Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Adios, 2014!

2014 was a BIG BIG year over here in the KK house!

I turned 40!
I know.

And what a birthday it was! I took it in stride, 40 is the new 30, blah blah blah. Plus Mr. KK planned a nice birthday weekend that ended with tickets to…


You thought I was going to say the arrival of Max was the highlight of the year?

OF COURSE Max was the best part of 2014!

(But that surprise birthday trip to Mexico was pretty good, too. Mr. KK, you have set the standard for my birthday gifts now. I can't wait to see what you have up your sleeve in 2015.)

Funny coincidence: while we were in Mexico for the week enjoying margaritas and eating our weight in guacamole, our little Max was the size of a lime. Perfect, no?

 Yes, 2014 is definitely one for the record books.

We finally ended a our almost 6-year journey to familydom with the birth of Mr. Maxwell, who has stolen the hearts of everyone in the family. Seriously, this kid can dial up the cuteness.

I met an amazing and giving woman who partnered with us to bring Maxwell into the world, and I made a lifelong friend in the process.

We were blessed with a big Thanksgiving, with representation from our West Coast families, filled with fun, food and laughs.

I've had the pleasure of being home with Maxwell for the last three months, watching him grow and change every day. Plus, I've gotten to spend so much more time with Mr. KK, which is just an added bonus.

Hey, my pants may be tighter than they were when I started the year, but if that's the only downside, I'll take it. (And I'll buy new pants, too.)

So, 2014, I'm sad to see you go, but I'm looking forward to 2015.

In fact, here's what I'm hoping to do/see/accomplish in 2015:

1. Find the perfect work/life balance. I may as well have said I'm looking for nirvana or a purple unicorn because, really, does this even exist? Well, I'm hoping it does – or there's a version of it that does and that works for me – because the end of January and my return to work will be here in the blink of an eye (cue the tissues, please). And for the sake of those around me, I better find that balance. Quickly.

2. Work out at least ONE day a week. Hey, I'm not crazy; I know I'll never get back to hitting the gym five times a week. So why put that unrealistic expectation on myself, only to be disappointed and frustrated. ONE DAY. That's it. Can even be a Saturday. But that's all the Max time I'm willing to give up (see Number 1 above).

3. Read 2 books a month. I used to read 2 books a week. Again, that doesn't seem like reality anymore, now that I'm a Mom, blah blah. And Max's books don't count.

4. Put down the phone/remote/laundry/spatula. I've read WAY too many blog posts by Moms who wish they played with their kids more. It breaks my heart to read that, because I know how I can be, multi-tasking like a crazed Type A monster. Sorry, work emails, you will have to wait.

5. Try one new restaurant a month. Just because we had a baby doesn't mean we don't still love going out. We'll take Max while he's portable, and we'll leave him home with his adoring grandparents when he's not.

6. Keep blogging. I swear, I'll try. That "work" thing might get in the way, though…

7. Start.Writing.My.Novel. ((sigh))

8. Be a better person. UGH. 'Now that I'm a Mom' (god, I hate that phrase) I suppose I should be more open and accepting and NICE. That waiter with the crazy eyes? Pretend he has a nice, normal, non-creepy stare. The woman in Target who is wandering around talking to herself and in desperate need of a shower? Don't take her picture and post it on Facebook. The weirdo couple who wants to sit on the same side of the table at the restaurant? Well, I'm sorry, that's just ridiculous; they deserve to be made fun of.

Happy New Year!

May 2015 bring happiness and fun…and a little spontaneity!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

I married a fruit cake family.

You've seen it in the store – all dark brown with neon fruit and wet looking. 

It's the running joke of Christmas songs and gag gifts.

It's the fruit cake.


For a girl who can't stand the taste and texture of candied fruit, fruit cake is my worst nightmare.

And somehow fruit cake is a phenomenon in Mr. KK's family.

It started with his grandmother Helen (in whose house we currently live) and the recipe was passed down to his mother to carry on the tradition.

That's right: homemade fruit cake.

The funny thing is that during the holiday season, fruit cakes sell for like $40 a pop. My mother-in-law makes fruit cakes like they're going out of style. And they are SO much better than the ones in the store. So at $40 a piece, I'm thinking we can find a way for this Mommy to stay home come January.

Just sayin'.

And while I don't eat fruit cake, Mr. KK LOVES it, so Max and I spent the day at my mother-in-law's learning the ins and outs of the holiday's famed dessert.

It's usually a two-day affair, because so many fruit cakes need to be made, and the cooking time is long.

The recipe – which is a family secret that I absolutely can't disclose on this blog – dates back to 1957. It was originally written in Mr. KK's grandmother's handwriting, but has since been typed up for posterity (and probably so it can be passed down to me to continue the tradition).

