Scenes from A Greek Pizzeria & Restaurant

When I was little, one of my favorite parts of visiting “Gramma&GrampaInHope” (this was all one word in my head, with a second word for “Grandma&GrandpaOnTheFarm” – that’s right, I hashtagged before hashtagging was a thing. Take that, hipsters.) was going to The Store with Grampa. We’d get up early, have a slice of Entenmann’s Cheeese Danish,

CheeseDanish and head off on the one mile commute to The Store. Another fun fact about my childhood, there was an ironclad rule when Dad was driving that no one was allowed to ask “Are we there yet?” until we saw the store.  My brother once tried to see how many times he could fit the question in between there and the house – that did not go over well.

Once Grampa unlocked and checked for burglars (family legend says he once found one who got stuck in the ceiling on his way through the crawlspace), I would come in and wander the aisles, check out the cold cases of milk, bug the heck out of him for baseball cards and bubble gum, and then I would spin and spin on the lunch counter stools until I got dizzy and fell off or got yelled at to get out of the way for the breakfast customers.

TheStore The lunch counter at The Store fascinated me. In a town with a population that still hasn’t hit 2000 as of the 2010 census, a place like this is the original social network and REAL “where everybody knows your name.” It’s where I learned the differences between coffee black, coffee regular, and coffee light and sweet and the joys of a corn muffin cut in half and toasted with butter on a hot grill and topped with strawberry jam. Seriously, try that sometime. I still order it at diners and it’s never, ever lost it’s touch. And there were always stories being told – the regulars would come in, get their coffee and their newspaper, and shoot the bull for hours. In the summer, the tourists would stop by and get their pictures taken because The Store was used in scenes in Friday the 13th, and there were some TV specials filmed there too. And inevitably, one of them would park smack in front of the sign with an arrow pointing out the road to the Land of Make Believe amusement park and ask for directions – the favorite response was “Oh, they closed down two years ago!”

The Store has created a permanent soft spot in my heart for these little hole in the wall restaurants that are run by families who are all about being right in the thick of their neighborhoods. So you can imagine my delight when my husband introduced me to Ted, way back in the day when we were just dating. Ted is a Greek immigrant who runs a pizzeria with his wife, Peggy. If you go in there at lunchtime, the place is packed with all the local office workers grabbing a bite to eat. We usually go at night, when it’s slower, and Ted and Peggy have time to come sit and chat. And just like The Store, there is always something to chat about!

Scene 1 – Paul and I come in, and Ted announces “It’s my birthday! I buy a cake. You have some with me!” and plunks down these gigantic pieces of tiramisu. Later on, we pay our bill and yell back to Ted “Happy birthday again!” Peggy puts her hands on her hips and shakes her head. “Did he tell you it’s his birthday? It’s not. His birthday is in March. He just likes cake, so he invents extra birthdays a couple of times a year.”

Scene 2 – I come in alone. Paul and I are planning to meet there, but he’s stuck in traffic and told me to go ahead and order. Ted tells me if I beat my husband more often, he wouldn’t be late anymore. When Paul finally arrives, Ted yells at him for keeping me waiting, then feeds him a heaping platter of onion rings because traffic must have made him very hungry.

Scene 3 – My bestie and I have a running joke about competing to pick up the check when we go out to eat. This has been going on for years, where we have stolen each other’s wallets, “forgot” to tell the other one that a place is cash only, flagged down a waitress to pay the check while the other one is in the restroom, etc. But my personal favorite is the time that I took them to Ted’s for dinner and stopped by at lunchtime to pre-pay the bill – I slipped cash to Peggy and told her to tell me if it wasn’t enough. When we came back for dinner, Anne and Mark thought they were being all sneaky trying to distract me so Mark could run up and pay the bill as soon as we ordered. Ha ha!

Scene 4 – Last night, we took PJ there for the first time since he’s started sitting in a high chair and eating finger foods. Ted and Peggy both made a big fuss over him, which the little ham ate up! And right when we were about to leave, Ted conjured up a couple of balloons and tied them to PJ’s foot (don’t worry, Paul is holding the string and didn’t let him grab or bite the balloons!). They both thought this was the funniest thing ever!

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Even though The Store is now an antiques shop instead of a lunch counter, I’m so glad that there are still people like Ted out there keeping that kind of family business going strong. It’s easy to get caught up in a fast food, generic coffee world but if there’s a little place in your neighborhood that you’ve always wondered about, why not give it a try? Just don’t ask for directions until you’ve carefully read all the signs, ok?

PJ’s Diary: Declaring Independence

Listen, Mommy, we needs to talk. I’m getting all growed up now, and I think it’s time for me to move out. Thanks for teaching me everything I need to know!

I can feed myself now…

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And brush my teeth…

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I’m getting real good at crawling, when the cabinets don’t jump out and bite me. I even gots my own house to come home to after parties!

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I can work like you…

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And I even know how to turn on my fishie lamp!

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So I guess that’s everything, right? Thanks for all the yummy snacks…

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Except the eggs, I didn’t like those at all! I’ll be back for the stories…

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But I think I’m ready to take on the world!

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Just one thing before I hit the road…do you think you could be a pal and change this diaper?

9 Months Already?!

My baby boy is 9 months old today! So even if he hadn’t been all impatient about his early arrival, he’d probably still be at the point where he’s spent more time out in the world than growing in my belly. What a strange feeling!

