Friday, December 31, 2010

wild kingdom.

This morning, while I was at the pediatrician's office with S, M set out onto the castle grounds to clear up some trees and branches that had fallen. When he pulled a chunk of fallen tree, it disintegrated in his hand, revealing what was a completely hollow fallen tree trunk. And there sat an owl. It just stared at him, looked around, and crawled back into the relative safety and darkness of the hollow tree. So, that sucker is staying right where it fell, and we are desperately hoping that its inhabitant will stay there. M has talked about it almost nonstop since we got home, and there is a look of utter awe on his face when he tries to explain how beautiful the owl was. He said it was pretty small, so we're wondering if it's a baby owl...or maybe it has babies in the tree. We don't know, but we love having it in the backyard. I, of course, want to see it but am smart enough to leave it alone. It's probably been scared enough.

He also found what appears to be a small network of mole tunnels in the back yard, which actually surprised me. I didn't expect us to have moles since we have such huge trees and what I'd expect to be a pretty extensive network of tree roots. I was under the impression that tree roots acted as a deterrent to burrowing animals. Oh, well. I guess not.

So, we've got the bunny who lives out front on the tennis court. The owl in the fallen tree. The moles under ground. The neurotic dog in the house. Eight hundred fifty seven thousand of the fattest squirrels ever up in the trees plus their chipmunk cousins. Loads of various bird species hanging out in the trees and the tangly branches of our edge habitat. One neighborhood dog that likes to do his early morning business in our yard. And multiple neighborhood cats that I want the squirrels to breakfast upon. It's practically a zoo around here. That's just the way I like it.

Other than those darn cats.

Also, the garbage can just got fixed, so I think the discovery of the owl plus the fixing of an issue makes this an awesome day at Casa de Ouiser.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

a low, agitated growl.

Right now, when I think about our house, I emit a constant growl. As in, "ergggggh, really, something else??"

So, here's the deal. The chimney problem is being fixed. Actually, the chimney is fixed. Now it's time to tear into the plaster and the drywall and make sure there's not mold growing anywhere because of all the moisture that seeped in. It's not been a huge deal, but it's already become an expensive deal that could become way more expensive, and for-crying-out-loud-it-was-just-Christmas-and-I'm-not-made-of-money.

Here are the other things that have popped up.
  • The super awesome drawer that houses our garbage can and recycle bin will not stay closed. The dog is constantly in the garbage, and that's not endearing him to me. At all. I've already made a call, and this will be fixed promptly and for free, but it's annoying.
  • The window over my kitchen sink has issues. It seems like there is some sort of air or vapor or something trapped between the two panes of glass, so the window always looks dirty or foggy. Another call has been made, and it's another free fix, but it's still a window that will have to be replaced during the winter. Ugh.
  • The very lovely floors upstairs are falling apart. The previous owners had some hideous putrid green carpet covering the lovely knotty pine floors up there. We had them refinished. Unfortunately, there was a lot of spacing between the boards, which the floor guy filled with an apparently unheard of amount of filler. Now, because the air is dry and cold, the boards are shrinking and the filler is cracking and coming out in big chunks. It's awful to look at, and I'm pretty sure that finished floor filler is not something I want my son to eat when he starts crawling around and putting stuff into his mouth. Based on the way our floors are built, the floor guy told our contractor this would probably happen, but he didn't tell us. There is apparently nothing we can do because if we fill the cracks, when the lovely southern humidity comes back in April, the floor boards will swell and push the filler out anyway. So, we're either going to have to rip out the existing hardwoods and put in new ones or cover the floors with carpet. I am not happy.
  • The shower floor is not properly sloped. I've already had the shower guy out once to jack up the corners of the shower pan, but it didn't work. There is always a puddle in one corner of the shower. Always. I refuse to live with this for the rest of my life, so they're going to have to disassemble the beautiful marble shower and do it all over again. They'll have to do it for free because it was their fault, but it'll mean days without a shower in the house. I've not called them back out yet.
  • The dog is causing a lot of wear-and-tear on my cork floors. Again, mama ain't happy 'bout it.
  • We need about a dozen truckloads of dirt in the backyard to ensure that we don't end up with water damage along the back of the house. Again.
  • We need a tree surgeon before the seemingly dying tree that's as tall as a skyscraper squashes us all like bugs.
There's other minor stuff, but it doesn't really matter. In fact, the big stuff doesn't really matter. It is what it is, and we'll fix it. It means that I'll have to live a little longer with bare windows. It means that I can't get the new guest room finished as soon as I'd like. It means that I can't start designing and building the perfect new patio that we're going to create with a fireplace and all the works (oh, the patio where I want to drink coffee every morning while lounging idly and reading Michael Pollan or Bill Bryson or Jane Austen or anything). But that's life. And I really am cool with that.

Also, here's the thing.

Despite all the problems...all the cracking floors and bubbling walls and waterlogged showers, I love this house. This is our home. None of these problems has ever made me wish that we hadn't bought this house and left the old one. None of them has ever made it seem like a very, very expensive and stressful mistake. Instead, I look around me. I look out the windows. I look anywhere and I know that this house was built right here on this piece of land just for us. We are supposed to be here. We are supposed to raise our kids here. We are supposed to have grandkids visit us here. Right here. Despite the problems. And that makes it all extra okay.

very merry.

The Ouisers had a wonderful Christmas. S was insanely thrilled about everything.

Christmas Eve was a low key day of making and decorating Christmas cookies. Then we went to Mellie's for my mom-family Christmas. We came home and read Twas the Night Before Christmas. We put S to bed, and we watched Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed get their awesome on in It's a Wonderful Life.

Christmas morning, we banned the family from joining us for the opening of presents, and it was a very wise (though bold) move. It meant that M and I were able to really watch S open gifts. We got to see her little face light up. We got full-on thank you hugs for all of our gifts to her. She excitedly helped us open our gifts. There was no stress at all. M and I were happily in the floor, coffee and cameras in hand. We even called Mellie's house, where we were supposed to officially breakfast, and said we'd be late because S was having fun and we weren't going to make her stop playing for breakfast casserole. It was great. Also, this almost-four-years-old Christmas was pretty magical. S was in love with everything about the holidays, and frankly, I wanted to share that with her as a family. It won't be the same next year (or ever again) because she'll have a little brother. So, just this once, all of the excitement was hers, and it was amazing. There will be more excitement when there are two kiddos, I know, but this one was about just the three of us, and I do believe I'll treasure it forever and ever and ever.
There is an inexplicable love for this Pillow Pet.
This was the gift S chose for M. Do not call it an ornament. It is a Good Luck Charm, and she made him hang it on the doorknob to his office when we went there yesterday.

Mr. Ouiser loves Peyton Manning so much that he's branded me.

Eventually we did make it to Mellie's. Then we made it to Mr. P's to give him the stocking that Santa left him at our house. Then we played a bit at home. Then we headed to Columbia for Christmas with my dad-family. There were presents. There was soup. There was a very tired Little Ouiser. Then there were board games and bed.

It was a great Christmas.
Since then, we've mostly chilled out, though we've managed to run loads of errands together and M and S had a campout in the family room floor. Christmas really is pretty awesome, especially when you're blessed enough to get to spend two weeks together as a family.

Now, though, the house must be dealt with, and that's a whole different post...but I wanted to get to the good stuff before I started to complain. You know, since it's Christmas and all.

*Completely unrelated. In the six-plus years that we've been married, I don't believe we've ever broken any of our dishes. The technical exception is one cereal bowl that we somehow chipped the edge of. It's not bad, and I've never gotten rid of it despite it's imperfection. Now I'm glad. I just realized that it serves a very important purpose. I've been enjoying a bowl of black bean soup while I wrote this post, and the little divot in the edge of the bowl provides a perfect resting place for the handle of the spoon. I've never noticed it before, but I have now, and I have a new favorite bowl. You're welcome for the information.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

run for your life.

Christmas is almost here. I should only be posting happy things about our Advent-ures and Christmas cookies and holiday magic. But I am so not going to do that. I'm too afraid. Way too afraid. I am living in fear of Nicole Kidman's insane forearm-length toe.
Really. It looks like her big toe is trying to attack the paparazzi taking the picture. Doesn't it?

In case you don't know, I don't like feet. Seriously. Keep your feet inside your shoes at all times. If you're riding on an airplane, cover your toes. I don't care how cute your little tootsies are. I don't care how recent and expensive your pedicure. I don't want to be in close proximity to any feet except my daughter's...and my son's soon enough. I assure you I will outgrow thinking that their feet are cute, too. Anyway, I want Nicole Kidman to have toe reduction surgery. They can do that, right.

Happy Holidays. I hope Nicole Kidman gets socks. Aaaaaghhhh!!!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

how things went down.

The verdict is in. We're having a boy. Mr. Ouiser and I are thrilled. When we came home, my cousin Abbe was curled up on the couch watching a movie with S. And we were all excited and said, "S, we're going to have a baby brother!"

