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:


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?


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.”


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?”


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

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.

Life, Little Mister

Lies, Lies, Tell Me Sweet Little Lies

The Little Mister has entered into the life stage of lying.

Nothing major, more like little white lies.

Questions Little Mister will lie about when answering on any given day:

“Did you wash your hands?”
“Did you brush your teeth?”
“Did you put your clothes in the hamper?”
“Did you eat all your fruit?”
“Did you hand in your homework?”
“Did you clean up your toys?”
“Are you lying to me right now?”

And the best part is, he’s a HORRIBLE liar; which, I suppose, is good qualify for a kid to have. Though I imagine he will perfect this skill as he gets older. He’s not quite sophisticated enough to know that if he lies about brushing his teeth and I check his toothbrush and it’s dry, that’s he’s caught, and that he should have wet the toothbrush before we had this conversation.

I like to have fun with him when he’s “stretching the truth”, asking him to look me directly in the eye and tell me again. To which he will make his eyes as wide as they will go and he will stare at me with his creepy bugged-out eyes and repeat himself.

The little bugger is impervious to guilt, too!

Our conversations go something like this:

ME: “Did you wash your hands?”

LM: “Yep!” (Nope)

ME: “Why didn’t I hear the faucet go on?”

LM: “Because I turned it on really low and it was quiet.” (Again, nope)

ME: “Can I smell your hands?”

LM: “You don’t need to. They’re clean, I swear.” (Nope!)

ME: “You’re sure?”

LM: “Why don’t you believe me?”

ME: “I do believe you. Do you know why? Because I know you wouldn’t never lie to me.”

LM: “That’s right. I wouldn’t lie to you.” (Still lying)


LM: “Well, I guess I could wash them again.”

I know lying is part of growing up and seeing what you can get away with. Little Mister tests us every day – how much can he get away with before one of us cracks!

But I guess I can’t really say anything, since there are small, white lies we tell the Little Mister when necessary. Things like:

“That store is closed today.”
“They are sold out of that toy.”
“We don’t have any ice cream.”
“Moms see and hear and know everything.”

(That last one if my favorite)

Disney World, Family, Life, Little Mister, memories, Travel, Vacation

The Best Way to Do Disney World*

*The best way for our family. Your trip is likely completely different and equally amazing!

During the Fall of my Senior Year in college, I worked at Disney World in their College Program. I spent 5 months living and working at The Mouse House and I have to say – I loved every minute of it.

Why did I choose the Disney internship? Was I a Disney fanatic? Nope. Did I love the heat and humidity? Double nope. Did I want a unique experience here in the good ole USA where I could meet people and have fun? Ding, ding, ding!

Back when I was in the College Program at Disney, all the CPs lived in a magical place called Vista Way. For those of you old enough to understand this reference: it was like Melrose Place meets Animal House. Thousands of college kids living together in idyllic conditions – pools, gym, no adult supervision.

I worked at Blizzard Beach, a ski-lodge themed water park, operating the chair lift that brought guests in their swimsuits to the top of a “mountain” to some of the water slides. CPs work everywhere in the parks; I had friends who worked on Tower of Terror, drove the monorail, operated merchandise carts, drove the parking lot trams and sold Turkey legs in the Magic Kingdom.

After my 5-month stint, I returned one additional time 5 years later. And then, 20 years passed. I began thinking about taking Little Mister to Disney a few years ago, then there was a pandemic. So here we were, January of this year, and I thought, “What are we waiting for? He’s at the right age, let’s just do this!” So I contacted a Disney travel agent, and two days later, we were booked at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge in late spring. And we kept it from Little Mister until 2 months before our trip (I just couldn’t keep that secret until the day before we left!)

Little Mister’s first time on a plane!

Why Did You Choose to Stay at Animal Kingdom Lodge?

When it came to hotels, there was no other place that would bring joy to Little Mister like the Animal Kingdom Lodge. There was a show on Disney + during the pandemic about the AKL, and how they care for the animals. Little Mister (LM) is SUCH a huge animal lover, that we watched every episode of this show. He would tell everyone, “I’m going to work at the Animal Kingdom when I grow up.” I love this dream for him, I hope it comes true.

