NaBloPoMo, only child

It’s Tough being an Only Child During a Pandemic

Mid-pandemic I sent a text to my Boston friends saying “Check on your only child friend, she is not OK.”

I’ve written about how hard it is to have an only child during this pandemic, but man has it been hard to be an only child this year.

I feel there are two types of only children: those that grow up to crave togetherness (Mr. KK) and those people who loved – and still love – alone time (me!).

I loved growing up an only child. I was never bored. I entertained myself for hours, and I brought that special talent into adulthood. Before kids, I would spend an entire day by myself: cooking, reading, shopping, doing things around the house, and simply enjoying time alone. It didn’t matter if I spoke with anyone the whole day because I would often find myself having faux conversations with myself.

When the Little Mister was still little, I relished nap time because that became my “alone time”. Also, when I could sneak away for a few hours on the weekends to wander around a few stores, it was heaven. I even counted my time at barre class or kickboxing “kk time”.

Fast forward to 2020, and all of that alone time just vanished. Poof! I wasn’t leaving the house to go shopping. Poof! All kickboxing classes became virtual. Poof! Nap time was just a distant memory. I was spending 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, with other people. I couldn’t find 5 minutes alone, let alone a full hour!

At work, we were encouraged to take our vacation time. For what? I would think. What the heck am I going to do? Where the heck am I going to go?

As someone who worked from home before it was required, I would have 8 hours to myself each day. Rocco was with me, but he was small and quiet, and usually spent the better part of the day curled up behind me on my chair. But now, there is always someone home – and at times, multiple someones. We brought Bruno into the mix, and boy are puppies needy (and does that teething stage every end? This dog is part goat, he chews everything in sight!) Gone were the long stretches of time when there was just silence. Part of my job is content creation: blog posts, website pages, marketing materials. The quieter it is, the more productive I am. Now, however, I find myself trying to multitask writing and keeping one eye on the puppy while shouting things like, “No!” and “Leave it!” and “We don’t eat chairs!”

I had to work hard to find “alone time” this year, outside of the work day. I started waking up extra early and reading quietly in the darkness before it was time to start the day. I was reading a few books a week and I felt a little more like myself. I scheduled “work out” time a few days a week. I started taking walks, just to get away from my computer and to be lost in my own thoughts. I solve a lot of problems of the world during my alone time.

Just last week, Mr. KK – whose makeshift ‘office’ was a desk in our kitchen – moved into the back office with me. It’s a small room to begin with, and now it has twice the amount of furniture (and bodies!), and boy is it cozy! I haven’t shared an office with some one in a very long time. We’re finding our groove when one of us has a call, I’m trying to reduce the amount of reading aloud I do when writing, and Mr. KK is working on reining in his ‘sighs’ while working.

I miss being alone sometimes. And if you don’t like being alone, it’s hard to understand. But I like my small doses of solitude. They keep me sane. And that has been the hardest struggle for me this year. Being the best me I can be, while still being good to me.

Don’t get me wrong, I will cherish all of this family time. Mr. KK and I have found our groove of working from home together. Our Little Mister seems happier because we’re always around. We’ve played lots of games, watched lots of movies, drawn so many pictures.

And now that the weather is turning colder we’ll find ourselves in the house even more. We already weren’t going anywhere, now we won’t even be able to hand out on the patio with friends (or, in my case, to sit down outside alone and read for a half hour).

Only children, I see you. And I feel for you.

Now if you need me, I’ll be hiding in the bathroom. Shhhh…

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.

Christmas, Decorating, Pandemic, shopping, Target

Today, I Busted Out of the House

This year, I’d like to skip right over Thanksgiving and dive antlers first into Christmas. I mentioned this constantly casually to Mr. KK who replied, “It’s not even the middle of November.” Well, seems the Grinch came early this year at least!

It goes without saying that this year is unlike any other year we’ve experienced. I remember being on a neighborhood walk in April and a house was decked out in holiday decor, with 3 different Christmas trees in the windows. Everyone’s mantra is basically, “Because, 2020.” And I’m totally down with that.

As COVID cases continue to rise, schools move to remote learning and states threaten to shut down, I saw my opportunity for one last hurrah before the sh*t really hits the fan. I took the day off from work to run a few errands on a weekday to avoid the crowds. And, in true KK style, I made sure I was at the stores waiting for them to unlock their doors for the day.

After being the envy of the entire country all summer, this is what CT looks like now.

My agenda for the day included Target, Homegoods and TJ Maxx. I broke my Target hiatus in the summer, but I haven’t been to Homegoods or TJ Maxx since before last Christmas. I was looking forward to a day of me, wandering down empty aisles with a highly-sanitized cart.

Before I left the house this morning, Mr. KK lovingly said, ” Have a great day off today! Buy everything you want, but remember that we already don’t have any room for more Christmas stuff in the basement! Love you!”

Talk about a pep talk.

