Search This Blog

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Panic at the Pizzeria


Last night Frank and I went to this pizza place that has lots of buzz around it, Antico Pizza Napoletana. Apparently it used to be just a simple place for take-out but soon people started just hanging out and eating their pizza. So the owner set up a few tables—one where you just stand around and then a few more in the kitchen.

When we walked in we were immediately confused. Do we stand in this line or that one? How do we know what pizza to order when it’s all in Italian? And were we supposed to bring our own booze?

We ended up ordering the lasagna pizza because that was an Italian word we knew. When we figured out that you can’t get booze, Frank took off down the street to get a tall boy. Classy.

While Frank was on his beer run, I waited in a line in the kitchen/eating area for our pizza. It was so crowded that patrons were forced to sit with strangers. The rest of us all stood in a line, drooling at others’ pizza and their coveted table spots.

You could see the guys making the pizza, throwing dough into the air and all. Every now and then one of them would come out with a couple of huge baking sheets with pizzas on them and scream out a number: “289!! 289!!”

My fear was that he would shout out my number and I would have nowhere to sit! I would be wandering around this crowded kitchen with a giant, hot baking sheet.

Luckily, Frank got back right before our number was called. When the guy started yelling, “294!! 294!” I panicked. “That’s us!” I told Frank. “But we have nowhere to sit!” I immediately starting scurrying around the room, looking for an empty spot. They were just cleaning off an area of one table so I quickly sat and gestured to Frank. A lady said, “You can’t sit here! It’s reserved!” This didn’t seem to me like the kind of place where you could reserve tables so I said, “Really? Reserved?” She said, “You have to have eight people.” I ran to another spot. “This is taken!” someone told me. I found Frank wandering around with the baking sheet and I told him, “I hate it!! I feel like the new kid at school and I’m in the cafeteria and I have no one to sit with!”

Luckily, I’ve never been the new kid but I’ve witnessed new kids come into my school and I’ve seen it in movies. If you were ever a new kid, my hat is off to you. That experience will give you some thick skin.

Finally, someone saw us heading their way with our baking sheet and since she didn’t have a pizza yet, she gave up her seat at this random little counter for us. I was grateful to have a place to sit although I wouldn’t have minded standing, as long as there was a place to set the pizza.

As I devoured the awesome lasagna pizza, Frank kept making nerdy business comments: “Their overhead must be so low! I bet their margins are through the roof!”

The pizza was so delicious we’ll have to go back. And next time will be better cause we’ll be the cool kids.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Disney Dude

We made the quick seven-plus hour drive down to Orlando to visit the Magic Kingdom—the first time for both Leo and myself. It was cold and rainy but that meant shorter lines and more rides for us! Leo did everything from riding Dumbo (sorry, no good pictures of that) to flying in a rocket ship. We even met up with our friends, the Claytons, so Leo had the opportunity to hang out with two older women, Avery and Gracie. We’ll never forget this trip because it’s where Leo came up with the name for his new sibling. Later when we say “We proudly announce the birth of Donald Duck Simcik” you’ll understand.


Thursday, December 23, 2010

A Merry Majority

Have you noticed that it’s okay to say “Merry Christmas” while out in public these days? I also see Christmas trees in retail establishments and Santa out in full force. Even Disney World wasn’t afraid to Christmas it up.

There was a period from about 2005-2008 (totally just basing those years on a gut feeling) where you were shunned for saying “Merry Christmas.” We had to say “Happy Holidays.”

I’m pleased about this shift back to Merry Christmas, but not for the same reason that most pro-Christmas people are. You see, a lot of folks think we should say “Merry Christmas” because of things like “Jesus is our savior” or “The Christians are right and everyone else is wrong.”

My philosophy has nothing to do with whether Christianity is right or wrong or whether another religion is right or wrong. In fact, I think that is an invalid argument. Everyone will never agree on a religion and it’s pointless (and not even beneficial) to try to make people believe the same thing.

I simply think we should be able to say “Merry Christmas” because of the old “Majority Rules” theory. Over 80% of Americans are Christian, and most of them probably celebrate Christmas. So why should we go around saying “Happy Holidays” just so as not to offend less than 20% of the population?

And even if you happen to catch someone who does not celebrate Christmas, are they truly offended? Or do they just think they’re supposed to be? I mean, Christmas is a nice holiday. It’s about only good things. So someone telling you “Merry Christmas” is not putting a curse on you.