Giraffes munching on dinner outside of our hotel room.

So to have the opportunity to stay at a hotel where you can watch giraffes, zebras and other animals whose names I don’t know from your balcony, it was the only option for us. Plus, LM wanted to visit the Animal Kingdom park 2 days during our stay, and that was only a 5-minute ride from our hotel.

Being the research queen that I am, I started listening to a podcast called Be Our Guest, run by travel agents (not the one I used) that was easy to listen to and filled with information about the parks. Having been away from Disney for 2 decades, I had A LOT to learn about the new park pass system, Genie Plus, dining reservations, and a million other things. I shared our trip details on an episode of this podcast!

You can listen to my podcast episode here.

It’s long, but really outlines how I approached our trip planning. A great listen when you’re walking the dog or sitting in traffic.

This was a trip of firsts: the first time Little Mister was going on a plane (he did great!), the first time I was back at Disney in 20 years, and the first time we were traveling after the pandemic. We were ready!

I could write pages and pages about this trip, but I’ll share the highlights below:

Animal Kingdom Lodge

This hotel is beautiful. And there was a scent in the lobby that I wish I could have bottled and brought home with me. I think there is a candle of that smell somewhere in Disney Springs, but we never made it there. We had a standard hotel room, but we had a balcony where we could sit and watch the animals. There literally were giraffes eating off a tree 30 feet from us! There were places all around the hotel where you could view the animals. The pool had a great water slide that LM loved. Some people stay away from AKL because the only park it’s near is the Animal Kingdom, and the only mode of transportation it has is busses. We never had a problem getting a bus, and barely had to wait. All of our trips to the parks were smooth and quick.

Day 1: Magic Kingdom

We arrived on a Tuesday, and spent the afternoon by the pool. We were rested and ready for our early entry into the MK on our first full park day. If you are early risers, doing early entry to the parks is the way to go. You get this perk with some of the hotels on Disney property. Highly recommend. It allowed us to hit the most popular rides first before the lines were long. For us, that ride was the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, a roller coaster-like ride through the coal mine. It’s a TON of fun, and LM loved it. We were able to ride it a second time later in the day, too. Our favorite rides were: Splash Mountain (we rode this one at least 3 times, that big drop at the end made Little Mister belly laugh and I could listen to that all day long); Big Thunder Mountain Railroad; Jungle Cruise; Pirates of the Caribbean; Buzz Lightyear; Haunted Mansion (Little Mister did NOT like this ride, too scary). All in all, it was a magical first experience at a Disney park for us as a family.

Day 2: Animal Kingdom

The sun wasn’t even up yet when we arrived on our first day!

Because we were doing 2 days in this park, we focused on attractions on Day 1, and then experiences on Day 2. We did early entry again (this park opens really early, so early entry was at like 7am, which meant getting on a bus at 6:30am, FYI), this time to secure our spot in line for Pandora (Avatar). The construction of this area, and everything to look at while you’re in the queue, is what makes Disney, Disney. It is awe-spiring and the attention to detail amazing. The ride…well, let’s say if you get motion sick like I do, it might not be your favorite. I needed a moment when we got off, but could appreciate why everyone loves this ride. LM had been talking about the safari since we told him we were coming to Disney, so it was our first stop after Pandora. And it didn’t disappoint! We saw every animal, even the lions (thank god)! We rounded out the day riding everything we could, having an early dinner, and escaping with only 1 souvenir.

Day 3: Animal Kingdom

Back again! We rode the safari again (equally as amazing, but a different experience with a different tour guide) and did the Caring For Giants experience, which allowed us to go behind the scenes at Disney (aka: backstage) and be up close and personal with the elephants. We learned all their names, how they are fed and cared for, and saw the from a platform that you can only access from this tour. I highly recommend doing one of these experiences, they’re usually small groups and interactive.