I spent the morning in my glory, wandering aisles and perfecting my anti-social behavior of avoiding all other humans (except for the cleaning aisle at Target, where they were restocking Clorox Wipes; you’d have though they were handing out winning lottery tickets). I wasn’t even there to Christmas shop – as a family we talked about not really going crazy with gifts this year (what do you get for the person who doesn’t leave the house?) – but instead to hoard bottle brush trees and wooden houses from Bullseye’s Playground. Mission accomplished!

You can’t have too many mini trees is my motto!

And, because Mr. KK has so wonderfully reminded me that we didn’t have any storage room for additional Christmas decor, I smartly purchased a nice red bin to store all of my new Christmas! Problem solved!

I spy dog toys!

While it felt good to be out, between my hat, mask, glasses and Airpods, I’ve never been so decorated from the neck up. I got my fix of Christmas Inspo (and a few small gifts) and headed home. I spent the rest of my rainy day off on the couch with Mr. KK, Little Mister, Rocco and Bruno watching a movie. Which was better than any shopping trip.

Bruno, dogs, NaBloPoMo, Pandemic, Rocco, Uncategorized

Getting a Dog During the Pandemic

“We never leave the house!” we said.

“We’ll have so much time to train him!” we thought.

“The new dog will keep Rocco company!” we hoped.

HAHAHAHA.

Meet: Bruno.

Gate Houdini. Toy stealer. Chewer of everything.

We are a rescue family. Rocco was rescued last March at 4 months old, and we wanted to do the same for our second dog. Bruno was rescued in July at just 9 weeks old! They said he was a “doxie mix”, and he was available with his litter mates: two sisters, one who was black and brown like he was (but smaller) and one who was completely tan. That, in itself, was a little suspicious. When we arrived at the shelter he was alone, his sisters had already been adopted earlier in the day. He was sleeping peacefully outside, his little round, pink belly rising and falling with each breath. I picked him up and inhaled his puppy smell. Is there anything better than new puppy smell? Probably second only to new baby smell.

We left with “Dallas” as he was named, and the entire ride home, as he slept in my arms, I whispered into his soft, floppy ear: “You are Bruno. Bruno. Bruno.”

Bruno was a surprise for our Little Mister who had NO IDEA we were bringing home a dog. You know who else was surprised? Rocco.

It’s amazing how quickly you forget what house training a puppy is like, even if you just did a year earlier. And, we were right in assuming it would be easier since we were home all the time. But still, house training is exhausting! But my Type A personality ensured we only had a handful of accidents in the house as I watched Bruno like a hawk. The minute he looked suspicious, he went outside!

And, Bruno won himself some bonus points for sleeping through the night in his crate from night one with no crying. He will fit right in here with that kind of behavior.

Rocco and Bruno are still trying to figure out their place with each other. When we first brought Bruno home, he and Rocco (who is full grown) were almost the same size, Bruno being 8 pounds to Rocco’s 10. But any size advantage Rocco had quickly diminished when Bruno started gaining a pound a week. He quickly was taller (and stronger) than Rocco, though he was still a clumsy puppy so Rocco was able to push him around. They spent quite a bit of time wrestling (and still do!), though their interactions have grown louder. And Bruno has become bolder. And Rocco spends a lot of time hiding under chairs.

Rocco – who at the tender age of 2 – is like a grumpy old man. He’s possessive of Little Mister, and getting attention. And most of the time he just wants to be left alone. Bruno – who can’t take a hint – constantly wants to play so he bites at Rocco’s rear end and tail, nudges him off a bed, steals any toy he’s playing with. Basically, he’s an annoying little bratty brother.

Do I love that we have gates up all over the house to contain him until we can trust him? No.

Does leaving a room or going outside cause more drama than we’d like? Yep.

Do we need to each “take a dog” at certain times to keep peace in our house? Oh yeah.

When someone comes in the house does mayhem ensue? For sure.

Is Bruno wiggling his way into our hearts? Absolutely.

When you talk to Bruno, he looks right into your eyes and tilts his head, as if he’s trying to understand what you’re saying to him. Our old dog Vito used to do that, too. Vito was part human, I think.

Bruno is working on learning his commands and how to be a good doggie and a respectful member of our family. He’s scared of strangers and gets nervous in new situations. “You have to socialize him!” the vet said. Well, Dr., I haven’t socialized myself in the last 8 months, let along a dog!

But we’re working on it! Today was a test run at doggie daycare for Bruno. And we didn’t get a call to pick him up 20 minutes after we dropped him off, so to me, that’s a success. Plus, the only other dog there was about 5 pounds and Bruno still behaved himself. Extra treats for him tonight for not eating another dog today!

It’s been 4 months and we sort of hoped that Rocco and Bruno would be besties by now. Spoiler alert: that is not the case. They currently tolerate each other. (Correction: Rocco tolerates Bruno and Bruno annoys Rocco.)

Hopefully things calm down in the KK household soon. And Bruno doesn’t take down our Christmas tree (which is grounds for dismissal, btw).

He’s not a snuggler, or a kisser. But he does like to hog the couch. He’s a little kooky and quirky. But he’s all ours.

You can follow Rocco and Bruno’s shenanigans on Instagram!

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.

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!

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!