He is crawling like crazy now, which is why I’ve been far too tired to write lately, and into everything. Every. Thing. I think we’re doing pretty good, so far only one instance of: “Uhhh, where’s PJ?” “Isn’t he in there with you?” “No, I thought he was in there with you! … Crap, here he is in the office taste testing the cats’ food.”

Other than his questionable taste in protein, it’s fun to watch him figure out new things, like his babysitter’s workbench.

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Even starting his own construction company! “Seriously? A picture now? I’m on the phone, can I catch you in five?”

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And how much fun finger foods are…

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Even when the food is actually Mommy’s…

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We’re going to call that stolen cupcake practice for his first birthday. 

Happy 9 months little man!

PJ’s Diary: Winter Decathlon Standings

I don’t get all this #SochiProblems stuff – MY Winter Olympiad is going swimmingly. I just received my standings from the Baby Olympic Committee (BOC) and I’d say my medal hopes are good.

Event 1: Cheerio Curling

Currently in first place. My sweepers, Roxie and Velma, have done an excellent job helping me get my missiles right on the button.

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Event 2: Cross Country Crawling

Mommy keeps stopping me just when I’m about to break my records – no fair!

Event 3: Mirror Dancing

Going well, but getting some stiff competition from that handsome boy in the moose onesie.

Event 4: Couch Skeleton

Again, blocked by Mommy. The BOC really ought to do something about the lousy officiating in this house.

Event 5: Bouncer Jumping

My best hopes for an individual medal. I shall bounce bounce bounce and make Tigger proud.

Event 6: Toy Hockey

Naiiillled it. Call me PJ Oshie!

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Event 7: Floor Slaloms

One unfortunate wipeout this morning but Mommy kissed it and got me back in the running. BOC complaint withdrawn…for now.

Event 8: Carseat Bobsled

I don’t like this one, but at least I look cute in my uniform, right?

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Event 9: Speed Crawling

An unfortunate third place ranking. Those kitties are FAST!

Event 10: Marathon Sleeping

Disqualified.  I just get so huuuuungry!

Altogether, I think I’ve got a strong program here. Mommy says she’ll give me a gold medal if I quit trying so hard at Couch Skeleton.

Hmmmmm…..naaaah!

The Mom Workout Plan

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– Spot baby toes disappearing behind recliner that is blocking a tasty collection of electrical cords.

– Sprint across living room.

– Scoop up giggling, wriggling 16 lb weight.

– Dance around like a crazy person to distract wriggling 16 lb weight from thwarted suicide mission.

– Squat to deposit culprit in his favorite play spot.

– Repeat squats at least 10 times as play spot is not exactly right and needs adjusted until it’s exactly the way it was the first time.

– Tiptoe across living room back to what you were doing earlier.

– Listen carefully…

Yup, time to start over.

If A Reporter Stays Inside…Will We Still Know It’s Snowing?

You know what is even more boring than the umpteenth snow day during the bajillionth storm this year? TV coverage of the umpteenth snow day during the bajillionth storm this year. Seriously, reporters. SHUT. UP. We know it’s snowing. You know it’s snowing. It’s February in the northeast. It happens. Daytime TV is terrible, but watching reporters stand outside pointing at empty roads and bothering the few people who actually need to be outside is infinitely worse.

So what have we been doing on our snow days? I’m sad to say that my husband doesn’t share my views on the scourge of “snow as news” reporting and watches it, even texting me updates when I manage to escape the viewing area. “Oh wow, it’s really snowing hard in Allentown!” “Guess how much snow they got in Doylestown?” ::sigh::

PJ and I have kind of got into our own snow day routine:

5:00 am – He wakes me up for his first breakfast

5:30 am – Back to bed.

5:45 am – Realize I’m not going to fall back asleep.

6:00 am – Make coffee, do my yoga practice, decide what to do with the day, start on whatever work I brought home.

Sometime in the morning….PJ wakes up for his second breakfast. Then he likes to “play independently,” which is currently code for “Play nicely with my favorite toy until I think Mommy isn’t paying attention and then crawl as quickly as I can towards the radiators. Or the cats. Or their toys. Oooooh, a fuzzy!” He’s even developed a new laugh just for cat chasing. Which is quite handy, because it lets me know when I need to catch him before he gets too close to their food dish and lets the cats know when it’s time to skedaddle. Although he did manage to sneak up on and catch Roxie once today – he was quite proud of himself and she was not impressed. And then it’s time for Breakfast #3, in the high chair, where he will redecorate my kitchen with liberal splashes of oatmeal and Cheerios. Then we cuddle and read stories, and he takes a nap while I clean or finish up work. And rinse and repeat.

And somehow, in all of this time, I’m able to tell whether or not it’s still snowing by…get this…looking out the window. I know, crazy! And meanwhile that poor girl from Action News is still outside in her parka, desperately trying to think of something, anything, else to say about the weather. Even PJ has reached the point of rolling his eyes and sticking out his tongue at these overly dramatic updates.

I didn’t teach him that, honey, I swear!

PJ’s Diary: Go, Baby, Go!

Guess what guess what guess what!  If I stick my hiney in the air, and reeeeach out with my hands, and shuffle my knees, I can crawl. I know, I couldn’t believe it either! But then I saw all my toys on the shelf and I just had to go get them.

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And then…get this…I found out that it works in other rooms too. Crazy fun! I found a doorstop in my bedroom…

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A leftover Cheerio in the kitchen…

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And I even played hide and seek with my kitty friend Velma! Where is she? I can’t find her anywhere!

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Tomorrow, I think I’m gonna try finding out where Mommy keeps all my yummy snacks!

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Mmmmmm…coookies.