Much of Day 2 was spent with Little Mister earning his Wilderness Explorer badges. This is such a wonderful experience at the AK, and the “guides” at each station were simply the epitome of what Disney is all about. If you’ve seen the movie “Up”, you may remember Russell the Wilderness Explorer who was trying to earn his “Assisting the Elderly” badge. Well, the Animal Kingdom has set up about 15 or 20 “stations” around the park, and kids can use their guidebook to find them all, complete a little activity and learn about animals and conservation, and earn a badge. When you collect all of the badges you can get sworn in as a Senior Wilderness Explorer, and you recite an oath and it is the cutest thing ever and it made me cry watching Little Mister do this after working so hard to get all of his badges.

Day 4: Hollywood Studios

We love Slinky Dog Dash!

Fun fact: when I worked at Disney, this place was called MGM. It was also my favorite park, and we played here often because many of my friends worked here. This was our last park day, and we made the most of it. Early entry (again!) and we bolted to Slinky Dog Dash. This was probably my favorite ride of the whole trip. First, who doesn’t love Toy Story. Second, it is so FUN! We rode Slinky three times in a row! The Little Mister was belly laughing and whooping each time, it was so fun to see. We even rode Slinky one last time before we left the park – our final ride on our awesome trip. We also hit up Sci-Fi Drive In for lunch, Mr. KK did Rise of the Resistance, we did Frozen Ever After, Toy Story Mania, Micky & Minnie’s Runaway Railroad. It was the perfect last park day to our trip.

Our Last Day

Our last day was a Sunday, and our flight was early evening. We had a delicious character brunch at Topolino’s (highly recommend!). And just a week before we came to Disney, they reinstated character hugs! So the characters were able to come right up to our table and interact with us, and Little Mister who was shy at first, eventually started calling them all over for hugs. We spent the rest of the day by the pool until it was time to head to the airport.

Dining in Disney World

There are about 4,389 places to eat in Disney; everything from pretzel carts to fine dining. Where you choose to eat is personal to you and your family. For us, we planned one nice sit down meal a day. That could be lunch or dinner. I love to eat and go to nice restaurants, and I didn’t want this vacation to be any different. On this trip we ate at: California Grill in the Contemporary Hotel (great view, wonderful experience, delicious food, and our most expensive meal); Sanaa at the Animal Kingdom Lodge (get the bread service! the food was delicious and we sat at a window and watched the animal roaming and having dinner); Tiffins and Yak & Yeti at the Animal Kingdom (both good!); Sci-Fi Drive In at Hollywood Studios (so fun! nice and casual); Topolino’s Terrance at the Riviera Resort (amazing brunch…everything was delicious!).

Why didn’t you go to EPCOT, you may be wondering. For this trip, it didn’t feel like the right park for us to spend a day. We were very focused on animals, and really enjoyed 2 days at the AK. Plus, it leaves something for us to do next time!

All in all, this trip was nothing short of perfect. Little Mister was the perfect age (7), we went on a non-school-vacation week so it wasn’t insanely busy (but it was cheer competition week so it was still crowded with teenagers!). We did everything we wanted to do, at our own pace. On the first day I clocked 19,000 steps!

Again, the link to the podcast about my trip is here.

Disney, I hope to see you real soon!

Kids will be kids, Little Mister, school

School Projects with Kids: I Give Them 0/5 Stars

It was inevitable.

We had reached second grade. The students were expected to be more independent, have less instruction and work on…projects.

Is there a more painful experience than working on a project with an 8 year old?

So far, excuses to NOT work on projects have included:

  • I’m too tired
  • I can’t think about that right now
  • I have to go to the bathroom
  • I have to have a snack first so my brain will work
  • The teacher didn’t say we HAD to do this
  • I think watching TV first will get me in the mood to do my project
  • And – my favorite – I don’t want to

I wish I could say that the teachers don’t give us enough time; however, 3 weeks to complete something that could take one hour is rather generous.

We have had 3 projects so far this year. Each one has been as painful as the last.

As someone who loves to create and is a maker of all the things, it is very difficult for me to understand not wanting to do a super fun project that involves glue, markers, feathers, stickers and other amazing craft items.

Players: creative, crafty mom and anti-everything child.

Project 1: The “All About Me” Poster

This project consisted of students making posters that represented who they were and what they liked. They could draw, use photos, stickers, literally anything to bring this poster to life.

