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Sunday, October 30, 2011

Dollar Store Delusions

Add this to the list of “things I can’t believe actually work” (along with freeways and toilets): Dollar Stores. I was at one the other day and I heard someone say, “I just can’t believe this place. Everything is a dollar!” His shopping partner said, “Yeah, it’s the dollar store” and he said again, “But everything, EVERYTHING is a dollar!”

I feel the same way. And not because I love to buy a bunch of crap I don’t need at a really low price but rather because I can’t believe this business model works. I can just imagine the conversation that lead to the invention of dollar stores:

“Hey, you know how everybody likes to pay as little as possible for everything? Well, what if we made a store where everything was a really low price?”

“You mean like $10? Everything is $10?”

“No, I mean like a REALLY low price.”

“Like $5?”

“No, a dollar. What if we had a store and everything in it was a dollar?”

“That sounds like a store full of crap to me.”

“No, we’d have pretty decent stuff like greeting cards, party favors, dish towels, wrapping paper and those scented bags for poopy diapers.”

“That doesn’t make any sense. We wouldn’t make any money. Our profit margin would be like, a penny, on each of those items. And those scented poopy diaper bags? Those things are awesome. We could probably only sell two of them for a dollar and still make money.”

“No, we need to sell them in packs of 50!”

“You’re crazy, Dollar Dude. I’m gonna go work for someone who has a GOOD idea like the person who invented mylar balloons.”

“We’re gonna have those too!”

And they do. They freakin’ have mylar balloons for a dollar! How do they do it? I mean, I could believe that you could have a store full of dollar products that were yucky. But they have decent stuff. You can get packs of party paper plates, those foil baking dishes, shampoo and food.*

Our dollar store isn’t even gross. It’s very clean and the clientele is quite respectable. I’m not saying these are the same people who shop at Saks but it’s not like they have B.O. (Aside: I walked past a guy at Kroger the other day who had B.O. and I thought, “He gives new meaning to the term ‘dirty old man.’” I forgot to post that on Facebook so I’m using it here.)

Anyway, the people are alright, the products are fine and the price is unbelievable.

I don’t know how you are so successful, Dollar Stores but you have certainly succeeded in perplexing me. I bet you live in a mansion with a pool that’s in the shape of a dollar sign.

*I refuse to buy food from a dollar store.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Leo-The Stud; Gus-The Chub

I'll start with "The Chub." Gus had his four month doctor visit and while he's not in the 95th percentile anymore, he's still way up there in the 75th at 16 pounds, 8 ounces. Same goes for height (length) at 26.2 inches. His head his in the 50th percentile. "That's good," I told the doctor. "I don't want him to have too big or too small of a head!"

Gus was actually really fussy at this appointment until the sweet doctor got a hold of him. I said, "He's probably going to cry when he gets his shots" and the doc said, "I'd worry if he didn't."
"Hey, no fair weighing me in socks! They add at least two more pounds!"

As for Leo, he had a lot of fun at cousin Barbara's wedding in Birmingham last weekend. He met an almost three-year-old little girl at the rehearsal dinner and actually shared his trains with her! I knew he was in love!

The next night at the reception, after I encouraged him a little, he asked her to dance. (She was the flower girl!)About three times they bumped heads and would go running to their parents crying but other than that...
They danced all night!
Well, actually, she also danced with this other little boy. I called him the "curly headed Cassanova." But then Leo stole a flower from a bridesmaid's bouquet and brought it to her. So smooth!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

October Traditions

While I still think the whole pumpkin patch thing is way too recital-y, every October since having Leo we've made the pilgrimage to the PP. This year was extra cute because we got a good shot of Leo holding Gus, which was challenging given that Gus is just about the same weight as Leo.

It was also an extra cute experience because we went to a smaller patch with fewer crowds, no fee to enter and a hay ride! Bonus: Leo got to drive the tractor for the hay ride.

The boys on the hay ride. Gus actually cried for most of it. Not sure what he has against hay. Or rides.
I hope he's not crushing Leo.