S immediately curled into the fetal position, buried her head into a cushion, and started bawling.

When we got her to calm down enough that she could speak, she just said, "but that's not what I wanted it to be. I wished for a girl."

She's happier now because we explained that she'd be the only princess in the house...the new baby will be a prince. That seemed to calm her down.

So that's the news from Dickson. Later, peeps.

Sunday, December 19, 2010


This morning, S went out to play with her cousins before they headed back to Indiana. The three kiddos were cute all bundled up picking up rocks and whatnot. After they left, I had about twenty minutes worth of stuff to do before we left for her to spend with day with Mellie, so I sat her in front of the TV and went about my business. One item of business was laundry. As I came back up the basement stairs, I noticed something odd about M's voice as he talked to S. I couldn't tell if she was in trouble...or hurt...or had been possessed.

When I walked into the room, M was kneeling in front of her, with a disgusted and panicked look on his face. Here's what went down...

M: "S, do you want me to take your coat off of you?"
S: "Yes, but can you get a bowl for my rocks?"
M: "Sure. Why don't you give me the rocks, and I'll put them into a bowl."

At this point, she digs into her pockets, and starts dropping things into his outreached hands. And then he realized that while there are some rocks involved with the process, what she's mostly pulling out of her pockets are dog terds.

Her coat has now been washed. And I think M boiled his own hands because he was so creeped out...but really the dog is on such major antibiotics right now that his poop is probably like vitamins. Anyway, I hope your day was as hysterical as mine.

Friday, December 17, 2010

the one where i chill myself out.

Despite the best intentions (you know that whole road to Hell thing, right?), things are a little stressful around here. Oddly, it's nothing holiday related that is stressing me out. It's just life. I think this may be one of those moments where I have an epiphany about adulthood. Like, maybe part of being an adult is learning to deal with the stressful life moments in the midst of chaos (the holidays being an example of chaos.) We've got some chimney issues, but it's nothing that can't be handled, and though I'm not stressed in the least, Mr. Ouiser is very stressed about it. He just needs a vacation. (I really believe...and this is directed at you because I know you're reading it, M, that if this situation had come up while he was away from work next week, he'd be taking it in stride.) The man's just got too much on his plate. Anyway, it's causing some stress. It just is.

So, somehow, suddenly, things seem to be snowballing around here. Which is ridiculous because I can't even really think about other reasons to be stressed. It's just one of those things- once you're stressed, you're stressed. Now I'm in a mood, and I've decided that the best way to get out of this funk (besides copious amounts of peppermint creamer with a side of Jack Johnson) is to sit down and remember the things in my life that I love and appreciate. Here goes.
  • M, stress-wad that he is. He makes me laugh everyday, and that is a wonderful quality in a husband. Also, he makes me feel safe.
  • S, who I want to beat often, but she always rallies. She is very funny, very precocious, very sweet, very pretty, and she surprises me constantly. For the record, I have never beaten her.
  • My friends. I don't think I'd have made it through this week without HS and SB.
  • The chimney sweep that was here yesterday. He was a genuinely nice person, and even though he gave us the verdict that stressed M out, I was happy that he was here. I feel like giving him a present (Actually S already did. She gave him the leftovers from Baja Burrito that were going to be my snack. I almost cried.)
  • The guy who's coming to try to fix our garage door today. He was funny on the phone yesterday. Also, the prospect of parking in my garage and not navigating winter weather with a three-year-old is enticing.
  • My Adam Egenolf coffee mug. I love it so.
  • The family wall of pictures that I finally hung yesterday.
    A terrible picture of the family wall, but you get the idea.
S, helping hang the family wall. She's holding the pencil. Obviously, her help was invaluable.
  • Newly sharpened pencils with good erasers and micro point vision pens by uni-ball (I just laughed because I typed uni-ball, which reminds me that I'm appreciative of my sixth grade sense of humour. I also love the extraneous Brit-like use of the letter "u.")
  • Fruit Loops. I let S get them this week because it's-Christmas-for-crying-out-loud! She has eaten more than half the box in two days. I ate a bowl this morning, and it was like childhood in a bowl. And now I'm all doped up on sugar.
Of course I'm thankful for lots more than that. But those are all things that I can actually see (or things I can see reminders of) from where I'm sitting, and life can't be that bad if I can be grateful for that much stuff in my immediate area, right?

Here's a list of things that I just need to accept.
  • There will always be a pile of laundry to be done and a mostly full dishwasher.
  • There will always be something that should live in the attic or basement that is inexplicably living in my bedroom.
  • I will always hate making the bed, but I will always hate seeing an unmade bed more.
  • My daughter will eventually wipe her own bottom.
  • The suede ties on S's slippers will never stay tied, and she will always be upset by this.
  • Our local newspaper will always be terrible.
  • I will always miss the Rick Reilly column at the back of Sports Illustrated.
  • I will never, ever like Sarah Palin or anyone on FoxNews. Under any circumstances.
So thanks for the free therapy. I need to prepare for our daily Advent-ure and my day in general...

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

whoa. two posts. one day.

It's just that kind of day. Here's the updates:
  • I ordered some snow stuff for S, so once this snow melts, there will be no more snow here until she has grown exactly enough that the stuff we bought won't fit. It's Murphy's Law. I'm sure you've heard of it.
  • The Peppermint Bark. Oh, Good Lord. Make this. Eat this. Love this. When Molly mentions that the ugly, trimmed off edges are yours to nibble, I think she may have meant that you should set them aside and nibble on them over a lengthy period of time...or at least take longer than four minutes to eat them all. I've got a tummy ache and a sugar-overload headache. It was totally worth it, though. Totally. I will say that this didn't end up being a S-friendly activity. I thought she'd really love crushing the peppermints, but she hated it, and I quickly grew insanely nervous that she'd crush her fingers. She sprinkled the candy onto the two layers that needed sprinkling, but there was a lot of waiting on her part...and three-year-olds aren't big on waiting. Luckily, she was happy to play on her own and continually pick out Christmas music while I made candy. It all worked out rather nicely.
  • A Clean Sweep. While I was making candy, S noticed that there were lots of little bits of crushed peppermint that had fallen to the floor (more like EXPLODED onto the floor as I crushed the candy...minor difference). She dutifully went and got her toy broom and told me not to worry about the floor because she'd sweep it all clean for me. She was occupied, so I didn't really pay attention until she told me that I could look because the floor was beautiful and clean. When I looked down, the floor was spotless. You're impressed, right? It even took a minute for the light bulb to go off in my head. This is a three-year-old without a dustpan. What happened to all the peppermint? Turns out, once you get the detritus out of the immediate kitchen area, you can just sweep as violently as you can to disperse it all over the house. I'm finding tiny shards of peppermint candy all over.
  • Next year, I'm buying this. And, Toddler Tamer, I didn't find out about this until after our email exchange on the subject of crushing peppermints.
  • Now I'm making Ham and Bean Soup, and I'm not sure if this is an exclusively southern thing, but it sure tastes and smells southern. Translation: it's got pork in it and it's delicious. If anyone needs a recipe, let me know. It's easy breezy to make, and it costs about three dollars to make a huge pot of it. It's a win-win.
Toodles, peeps.


2010 has been the year of snow. I don't remember a year of my life growing up when the calendar was bookended by snow quite like this one. It's killing me. Dickson County got as much snow or more than any other county in Tennessee, and the last count I saw was 6 inches. (Disclaimer: all my northeastern-living friends can make fun of me, I don't care.) I realize this isn't a lot of snow, but comparatively it is. We close schools around here for way less than that. Six inches is a blizzard and requires Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs -like quantities of bread and milk to be purchased by all families. Luckily, we are always able to get milk and bread because we buy organic milk and eat good bread...and even a blizzard can't get most southern papas to approve the expense of organic milk and anything other than white bread.

Now let's be clear: I don't like snow. I don't like cold and wet. I like humidity and heat. That's just how I roll. I have spent my entire life avoiding snow. I don't really remember ever wanting to play in it. When my brother would get all bundled up to go sledding or build snowmen or have massive snowball fights, I'd sit under a blanket and probably read or catch up on homework (because I've always been a dork.) When high school friends went on ski trips, I think I probably laughed out loud at the concept. So it's ridiculous to me that my daughter thinks that snow is the best stuff ever. Because her love of the most awful substance in the world that is legal (yes, I'm still talking about snow), we are going to have to invest in some actual snow gear. Last winter, when we were under-prepared, it was toward the end of winter, so we didn't feel bad about not purchasing snow pants or snow boots or anything else. We just bundled her up in layers and sent her out. She'd get cold and cry, then we'd come in, strip down, put on dry clothes, and that was that.

No more.