The day the poster board and instructions came home, Little Mister informed us: “The teacher said we could work on this a little at a time. Like, just do ONE thing each day. So today, I’m just going to put my name on it.”

Thanks, teacher.

Note to teachers: your students (at least mine!) take what you say literally. If you said “don’t spend more than 5 minutes on this”, they will spend exactly 5 minutes on that assignment, not a minute more, but possibly 4 minutes less.

First, we didn’t want to share anything about ourself. “But that’s how your new classmates will get to know you!” I told him in my most persuasive voice.

“I don’t want anyone to get to know me,” said my introvert child.

End result: we made the poster over a 3 hour period of time filled with head on the table whining (him) and exasperated sighs (me), on an afternoon when Mr. KK was conveniently “at his parents house”.

Project 2: The Pumpkin Book Report

Our second project of the year was a fun one: read a book, answer a few questions about the book (this was somehow disguised as a “book report”) and decorate a pumpkin to look like a character from the book.

This one sounded fun!

Right away, we identified the book we wanted to do. Yay, us!

Next, we bought a pumpkin that was the right size to decorate and have him carry into school.

Last, was the actual work.

You must be thinking, ‘Oh, Mr. KK missed out on doing the All About Me poster so he probably jumped at the chance to do the Pumpkin Book Report!’

NOPE. Mr. KK was on a golf trip when the PBR (not the beer kind) went down.

I had Little Mister write out his answers to the questions about the book on a lined piece of paper first, so that we could correct any mis-spellings. Then I had him copy it onto the book report sheet. Seems pretty logical, right? Nope! Not to an 8 year old. “Why are you making me do my book report twice?”

Me: “So you can think of what you want to say and we can make it neat and make sure everything is spelled correctly.”

Little Mister: “It doesn’t matter if it’s neat or if it’s spelled correctly.”

Those words? From my child?

We painted our pumpkin and decorated him to look like the skunk from the book. I think we did a pretty good job. The next morning I drove him to school so he didn’t have to carry his pumpkin on the bus, with the chance of banging into the seats or – more accurately – leaving it on the bus.

As we are waiting in the drop off line, Little Mister informs me, “I didn’t want to do that book for my book report. I wanted to do the dragon book. Let’s do that one instead.”

Project #3: The Diorama

Now THIS project brought me back to my youth, making dioramas out of shoe boxes. I loved to make dioramas. And for this project, each student has chosen an animal to study and learn about and would then bring that animal to life in a cardboard box. Mr. KK would like me to note that he was present for the box-sourcing and background painting of the diorama. Objects and details of the diorama were done by yours truly and Little Mister.

For this project, we were to create a diorama about coyotes.

Little Mister LOVED animals! So far, so good!

Little Mister LOVED talking about his diorama and what we could do! Excellent!

Little Mister LOVED painting the diorama! Amazing!

Little Mister was NOT, however, a fan of glueing down the animals we bought for the diorama because he wanted to play with them.

“How about we don’t put this big coyote in and he stays here?” The negotiations began.

Me: “We can glue him down, he goes to school, then when your diorama comes home, you can play with him.”

LM: “But his feet will have glue on them.”

Me: “I will remove the glue!”

LM: “But you say not to get glue on anything because it doesn’t come off.”


Our coyote diorama, complete with 3 different habitats where coyotes can live!

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?

Family, Little Mister

Safari, So Good.

Growing up an only child, all of my childhood vacation memories are of me and my parents. California to visit my grandparents, Wildwood, New Jersey the same week every August until I was 18 and, a trip to Six Flags in New Jersey. Not to do the amusement park (I would have been riding those rides solo) but instead, for the drive through safari.

I have vivid memories of this safari; namely, sitting in the backseat of the car, thighs stuck to the leather bench seat in the summer heat, little monkeys sitting on the hood of our car as we drove 5 mph through the park, and – the pièce de résistance: a giraffe walking up to our car, bending its long neck down to the passenger window, and my mom rolling down her window and feeding him a piece of gum. (For the record – my parents have no recollection of this happening so perhaps I’m making this up?)