I think this also falls under the “When in Rome” principle. I mean, if I were in Mexico on Cinco de Mayo and someone said, “Happy Cinco de Mayo” I wouldn’t get all offended: “Hey, I’m American. I don’t celebrate Mexico’s independence from Spain. I celebrate America’s independence which is in a couple of months. It’s around the same time so you should say ‘Happy Independence Day’ to me instead.”

No, instead I’d say, “Happy Cinco de Mayo to you too! Let’s have a margarita!” I wouldn’t be offended. I’d think, “Most people here celebrate Cinco de Mayo.” And even if I didn’t want to join in the celebrations, I’d understand that the person wishing me a “Happy Cinco de Mayo” was just wishing me well.

I’m glad to see we’re not tip-toeing around the obvious anymore. So I guess there’s nothing else to say but “MERRY CHRISTMAS!”

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Expanding again!

Coming in June: Leo’s baby brother or sister!




Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Kroger Krazies

A couple of years ago I gave you all an inside look into training day at the Kroger by my house. I mistakenly thought that the practice of hiring wacko grocery store workers was specific to this Kroger location. Now I know that not only are their “Kroger Krazies” at other locations, there are weirdos at other grocery stores too, like Publix. The whole thing reminds me of this exchange from the movie “Reality Bites.”


Lelaina’s Mom: Why don't you get a job at the BurgerRama? They'll hire you! My Lord, I saw on the TV - they had this little retarded boy working the register.

Lelaina: Because I'm not retarded, Mom. I was the valedictorian of my University!

Lelaina’s dad:  Well you don’t have to put that on your application.


I think these grocery stores have some sort of crazy quota to fill. Here is my latest encounter that took place at a Kroger about two miles away from my house:

I go to check out and the manager is my cashier. He engages me in what starts out to be a normal conversation about Christmas. He asks if Leo is excited, etc. He then starts telling me about some of the Christmas traditions in his family, how his kid really likes He-Man and how excited he was one year to get this He-Man toy. Blah blah blah, it’s a long story about how they surprised him. I guess I acted too interested because…

After I paid and all my bags were loaded and I was about to leave (impatient two-year-old in cart, mind you), the manager launches into another tale of Christmas past, this one about how one year they played a trick on the poor kid and got him a Pippy Longstocking doll for Christmas. Blah blah blah, I just stare at him in shock because 1). this just sounds cruel and 2). I can’t believe he’s still talking to me when I’m DONE checking out. That’s not how this relationship works! I am okay with cashier-customer small talk while I have to wait for you to ring up/bag my groceries. But I am not okay with having to listen to your stories beyond that. That’s a universal understanding, right?

Now the whole time this is going on there’s this deceptively-normal-looking bagger loading my groceries. But while I’m listening to the He-Man story, this bagger is muttering angrily to himself. He then looks up and offers to take my bags out to my car. Normally I would refuse but the problem was, he had loaded them into a new shopping cart and I had Leo in the original cart. So my choices were:

1. Remove two-year-old from cart and wrestle him into a new cart against his will

2. Let muttering psycho-path push the cart full of groceries out to the car.

I chose the latter which was a mistake. As we walk out to the car, the mutterer stops muttering and talks out loud to me: “Have you seen any good movies lately?” to which I reply no, hoping to end the conversation.

He then goes into a monologue about his hatred for Harry Potter: “To me, all it is is a cross between Lord of the Rings and The Brady Bunch! I’m serious! I tell my mom that all the time.” (He’s like 45, by the way, so I’m pretty sure he lives in the basement of his mom’s house.)

When he gets to the part about “And the author, she doesn’t even believe in Jesus!” I knew I should have chosen to wrestle Leo into the other cart. As he loads the groceries he goes back to angry muttering, this time I caught a few utterances of “Harry Potter” and “Jesus.” While talking to him was scary, listening to his maddening muttering was even scarier! I kind of can’t believe the too-long-storyteller manager even let him walk me out to my car.

I later talked to a friend who I had bumped into at that Kroger that day and asked if she knew muttering man. “Oh yes,” she said. “Don’t get him started about movies. He’s like Rain Man about them.” Hey, for the record, I didn’t start it!

And in other grocery-store-crazy updates, this one comes from a friend who had a run-in at Publix. Let this be a lesson to you: When they ask, “Did you find everything okay?” just say “YES.”

“Did you find everything okay?”
”Actually, I couldn’t find those pasta shells made by Ronzini.”

“And I couldn’t find the Publix brand one either. I guess you’re all out. It’s no big deal. I’m just going to have to go to Kroger.”

“What were you looking for? Pasta?”

“Yes, those big pasta shells. It’s okay.”


“Yes, but you were out. I’ll just go somewhere else.”