 My mother-in-law whipping up a batch of fruit cakes. I think her mixer is also from 1957.

Combining the batter and the yucky candied fruit.
Mixing that together was probably the best workout I've had on maternity leave.

Ready for the pans!

 These cakes bake for about two hours!

Cooked to a golden brown.
Next step: soaking them with vermouth.

Meanwhile, Vito and Dino were keeping tabs on everyone. And Dino was conveniently using Vito as a pillow. I guess that's what best friends are for.

It's a big to-do when the fruit cakes get handed out. Every member of Mr. KK's family gets a fruit cake (or at least a piece of one). Not to mention friends who, over the years, have heard about the fruit cakes and who are now on the fruit cake distribution list. 

This list is more exclusive than a guest list at a red carpet event.

And, apparently, fruit cake can last FOREVER. Maybe it's the alcohol soak at the end. I'm not sure, but there have been times family members are still cutting slivers of fruit cake WELL into the spring.

So I guess that part of the fruit cake lore is true.

And after 14 years of being around Mr. KK's family, I am yet to even try a piece of fruit cake. It's the candied fruit…I just…can't.

But I'm in the minority!

To quote 'We Need a Little Christmas' song lyrics: slice up the fruit cake. It's Christmas in the KK household.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

This post is about poop.

(WARNING: this post contains graphic material)

Between having a baby, and having a dog, a good portion of the conversation in our house revolves around poop.

Poop frequency, poop color, poop consistency, poop size.

Honestly, I'm pooped talking about poop.

But the big news in the house – in regards to poop – was that Max hadn't pooped for four days.

That meant four days worth of poop backed up and waiting to make an exit.

So last night, Mr. KK decided to take research into his own hands and used our friend Google to check in on babies not pooping for 4 days.

KK:  "What are you listening to?"

MR. KK:  "A video about a baby who hasn't pooped."

KK:  "And?"

MR. KK:  "The doctor says massaging the baby's stomach helps. That's where the colon is."

KK:  "You want me to massage our baby's colon?"

MR. KK:  "And do bicycle legs with him. It helps get things moving."

Cut to this morning.

Max and I start our usual morning routine. I break him free of his straight jacket, and we sing the 'Stretch! Stretch! Stretch!' song while he loosens up his arms and legs.

OMG, look at those thighs! Purely edible!

Then we had our playtime on his woodland creature mat.

And we also did tummy time.

And I also massaged Max's colon.

And did bicycle legs.

And heard the rumblings of what could only mean one thing.

Poopapalooza 2014.

I knew I was in trouble when I unzipped his sleeper and saw this:

I believe that's a look of relief. You can see it in his rosy cheeks.

Poop in the front is NEVER a good sign.

Today will forever be known as the day I took a scissors and cut a onesie off of Max. It wasn't worth trying to save it.

I will spare the more graphic pictures (I had to document this epic poop since Mr. KK was conveniently at work. AGAIN.) but I think you get the idea.

The only way to get the poop out of his belly button (yep, belly button) was to toss him in the bath tub.

Between breakfast, tummy time, playtime and the poop of the century, Max was beat and fell into a deep sleep.

Which allowed me the opportunity to take Vito outside. 

So he could poop.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

You know her. You love to hate her: Braggart Mom.

If you checked my Google history it would probably look something like this:

'how much should my 10 week old eat'

'how often do babies poop'

'when should baby sleep through the night'

I've never had a baby before, so Google is my best friend. Especially after a 2am feeding when I can't go back to sleep. 

Good lord, what did women do before the internet? Figure stuff out on their own?

No wonder we're all so messed up.

Most of the time my search results include websites like Baby Center or Just Mommies or The Bump. There are tons of pages of message boards where one Mom – who is usually exhausted, delusional and at the end of her rope – will ask for help from others Moms to find the best way to get her child to calm down/go to bed/step away from the boob.

And among the sea of mothers who are offering up their own horror stories or tidbits of motherly advice, she emerges: 

Gloating Mom.


Is there anyone you dislike more than the mother who brags? It's as if she were put on earth to make your feel like an inferior mother. It's like you can see her smirking through your computer screen.

It usually goes something like this: A woman will ask about sleep habits for her 4 month old, and when her baby should sleep through the night. This is usually followed up with comments by other moms, sharing stories of their babies: who needs to breastfeed every two hours; the baby who will only sleep for 30 minute intervals; the 6 month old who hates his crib.

But then, emerging from all of the compassionate mothers, there she is: smug and gloating. Her response usually contains a zillion abbreviations (my LO, the DH and I, I'm a SAHM) and goes something like this: "My baby has been sleeping through the night since she was 4 weeks old! One night I put her down and she just kept sleeping! She now sleeps from 7pm-6am. I couldn't believe how easy it was!"

