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Monday, December 23, 2013

Christmas Cuteness

I've taken lots of cute pictures and videos this Christmas season. Now I'm just gonna dump it all here in one mega Christmas blog! 
Leo and Gus love to sing "Ring the Bells" from their school Christmas show. The lyrics are (in case you can't understand them): 
Ring the bells, Ring the bells
Ring the bells today 
Jesus came, Jesus came
To take our sins away 

Next time I will remember not to turn the phone horizontal. Sorry in advance if you get a neck cramp from this one! P.S. Row Row has a boo boo on her nose but she is fine.

More pictures of Row Row and Gus. Gus was sad about being put in time-out until Row Row came to sit with him. Then he said, "Time-out not over!" 

He must love her; she got him to play with dolls! 

My cookie exchange! 

 Riding the Polar Express in Palestine, TX

The Seiss cousins take good are of my boys

The Christmas show at school. Gus is probably singing "Ring the Bells!" Actually, I think he is singing "Joy to the World" and that is why they are jumping up and down.

Leo's class after the Christmas show. Leo is a shepherd on the front row. Aren't they adorable?

I hope you are not having cuteness overload because surely I will have more pictures and videos from the big day! 

Friday, December 20, 2013

Merry Christmas--Not!

Getting the Christmas letter out this year was a bit hairy. First, I had to wait until the cards arrived and they were delayed because of our ice storm. Once they got here we could have been in business except back in 2003 I committed to writing a Christmas letter every year! And I had written the letter...but the paper hadn't arrived (blame that ice storm again). The paper finally got here on the 17th. (We were still waiting on stamps. Maybe I need to cut back on the online shopping.) We started to print the letters but our printer was all kooky and that set us back a night. We thought about going somewhere to make copies but we couldn't even get one good original copy.

Finally, Frank started the fulfillment process on Wednesday, the 18th. I was at a Christmas party so couldn't help or be there for quality control (foreshadowing alert!).  Anyway, we were determined to finish them up Thursday, the 19th, so we could mail them, Friday, the 20th, and just barely get them to our recipients' homes before Christmas. I'm pretty sure this is our latest arrival of a Christmas letter!

As we were nearing the end of our stuffing and stamping, I happened to glance at the last line of my letter. And there it was. Not only a typo but a typo that totally changed the punch line of my letter.

You see, at the beginning of my letter I talked about how everyone started decorating for Christmas so early this year, like November 1st. I said that I feared that, by the time they received my letter, they would already be addressing Valentines. Then at the end I say that I hope everyone can slow down and enjoy this Christmas season. "But if not, Happy Valentine's Day!"

Well, our spacing got all messed up so the "But if" got lost in a snowman towards the bottom of the page. So the last two lines now read like this: "We hope that you are able to slow down and enjoy this Christmas season. not, Happy Valentine’s Day!"

You see what's happened here, right? It now appears as if I tried to make a "not" joke, circa 1992. And while some might think "not" jokes are so old that they have come back around, that is not the case. It's still too soon! They're old but not retro. And bottom line, that is NOT what I was going for.

At this late in the game I certainly couldn't open all the envelopes and put in new letters. I mean, they were stamped and stamps are like $.50 each! So we did print new letters for the envelopes we hadn't stuff yet. So a few lucky folks will get the right punch line. The rest of you will just have to enjoy our messed up letter--not!

I'm going to paste the correct letter here because that makes me feel better. If you find other errors and typos, please keep it to yourself.

Dear Friends and Family,                                                                 December 2013

I’m going to always remember 2013 as the year that everyone got a jump on Christmas. I mean, I had barely scooped up the remains of our rotted jack-o-lantern when suddenly, halls were decked, chestnuts were roasting and elves were on shelves. I fear that, by the time you receive this, you will be addressing Valentines. Nevertheless, a Simcik family update is welcomed any time of year, right? 

This will be our second Christmas in Frisco.  Of course we miss our wonderful friends in Georgia, but we have grown to love this little town back in our home state of Texas. We’ve gotten involved in our church, St. Francis of Assisi, are enjoying our friendly neighborhood and love the endless entertainment opportunities for the kids (jumpy places and froyo on every corner)!

Mind you, we could not afford the admission at said jumpy places if it weren’t for Frank, working as a finance director at Frito Lay. Frank also found time to play on a softball team this year. At first he was reluctant but after a nudge (shove, really) from me, he ended up enjoying it.

When I’m not herding our boys, I churn out one or two articles a month for a couple of local magazines.  I’m also teaching spin (and branching out into other formats like Tabata) at our local YMCA. But mostly I’m doing domestic diva stuff like cleaning, cooking and breaking up fights.  