But what I do remember from the Safari was that I thought it was pretty cool.

So when it came time to think of a birthday present this year for our Little Mister, the Safari felt like the perfect gift! 1. He loves animals 2. It was an experience, and would not be another toy in our playroom and 3. We could make a weekend out of it and have an adventure!

Our adventure started with a traffic-filled drive to the middle-of-nowhere New Jersey to a Hampton Inn in the Township of Cranbury. (Can someone please explain these Townships to me? What the heck is a ‘Township’?)

Little Mister is not an experienced hotel visitor so he thought who he was rolling his suitcase up to the front desk. Since we’re still in a pandemic and I have an unvaccinated child, once we got into the room we stayed there: bringing in take out and watching movies on TV.

The next morning we arrived at the gates to the Safari after meticulously reviewing all of the animals we would see, the order we would see them, and how many exactly there were. And let me tell you: it didn’t disappoint. I don’t know who was more excited to see animals…me or the Little Mister. I just couldn’t not believe I was looking at an elephant a few feet away – not caged like a zoo – and I was in New Jersey.

We often had to stop so animals could cross the road in front of our car because they have the right of way (of course). And we were in New Jersey! (Did I mention that we were in New Jersey?)

Our Little Mister could not contain himself. Here were some of his most favorite animals, right in front of him! Lions! Elephants! Giraffes! (My favorite) Tigers! Bears! Rhinos! And a whole lot of gazelle/oryx/eland that literally all look alike. Not to mention about 4 million geese. He was so excited about seeing the geese, I felt we would have driven around a few ponds in Connecticut and has the same effect at the safari that was 3 hours away.

But seriously, this Safari is practically in our backyard (closer than Africa! Cheaper than Disney!).

I highly recommend it! Especially if you take your kids overnight to the lap of luxury also knows as the Hampton Inn.

Here are some highlights:

Little Mister, “I though the elephants would be bigger.” Elephant: “Shut up, kid, I’m shading myself with this parasol.”
This guy, missing his brother who moved to Vegas years ago…
The bears looked a little…sad. Like someone took away all of their salmon. Or freedom. Or whatever.
These guys were literally in the rood. At once point something spooked one of them and he started running toward our car. All I could imagine were those horns going right into the passenger door.
My favorite animal. Nothing comes close to being as cool as the pattern on their bodies.
Okapi? Oryx family? What the heck are these?
This guys was all like, “Imagonna pace like this until I figure a way out and then I’m going to eat the shit out of this safari.”

And perhaps my favorite, the chillin’ kangaroo. I imagine he was saying, “‘Sup?” as we drove by.

All this for $9.99/person? Talk about the bargain of the century! If you haven’t been, and you have an animal lover at home, GO. It’s totally worth it!

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!

Kids will be kids, Little Mister, NaBloPoMo, Uncategorized

Overheard in the KK Household: 2020 Version

As a five year old, our child was rather entertaining. Add 2 dogs, a pandemic and general stir craziness, and who knows what’s going to come out of everyone’s mouths.

If someone were a fly on the wall in our house, boy would he get an earful! At any given time, you would hear any of the following:

Little Mister: “Wow, Dad! You were able to pick up Mom without hurting your back!” After Mr. KK hugged me, then squeezed and lifted me off the ground. Thanks, kid.

“No, we don’t kiss with our teeth.” Me, to Bruno, after he lick-bit my nose.

“Wait, is that poop? It looks like poop. Why is there poop? Can you pick it up and smell it?” Me, to Mr. KK, after seeing something brown and suspicious on the floor.

“I’m not very happy with you right now.” Little Mister, to me, about 25 times a day.

“Do you smell that? Was that you?” Me, to any one of the humans or dogs living in my house.

“Ugh, another hug? All you want is hugs.” Little Mister, eye rolling until it hurts, to both of us, constantly.

“Wow, Mom, this is a really good dinner.” Little Mister to me, complimenting my exquisite grilled cheese cooking skills. (Something I do “right”!)

Me: “The rules of the game say that the youngest player goes first, and then next youngest to oldest.” Little Mister: “So it’s me, then Mommy, then Daddy.” Incorrect, but God love ya and I’ll milk it as long as I can.