I thought I had until after Christmas this year to purchase snow stuff. It almost never snows here before Christmas. Snow comes (if it comes at all) in January and February. This snow blindsided me. Luckily, on snow day #1 (Sunday), I bundled her up, and as it was still snowing, she didn't have that much fun (also, she was only with me, and I'm not that fun frankly). We were outside for about half an hour. We achieved frozen lips and eyelashes full of snowflakes and we were done. Yesterday was a different story. We went to some friends' house where there were lots of kids and sleds. The sun was out, but there was lots of snow to play in. And play she did. She ate facefuls of snow, and snot literally froze to her face. She zipped down the hill with her friends. Mostly, she'd do this bobsled-style...meaning that one of the older kids would want to sled alone, and she'd give them a push then dive on behind them. It was pretty funny as long as you weren't the older kid. After what seemed like an hour, the mamas ventured inside and left the dads that were there to look after the kiddos. They stayed outside for what seemed like another hour. When S came in, I had to strip her down because, let's not forget, nothing that she was wearing was waterproof except her RAINBOOTS. She was so cold that her entire body was the color of a fire engine. I almost couldn't stand to touch her skin because it was so cold and looked so painful. She was just mad because she had to come inside. I do not understand this type of behavior. At all.

Anyway, that's what's been happening around here. Sunday's surprise for M was his favorite cookies: his mother's chocolate mint cookies, which are really excellent. They were well received. Yesterday, Elmer the Elf delivered the new pajamas I made her. Today, we're going to decorate Mr. P's tree when M gets home from work. (I know you all needed an Advent-ure update.) Also, to keep us inside today (because no one can realistically expect me to brave this snow THREE DAYS IN A ROW), we're going to make peppermint bark. We also got a package that contained egregious amounts of green packing peanuts, which we're going to string like popcorn because she's been asking to string popcorn, but no way that's happening as our dog would destroy the project almost instantaneoulsy. As a last resort, we can repaint her fingernails. I've seriously got this day planned out...with no plans for snow.

Now, I must get to it. We've got lots to do. Here's some pictures.
New pajamas and new slippers.

Sunday, December 12, 2010


I felt too guilty to let S forget about the centerpiece, but I remembered that I could control how involved she was in the process. During her rest time, I went outside and cut magnolia, holly, and some sort of evergreen branches. Then she just told me what to put where. She also ran around waving two branches of holly, pretending to be a flying Christmas tree. Despite the huge centerpiece-in-the-punchbowl on the dining room table, she's more proud of the one branch of holly tree that she put into a vase on her own, and that's just fine with me. I feel better knowing that I didn't flake out on her, and she had a great time. Friday was "Spend the night with T and Grandma" night from the Advent Calendar, which gave M and I a chance to go on our annual Christmas date and a chance for me to fix M's flat tire (correction: pay someone to fix M's flat tire) and to drop my car off for service. We had an early dinner, grabbed some coffee, and came home. It was awesome. Yesterday's activity was to go see Tangled, which was really good. M had to miss it, though. He's been working all weekend, trying to get caught up from being sick and being out of town for meetings. Today, we're making a surprise for him. I don't know what she's more excited about: the surprise for Daddy or the fact that it's snowing. She's pretty stoked about both.

So our Advent advent-ures are moving right along, and it's mind-boggling to realize how fast it's going. I'm super glad we're doing it. It gives me/us a chance to do something together, and a chance to at least recognize the season. It has always seemed to get away from me in the past. Not this year, peeps. This year, I am in the moment. Well, as in the moment as one can be who has meticulously mapped out her plans. You get the point, though.

Now, S and I have a project to work on. Enjoy your Sunday, peeps.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

i hope she forgets.

Today is the first day that I hope S forgets what Elmer the Elf said we could do today. Today, we're supposed to make a Christmas centerpiece...which means scavenging outside for materials. Um, it's cold. I even swapped yesterday's Gingerbread House activity with today's because it's supposed to be something like five degrees warmer. Honestly, five degrees is not making a lick of difference. It's too cold outside, and I really don't want to traipse all over the place cutting branches of holly and magnolia and picking up sticks. I really, really don't. I want to make a cup of tea and curl up under a blanket and sleep. Alas, it will not happen. Know why? Because even if she forgets about it today, which could happen...she'll remember it tonight before bed or tomorrow just before we have to go out, and she will FREAK OUT that we forgot to do it. There would be tears and probably bribery with tootsie rolls. So it's probably just easier to get it over with. Unfortunately, I seem to have misplaced my Christmas spirit somewhere last night. I think I coughed it up or something. I think I'll go try to find it now.

Oh, unrelated...S's first dentist appointment was this morning. If you have a small child that hasn't been to the dentist yet, I highly recommend finding a pediatric dentist. She had been to the dentist with us before, and even though the hygienists ate her up and the dentist told her jokes and gave her stickers, she wouldn't even consider letting any of them near her mouth. Today, however, there were toys and brightly colored walls and cartoons, and she thought it was actually fun. So check it out if you've got a little one with dental needs.

Now, I'm off to brew some tea and turn this humbug day into a fun day. Or at least a day that's not quite so humbug*.

*S heard the term humbug yesterday and she'd like to know what kind of bug it a spider or a mosquito? And if you leave it alone, will it leave you alone like most bugs??

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

nice house.

This is what happens when you let your three-year-old completely decide what to do with the gingerbread house. I think she only stopped because she probably has a tummy ache from licking all the frosting. I know I do. Of course, she still had the ability to eat three of the tootsie rolls that didn't become trees. We won't be winning any awards for this gingerbread house, but she and I both had so much fun...and the results are colorful. Just like S. I love it.
Also, I realized after the fact that the picture from yesterday's post is the first that I've shared that shows the inside of the new house. So now you know a little about what the kitchen looks like. You're welcome. I know you were waiting.

Aside from all that...months ago we decided to try to get S to talk about what she was thankful for before meals. They sing a prayer at school before lunch, but I've never really been one for reciting prayers even if watching my child sing a prayer is crazy adorable. Somehow it becomes auto-pilot, and I think the point of the exercise is easily forgotten. (The point, of course, being to recognize that you're grateful for your food. Or anything else.) So the "What were you thankful for today?" thing began. Now we each have to tell something we were thankful for before we eat dinner. When we started, S would come up with something unusual, but that was cool. Then the stock answer at every meal became, "You and Daddy." Don't get me wrong, I'll take it...and I'm thankful for her and M everyday, so I get it, but I was worried that she was missing the point and had already zoned out. And I desperately want my child to understand and appreciate how fortunate we are. Because we are so, so fortunate. Anyway, a few days ago, I think she started to get it. Suddenly, there's a list of friends that she might mention. Or yesterday it was birds and butterflies and squirrels. Another day it was all the pretty trees and plants. So she's at least not giving me a stock answer. Maybe it's starting to work.

I just thought I'd share that because I'm feeling really, really blessed these days. Even though the heat is turned down to make us a little greener and I have to stay all bundled up, I have a warm house and more than enough to eat. I'm one of the lucky people on the planet who can afford to eat fresh produce and dairy all year. I am healthy. My daughter is healthy. My husband is amazing. I have a jar of fruit slices cheering up my kitchen. I was able to make a gingerbread house with my child today. I could go on and on and on. But I won't.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

salty and sweet.

I can safely say that the salt dough ornaments were a rousing success. S loved it, and having mixed, rolled, cut, and baked the ornaments ahead of time was probably a wise move. If she had helped, she would've been upset that the shapes got distorted when they were peeled off the counter (which The Artful Parent had warned me about, but I threw caution to the wind). However, when presented with colorful pots of paint, three shakers of glitter, a bowl of "diamonds", a jar of paintbrushes, and a handful of ready-to-paint ornaments, the kid was in heaven. The result was half an hour of bliss. She wanted to surprise me with every ornament, so I had to look the other way while she painted and glittered and bedazzled. Then I would ooh and ahh over each creation, and I don't know of many activities that have ever made her happier. Seriously, you should do this if you have kids...or if you have nieces or nephews and want to be the cool aunt/uncle. Or if your friends' kids are coming over and you need something to occupy their time. And the clean-up wasn't even bad. I'm telling you, total holiday success.

I will give you this heads-up. I had done a little research on salt dough before I prepared ours yesterday because when I made it two years ago I was flummoxed by the consistency and annoyance of the process, so I'm going to share how I made this batch because it was really simple and non-stressful, and that's what we're all about around here, right? I mixed one cup of iodized table salt (48 cents at the Dollar General!!) with two cups of all purpose flour and one cup of warm tap water. I threw that stuff in the Kitchen Aid until it was mixed, then I put on the dough hook and let the mixer knead the dough for a solid ten minutes. The dough was very, very smooth and pliable, and I remembered it being grainy and difficult to work the last time, so I think the extensive mechanical kneading was a great success. Then I rolled that goop out, cut the shapes, poked some holes for ribbons, and baked the ornaments at 300 degrees for just under two hours. I started checking them at one hour, and kept them in the oven until the middles weren't squishy anymore. The only thing I'll do differently in the future is the step The Artful Parent mentioned. Next time around, I'll roll the dough directly onto parchment paper (or my handy silicone faux parchment paper) before I cut the shapes. The edges really do get a bit wonky when you have to peel the shapes off your countertop. Not that it matters because the ornaments were painted by a three-year-old...they were destined to look a little wonky anyway. We painted the ornaments with acrylic paint and added glitter and little fake jewels. Now they're drying...and once some ribbons are added, those suckers will find homes on Christmas trees throughout the family.

