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Monday, December 31, 2007

Shattered Dream

Being a P.E. coach isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be. Even being a 30-minute P.E. coach twice a week for the YMCA. I tried it. I considered it for about 25 seconds and then I changed my mind. Here’s why:

They don’t listen.
They scream.
They can only focus on one activity for about 45 seconds. Then you have to move on to something else. That’s like 18 activities I’d have to come up with.
They scream some more.
They’re not nice to each other.
They complain a lot.

Now I could get past all of the above if it were a different age group. But let me tell you something I learned about the 6-9 year-olds: They’re not really all that cute. This is the stage where they become a little big raggedy. They look like little match kids. So not only are they annoying but they don’t even make up for it in cuteness.

If they were cute I still wouldn’t like the screaming, complaining, ADD, etc. but at least I could put off my aggravation for about 20 minutes while I focused on their cuteness. And by the time I was sick of them, it would be almost time to go.

But with these kids, I was over it the moment they walked in the door.

So my whistle is off to all the P.E. coaches out there. I thought you had an easy job. But now I know that you not only have to entertain kids for eight hours a day, you have to entertain not-so-cute kids for eight hours a day. And if you’re a Junior High P.E. coach…well, then, I’ll keep you in my prayers.

The Cookie Dance

I first learned of BS's love for cookies after I hosted a cookie exchange at my house the second week of December. I had been frustrated because I hadn't felt a lot from BS. I told people he/she must be a very laid-back baby (more like daddy, less like mommy).

But then as I was sitting around scarfing down cookies that my neighbors had brought, I suddenly felt not just one kick, not just two...but a whole stampede!

The next night after I sampled a few more cookies (which I had put in the freezer so I could eat them "later"), I felt more action from BS. "We're doing the cookie dance!" I told Frank.

I imagine that the cookie dance looks a lot like that dancing baby from Ally McBeal:

Over the holidays I had peppermint bark, scotcharoos, Whoppers, miniature Krackels and all sorts of goodies. It was like dance fever in my tummy.

Even if BS does end up being laid-back like Frank at least I know we share a love for sweets...and bad dancing.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Salvation Army Salute

I’m all for the bell ringers. I just wish they would still wear their Santa suits. That’s why I give extra good change (like nickels and dimes rather than pennies) when one of them makes an effort. Here’s the lowdown on the SA Ringers near me:

Weakest: The Walmart Ringer. Sure, she smiles but sometimes I have to smile at her first. Plus, I’m always too busy bringing in abandoned carts from the parking lot to get out any change.

Chattiest: Kroger Ringer. Then again, everybody at Kroger is super chatty. The sacker gave me a lecture about how to make sure I find a mate for my baby by kindergarten so he/she doesn’t end up alone and living with his mom like him. And the checker likes to hold me in conversation hostage too: “Hey, haven’t seen you in awhile!” That’s why yesterday, when we needed garbage bags, I snuck in and used the self checkout. I still was stopped by an old lady customer who wanted to get my advice about candle scents. Am I unaware of a sign on my head that says, “Please talk to me...for a really long time?” So the ringer is no different. He started talking to me about how it’s hard to stand there all day and I gave him some tips on how he could move around and get exercise at the same time—marching in place, side steps, hamstring curls. He seemed eager to do them but when I left he was still just standing there. I said, “Hey, what about the calf lifts I taught you?” He did them right away so I gave him a dime for cooperating.

Sweetest/Best Overall: Walgreen’s Ringer. This guy had on a Santa hat so I said, “I’m glad you’re wearing a Santa hat!” and gave him all the change I had…even quarters! (Well, not all my quarters but a few.) Then, on my way out I saw him walking an old lady to her car! How sweet is that? Of course, he abandoned his bucket which is against the rules and I had to report him to the Salvation Army and that may or may not be the reason he got fired but still…

Those are all the bell ringers I know. But I encourage you to evaluate your bell ringers and donate accordingly. After all, your change could go to help my sacker friend at Kroger get some hip clothes and a date.

Class of 2026

I’ve been telling Baby Simcik about all its potential friends who are being born or will be born soon. Baby Simcik gave me a kick as if to say, "Tell them I'll see them all at freshman orientation at UT!”

