Sunday, January 30, 2011

keep calm and party on.

The fourth birthday is officially on the books. Finite Incantatem. Stick a fork in me, I'm done. You get the picture.

Last night was the big Princess birthday party, otherwise known as S's Royale Birthday. There were kiddos in princess dresses and boys with swords tied around their waists with their belts. There were homemade cards. I probably don't say it enough, but we are so blessed to have wonderful friends and wonderful kids in our lives. I am thankful for the people in my life constantly. I should probably tell them instead of you as few of them read this blog.

Alas, without further ado…the Royale Birthday in pictures.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

something new to complain about.

Little Ouiser had a great birthday. I'll lead with that. And a picture for good measure...
...because I'm good to you, right? I made her biscuits and eggs for breakfast. We decorated some delicious cupcakes together. She played for hours with her friend S, and I don't think that either of them took a swing at the other. Her mama and I chatted. Little Ouiser rested on the couch watching the Strawberry Shortcake movie that I DVRed for her. Her daddy came home early, and we gave her her big present (more on that later, I assure you). We had the Feathernesters over for dinner, and the girls made their own pizzas. We ate. We sang to S. We had cupcakes. I read books to S and L (and T, I suppose). That's the birthday rundown. That's not what I'm hear to talk about today.

Today I want to talk about stuffed animals. I am serious.

I hate stuffed animals. Hate them. I fear I might be alone in this loathing because stuffed animals are everywhere. It's a kajillion dollar industry from what I can tell, and it's not slowing down because the darn things are so cute that people just keep buying them. And they are cute. And cuddly. Don't get me wrong, I see the appeal. Here's what I don't like.

S has approximately fifty-seven thousand stuffed animals, and she wants them all to live on her bed. Every morning we have to say "Good morning," to Froggy and Bubblegum Cake (a plush doll) that she sleeps with. Then when we make her bed, we say, "Good morning" to Rosie the Pillow Pet, Bea the bear, Pinky Princess the tie-dyed bear, Mouse, Duck, Sleeping Beauty, Curious George (who moonlights as Cosmo Brown from Singin' in the Rain, the aforementioned Froggy masquerades as Don Lockwood), Sheep, and Baby Stella the doll. We have to pile them just right onto her bed. Then we have to unload them again for rest time because there isn't room on her bed for her and all the animals. Then we reload after rest time. Then we unload again at bedtime. It gets tedious, and every single time that I try to move an animal to the play room, she drags it back because, "That's not where it goes, Mommy."

So what is one supposed to do with all the animals? I could buy one of those hanging toy basket things. I could buy one of those stuffed animal nets that hangs in a corner and makes stuffed animals a dust-trapping part of one's room decor. I could put them in a big basket. I know there are options, but if you employ one of those options, then the animals probably won't get played with, so what's the point in having them? This is not to imply that S plays with hers because she doesn't. The goofy things just take up space and make me crazy.

Look, she loves Froggy. He's been with her forever, and I could never part with Bea. Our friends B and S gave her to S when she was still in the hospital. But all those other ones? I'd throw them into a nice hot fire if I wouldn't get thrown into Mommy Dearest jail.

Am I alone in this? Am I?

Probably I'm the only person who cares enough to blog about stuffed animal hatred, but I think about it almost everyday, and when I saw this post during my morning internet surfing, I just couldn't contain my complaints any longer.

Now, I'm going to check on my daughter, who may or may not be hypnotized by her new Leapster.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

and just like that...

...I have a four-year-old. Really. Four. Years. Old. It's hard to believe that I have loved her so much for so long already, and that I've spent so much time simultaneously wanting to hug her until she pops and pinch her head off. Parenting is nothing if not contradictory. It's amazing what being a parent can teach you about unconditional love.

The point is this. As of 1:01pm (13:01 to my Colgate hubby), my darling girl will have been a part of my life for 35,064 hours. I wouldn't trade any of them. We've laughed. We've cried. It was better than CATS and certainly better than actual cats.

Happy Birthday to my gorgeous four-year-old. The one that made me proud by actually recognizing the number four on her new birthday shirt. That's my brilliant baby. She also just told me that she'd dress herself today because she's four years old now. This'll be a treat.

Monday, January 24, 2011

it begins today.

Let the birthday celebrations begin. S doesn't turn four until tomorrow, but we're taking cupcakes to school today. Her request? I assumed it would be pink, pink, pinkalicious, but I was wrong. She wanted "yellow like the sunshine." Could it be that my darling daughter is finally catching on to the fact that sunny warmth is vastly superior to the dreary gray of winter? Probably not, but just the same there is a platter of orange slices and vanilla cupcakes with yellow-orange butter cream and yellow sugar crystals. Plus an enormous jug of that hugely healthy kid favorite: orange Hawaiian Punch. At least there will be a warm color palette in her classroom even if it's cold outside.
As for me, I'll be spending the day with my newest mountain of laundry. You are so jealous.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

ohio, go home.

Back when I was a working stiff, my friend Tommy Taco introduced me to the following concept: no matter where you are (grocery, mall, farmer's market, library), the prime parking spots are almost always occupied by cars with Ohio license plates. Also, no matter where you're driving, you'll always spot Ohio plates. Anyway, he'd see cars from his home state of Ohio and yell, "Ohio! Go home!" It stuck with me, and four years later I still say, "Ohio! Go home!" every single time I see Ohio plates. It never fails. (I'd like to say that I know some awesome Ohio natives, so this has nothing to do with not liking Ohio or it's peeps. It's just a fact that Ohioans are everywhere.)