*The recipe makes enough for more than a half dozen ornaments. We're giving some baked and unpainted ornaments to a friend to paint, and I threw away the scraps instead of re-rolling/re-cutting. You could safely get about a half dozen ornaments out of the recipe amounts I referenced.

Now, the sweet thing I mentioned in the post title. It's really a small thing. When the fruit slices were all cut up for the gumdrop cookies yesterday, there were a couple of handfuls leftover. As M loves them, I threw them into a mason jar to keep for him. Now there's a mason jar of brightly colored fruit slices sitting on the kitchen shelf. For some reason, I am unable to look at their colorful sugariness and not smile. That jar is making me so happy. I might be a little unbalanced.

Monday, December 06, 2010


So the perfection didn't really last yesterday. Somewhere around the time the chicken and rice went into the oven, I got a wicked headache/backache combo. And you know how that physically feeling bad can just ruin your whole mood. After dinner, we were on the couch and my head completely filled with congestion and that was all she wrote. M graciously sent me to bed about 645, and I stayed there until this morning (minus the preggo potty breaks). I'm amazingly well today, which may have something to do with M being out of town for the week and my not having the option to be sick. I prefer to think I'm actually well, though. I was well enough to go to the gym this morning, so that's something, right? Anyway, tough night. We're righting this train now, though. Let the holiday cheer commence.

This afternoon, S and I will be making Mr. P's favorite cookies: the infamous gumdrop cookies. This is one of those tasks that you do only because you truly love someone. Making these cookies is a chore. I worry that involving a three-year-old will make it worse, but then I remembered that I don't know if the process could get worse. Seriously, have you ever cut fruit slices (because we've never successfully found gumdrops and fruit slices are the closest substitute) into tiny little pieces? It is not fun. They stick to everything. The knife. The cutting board. Me. I've tried greasing the knife. I've tried using flour. I've tried using the Cuisinart. Nothing works. You just have to stick it out and cut those little twerps by hand. Luckily, M's dad is always really happy to have those cookies. Because I'd scrap those from my repertoire in a heartbeat. Wow. What happened to that holiday cheer I mentioned?

I'm also going to make salt dough this afternoon. Tomorrow's advent activity is to make salt dough ornaments, which we did a couple of years ago. From our previous experience and some quick internet research, I've discovered that the mixing/rolling/cutting/baking is probably too tedious for S, so I'm going to do that ahead of time. That way, she can just paint and glitter to her little heart's content tomorrow. I think that'll make the activity more enjoyable for both of us. And the whole point of this calendar of advent activities is to allow us to ENJOY things together.

Beyond that, we're just trying to stay warm. It's in the 20s here, people. The 20s. That doesn't even compute for me. I had to get out gloves and hats this morning. What is the world coming to??

Until next time...

Sunday, December 05, 2010

4th and 21.

I started this post yesterday. It was supposed to be adorably titled as it would be about the Advent Calendar...but sound like football. Ah, football.

Today's Advent activity (technically, yesterday's) was supposed to be "Buy our Christmas Tree," but it looked a little rainy. So, it got changed to "Help Mellie decorate her Christmas Tree," which gave M and I an opportunity to go purchase ours and bring it into the house as a surprise. And quite a surprise it was. When S came home, she literally hopped up and down and spun in circles for a solid two minutes, giggling with excitement. Then we could swear we saw little Christmas tears of joy. It was fabulous. The day ended up being pretty great. We ate biscuits and drank coffee/chocolate milk as a family. S helped Mellie. S puked (not fabulous, but not a big deal). S got crazy excited about having a tree in our house. M and I put lights on the tree during S's rest time. We listened to lots of Christmas music. We gobbled up some pizza while we listened to more Christmas music. We watched a movie as a family. We read more Christmas books. We tucked S into bed. M and I watched Love Actually by the light of the Christmas tree. It was an awesome day.

Today Elmer the Elf dictated that we should decorate our tree, and decorate we did. Before we decorated, though, S helped me make chocolate chip muffins. While they baked, M read the paper with coffee in hand and S took a marker to this week's Toys R Us circular. After muffins, M brought all the Christmas boxes down from the attic and decorating commenced. There are a LOT of ornaments on the bottom two feet of the tree thanks to a certain three-year-old. She was very particular about not wanting the ornaments to be lonely. ("Mommy, this snow-woman needs to be next to this snowman so they can be friends!" or "Mommy, this guitar ornament needs to be next to this nutcracker ornament so the nutcracker will have an instrument to play!") Once the tree was all finished, we busted out the nutcrackers and the very extensive Irish Nativity set. S is pretty jazzed about all the Christmas around the house. She's even gotten into helping pick out which music we listen to, which is cool as long as you want to listen to one of the two Disney Christmas CDs.

The other big deal around here is her apparent continued adoration of snow globes. Last Christmas, the one thing she really begged for was a Snow White Snow Globe, which stays out in her room all year. But she notices other snow globes everywhere we go. She came home from Mellie's yesterday with a little one, and when we unpacked two that were put away this morning she was crazy thrilled. I worry that she'll grow up to be "Crazy Snow Globe Lady" instead of "Crazy Cat Lady" and much like her father is "Crazy Nutcracker Guy." There are worse things...

Now I'm going to see what my family is up to and prepare to make my grandma's chicken and rice casserole for dinner. Delish!

Friday, December 03, 2010

a mostly non-holiday post.

I'll go ahead and get the holiday stuff out of the way. Day two of the Advent calendar was a success. Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer was watched. Unfortunately, Mr. Ouiser is really sick, so he fell asleep in the middle of it. It's okay, though. I think he mostly just likes that Burl Ives is the snowman, and he gets his Burl Ives fix through listening to Christmas music nonstop. Today's activity had to be altered. Because M is so ill, and S is a little ill, we might have to skip Christmas in Downtown Dickson this year. I really don't want to share our germs, and I don't want to pick up any new ones while our immune systems are already depleted. So, today we'll be painting nails red and green. Of course I reserve the right to head downtown anyway if S seems to be recovered because, frankly, I want to go. I love Christmas in Downtown Dickson. It's really, truly like walking through It's A Wonderful Life...with newer clothes.

Now, here's our dilemma, which you'll just have to imagine because I'm too lazy to take a picture. Our new house is pretty big. Huge compared to our old house. Our family room, which includes our kitchen, pantry, and some extra space that is breakfast nookish, is a BIG room. However, the space that's breakfast nookish is tiny and blocks the path into the ballroom and the path into the library (sounds like we live on a Clue gameboard, doesn't it?). When we replaced the light fixture in that space, we weren't really thinking about where it was. We just put a new one where the old one had been. But we now realize that it's placement is problematic. When you walk in the door, there is a vast amount of open space. Vast. Then there's the kitchen table smooshed into a tiny space that you can't comfortably walk around. We can't move the light fixture too much because there's a header across the ceiling in one area of the room and there's a partial wall on the other side. Like I said, problematic. What's crazy about it is that looking at designs for small spaces seems and feels absurd because the space is quite large. It's just laid out badly, which I understand is a result of that room being added on at some point. Oh, well. I'm just throwing this out there. If I'm too lazy to take pictures, I can't really expect help, can I?

I was just worried that maybe you wanted me to talk about something other than Advent activities. I know you all feel more complete now. Don't you? This post is ridiculous. Have a great weekend, peeps.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

2 down.

I really wanted to take a picture of S opening the first little drawer of her Advent calendar yesterday, but I left the camera at my parents' house on Thanksgiving...and I forgot that I own two cameras. And a phone that takes pictures. I can only be expected to remember so many things.

Either way, the first two days have been very successful. S was insanely thrilled to get a treat both mornings, and when I read the little paper to her yesterday that said, "decorate your Christmas tree," she actually squealed. I take that as a good sign. Then last night, after going out to satiate my craving for a cheeseburger, we decorated her tree and then spent a solid hour reading Christmas books. It was a wonderful first night of December. I wouldn't trade it.

Moving on...we haven't really started decorating yet, as Elmer the Elf (he's the one putting treats into the calendar according to S) won't be telling us to get a tree until Saturday. However, I felt a desperate need to put a big red bow on the lightpost on the edge of the courtyard Monday and then I desperately needed to cut some holly yesterday. So, there's a bow outside, and holly in the bathroom and on the kitchen table. I can't put anything on the dining room table yet as that will be an activity for S.