Oh, go to hell with yourself, lady.

And it's not just about sleeping. Her baby also never cries! Her little one held up his head at 6 weeks. Her 2-month-old rolled over. Her 7-month-old woke up and starting walking. And, of course, her 1.5 year old potty trained himself.

But the fun doesn't stop there.

To add insult to injury, I get weekly emails from The Bump to help me track Max's progress as a human being. It's almost as if all of the Bragging Moms out there got together and put together this list of milestones your baby should  be reaching each week to be considered 'average'. Nothing makes you feel like a failure as a Mom more than someone telling you all of the things your baby should be doing. 

The emails start out very positive: 'Your Baby is 8 weeks old today!' 
(Thank you! I know!)

And then they start kicking you when you're down:

"Your baby should be awake for 10 hours a day!"

"Your little one is probably grabbing onto everything in sight!"

"Your baby is now driving!"

First off, at 8 weeks, Max was never awake for 10 hours a day. In fact, I couldn't keep that kid awake for more than 10 minutes. I would feed him and he'd fall into a food coma.

Ahen it comes to grabbing, Max doesn't like to be told what to do. 

So encouragement like, "Can you grab the giraffe? See the giraffe, Max? Grab that giraffe!" falls onto deaf ears. 

Instead, Max simply stares at the giraffe, then stares at me, as if to say, "Yes, I see the giraffe. I don't much feel like grabbing anything right now. I'll wait until you're not looking."

Max grabs my fingers, the collar of my shirt and my hair. He tries to grab his bottle, only because he's a glutton and loves to eat. But he doesn't grab rattles or plastic toys or million-dollar Sophie. At least not while I'm watching.

At 10 weeks, here's what Max is awesome at:

  • Getting millions of kisses
  • Spitting out his binky right when you take your hand away so that it falls on the floor
  • Getting out of every swaddle known to man
  • Letting us know he's hungry
  • Falling asleep in my arms and the snapping his eyes open the minute I lay him down in his crib
  • Waiting until he has on a clean diaper, is wearing a new outfit and is buckled into his car seat before letting loose mega poop
  • Falling asleep during tummy time
  • Eating
  • Looking adorable
  • Sleeping through our meals at restaurants
  • Acting surprised when he sees the same toy he's seen for the last 9 weeks
  • Waking you up to eat in the middle of the night as soon as you hit your deepest sleep
  • Being the cutest baby in the universe

In my eyes, he's right on track.

Take that, Bragging Mom.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Date Night is not dead.

Before Max made his arrival, Mr. KK and I promised each other that we would still have our date nights.

Date night = a night at home with a fire (outside in the summer, inside in the winter), cocktails, chit chat and catching up, sometimes a movie or a game (I am the reining Scrabble Champion, thank you very much) and a delicious home-cooked dinner.

They are my most-favorite nights.

This past Friday night, we kept our tradition alive.

And I made duck.

This is a big deal, because I only make duck a few times a year. 

Don't get me wrong, I LOVE it, but I mostly order it out because it's a pain in the ass to cook because it makes such a mess. So much so, that I only cook it the night before our cleaning lady comes (#firstworldproblems, I know).

Seared duck breast
Bacon lentils (Emeril's recipe here)
Roasted broccolini
Rioja wine

We were in a beer mood. See that Bourbon County Stout Mr. KK is drinking? That was a FANTASTIC find by yours truly at the liquor store. A little surprise for the hubs.

I got these duck breasts at Stop and Shop; they have them pretty regularly.
Just score the skin with a sharp knife, about 3/4 of the way through (try not to cut into the meat). This allows the skin to crisp up and release all of the fat goodness. 

I never time my cooking, I do it by feel. So I'm always paranoid I'm going to over cook the duck breasts. And every time, I cook them perfectly (sloppy luck). I cook them to a delicious medium rare. (OMG look at the grease on my stove)

The bacon lentils were rich and delicious.
I also roasted some broccolini with garlic and olive oil until it was crispy and tender.

 Date night plus one.

My stove looks like a wreck (sorry, Rosa!) but it was worth it.

I won't even talk about the oatmeal cookies I made for dessert (from the Betty Crocker pouch, people…remember: I don't bake!). Those things are like crack to us. It's embarrassing how many of them we ate. There should be an anonymous program for those cookies. 

But those cookies, warm out of the over? OMG. 

But we're not talking about it.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Four Stockings.

For the last 9 years, we have been a three-stocking family. Each year we'd decorate for Christmas and hang my stocking, Mr. KK's stocking and Vito's stocking on the mantle on our little reindeer stocking holders.