Put that down! We're not actually buying any pumpkins here!

This place doubled as a Christmas Tree farm. Makes sense. I mean man cannot live by pumpkin alone.

Got it. Obligatory kid in the pumpkin shots:

Then we went to Helen for the annual Oktoberfest. I know--two events in one day with two kids!

This looks weird but I think I can easily explain it: Chicken Dance! I get really into the "Wiggle Wiggle Wiggle" part.

Happy October!

The Elsa of Sandwich

Joey on "Friends" and I have one thing in common: we LOVE sandwiches. Sandwiches have always been my favorite food. When I was little I used to eat them for breakfast. I had ham and cheese because ham is sort of breakfast-y. I also loved pimento cheese sandwiches and "chicken spread" sandwiches. My all-time favorite was cheese and mayo on white bread--microwaved.

In college my sandwiches got wackier. I discovered I loved a crunch so I would put Cheese Puffs in my turkey and cheese sandwich. I remember someone once commented that they looked like little fingers. Ew! And if I had access to a jar of queso, my all-time f
avorite thing was a turkey and cheese sandwich with Cheese Puffs dipped in queso. Yum.

It was during my undergrad experience (not that I had a grad experience) when I started turning otherwise normal food into sandwiches, especially pasta. Lasagna on a bread stick became lasagna-wich, spaghetti on garlic bread became spaghetti-wi

I love sandwich shops. Austin has the best--Longhorn Po Boy and Thundercloud Subs. I'm not a sandwich snob though; I'll eat Subway or Blimpie. Firehouse is pretty good too. At all those places I still love to put chips on my wich.

After my palette change of 2004, I started eating fewer sandwiches. It wasn't that I didn't like them; it's just that there were so many other things I liked.

So these days when I do have a sandwich, I like to get wacky with it. This week my Mother-in-Law is here and she's like my wacky sandwich partner in crime. I'll design a sandwich and then tell her the ingredients to see how she'll react. She's always game! Yesterday I said, "How about this? An avocado, hard boiled egg and Laughing Cow queso sandwich?"

"Sounds great!" she said. And you know what? It WAS great! I've made wacky sandwiches for her before but I can't remember what they had on them--probably some concoction involving hummus. I love to hummus up a sandwich.

So while my love for sandwiches hasn't wavered, my sandwich tastes have changed. I used to be a heavy mayo girl and now I can experiment with mustard or even go without a spread. Bottom line, I rarely meet or make a sandwich that I don't like. And if that does happen, I can always dip it in queso.

(While looking for a picture of a Cheese Puff sandwich, I found this one with peanut butter. Now even I think that is wacky...but I'd probably still eat it.)

Monday, October 10, 2011

Gus has been here four months

I guess God thinks I have enough on my plate because, boy, did he go easy on me with this one! Gus is so easy-going and happy! I believe that if Gus were to speak right now he'd say, "Whatever."

Yesterday he cried at length and we didn't know how to console him but that is really rare. It's only happened one other time. With most babies you're outside bouncing them around, trying a bunch of different things: Is he hungry? Is he tired? Does he need to burp? Is his diaper dirty? Does he have a hair wrapped around his pinky toe? Not with Gus. If he does cry, it's like, "Oh, he's hungry."

He smiles all the time now. If you catch his eyes, he'll smile at you. He coos and coos--sometimes he squeals with delight.

We rarely do tummy time (because of his epic spit-up, his only flaw!) so he hasn't rolled over yet. I think he might roll from back to front first. He can roll from his back to his side but not quite all the way over.

He's a full-fledged thumb sucker now. I'm pro-thumb-sucking. I, personally, was a thumb sucker so it's nice that Gus does something like me (since he looks like Frank and is laid-back like him too). Plus, when Gus does wake up in the middle of the night, I watch him on the monitor as he just sticks his thumb in his mouth and starts sucking away, putting himself back to sleep. Can't do that with a paci!