Leo is five-and-a-half and is doing a year of Pre-K before heading to the big leagues next year. He loves being the “big man on campus” at his preschool, which is at our church. Leo played soccer, takes gymnastics and learned to swim sans floaties this summer.  He’s a big Star Wars fan like his daddy so he went as Darth Vader for Halloween. He also dresses up as Darth Vader for other occasions like Tuesdays.

 Gus is two-and-a-half (those halves are important, y’all) and attends the same preschool as Leo two days a week. He loves sports, especially UT football.  He likes to say, “Texas Fight! Give ‘em Heck!” Gus takes gymnastics like Leo but swimming seems to be his strong suit (also like daddy). The guy can full on swim! We are totally going to save money on floaties this summer.

Frank and I celebrated our ten-year wedding anniversary with a trip to Playa del Carmen, Mexico (the site of our honeymoon) in March. We went with our Atlanta friends, Josh and Claire, who were also ten years into this whole marriage thing. Then we visited Atlanta over 4th of July and went to North Carolina to see the Kinfolk that same month. We made it down to Houston a few times and added on a trip to Galveston with Frank’s family at the end of August. In November we got to see Gus’ beloved Texas Longhorns beat Kansas and visit my sister Kristin (better known as Tia). We hosted my family for Thanksgiving and plan to wait here for the big guy on Christmas. Soon after we will head down to Houston to collect all the grandparent loot.

We hope that you are able to slow down and enjoy this Christmas season. But if not, Happy Valentine’s Day!
Elsa, Frank, Leo and Gus 

Friday, December 06, 2013


Even though I haven't seen the movie Frozen, I have been told by Frank and Leo that there is a character named Queen Elsa and she has the power to freeze everything she touches. 
Well, life must be imitating art because I, Queen Elsa, made everything in the DFW area frozen today. My evil plan was to make it icy, not snowy, so little kids couldn't play in it. But apparently ice is fun too and actually makes sledding faster. 

Oh, and in the tradition of snow days, we waited eagerly to hear if schools and offices were closed. They were! And we found out the night before which was awesome. 

This is what we woke up to this morning! Thanks, Queen Elsa. 

Leo said, "I'm all bundled up" (in his windbreaker!)

That's more like it! 

Frank worked from much as the boys would let him.

Ice sledding!

Leo loved the cold weather. He could totally be a Yankee. Gus liked it too...for about 15 minutes. 

Monday, November 25, 2013

How Scott Bakula and I are alike

I have a lot in common with this guy. Not Scott Bakula, the actor (although that would be really awesome because he is obviously a stellar dude). I mean his character, Sam Beckett, from the hit TV show of the early 90s, Quantum Leap. 

You see, Sam used to jump into a different body and time period each week. Now, as a freelance writer, I don't get to jump into anybody's body and I am rarely in a different time period but bear with me. I can make the connection. I do jump into different worlds all the time. And whatever world I am writing about, I soak it all up and sometimes even live in it for awhile. Here are some of the worlds I have had the privilege of leaping into: 

  • Online dating 
  • Battered women
  • Dairy-free people
  • Dave Ramsey
  • Hot yoga
  • Dozens of Texas state parks 
  • Flea markets 
  • Mud runs 
  • Breast cancer 
  • Marriage retreats
  • Children's theater
  • Reiki, acupuncture, reflexology and polarity 
  • Enormous families (meaning they have a lot of people, not that they are fat)
  • Extreme weight loss
  • Hula hooping
  • Holiday cocktails
  • Salsa dancing 
  • Fish oil 
  • Blowing Rock, NC
  • Fencing 
  • Gyrotonics (don't even remember what that is!) 
  • Scottsdale, AZ  
  • Culinary trips 
  • Religious symbols at work 
  • Personal trainers who make house calls 
  • Say Yes to the Dress 
  • Triathlons
  • Barefoot running 
  • Traffic roundabouts 
  • Brain imaging 
(To name a few.) 

While writing these pieces, I am captivated. (One exception? Drought-resistant landscaping). I'm usually like, "Wow. This is amazing. I had no idea hot yoga could be so invigorating, going on a culinary trip could be so life changing and that people could have so many kids and still seem normal." But what my subjects don't always understand is that I am writing an article, usually between 500 and 1,200 words. They often think I am writing a book. They want me to come visit them, spend hours and hours listening to them talk about the subject they are so passionate about. So that is a big part of my job, politely letting them know that I just need the Cliff's Notes. I wonder if Sam Beckett had the same challenge. "Look, I love it here in the Wild Wild West but I can't stay forever. I gottta leap into another world next week." 

For this month I leapt into the world of pawn shops. That was a big leap for me because I had never even been in a pawn shop before. But they didn't disappoint. It's good, fascinating stuff. I'm posting it here so you can leap too: 

Saturday, November 16, 2013

A Budding Writer

The other day Leo told me, "I wrote an article. It's a true story." He then showed me some pictures he had drawn and told me the story. I said, "You're a writer like mommy!" He said, "I saw it on Word Girl." 