And for the last 6 years, we have had a fourth stocking and reindeer stocking holder waiting in the wings, ready to be debuted for the holiday. And each year, we didn't have the opportunity to unpack it.

This year, we're FINALLY a four stocking family!

I've mentioned before…I LOVE Christmas. And I'm a real-tree kind of girl. There's something about the smell of pine in the house that really brings the holiday season to life.

Now, we don't go and chop our tree down in a field (we're not lumberjacks for Pete's sake!); but instead we select our tree from wonderful pre-cut trees (read: someone else trudged through a field and did all the hard work). As particular as I am about everything some stuff, it takes me only about 5 minutes to choose a tree. (Unlike some people I'm related to who shall remain nameless. Mom.)

This year, Max joined the tree expedition. And we even brought along our father-in-law, resident family photographer to capture every moment, because we don't have pictures of Maxwell next to pine trees yet!

 Max is VERY into the tree selection.

 We may not BE lumberjacks, but that doesn't stop Mr. KK from dressing like one.

 "I'd like one shaped more like this at the top."

 The official measure for the proper tree height.

Tree #3 is the winner! Wrap it up, we'll take it!

That was last Sunday. We got the tree home, made a fresh cut, and set it up in the stand to get 'acclimated' to the house (like it's some type of new house guest).

You know how with a new baby everything takes a zillion times longer to do than before?

The same holds true for Christmas decorating, apparently.








And then finally…on Sunday…

New color scheme!

Earlier this month:

KK: "I'm going to change up our decorating color scheme this year."

Mr. KK (suddenly seeing dollar signs and multiple trips to Target) "Promise me you won't spend $500 on new tree decorations."

KK: "I promise I won't spend $500 on new decorations."

Mr. KK (rolling eyes):  "You know what I mean."

KK:  "Yep. No spending $500. Check!"

Well, our new color scheme of gold/silver/bronze/cream (which did, indeed, involve trips to Target but did NOT, however, cost anywhere near $500) looks fantastic.

And, for good measure, we decorated our rosemary as well. 
(Italians include food in everything!)


This year we celebrate our four stockings, and the horrific spoiling that's going to be going down on Christmas Day by Maxwell's grandparents. 

NOTE TO GRANDPARENTS: we already don't have any more room in the house!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Ok, kale, you win. I like you.

I'll admit it, I jumped on the 'superfood' bandwagon with kale.

I think my turning point was a Kale Caesar Salad at our Thursday night bar. OMG delicious. I replicated that for like two weeks straight for lunch, then got sick of it. But I love cooking with kale. I add it to my chicken soup. I braise it with pancetta. I sauté it with garlic.

In fact, kale was my vegetable at our Thanksgiving table last year (much to the chagrin of my ninety-plus grandfather and grandmother. "What is that? Kale? Never heard of it.")

So when after what seems like two straight weeks of eating – and eating and eating – Mr. KK requested a salad for dinner tonight, I immediately thought of kale. (I wasn't going to make just a plain salad. That's not dinner.)

Max and I bundled up and ventured out to the grocery store, where I could have sworn he was going to be a teenager before we got back to the car. The grocery store was packed at 2:30pm on a Wednesday. Don't people work??? We can't ALL be on maternity leave!

Tonight I put together a Kale Salad with Butternut Squash, Cranberries and Pepitas. You can find the recipe here.


The recipe is easy and delicious. The colors of the green in the kale and the orange in the butternut squash is beautiful.

I think my favorite part of the recipe was massaging the kale. I don't even get massages. This super food is WAY high maintenance.

I felt so good about our very light and healthy salad for dinner, that I pre-gamed the dinner event with a nice glass of wine and some manchego. (Perhaps I'm my own worst enemy when it comes to watching what I eat?)

In other news, NaBloPoMo is over, and I'm proud to say that I did it. It was tough to find the time – and material – to write each and every day. I can't tell you how many nights we'd clean up the dishes, fill the dishwasher, give Max a bath and get him to bed and I'd finally sit on the couch at 10:30pm and I would think, "Aw, crap! I have to write my blog post!" (I said this with love, though, I promise).

Max is growing like crazy. Every day he makes a new sound or a new funny face. It's hard to believe he'll be two months this Friday! It's also hard to believe that my leave is more than half over (but we won't talk about that).

Here's a dose of cuteness for the day. We are a very outfitted house over here in the giraffe department.

Speaking of giraffes, does anyone know what sound they make? Because a giraffe showed up during my rendition of "Old McDonald Had a Farm" the other night (we were many verses in, and the old farmer has a VERY progressive farm), and I was stumped for a noise.