Brighton Ryskoski—Born in November to Jaime and Matt

Chloe Heller—Born in November to Amber and Robert

Juliet Willemsen—Born in December to Amber and Corie

Emily Bolton—Coming in January to Donnie and Aimee

Grace Vela—Coming in February to Tricia and Steve

Baby Girl Jacaman—Coming in March to Lindsay and Chuck

Baby Boy Lewis—Coming in March to neighbors Debbie (seen right of me) and Chad (BBL will probably be a Clemson Tiger though)

Baby Simcik—Coming April to Frank and Elsa (Hook ‘Em Horns!)

Baby Robinson—Coming in May to neighbors Claire (seen left of me) and Josh (BR—another Clemson Tiger)

Baby Richter—Coming in June to Stefanie and Jon

Baby Gressier—Coming in July to Jane and Sebastian

We still have openings for August babies—and a roommate for Baby Simcik. He/she will be very neat and won't borrow your child's clothes without asking. Is it too early to book a spot at Jester?

Monday, December 17, 2007

Comparing Apples to Avocados

Every week we get this email that explains what’s going on in my tummy. It describes how the baby’s growing, what I should be feeling and what to expect for that particular stage in the pregnancy.

Frank and I really look forward to this email every week because of one part: the first sentence that compares our baby to an item from the produce department. BS started out as a sesame seed and quickly grew to other exciting beans like kidney and lima. It’s been a kumquat, a turnip and a lemon.

When we got to apple, we were stoked. That was big. Like if I had to hold an apple for an hour, that would get tiring. A kumquat, I could hold that for like four hours. So we cheered for the apple but didn’t consider naming our baby after it a la Mr. and Mrs. Chris Martin.

But then the next week, a big let down. We went from an apple to an avocado. An avocado? I think that’s smaller than an apple. And at the very best it’s the same! After getting that email I actually stood in the produce section, holding up an apple and an avocado. The avocado, in this case, was indeed smaller than the apple.

Two weeks ago we were a banana. That was pretty cool. But then whaddya know? The next week we got another downgrade or same-grade to carrot! Now Frank has changed his usual question to friends and strangers from, “Whaddya think is bigger? An apple or an avocado?” to “Whaddya think is bigger? A banana or a carrot?”

So this week if Frank approaches you with something like, “Whaddya think is bigger? A carrot or a stalk of celery?” you’ll know why. And hey, what do you think of the name celery for a girl?

Friday, December 14, 2007

More Pregnancy Perplexers

I’ve never liked the fact that people often treat new moms like babies. At the baby shower, for instance, people will adorn the mom-to-be in a corsage made of rattles and baby bottles. And the diaper bags! Why would a grown woman suddenly need to carry a purse covered in Winnie the Pooh and friends? It doesn't match anything.

So that’s my mantra: “I’m having a baby, not becoming one.”

But lately I’ve felt like I AM becoming a baby. You know how when babies wear pants and shirts (rather than onesies) their tops always ride up and their bellies show? That happens to me too. I try to wear a shirt that doesn’t hang down to my thighs and inevitably, it creeps up. I look like a three-month old.

And I act like one too. I have to eat every two hours. If not, I get fussy. So if I’m going to run errands, I have to eat right before I go and then I’ve got a two hour window to get everything done.
Yesterday when the dental hygienist told me I’d have to have more work done than I expected, I burst into tears. And when they were done with the work I was smiling again. I might have even cooed at them.

I don’t wear a diaper but I might as well, for as often as I have to go to the bathroom. (Hey, maybe that lady astronaut was on to something.)

So just call me baby Writinggal. At least when BS gets here, I’ll be able to relate. In the meantime, can someone bring me my bottle? I’m getting fussy.

Obsession…by Frank

My husband is not a total gadget geek. But when he does decide that he wants a certain piece of electronic equipment, he becomes obsessed. He can’t think about anything else and worse, he can’t talk about anything else.

This past summer it was the flat screen TV:

“Don’t you think this room would look better with a flat screen TV?”

“Now what if we put the couch over there? Then the flat screen TV could go there.”

“Oh, you’re dusting the TV? If we had a flat screen there wouldn’t be as much to dust.”

“Josh just got a flat screen.”

“Hey, can we run into Best Buy? I just wanna check out their flat screens.”

“I saw a really good deal on a flat screen in the Fry’s ad.”