When all is said and done, we've achieved two days of December without my wanting to put my head in an oven, and I think that's farther than my mother ever got. Cheers!!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

it begins tomorrow.

Scarlet Lily had a lovely post about the holidays this morning. She commented on how they seem to be fleeting. They really can be the most wonderful time of the year, but they can also be really stressful, which just makes it seem that much you just can't find the time to bake one more batch of cookies or buy stocking stuffers. You know what I'm talking about.

Well, the Christmas (Hanukkah/Kwanzaa/Solstice/pick your poison) holidays are big around here. Mostly because my husband has always loved the holidays so much, and I really want to pass that on to our kids. That means making the holidays completely unlike what I grew up with, which was not joyful at all and lacking in any traditions whatsoever. I'm not implying that my holidays were bad because they weren't. We just didn't do anything as a family and there was a lot of stress about holiday shopping and getting from point-A-to-point-B. So, I try to make the holidays calm and peaceful and really about our family.

Now back to Scarlet Lily's post. She talked about using her Advent Calendar for activities, and great minds think alike. We've tried to get S into the Advent Calendar the past couple of years, but we've just put candy inside, and she'd often forget or we'd forget. It was clearly not very meaningful to any of us. This year, we're going the activities route. So, here's the list of things we're planning to do. Maybe between all of us we can share some great ideas and then figure out what will work, what won't work, and what's so stressful you might as well go to the mall.

1. Decorate the small tree in S's room.
2. Watch Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.
3. Go to Christmas in Downtown Dickson.
4. Pick out our family Christmas tree.
5. Decorate our family tree.
6. Make Grandpa's favorite cookies (gumdrop cookies).
7. Make salt dough ornaments.
8. Make a Christmas centerpiece. (This will likely involve cutting magnolia and holly from the yard, and I see stick-painting in our future again!)
9. Build our gingerbread house.
10. Spend the night with T and Grandma.
11. Go to the theater to see Tangled.
12. Decorate Grandpa's tree.
13. Attend the Christmas concert at First Presbyterian.
14. Watch How the Grinch Stole Christmas.
15. Take treats to share at school.
16. Take M out to lunch.
17. Buy food to donate to the local help center.
18. Have Christmas with M's sister and family!!
19. Get new pajamas for Christmas.
20. S gets to go on a date with her Daddy.
21. Watch Charlie Brown Christmas.
22. Have a Christmas play date with our friends.
23. Decorate Butter Cookies.
24. Read Twas the Night Before Christmas.

That's our list. I made it into a calendar (of course) and spread out the holiday baking on it...and added all the holiday movies that M and I watch. I don't want it to be like last year when we realized that it was Christmas Eve and we hadn't watched A Christmas Carol or It's a Wonderful Life. Somehow, we've never forgotten to watch Christmas Vacation.

So, there's our holiday, all mapped out. I'm hoping that keeping it organized will mean less stress, more downtime as a family, lots of family art nights. Just the good stuff.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

i saw the sign.

Two funny things involving S...

Firstly, last Friday we went to meet my parents at the mall to pick up some football tickets. It's about an hour away. One stretch of the highway is pretty curvy. While we were in the curvy section, S called from the backseat for me to look at the picture she had drawn on her MagnaDoodle. I told her that I couldn't turn around because the road was curvy and I needed to pay very strict attention to driving so we would be safe. Then she asked, "Mommy, what does that sign say?"

"The sign that we're about to pass?" I asked.


"It says that the speed limit is 45 miles per hour."

"No, no. It says that you should turn around and look at what your kid drew."

Seriously, I could not stop laughing. I immediately endangered our lives by calling M to tell him. It was very funny.

Secondly, yesterday was her first school program. It was awesome. Watching your kid climb onto risers and sing with a group is very, very exciting. And adorable. And possibly one of the most enjoyable experiences of my life. M and I were both absolutely giddy. Anyway, the tables at the program/feast were decorated with things the kids had made in class. The centerpiece was a copy of each child's recipe for cooking a turkey. Here's S's.

"Buy a turkey at the store. Wash it off real good. Add mustard, sliced hot dogs, strawberries, a dash of cornbread. Put it in the oven for 4 minutes at 3 degrees. Follow up with pumpkin pie and enjoy."

I am pretty sure this recipe will never be Ina-approved. But I think it might result in some nasty intestinal issues as four minutes at 3 degrees probably won't result in a safe internal temperature. Maybe we should talk about meat thermometers today??

Anyway, preschoolers are hysterical. In fact, while I've been typing this, she set up a garage sale in the living room. She made a table out of a box and put a storybook, a coloring book, a ribbon, and a small pail on top. She says she's going to sell them all. I hate to point out that I don't know where she'll get customers. I also have no idea where she learned about garage sales.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

you are welcome.

Seriously. I love Jimmy Fallon. The Boss is a legend. Willow Smith's song is absurd.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

a glimmer of sentimentality.

I am not a sentimental person. I don't feel the need for lots of little reminders of things. In fact, my doctor told me something interesting yesterday. Our next appointment is the big one: the is-it-a-boy-or-a-girl-ultrasound. (Surely no one is in shock about that information.) Anyway, if you bring in a blank DVD or five bucks, they'll make a DVD of your ultrasound. I literally said, "oh, I don't care about that." He nearly fell over. Apparently, I'm the first mama-to-be to turn down the DVD. Of course, I had to change my tune when I realized that Mr. Ouiser would be the only one able to attend the ultrasound with me, and I had to deny my stepmother's request to attend. Anyway, I'm not sentimental. Get it? I figure I'll remember the stuff that's worth remembering, and the other stuff is probably fluff.

I digress.

Today I've been working on getting the addresses together for our holiday cards. Some of you probably got an email from me asking to confirm your address. You see, I've had the same address book for about a decade. I've used an entire pencil eraser trying to get rid of addresses that I know have changed. About halfway through all the erasing, I thought, "I should just get a new address book and start over." Then I realized that this address book has been around since Mr. Ouiser's parents still lived in the house he grew up in and my grandmother was still alive. If I got a new one, those little pieces of our past would go with it. M's childhood address and my grandmother's name wouldn't be something that I ever ran across. I kept erasing, and I know that I am nowhere near ready to get rid of that address book.

All of this is pretty out of character for me, but I guess it seemed vaguely important.

Enjoy the rain, peeps. I'm off to make another cup of tea.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

not relevant to anything.

So, this has nothing to do with anything other than it's something I found amusing.

I try not to go all Twilight/Harry Potter overkill on the blog, but I just read an article with a quote from Daniel Radcliffe about his supposed feud with Robert Pattinson.

"Someone was talking about this supposed rivalry between Rob Pattinson and me, and what's awesome about this is, between the pair of us, we are striking a blow for the paler man."

He continues to say, "We are white as sheets."

Very true, Harry, very true. Maybe that's why I like both franchises...I am also as white as a sheet. Hooray for being insanely pale. I suppose we now have famous people to look up to. Take that, Jennifer Aniston and all you other tanned celebrities.

Friday, November 12, 2010

there was an old lady...

...named Mellie.

Tomorrow is Mellie Mellie's birthday. We're having a little birthday dinner party for her, and S is once again wanting to go hog wild. She decided today that Mellie's favorite color is pink, so she needs a pink party. She also wants us to get balloons and party hats again, but I'm not doing it because I'm not running all over town looking for pink balloons. So...we decided to paint some sticks from the yard pink for a centerpiece. I'm hoping the excitement of the painted sticks and getting to help me make two desserts will be enough for her. I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, November 11, 2010


This morning, S caught me looking at pictures of the dresses worn at last night's CMA awards. She commented on most of them, and then I got to Kimberly Williams, and she nearly plotzed. She went on and on and on about it and swore she was going to be Kimberly Williams and wear that dress when she grows up. Then she wanted to look at more dresses, so we spent the better part of an hour looking at dresses from awards shows from the past year. These three were her favorite*. Hands down.
After she finished looking at dresses online, she sat down in the corner with a notepad and a pen and drew pictures of princesses in pretty dresses.

Try and convince me she's not the girliest girl that ever lived. Go ahead, give it a shot.

Also, she wore a dance costume to get her flu shot today, and we had to take our own Barbie band-aid so she wouldn't have to have a Bugs Bunny one. Like I said, she's as girly as they come.

*These would not be my choices. Not even close. Please don't judge me. Though I will say Carey Mulligan is one of the absolute cutest actresses on the planet, and I do love the silhouette of her "sparkly dress."

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

things i've learned this fall.

I don't have a whole lot to say, but I am trying to post more. I know how you all miss me during my blogging absences. So, here are some things I've learned recently.