So maybe I'm not his inspiration but I still think the guy's got some talent. Here is a card he made for his teacher: 

He told me a story and I wrote it for him.

And here is how the story goes (in the style of "If you give a mouse a cookie" if you're not familiar): 

If you give Ms. Patty an Amazon gift card, she is going to buy a book. After she reads the book, she will go inside a real alive haunted house.  She will see ghosts and run home. She will see spiders with sharp jaws. She will put the spiders outside. And that is why you never give Ms. Patty an Amazon gift card. 

I was impressed. I mean, I didn't write my first short story until first grade. And I would say this was just as good as Tammy the Dog.  Well, maybe I'm giving him too much credit. Tammy the Dog is a masterpiece. Nevertheless, Leo's story was a solid effort for a five year old. And I think Ms. Patty got a kick out of it. 

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Chatter from Leo and Gus

Now I've got two talking heads on my hands! And they both say hilarious, interesting and shocking things. Every time Leo or Gus says something that makes me smile, I jot it down on my phone.

While watching Wild Kratts, "Those bugs walk on water and Jesus walks on water. Bugs and Jesus walk on water!"

"Target is so nice. They have doors for people in wheelchairs and tables for people in wheelchairs and they have those bags for your umbrellas!"

"Scientists think that volcanoes were caused by gods. But we know that there is only one God. I guess scientists didn't go to Pre-K."

Leo created this game which involved throwing a beer bottle cap at a piece of tape on the wall. I was not successful in hitting the target so he said, "Mommy, you have to, like, believe in yourself. Or pray about it. Dear God, help mommy to believe in herself and hit the target."

I was telling Frank how I bought some new Pyrex dishes. Leo came up and said, "I want to see them!" I said, "See what?" He said, "My new pirate dishes!"

His teachers told me this one: At school they took off their shoes to play in this tent. When they came out and put their shoes back on, the teacher told him, "Leo, your shoes are on the wrong feet" and he just crossed his feet :)

"I'm different. I have more powers than other people and I don't like Polo shirts. I'm happy that I'm not like everyone else."

Notice a lot of Leo's are of a religious nature. And on his report card, he got his highest marks in that area: knowing the sign of the cross, reciting the Lord's prayer and reciting the Hail Mary.

Now, onto Gus:

He thinks motorcycles are called "recycle bins." We don't correct him. He saw someone riding a motorcycle wearing a bandana and he said, "Look! A pirate riding a recycle bin!"

Gus and I were reading a book and Leo came into the room with some crisis (typical). I helped Leo and then sat back down with Gus to read. I said, "Now, where were we?" Gus said, "In our house!"

We were at Gus' swim lessons and he asked for his shoo shoo. I told him it was in the car. So when we got in the car and saw it he said, "We were just talking about shoo shoo!"

It was chilly the other night so after Gus went to sleep I snuck into his room and put a soft blue blanket over him to keep him warm. In the morning i saw he had thrown it out. He pointed to it and called it a towel. I said, "No, it's not a towel. It's a blanket." He held up his shoo shoo and said, "No, THIS is a blanket!"

Gus and I were at Wal-Mart and he said, "I saw Ho, Ho, Ho!" (That's what he calls Santa and there were lots of Xmas decorations up already). So he keeps saying that while we're shopping and I'm like, "That's right, Gus. There are lots of pictures of Ho, Ho, Ho around here." Then we pass a guy with a long white beard. Apparently HE is who Gus saw so Gus waved at him and said, "Hi, Ho, Ho, Ho!!"

And here are my two talkative boys at the UT/Kansas game--Gus' first!

Sunday, November 03, 2013

Halloween Wrap-up

Among the many things nobody tells you about having kids is the fact that Halloween goes from September 15th thru November 5th. And the candy is here till well after Christmas. 

As I type this blog Leo is watching "It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown." Me, I'm over it! But Leo LOVES Halloween. He claims he is not scared of anything. Yet he refuses to deliver the neighbor's newspaper during the month of October because they put a mummy on their doorstep. 

Gus got into the spirit too. He originally asked to be a football player but Leo convinced him to be Yoda. See, Leo was planning to be Darth Vader and as he said, "Don't brothers usually match?" 

Frank and I even wore costumes this year; do couples usually match? And if so, do a cave woman and beer pong man go together? I'm not sure but I was just excited that I made this seven layer dip look like a spider web for a Halloween party! A Pinterest success! 

Okay, and here's my October photo dump: Halloween party, pumpkin patch(es), Trick or Treat at Frisco Square, Preschool Halloween parties and just one shot of trick or treating in the neighborhood!