“I’m gonna go to BrandsMart on my lunch break to check out their flat screens.”

“Josh got another flat screen for his basement!”

“I’m buying a flat screen! I’ve narrowed it down to three kinds.” (This is followed by long explanations, prices and pro/cons for each.)

“I’ve been shopping all day. Been to twelve different stores. It’s between two now.”

“I bought a flat screen!”

One month later: “Can we just go into the store really quick to make sure the flat screen I got isn’t any cheaper?”

When the sales person asked if we needed help I just said, “No. We bought one a month ago. Now he just has to come here and visit the others to make sure he got the best deal. If he didn’t, he’ll never sleep again.”

So in the past few weeks it’s been the same dialogue but the subject is now surround sound. This time the pitch to me was tougher. I like TVs. I like the new flat screen. And you know what? I can hear it just fine! It’s not that big of a room. So why, oh why, is it necessary to be surrounded by the sound?

Plus, surround sound systems (I learned, after several visits to electronic stores) involve lots of speakers and woofers. (I don’t actually know what a woofer is but it’s ugly and takes up too much room.) I saw no value in surround sound.

But Frank wouldn’t give up. It was the same pattern as the TV. Lots of store visits, lots of ad checking, incessant talking about surround sound. And just like the TV, he became increasingly aggravated by our current situation. “That would sound so much better if we had surround sound,” he would say. “Are you deaf?” I would ask. “Can you not hear the TV?”

This time he even got wrapped up in eBay auctions. He would bid on something, not get it and then set his alarm to wake up later that night and bid on another one. When he didn’t get that one I said, “Are you ever going to give up?” He said, “I can’t. I’m obsessed.”

And so, as with his last obsession, he finally bought it. He proudly showed it to me last night by turning up the volume really loud. “Did you hear that toilet flush? It sounds so cool!” Yes, I’ve always wanted to be surrounded by the sounds of toilets flushing.

Now phase II will begin: the second-guessing. Did I get the best price? Did I get the best system? Should I beat myself up for not winning that eBay auction?

And then we’ll move on to another obsession. At least this time I’ll be surrounded by sound so I can tune him out.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

My Bug: Just like a hot girl.

Have you ever seen those shows where a hot girl dons a fat suit and proves that people are mean to the less-fortunate-looking?

Just the other day I saw two “Deal or No Deal” girls trying out this scheme:

They went ice skating as themselves and got free private lessons from the rink employees.

They hailed a carriage and got one right away.

I can’t remember what else they did but the next day they did it all again in fat suits. The rink employees? “We’re too busy.” The carriage driver? “Are you sure you’ll both fit?”

The girls cried. I’m not sure why. I mean, they could just take off the fat suits and go back to being silent mannequins on a game show. What’s so bad about that?

When they’re hot, they get anything they want: attention, free stuff, passes to the front of the line.

My VW Bug has a very similar life:

Everybody lets a Bug in. If I need to get over into another lane at the last minute, it’s no problem. If I need to turn left onto a busy road, everybody stops. This didn’t happen in other cars so I can’t liken myself to a Deal or No Deal girl. It’s the Bug! Nobody can resist it.

And the attention? The stares? Okay, this is all actually from kids 6 and under but it’s still fun. When I drive into the YMCA it’s like a parade. Kids automatically start waving at me. I feel so special. But as soon as I get out of the car they ignore me.

I can’t really say I’ve gotten free stuff because of the Bug yet but I think I could if I tried. Like maybe I could get some free fries at a drive thru. Or an extra lollipop at the bank. Great. Now I’m gonna be the girl in the fat suit who drives the cute Bug. I can’t compete with that.

First Glimpse

Here's Baby Simcik at 20.5 weeks!
Not only did we get to see what BS looks like this week, we've also learned a few things about him/her. We still don't know the gender but we think with these clues you can confidently take a guess on our poll to the right:
  • BS likes to play with its umbilical cord. (Maybe it's actually a cat.)
  • BS yawns.
  • BS likes to hang out upside down. (Maybe a bat?)
  • BS likes cookies.

So have at it. We'll let you know the answer in April!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Woah, we're halfway there...

...woah-oh, livin' on a prayer...

A Dream Semi-Come True

No more jokes about being a P.E. coach. Today, I was offered a job doing just that.