And speaking of sleeping...he is awesome at that too. I don't know when Leo started becoming a nightmare napper but so far Gus is consistent with daytime and nighttime sleep. I don't know how long this will last but we don't even have to rock him. I just swaddle him (with one arm out so he can suck his thumb), sing Twinkle Twinkle, lay him down completely awake and he goes to sleep. Amazing.

Leo loves him but we STILL have to remind him to be gentle and to not give him things. ("Here, Gus, hold this race car!" "What? He likes it!")

"Thank you for this adorable onesie, Grandmother! I am huge so 6-9 months fits great!"

"Oops! I fell but I don't mind!"

"And then I spit-up. But I don't mind that either!"

We are head over heels in love with this boy! (I'm sure we would love him just as much if he were fussy and ugly but the fact that he is happy and cute is sure nice!)

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Playdate with Pascal

Last week after snoozing in their strollers while their mommies walked, Gus and Pascal (both about four months) had fun on Gus' exercise mat:

Tummy time!
Look how well they hold up their heads.
Pascal promises to teach Gus French. Gus promises to teach'm sure he will have some special talent to share!
Tummy time is good but back is best!
"Enough with the cameras, mommies!"
Gus says, "It's good to have friends!"

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Inside the Actor's Studio...with Leo Simcik

The role-playing that Leo and I did today was not my first clue that Leo may one day become a famous actor:

--There was the phase he went through a year ago where he insisted we call him different names: the goalie, the engineer, the doctor, Gordon, etc.

--There was the resurrection of that phase recently where he asked to be called the shark, the dinosaur, the beaver and "Baker's Man."

--There's the performing on the stage (the elevated floor in our foyer) where he pretends to be holding a microphone

--There are the Oscar-worthy performances about having boo boos and not being able to walk. Lately he's been saying that he needs to poop right after getting into bed for his nap. At first I fell for it (I mean, who is going to deny a person a bowel movement?) But after several false (fake) alarms, I told him that he would just have to wait until after nap. He wailed, "But I really need to poop! I'm gonna make an accident! I'm going in my Pull-up right now!" I started thinking, "This time might be for real" but I stuck to my guns. And did he ever poop in his Pull-up? No. He didn't even poop after nap!

But the role-playing today showed me that he not only likes to pretend and perform, he's really good at it--a method actor! I'm going to just put excerpts from the dialogue here. (And remember, "Leo" is Leo pretending to be me and "Me" is me pretending to be Leo. It was hard for me to keep straight too. But not for Leo. He corrected me when I slipped up.)

Leo: I'll be mommy and you be Leo. What did you do at school today, Leo?
Me: I learned about the Letter R and I watched kids do show and tell and I made a raccoon mask and I was so nice and kind to my friends.
Leo: That's nice. What are you going to do when you
get home?
Me: I'm going to play for five minutes and then go take my nap because I'm tired.
Leo: That's right, Leo. But you can play for six minutes today!
Me: No, I'm too tired. I just want to play for five minutes.
Leo: I'm mommy. I'm a grill. (Girl.) I'm a woman. I can be a grill or a woman. (Giggles.)

(When we got home I thought we would switch back but he stayed in character.)

Leo: Okay, Leo, I'm going to set the timer for five minutes (as he pushes buttons on the TV remote.)
Me: Well if you're mommy I guess you'll have to take care of Gus.
Leo: Yes, I'm going to hold Gus!

(Now holding Gus on the Boppy)

(While Leo is a good actor, it does not appear that he is fooling Gus into thinking this is his mommy.)

Leo: Leo, can you look at Gus' diaper and eat?
Me: No, I can't.
Leo: But you need to get used to it, Leo. And you need to be able to eat when there are napkins and paper towels around too.
Me: You're right, mommy. Do you know why I don't like to eat when paper towels and napkins and diapers are around?
Leo: No, but you need to get over it.

(Real timer that I had set beeps)

Leo: That's the timer, Leo! It's time for you to go upstairs a
nd get ready for your nap!