  1. Kids clothes from Lands End are worth the money. They're not expensive...unless you're comparing them to Target or consignment. They are, however, worth every penny. They are comfortable. They don't seem to fade at all. They never shrink. Never shrinking is important when you're the parent of the-child-who-won't-stop-growing. Last year, I didn't dry ANYTHING of hers that wasn't a hand-me-down and thus already dried within an inch of its life. This year, I can dry her clothes, which is nice.
  2. I over think my daughter's extra curricular activities. Seriously. S is in dance class. I don't think she likes it because she only participates half the time, and she told me last week that she never wanted to go back. Ever. I thought she'd love dance class, and I think she could love it but the age range in her class kind of sucks as the teacher has to cater to children who are way behind S developmentally. I think she gets a little bored. Anyway, she had a great time tumbling at L's party Saturday, so I am thinking about dropping dance in the spring and taking her to gymnastics. Then I remembered that she actually mentioned wanting to play soccer. So now I don't know what to do. Then I reminded myself that she's three, and it doesn't matter. The odds aren't great that she'll be the next Nastia Liukin or Steffi Graf or Mia Hamm, so I'm probably not doing irreparable damage if she doesn't do anything at all. I think I'll just chill out and see what happens.
  3. Sometimes letting go is the best thing you can do. This one has two parts. #3A has to do with parenting. A year ago I was all freaked out because S didn't know all her letters and some of her friends did. She refused to even talk about letters. But suddenly, she's all about letters. She talks about them all the time. She wants to write letters all the time. She drives us bananas wanting us to list words that start with different letters. She tells us every letter she sees on every sign we pass. Kids will do stuff when they're ready, and when they're ready: watch out. #3B is about the house. My condition meant that I couldn't go crazy getting the house done when we moved in, but we're getting there slowly. Amazingly, all the pictures not being hung is okay. It makes me a little crazy, but I have to pace myself, which is new. I've figured out that eating dinner as a family and reading books at bedtime and keeping our lives sane is more important than keeping our home neat...but I still like things to be neat. I'm not going crazy here.
  4. It's probably okay to love your pet but not really like him very much. Meaning, I don't think I'll go to Hell for wanting to give the dog away 5 out of 7 days a week. I really do love him. I just don't like him sometimes. It's also probably okay to feel this way about people in your life.
I guess that's all...and it's really, really boring. But it's something, right??

Thursday, November 04, 2010

dear santa.

Remember how two weeks ago I wanted to pitch all our stuff in a dumpster? Well, I'm done with that. Want to know why? I got Ina Garten's new cookbook yesterday, and I think she made a deal with the devil. Seriously. The book contains a pictorial list of 68 things she thinks she couldn't function without in her kitchen. 68 things. And this rather exhaustive list follows an explanation of why she likes to keep things simple around the kitchen. Granted, the things aren't crazy, and I have a lot of them (though mine are approximations, I can't afford a full set of All-Clad or LeCreuset). Ina's list is as follows, and I think it's okay to put it on here since I'm giving her credit, right??

Parchment paper for sheet pans, Cook's Illustrated, graduated glass bowls, baking mixes, Olio Santa Oil, spice drawer, personal recipe file, "Plan B," LeCreuset Dutch Ovens, All-Clad saute pans, Post-It Notes for seating, votive candles, Post-It Notes for platters, cake stands, extra mixing bowls for her Kitchen-Aid mixer, cake testers, chinese take out containers for picnics, flat platters, french bread baskets, gel floor mats, a large basket for trays, cast iron skillets, 2 dishwashers, sharp knives, All-Clad pots, white bakeware, an extra Cuisinart bowl, Peppermate peppermill, a large stockpot (I assume All-Clad), lots of timers, lots of sheet pans, grocery pads, parchment paper for baking pans, lots of measuring tools, thermometers, ice cream scoops, crocks for utensils, pop-up sponges, lemons and limes on the counter, salt crock, spoons and spatulas, a candy thermometer, white towels, tasting spoons, lots of white plates, dish towels for napkins, bog bowl for chilling wine, lots of white platters, pretty dessert plates, glasses for vases, placecards, unironed napkins, a chinese strainer, a box grater, a coffee grinder for spices, a salad spinner, kitchen twine, vegetable peelers, professional utensils, a rasp zester, professional plastic wrap, mise en place, a french rolling pin, cooking scale, a salad bowl, plastic storage containers, graduated stainless bowls, and pastry bags.

It's a big list, and you might've noticed that it can be repetitive. That is if you managed to read the whole list. Also, this list is for someone with a big kitchen. A kitchen with space for two dishwashers and huge baskets and loads of utensil crocks...not to mention the counterspace for a box of professional plastic wrap. (For the record, Ina's right: professional plastic wrap is vastly superior to the Saran Wrap or Cling Wrap you buy in the grocery. If you've spent enough time working in restaurants, you know this is true.)

A lot of the list is just good stuff, though. And basic stuff. And stuff I want. Like a graduated set of LeCreuset Dutch Ovens. Or the Peppermate. Or the kitchen twine, since I haven't found mine since the move. Anyway, I just thought I'd let you all know that I'm back to being a full-fledged American consumer who wants, wants, wants.

Have a great day, peeps.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

in honor of #34

So, yesterday was M's 34th birthday. S and I made him a delicious chocolate cake, which she made festive with sprinkles and a word jumble. She also insisted on party hats and balloons for her daddy, so it was a little like a birthday party for a little kid. Then again, it was like a birthday party for her because she opened all of his presents for him and then threw them at him when she realized they weren't presents she wanted...except for the musical card from my family, which she's been playing with all day. I now hate the song "We Will Rock You" if anyone is keeping track of songs I hate.

Anyway, in honor of the chocolate cake that has finger marks in it from two very mischievous little girls, I give you this poem. Whenever I read it to S, I have to read it multiple times. I hope you enjoy it as much as she does...and as much as I enjoyed the piece of cake I ate while writing this post.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

how much is too much?

Let's be honest: we didn't really pack or prepare for this move. Those of you who are familiar with "in town" moves might be familiar with this insanity. It went something like this:

We have eight boxes. Let's fill them up, take them to the castle, dump the stuff out and start again. We'll get a U-Haul one day to move the really big stuff. Done.

Only, I think I mentioned yesterday that I've not been myself lately. So, it wasn't Ouiser doing her usual type-A over-analyzed, over-prepared, over-thought dumping of stuff. It was Mr. Ouiser style, which was a more literal interpretation of "fill them up, take them to the castle, dump the stuff out and start again." And I'm not complaining. No ma'am. Mr. Ouiser almost single-handedly made this move happen. The problem is that when all your stuff is just in piles everywhere, it's a little overwhelming.

It's been well documented on this blog that I don't advocate the having of lots of things. I don't like having stuff for the sake of having it. In fact, I hate it. But right now?? Right now, I just can't see the point in all the stuff that I've got around here. And we're talking about stuff that I love. Mr. Ouiser's mother's china. His grandmother's crystal. Our clothes. Our shoes. There is just so, so much of everything. And I'm not with it enough to figure out where it all needs to go. I just spent half an hour delivering pictures around the house to hang on walls. And I still took several to the attic. I mean, if I've got so much stuff that in this giant house I have to store it in the attic, does that mean that I need to purge??

Maybe I'm over-thinking it. You know...Ouiser-style.

On a brighter note, here's another picture of my favorite little face from our Mammoth Cave excursion.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

lucky number 600

This is my 600th post. Seriously. What on Earth have I rambled about in 600 posts? Besides nothing lately??


We've moved into the castle. At least all of our stuff and our bodies are in the castle. There's mysteriously been a lot of vomit in my life lately...and S had an ear infection...and I had strep during the move. It's been insane. Either way, we're
getting there, but there are no pictures, and I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for pictures. It's a slow process these days.

I just wanted to say hello. I know you've missed me. I'll placate you with a couple of pictures of S.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

it sucks to be the fly.

Last night in the bathroom, I noticed the world's tiniest spider spinning a tiny web. I remember thinking, "I pay US Pest (eco-friendly, people) to rid my home of pests." And I almost squished the little guy, but I didn't. It was so small that I doubted it would make it long anyway, falling prey to my curious dog or something.

Fast forward to this morning. I looked over at the corner, and a huge fly was caught in the web. I pulled the whole thing down and flushed the poor dead fly. But I stood there in awe of nature. A little morbid. A lot fascinating.

Beyond my dealings with household pests, I had a great birthday weekend. I got a new Foundling necklace (mine's pink, I could only find a pic of the blue version), a fancy camera strap that I had been drooling over, and a night out with the hubby. He surprised me with Natalie Merchant tickets, and we grabbed dinner at SATCo. It was great. Then there was birthday lunch for me and Drew on Sunday...chicken and dressing and cheesecake. And I made dinner yesterday for his birthday: Ina's Company Pot Roast with mashed potatoes and peas and Kaitlin brought a yummy cake with strawberries. So things aren't half bad around here...aside from the fact that no one has bought our house, and I am really becoming offended. Really.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

no more fever.