Well, not exactly that. My manager at the YMCA asked if I wanted to take over the "Kids in Motion" class twice a week. Here's what I know about it:

Every Tuesday and Thursday I go to the YMCA to teach spin at 4:30. I have to get the key from my friend Abe who teaches the Kids in Motion class in the aerobics studio until 4:15. When I go into the class, all I see are a bunch of kids flailing around on the stability balls. It can’t be safe. Some of them seem to be climbing the walls. Abe is usually in the middle, yelling things like “Eat your vegetables!” and “Clean behind your ears!” It’s a crazy scene. One time a kid’s pants came down. I got a major crack view.

So I always just go in and say, “Hi, kids. Hi, Mr. Abe,” grab my key and go.

Abe got too busy to teach K.I.M. so somehow they thought of me. Apparently she’s not familiar with my lack of experience in childcare. I mean, the only time I’ve even been around kids that age was that one day I was a substitute teacher.

I like the idea that it’s only 30 minutes but I’ll get paid for an hour. I don’t like the idea that I’d have to figure out a way to entertain kids every week. Here is the class description:

KIDS IN MOTION - An exciting 30 minute activity class designed to promote physical activity among kids ages 6-9. This 30 minute class will engage youth in fitness related activities & games that encourage the importance of exercise.

But how hard can it be? I mean, I can scream, “Eat your vegetables” and “Clean behind your ears” just as good as Mr. Abe. I wonder if I can negotiate summers-off.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Lord of the Carts

You have never seen such disregard for grocery carts as the Walmart in Roswell, GA at Christmastime. Because I regretfully didn’t have my camera, I will have to describe to you the grotesque scene:

We drive in late Saturday afternoon and see that the parking lot is very full. Frank tries to take the first spot he sees but it’s taken by a cart. Next empty spot, also blocked by a cart. And so it went, spot after spot. We finally had to settle on a space that had a cart near it and we maneuvered around the cart to get in it. Then we took the cart to use in our shopping. Honestly, it sickened me to even use the cart that was last used by a cart abandoner. But then again, we don’t fault orphans just because their parents left them.

When we came out the situation was what I can only describe as cart chaos. It was like the people had rebelled and set up their own quasi cart corrals. In some places there would be ten-twelve carts all shoved into one spot. Some people had even taken the time to create rows of discarded buggies—like they had pushed them all together. I think they thought they were doing the Walmart employee a favor! They were everywhere; on the sidewalk, under the trees, right out in the middle of the parking lanes. I saw a man out there at dusk, trying to take some of them back into the store. I bet he’s still out there. I estimate there were about 47 abandoned carts on our row alone.

I tried to get into the heads of cart abusers. And while I still think they’re despicable, I think I know what they might be thinking, “What’s one more cart? If twelve other people have put their carts here, I might as well add mine. It’s better than leaving it all by itself out in the back of the parking lot.” I challenge them instead to think, “It’s Christmastime. I’m probably gonna scarf down a crapload of cookies. I need to walk my fat ass back to the store and return my cart.”

I almost had a confrontation with a girl at Target yesterday. Frank and I were walking out of the store (yes, Frank was a good sport this weekend. He even spent hours with me at Babies R Us) and I saw a woman in her 30s unloading her cart into a sporty Mercedes. She then took the cart and did that old cart abuser trick where she propped the front wheels up onto the curb. I said to Frank, “What if that car next to hers was mine? That cart could scratch it! I’m sure she wouldn’t want to get a scratch on her little Mercedes that she paid too much for!”

“Calm down, Elsa. Just keep walking,” Frank said.

But I couldn’t. I had to stand up for my carts. For the people who corral the carts. For the cars who get scratched by the carts. For the prices that go up because of cart abuse. And for the asses that get fatter with every cart not taken back to the store (including Ms. Mercedes’).

She was already in her car trying to back out so I walked up to the car next to hers and acted like it was mine. I looked at the cart and looked at my car and made wild gestures to show that I was mad that this cart was blocking my car! I glared at her, glared at the car until Frank pulled me away and blew my cover.

My blood pressure was rising. My palms were sweaty. I was so steamed! “They make me so mad!!” I screamed.

Frank, always the sane one, just laughed and said, “Oh, you and your carts.”