And bonus point if you’re playing at home for every time you hear an “UGH!” and “Moooooom!” and “That’s not fair!”

Little Mister, NaBloPoMo, Pandemic, school

Why we Chose Full Remote Learning for School

When schools shut down in March, the sh*t hit the fan for working parents. When we couldn’t send Little Mister to daycare, we found ourselves juggling who was going to watch/entertain/be at his beck and call every hour of every day. It was exhausting, and we weren’t even dealing with Chromebooks and Google Meets and meltdowns like parents with school-aged children.

We endured the pandemic through spring and summer, while the fall school scheduled loomed over our heads. Would the kids be going back to school? What would learning look like? Did the package stores have enough wine stocked for parents??

As August started and the first day of school drew near, we started getting communications about the school year. And the plan changed by the day. Sometimes by the minute. For the most part, the decision on what the schools would be doing was being driven by the county’s health district. Plans were shared. Parents voted. And finally, options were presented.

And let me tell you: there was no good choice:

• Send your child to school full time and risk expose them to the virus of the century
• Keep your child home and risk your sanity while you try and work full time
• Opt for a hybrid model and have a combination of the worst of both worlds: exposure and remote learning while you were trying to work

Plus, our Little Mister was starting kindergarten. This was supposed to be the year to experience riding on the bus, learning to share and making friends. But that wasn’t going to happen this year. If we sent him to school, he would be sitting 6 feet away from the next kid, masked and solitary, not interacting or playing or sharing. He was being robbed of a true kindergarten experience.

Since I always work from home (pandemic or not), and it seemed like Mr. KK was going to be my coworker at least through the first half of 2021, we needed to find a solution that fit our work schedules. As a self-proclaimed crazy person during the pandemic, I had ZERO desire to send Little Mister to school. We had been SO diligent all summer and the thought of sending him into a classroom filled with other kids who could have been licking each for all I knew, was terrifying. Plus, we had just started integrating with our parents so they could watch Little Mister, and I didn’t want to bring any risk to our little pandemic bubble.

Our options from our school district were: a hybrid model where kids were in school 2 days, then home for remote learning 3 days, or a fully remote model.

For us, the hybrid model wasn’t going to work. I know Little Mister, and having him be in one place for a few days then transitioning not only his environment but how he was learning, was not going to work. Plus, on the days he had school at home, there would be no live learning; instead, assignments would be posted for the kids to complete. (And if asking him to do schoolwork on his own was anything like us asking him to do workbooks and practice his writing in the Spring, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t survive. Did you know it could take 1 1/2 hours to write your name 8 times?). Plus, we were lucky: we had been strict with our activities all summer, and we had resources in our corner: my mother-in-law was a retired teacher and willing to help us out with teaching, and my parents would help with after school care.

So we closed our eyes and jumped feet first into the fully remote model. And we haven’t looked back since.

We started by setting up a classroom at Grandma’s house (in Mr. KK’s old bedroom!). We set up a desk with all the supplies he’d need. And Grandma (in full teacher fashion) hopped on Amazon and dug through her teacher boxes and found decorations that would put any in-school classroom to shame. Days of the week! The alphabet! Vowels! Seasonal accents! We had it all.

Who needs public school when you have Grandma Elementary??

We wanted to make this experience as close to reality as possible so we created a schedule: we got up, got dressed, ate breakfast and packed our lunch and backpack and went off to “school”. Grandma sits with Little Mister 3 days a week, I do one day and Mr. KK does one day. And while he could navigate pretty well on his own, having someone next to him as a cheerleader and keeping him on task has been beneficial. From what I can tell, Little Mister LOVES school. He raises his hand and participates. He quotes his teacher back to me, which is like the holy grail: he is actually listening to her! He loves being on the computer and learning how to read and spell.

Is it perfect? Nope. Is it working for our child right now, during this particular time? Yes. And that is all that matters.

Plus, we get to hear phrases like, “Don’t worry, Grandma, I’ll get us back on The Meet” and “Ugh, don’t they know how to MUTE?” Ah, a smartass, just like his mom.