So S has been sick. Fever. Cough. That sort of thing. There has been a lot of apple juice consumed and a lot of television watched as I try to get her to rest. She was pretty much better yesterday, and her fever has been gone since mid-day yesterday, so I sent her to school today. Thank goodness.

It's been pretty low key around here as I've tried not to share our germs with anyone, and two days with my girl on the couch or on the guest bed left me plenty of time to read, so I devoured The Historian, which I enjoyed.

House update: cabinets are installed and are amazing and I am already in love with the pullout garbage can...and I am so giddy that I don't even mind run-on sentences. Painting will be done Friday. Then light fixtures can be installed. Counter top will take a week. Then carpet and cork. Then done. Hallelujah. It feels so good to almost have everyone out of my new old house. Then it will be all ours.

Now I must shower because Couch-to-5k makes me stinky, and I am afraid to stink up the preschool when I pick S up.

Monday, August 23, 2010

something i stumbled upon.

So, I just ran across this post.

I'm not sure, but maybe Small Notebook and I are related because I couldn't agree more.

I was particularly interested in the DustBuster argument. We totally had one when I was growing up, but it never got used. It was kind of a novelty. Anyway, I remember a couple of years ago when those Kone DustBuster things were introduced, and there were displays of them all over the place at Christmas and the commercials were on all the time, and I thought it was the single dumbest thing ever. One: who really needs a DustBuster? They have to stay charged, so they're a total energy suck. A sweeper and dust pan do great jobs on small messes, and if you really need vacuum-powered suction, you are likely to have a vacuum. Right? Two: if you are a person who cannot possibly live without a DustBuster in your life, do you really want to make it a part of your home decor? Really?

But enough about DustBusters. The whole idea of sticking to the classics is a pretty solid one. At least I think it's pretty solid. Take, for instance, my kitchen. Y'all know I love the kitchen, and I love a kitchen gadget. But there are some things I'll just never buy. Like a mandolin. I know they're supposed to be great, but even the ones that fold super small take up a lot of space. And I'd probably cut my fingers off. I'll just stick to my knives and cutting boards. And of course, I'd never get a wok. I've given away my waffle iron because it's a hassle. I think I scour my kitchen a couple of times a year to donate the stuff I never use. Like the garlic press. Cleaning a garlic press is a pain. Back to the knives and cutting board.

I kind of feel like there should be stickers all over the place with the slogan, "Keep it simple, Stupid." You know what I'm saying??

Sunday, August 22, 2010

trying to chill.

Our lives have been nutty lately, and it's all of our own making. Well, mostly. M can't help when things get crazy at work.

The past several months have been a blur. There has been so, so much going on. It feels like the Ouisers aren't enjoying life together much lately because we're being pulled in a million different directions. I don't really think it's fair to S to put her in this craziness. I do not think that our schedules have adversely affected our daughter. I really don't. But I want our family to be calmer than this. And it has to start with some tough decisions. Or at least with saying no.

So I will say no. I've already started actually. There will not be any political campaigning by Ouiser this fall. None. And Mike McWherter is going to need help. Roy Herron probably will, too, but the help can't come from me. It's the first step to reclaiming my balance.

It can be hard when there is so much that I want to do. So much I want to help with. I want to start a community garden. I want to start gardens at our local elementary schools. I want to raise lots of money for the arts. I. Want. To. Do. More. Than. I. Can. Right. Now.

It is very frustrating.

Thursday, August 19, 2010


So my painter had surgery for prostate cancer. Who knows what's going on there. Needless to say, nothing is getting painted at my house. The new word on the street is "end of next week." Also, our cabinets got pushed back to next Tuesday or Wednesday...and apparently, the granite countertop happens a week after that. And the cork floor isn't going down until after the countertop in case the granite gets dropped...and ruins our beautiful, expensive cork floors. So we're just sitting around. Waiting. It feels like nothing is getting done, and I suppose that's okay because (in case you're keeping tabs) this house is still gleefully on the market.

Beyond the house, I went for a Girls Night Out on Tuesday night, and it was very fun. We painted and drank wine.

S made a sock puppet today. There was a LOT of Tacky Glue used to make the Pink-Flamingo-that-is-covered-with-buttons. Lots of glue. Lots of buttons.

Now I'm working on making I-am-so-sad-that-you're-moving-away-bread for my friend K while also thinking about making dinner. I am looking forward to dinner. I've been hitting the gym pretty hard the past couple of weeks, and I'm hungry.

That is all. I must mince some garlic.

Monday, August 16, 2010

so in love.

Okay. This whole remodel thing has kicked our butts. It's been dirty and expensive and full of little problems. But. Oh, but. I am so excited. It's almost done. 2-3 weeks, and we'll be finished. The painting should be complete by the end of this week. The marble shower was installed last Friday. The tile floor will be laid in the bathroom very soon. The cabinets will be installed this week (I think). We're so close, and having the walls painted is really making it seem like we are going to get to live there someday. Really.

In the meantime, we're still trying to unload this place, so if you know anyone looking for a wicked awesome house just off Main Street in Dickson, send them our way.

Until then, we'll continue keeping the furniture dusted, the beds made, the counters wiped down, and the floors swept and vacuumed. Seriously, I kept a pretty tidy house before, but I'm getting pretty sick of having the house always "on."

Okay, I'm going to read for a bit.


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

it will begin with the letter 'A'

S started preschool this morning. Like, actual preschool. Not Mother's Day Out. Preschool. With learning.

We went to Open House last night and met her teachers, and they told us that today they would start learning the letter 'A.' That is so exciting...though she already knows 'A,' so I was hoping they'd start with 'F.' She adamantly refuses to acknowledge that letter. Whatever. I'm excited for her. She was very sweet this morning, and she's way too independent already. She asked me, "Do you have to walk me to my classroom, Mommy?" Um, yes. I do.

So, my little girl is off at school with her lunch of peanut-butter-and-jelly-cut-in-rectangles-not-triangles, pretzels, grapes, and gummies. I am sitting here looking through all the pictures I took of her this morning and wondering how it's possible that this child of mine is already in preschool. It's pretty amazing...this whole being a mommy thing.
She started the photo session with a little disco. Unfortunately, the camera lens was foggy.
Every preschooler needs a funny face.
Her "packpack," which she claimed was very heavy once her lunch was packed.
I am a little afraid that she's going to be like Chandler picture smile at all.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

hello again.

The Ouiser peeps spent last weekend in Memphis, and it was hot. I think that living in Memphis for almost seven years desensitized me to the heat, but it was horrific. Don't get me wrong, it's hot here, too. In fact, it's the hottest summer ever. For serious. It's been miserably hot (mid-to-high 90s ) for awhile now, and when it rains (if it rains) it doesn't cool anything off, it just makes it more humid. Anyway, Memphis was a whole new league. There was heat radiating off of everything. All that concrete and asphalt made the city feel like an oven. When you opened the car door the heat hit you, not in the face, but from underneath you, like the ground was trying to cook you. Anyway, you might want to steer clear of the River City for the next few weeks. I will say that the barbecue nachos almost made the heat seem like a fair deal. Almost.

So that was random.

I'm really blogging because my sisters tagged me. Here you have it:

4 things you'd find in my bag:
I don't really have a bag, but S got her first backpack yesterday, so I'll tell you what's in that:
A scarf
A magnifying glass
The Black Arrow by Robert Louis Stevenson
also: four wooden eggs (1 fried, 3 in the shell), a wooden pizza, a map of the Memphis Zoo, and a wooden knife and fork.

4 things you'd find in my purse:
Face sunscreen stick
Mobile phone
A fan from Carole's wedding (I don't know why it's still there)

4 favorite things in my room (on the nightstand):
A stack of magazine articles (National Geographic) that I've been meaning to read
The Complete Works of Jane Austen
A picture of M from Austria
A picture of my grandparents from my cousin Daniyelle's wedding

4 things I'm currently into:
MI-5 (watching one episode a day while S rests)
Vanilla Caramel creamer
watching S make up and sing songs

4 things you don't know about me:
If you've been reading this blog since it began, you probably already know everything, but I'll try:
My earring holes no longer exist as I've been unable to tolerate earrings since I was pregnant with S.
I hate feet.
M and I have been watching LOTR: FOTR, and more than ever before, the bad guys are really, really freaking me out.
I don't like to call mobile phones cell phones because I think saying mobile phone sounds British and therefore it is cooler.

There you go, PB and LF. I tag Scarlet Lily, Yum, die Frau, and High Heels.

Until next time, peeps...

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

checking in.

I'm really only blogging to appease my husband and my Aunt M/Uncle E who totally laid a guilt trip on me Saturday night about my lack of blogging. Alas, I have nothing interesting to say. Nothing. Things are moving along at the new house, while the current Ouiser abode sits on the market. Seriously, somebody buy my adorable house.