(As we're walking up the stairs)
Leo: You must do what I say, Leo! Are you listening to me, Leo? Good job!

Switching back was much harder than you could imagine. I tried to do this whole "let's hold hands and spin around and 'poof' you're Leo again and I'm mommy' but he kept insisting he was mommy and he was going to sleep in my bed, etc. I promised we could switch back after nap so I'm enjoying being myself for awhile until I have to go back to being a three-year-old!

(And this is just a cute pic of the boys!)

Monday, October 03, 2011

Spice Girl

Back when I first started blogging, I wrote a lot about my kitchen. I was excited about it because I was just learning to cook. And I was just learning to cook because I had a lot more time on my hands: I didn't have a full-time job or kids. (Man, those were the days! Why didn't I appreciate them more?)

But since having kids I haven't written about my kitchen as much. Oh, I'm still in there plenty--making separate meals for everyone. Frank likes a hearty, carby meal. I'm now gluten free (more on that later) and Leo...well, Leo has about five things he eats (mac and cheese, "eggs he may pick up with his hands," pancakes, oatmeal and...make that four things).

So today I wanted to show you some fun things I've done to improve my kitchen. I'm most excited about my spice rack replacement. I had this cool double-decker lazy Susan spice rack but it was starting to buckle under the pressure of my multitude of spices. I temporarily removed the spices and when I went to throw away the spice rack, Leo had a gazillion questions about why. I thought it was cute when he said, "But we can fix it!" Now that's thinking like his Popsy (not like mommy who prefers to just scrap it and buy something new).

For a few days we lived like this. Oh, the horror!!
But then I went to Bed, Bath and Beyond and bought this contraption that I had seen on TV. Love how it's compact and makes it easy to see my spices.

I do not like that it didn't fit in my cabinets (my cabinets' fault, not the spice rack's) or that it didn't hold my big spices.

While I was at B, B and B I picked up a few other things. Even though I love this olive oil holder from my MIL, it had started to get, as my friend Liz would say, "Dundies." As you can see the oil had affected the color on the holder and as you can't see, the spout came off all the time. Now this is sort of a lame example because I failed to take a picture of the new one. It's not nearly as cute as this one; it's just clear. But still, I am pleased with it because I can see how much olive oil is left and it doesn't spill.

Now I have two "afters" without "befores." My new dish soap pump will hopefully be with me a long time. As you may recall I have tried so many of these (including olive oil holders!) and finally went with the pump. But my last pump wasn't working out for me. The soap was oozing out of the wrong places. This one looked sturdy and like it was made just for dish soap so I'm counting on it to last.

You know, I take back what I wrote about being most excited about the spice rack. I am actually most excited about this silverware holder. Before I had a plastic white one. Why live that way when these lovely wooden (bamboo?) ones are not very expensive! Every time I open the drawer I smile. (Frank does too, although he would be embarrassed that I'm telling you that.)

And speaking of bargains, B, B and B let me use my 20% off even though it had expired AND allowed me to throw in my $5 off coupon too. Y'all, I got all this for $50! That's a spice rack, a silverware holder, a dish soap pump and an olive oil dispenser! Okay, my male readers (if they have even gotten this far) probably don't realize that's a bargain but trust me, it is! It's practically a kitchen remodel. I'm done for awhile though. Next thing to go, I'll let Leo take a crack at fixing it.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Bend it Like Leo

Leo wrapped up his fourth and final week of soccer lessons. (Well, he really only had three because we had to miss the week we went to the beach. I hope this won't set him back for his whole soccer career!) He better continue because we invested all this money in cleats, socks and shin guards!

Here he is showing off his gear:

Focused on the game:
They have these cute "magic carpets" to warm-up, stretch and take water breaks.

Stretching those hamstrings on his magic carpet.
Gus was totally caught up in all the action.

And here are a couple of videos--one of Leo goofing off with Gus after soccer and one from soccer (that only a grandparent could love).