“What was the brand you were looking for?”

“Nevermind. They weren’t there.”




“Yes, but that’s okay.”

“You like pasta?”

And so on and so on…

Then the poor girl had to go to Kroger too. That’s just too many Krazies for one day.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The best bake is no bake


It’s the day of my annual cookie exchange and boy, have I come a long way since the Rolo cookie disaster of 2005 now know that you can’t substitute Splenda for sugar. You can’t use Swiss Miss cocoa instead of baking cocoa. You can change out…well, anything! Baking is exact. It’s like science. And I was always bad at science.

I’ve had some successful baking ventures since then. I mean, there were the drop cookies (the ones you get out of the tube and just drop onto the cookie sheet) that earned me a “ten” from Frank. And I’ve made some muffins and brownies that have turned out okay. Actually, I’m not sure I’ve ever made a good brownie. I always screw up the ones on the edge, and that makes up a large percentage of the brownies in an 8 x 8 pan.

So for this year’s cookie exchange (my fourth), I went with a recipe from my sis-in-law, Laura. They’re called Chocolate Peanut Butter No Bake Cookies. When she said “no bake” I was like, “Sign me up!”

I just threw a bunch of stuff in a pot, heated it up and then dropped the mix on wax paper. Leo even helped me! That’s how easy they are! And they taste awesome.

They didn’t win top prize (that went to Chantal’s chocolate, marshmallow mint creations). But then again, I couldn’t really win since I was hosting. Yes, we’ll blame it on that.

Frank summed them up best: “They taste better than they look.”



You say “Merry” I say “Christmas”

I don’t know where he got this or what the first one was that he said, but Leo likes to say, “You say ‘Donald’ I say ‘Duck.’” or “You say ‘Dinosaur’ I say ‘Train.’” And when we do it, it goes on forever! Mickey-Mouse, Mashed-Potatoes, Basket-Ball…whatever it is!

He also has this cute game he learned at creative play which he explained to me. We all dance around until he says “FREEZE!” and then we stop until he says go. I think they must dance like animals because he keeps saying we need some animal music. For now, he has to deal with me singing Jingle Bells. And sometimes he will freeze us for a long time. I’m pretty sure I stood without moving for about two minutes yesterday while he got distracted with something else.

And here are just a few cute pics from December so far:

At Bianca’s birthday party, playing piano with Reagan:




Group shot at Bianca’s party:



Checking out Baby Ryan



High Fiving John


Thursday, December 02, 2010

Holiday Hoarding

We’re not the Griswolds but by my standards, our house usually looks like it threw up Christmas this time of year. I don’t know what it is about Christmas—maybe it’s the temporaryness of it, the shiny things, the green and red color scheme—but it turns me into a hoarder!

I have no problem accepting or buying anything relating to Christmas decorating. (This is also true about dish towels. Last year Claire gave me a Christmas dish towel which is the PERFECT gift!)

Every inch of the house is covered in Christmas. There’s a bowl full of ornaments on the dining room table, a nativity scene on the entertainment center, a little Santa light on an end table, garland strung everywhere and of course, the tree. I’ve even got stuff on the walls, in the kitchen and in the half bath. I mean, you can’t even go to the bathroom in my house without being reminded that it’s Christmas.

Right now I’m in the market for a plate that says “Cookies for Santa.” Seriously? The fat dude really doesn’t need cookies much less a special plate. I’ve got tons of plates! But I want one. Because at Christmas, I’m a hoarder. And that’s a total hoarder thing to do—to buy something you don’t need and don’t have room for.

My house is not quite complete with all the Christmas craziness yet. There are still more boxes in the attic—yes, in the attic, a place I normally try to keep clear of clutter! I’ll post pics so you can see my cluttered Christmas craziness. Even Santa says, “My God, where is she going to put all this stuff when Christmas is over? What a hoarder!”

Actually, I’m really busy

We just returned from a fun-filled week in Houston where Leo was on-the-go, trying new things and correctly using the word “actually.” Uncle David commented that Leo really seemed to enjoy sitting in the diaper box. Leo said, “Actually, it’s a choo choo train.” Another time Granny Jo called him Leo and he said, “Actually, I’m Ernie.”

Here are some pics from the week, including some big firsts:

First in-person basketball game

First time not crying when he met Santa (in the picture where he’s wearing the crown hat)

First time riding a dinosaur with cousin Ellie

First time eating a donut (well, without spitting it out)

First time feeding ducks

First time playing golf on a actual putt-putt-style course

First time on a real-live caboose (Actually, it’s just a replica)