So, what to report?? I seem to have caught some slight illness. Wicked sore throat. Achy. You know the drill. It seems to be getting better, though, and that's welcome. While I was resting today (during S's rest time) I watched The Importance of Being Earnest, and I loved it. You can't really go wrong with Colin Firth in a comedy. I love him so. Tonight, I think Mr. Ouiser is helping Mr. Feathernester schlep some furniture, so I'm trying to decide what I'll watch then. My current illness makes reading less than awesome, and Jane Austen is not easy to read anyway...thus Fanny Price must wait.

Really that's about it. Sad, I know. Until next time...and you never know when that will be...

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

while i wait.

I've promised my daughter and my friends a trip to the pool today, so I'm hoping that the rain holds off. If not, I'll have a mutiny on my hands. Anyway, I'm waiting for the dishwasher to run so I can take a quick shower. These legs must be shaved before I'll expose them to the world. I thought I'd do a little blogging while I wait.

I think most of you are on Facebook, so you know what we've been up to. Carole's amazing wedding. It was beautiful, and now my very dear friend is a very dear married friend, and I am super happy for her and her "prince." (That's what S calls him.)

Since we've been back, we are finally in the loop about what's going on at the castle. Unfortunately, I have no pictures of the progress, but here's a rundown: new windows, new gutters, new electrical wiring, lots of new drywall, ceilings painted, exterior cleaned, and new HVAC system: done. That's a short list, but it's a lot. A lot of work and a lot of checks. Yowsers. The marble shower should be ready in the next week, and the kitchen cabinets and bathroom vanity will be ready for install the second week of August. The painter starts Saturday or Monday. The cork floors for the kitchen and breakfast nook, the tile floor for the bathroom, and the carpet for the family room are all ordered. The blinds for upstairs are in boxes in the ballroom right next to the boxes of light fixtures and the boxes containing the kitchen sink, the kitchen faucet, and the stainless vent hood. And I know I'm forgetting something. Probably something important. I'll figure it out later.

In the meantime, I'll have to turn my castle-brain off for a few days and turn my Firefly brain back on as I have a CAD meeting tonight. Then I need to get ready for the mulligan. I'm starting to wonder if our lives can ever just be calm or if we'll be running around like crazed looney-tunes forever. Someone send me a Xanax. Not really. I don't condone extraneous drug use.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

on a lighter note.

So, I have spent the last week and a half thinking about and researching grants, it's true. But I've also totally taken the opportunity (you know the "I don't have a festival to plan right now" opportunity) to catch up on some reading. Last Monday I started The Invention of Hugo Cabret, which I'd seen recommended in literally dozens of places, and I so love young adult literature that I couldn't help myself. Besides, The Reading Rock had some extra copies. It was good, but I had it so built up in my head that I was disappointed. The illustrations, though, were amazing. Then I remembered that I had bought a copy of Kurt Vonnegut's A Man without a Country back in the autumn that I hadn't read, and I needed a little Vonnegut fix, so I read that. It did not disappoint. I do so love Kurt Vonnegut, and I am still sad that he died. I finished that while I was visiting my family, so I borrowed Tuck Everlasting from my sister S3. (Me being S1, and the middle sister being S2.) It was a very sweet read. It made me feel all warm and fuzzy. Also, it took about three hours to read, so if you're looking for something quick to read at the pool one day, check it out. After that, I was very busy seeing Eclipse twice over the weekend, and then watching Twilight and New Moon at home, so I had to re-read Twilight. I still love Edward. Love. Fictional love, Mr. Ouiser. Worry not. Then yesterday, in an attempt to calm my brain, I read Water for Elephants. I usually steer clear of new literature. Especially really popular bestsellers. But, C's mom and some others had raved about it at a shower a couple of months back, and Robert Pattinson is starring in the upcoming movie, so I bought it and gave it a whirl. It was wonderful. I really should read some popular stuff that is meant for people my age. There is usually a reason it's popular. I suppose. So, today I'll be cracking open the first Percy Jackson book on the recommendation of my sisters. I'm afraid if I don't love it, they'll disown me. After that, assuming I can keep myself from purchasing and reading the whole PJ series, I'm planning to pick up a copy of The White Queen.

I love having time to read. Of course, C's wedding is in nine days, so I will have to curtail the reading a bit, but that's okay. I'm so happy for her little job-having self that I almost can't stand it.

So, what are all of you reading this summer?

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

moving right along.

It's been awhile, eh? Despite my not blogging since the end of May, I don't even have any pictures to offer you. We've been too busy to bother with things like cameras. That means no pictures from Firefly, though there are some on Facebook. So...

...Firefly was great. It was palpably better than last year, and that was encouraging. Frankly, I had gotten to the point that I rather wanted it to flop. I was that exhausted from the planning. But then the festival was so much better that I am actually excited about it for next year. Already. Of course, that brings its own set of problems, and that's what actually got me on the blog. I've spent several hours each day this week researching. Researching grants. Public grants. Private corporations that give grants. You name it, I'm looking for it. Money, that is. Money to make the festival better. And it's wearing me out. My head is thinking of things faster than I can even process the ideas, and I am constantly reminded that I am not really entrepreneurial at heart. Organized? Yes. Efficient? Yes. Entrepreneurial? Not so much. I lose motivation. I get frustrated.

Anyway, I was happily digging into the world of arts grants when I was hit with information about two new grant opportunities that were announced last week through HUD. They are essentially both grant opportunities for creating sustainable communities with some special consideration given to incorporating arts and culture into the plans...and there is an emphasis on not only creating new communities but also working to better existing communities. And I've just got these big ideas. Big, exciting ideas for revitalizing abandoned commercial spaces into green space with public art. I can see it. Every time I pass spaces along the highways throughout the county...spaces that previously housed, gas stations, whatever. Spaces that are now empty buildings or empty parking lots...I see them as potential. Potential areas for grass and trees. Sculpture. Fountains. Gardens. Places that are pleasing to look at as you drive by or walk by. And here's the thing. I'm in over my head. Already. I called the head of the county zoning office because (get this) there was just an article in the paper TODAY about how Dickson County is growing and they are getting together a long term growth plan. Hello!! I wanted to know the plan. How far has this plan gotten? Are they even thinking of sustainability? Or are they just planning how and where to build new roads and dig new city sewer lines and all that? It turns out they are having a meeting tomorrow night, which he encouraged me to attend. And I'll try, but there's a debate tomorrow night for the county mayoral candidates that M really wants to attend...and who knows? Anyway, the whole point of this post was to help me clear my head. Help me get a grip on all of this...and to let you know that I'm not blogging because my brain is all filled up with other stuff.

Anyone got any great ideas out there on how I can create my perfect county to live in? Anyone? Bueller?

Friday, May 28, 2010

i really do apologize.

I know. It's been a long time. I know I said that last time, too. I'm just swamped. M is swamped. We are big time swamped. Here's the reason. (One of the reasons.)
For the record, the turquoise shutters and wrought iron trim will be two of the first things to be painted. And just so you know, I'm standing at the base of the front to the old grass tennis court. Yeah, that's right. Mr. Ouiser is going to have a grass court.

We bought another house. A fabulous house...or at least what will be a fabulous house. It's been vacant for two years. The Colonel and the Mrs (previous owners) passed away a couple of years ago, and it took awhile for their out-of-town kids to get it on the market, and then to lower the price to what someone would actually pay for a house that needs this much work. We've got a big project on our hands, and M has been hard at work knocking out tile and cabinets and walls and tearing up old carpets. And, for the record, we weren't looking for another house. I just happened to find it online when I was looking at a friend's house online. Anyway, that's been taking a lot of our time. We first saw the house about five weeks ago. We made an offer about four days later (after having our builder take a look at it), and we closed almost two weeks ago. We've spent most of our spare time since then thinking about/working on/planning the remodel.

Also, it's Firefly time, and that's kicking my tail right now. There is so much more work to be done this year because we lost most of last year's help. Frankly, I feel like I'm drowning beneath my Firefly To-Do List. However, that'll be all over in one month. Despite how it may seem, I am really, really looking forward to the festival. We've got some amazing artists coming. And, I do believe I'll blow my bank account on this lady's work. Oy.

C's wedding is also fast approaching, and I am worried about something slipping through the cracks. Like somehow I'm going to forget to order her flowers or something. Somebody remind me.

It looks a little puny when it's written out in three short paragraphs, but it feels like I've got more to do than I have hours in the day. I suppose what's going to get done will get done and that's all there is to it.

Lastly, my daughter is still adorable. I was taking pictures of this house for the realtor the other day and she demanded to be in them. So, here's a little S for you. Well, two pictures as I just can't stop myself. I'll regale you with stories of Little Ouiser soon. Until then...
Hambone. Just so you know, that black thing in her hand is the strap to my yoga mat. She's been putting it around her (stuffed) frog's neck and calling it a leash. Also, her jaw is not crooked like it looks. She's just making a face.
I call this one Melancholy and the Infinite Cuteness.