – just maybe – there was a light at the end of the tunnel. Mr. KK and I got vaccinated in March, which brought a small sliver of peace of mind, however with an unvaccinated child at home, not much in our lives changed. I ventured out for my marathon Target trips once again. (Whatever money we saved not going anywhere in 2020 was quickly spent at my 2021 Target visits. Sorry, not sorry).

I celebrated a birthday, though I’m still not convinced that if you don’t do out and celebrate for a full week and have the universe revolve around you, does your birthday even count? This year’s birthday saw Rocco – our older and smaller dog – literally almost die from what they think might have been a tick borne illness. Week of uncertainty and the cone of shame until finally they put him on doxycycline and he was like a NEW dog. He had his appetite back, and it hasn’t left since.

I feel I should mention that there were a few periods of tine this spring that BOTH dogs were wearing cones. It was ridiculous.

We had a flood in our living room when a pipe broke from our living room bar. Our beautiful hardwood floors buckled, even after having fans and humidifiers set up for a week straight.

The weather turned warmer and we could eat outside again! Patio living, here we come!

Summer

Whatever kindness the world – and Mother Nature – bestowed upon us during the pandemic last summer in the shape of the most glorious summer weather we’ve had in the last century, she violently and rudely took back. I can only speak for the Northeast, but the weather this summer SUCKED. It was either raining (all of Memorial Day weekend, literally almost every day for weeks on end) or it was muggy and humid, so much so that you couldn’t even bear to be outside or you’d be covered in a sheen of wetness. And don’t even get me started on my hair! No amount of hair serum existed to keep things under control this year.

A bright side to summer was our week away with friends to a little beach house we rented on the shore. Gorgeous beach days and beautiful sunsets, daily happy hours and morning walks. It was heaven.

Strawberry mojitos! What else were we going to do with all those strawberries we picked??

Mr. KK and I made it for our annual pilgrimage to Mystic, Connecticut. Where we sip adult beverages on a sailboat, then eat our weight in oysters.

And the best part? We were able to have some summer fun all while staying outside. Because I still refused to be unmasked for long periods of time inside (like eating a meal at a restaurant). If I could eat outside every day for the rest of my life, I totally would.

Fall

As we watched the world on its rollercoaster of COVID – lower deaths, Delta!, fewer hospitalizations, mask mandates back in place, vaccination requirements in cities and at companies – we prepared for the biggest unknown: in-person first grade for the Little Mister.

This year, when we were living with a highly-contagious variant of COVID, remote learning was not an option. It was all day in person school. Masked all day, but still. And you know what? Little Mister handled it like a champ. On Day 1 of morning school drop off, he literally slipped on his backpack, hopped out of the car with a “Bye, Mom!” and ran in the building, never looking back.

Me, at Little Mister’s desk, during Open House.

And here we are. It’s November, and we are on the cusp of my favorite holiday season. Last year, I skipped everything fall and went right to Christmas in early November because, well, COVID. This year, Little Mister and I decorated with “Fall Land”, though I’m counting the days until I can pack up the turkeys and take out the trees.

While it’s been great “getting back to normal”, it’s been…exhausting. I find myself missing the easy days of 2020…when I felt like I had all the time in the world. Now, I can’t seem to be able to squeeze in a workout most days, and – if I’m being honest – sometimes a shower. Everyone is busy again, so we are seeing friends less, and trying to do too much in a weekend. The laundry piles up. Dishes decorate the sink. We find ourselves giving into the convenience of take out more often.

But these next 30 days, I’m committed to finding a routine again for writing, and sharing the absurdities that are my crazy life.

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.