All that was just to point out that the Ouisers have been in the Buckeye State. S and I headed north with M for a meeting he had on Friday morning. We drove through some lovely weather. Weather that turned a five hour road trip into an eight hour road trip. The drive up was awful. The trip was not awful. The trip turned out to be pretty nice. Here's the rundown:
  • The person who invented hotels is a genius and was likely a parent. Between mini fridges, continental breakfasts, swivel desk chairs, heated indoor pools, and lamps that are easy to turn on and off, hotels are like Elysium for preschoolers.
  • One hour alone with a three-year-old in Ikea is fun. Two hours is Hell. File that away in your brains in case you ever take a three-year-old to Ikea without help. Or take a flask.
  • No matter where you are, your child can be entertained in a bookstore or library. This idea has never failed me. Ever. We spent an hour at the West Chester Barnes and Noble, and if this pregnant mama hadn't had a blood sugar crash, we could've stretched it into at least an hour and a half.
  • Henceforth, we will plan a trip to an art museum in every town we visit that has one. We didn't hit in museums in Cincinnati because the weather made travel conditions less than stellar, so M's meeting ran over a couple of hours. We did patronize the Speed Art Museum in Louisville. It was wonderful. They were hosting the Madcap Puppet Theater on Saturday, and we took in a performance of Peter and The Wolf, which S loved. Then she was able to make her own hand puppets. She made a pink princess and a purple princess. You're shocked, aren't you? I hope to go back to the Speed someday without a child because it seemed like they had a really, really nice permanent collection in addition to traveling exhibits. We didn't get to explore much because S wasn't in the mood, but I did get to see a Rembrandt portrait, and it made every trying moment on the trip worth it because it was that good. Really, the masters are the masters for a reason. All the lovely Renaissance pieces on display in the same gallery paled in comparison. And they were gorgeous, too. I love art. Really, really love it. All the way to my bones.
  • Carmen the Garmin must have been mad at us on Friday evening because she made us drive literally in circles through Louisville. I was very mad...I had not seen the Rembrandt yet, so I was allowed to be furious.
  • The new Honda has now been named. I christened her Amelia because I decided she's a girl. And she's a Pilot. Get it? If she disappears somewhere over the Pacific, I'll know that I was tempting fate.
  • We are now home, and I'm baking cupcakes because someone who lives here is turning FOUR in a couple of days and we're taking cupcakes that are "yellow like the sun" to preschool tomorrow.
Now I must go watch some football. My darling Mr. Ouiser keeps pointing out that there are only three games left this season, and I need to watch the Pack win it all. Just so you know, we're mostly pulling for Green Bay because we like Aaron Rodgers, who looks freakishly like our future son's namesake when he has a helmet on his head. Food for thought. Clearly, the comparison would be easier if I had a picture of Aaron Rodgers hugging a younger, thinner version of me or if I had a picture of T the Elder Geomorphologist (as he will henceforth be known) in a football helmet. Alas, you'll have to make due with what we've got.

Later, peeps.

Please note that I used the term "henceforth" twice in one post. I'm bringing that word back into regular circulation.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

a collection of random observations.

  1. I found out this morning before my doctor's appointment that my OB was the three-time national Rollerblading champion. This is highly amusing to me, but I now know that good ol' Dr. C does not get my humor. When we were discussing the little "growth spurt" I've managed since my last appointment, I asked him, "Would you recommend Rollerblading as exercise for a pregnant woman?" He thought I was serious. Please. I can barely hoist my enormous butt out of bed. Like I'd get on Rollerblades.
  2. Speaking of my growth spurt, allow me to tell get all deep and philosophical for a minute. Indulge me, it's a rare occurrence. I have proof that God exists. (For the record, if I were Catholic, I'd probably be excommunicated for this reasoning, but I'm an Episcopalian, so no one will care.) When we bought The Castle, there was a huge full-length mirror on the back of the bedroom door. One of those great big ones that you only see in old houses. I desperately wanted to keep it intact, so it was carefully taken down and stored in the garage for the duration of the remodel. A month or so ago, M called me out to the garage to point out that a huge shard of it had broken off, and he was going to chuck it. Fine with me. I'm a pregnant klutz. I would likely sever an important artery if it stayed around here. While we still have the $4 mirror from Walmart that we purchased in grad school, I refuse to bring it into The Castle on principle. So, we're living in a world with no full length mirror. This is seemingly a problem, but here's where I realized that it was God who broke that mirror. I suffered the huge indignity of having to try on a bathing suit this weekend. (Huge being the operative word.) When I saw my enormous beached whale of a body in the dressing room mirror, I knew that God took that full length mirror from me to keep me from having to see myself in it everyday. Thank you, Lord.
  3. Because I am pregnant and a beached whale, I've been letting things slide lately. Like not coloring my hair as regularly as I should or not coming out of pajamas for days or not even knowing how long my hair is because it's been in a ponytail for six solid months. But I've decided that looking like fat roadkill isn't helping me to feel better about myself, so I'm going to start wearing lipstick all the time. You know, like little old school Southern ladies who put on lipstick to check their mail. In fact, I put on lipstick right after I brushed my teeth this morning. I am certain that this will boost my self-esteem, and when it works, I'm going to market the idea and make millions of dollars. It will be awesome.
  4. Pioneer Woman's Chicken Tortilla Soup makes me happy.
  5. Now I need a cup of decaf. Later, peeps.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

the strawberry that loved to play in the patch.

If you've got kids, you already understand the following statement...and if you don't have kids but plan to someday, you will eventually understand that:

There are very few moments that turn out as awesome and perfect as you really want them to be.

That's not to say that life isn't full of awesome moments, it's just to say that you can throw your expectations out the window. Almost nothing ever turns out as you imagined it. Babies don't sleep during the hours you want. Toddlers won't cooperate with projects and outings. Preschoolers (at least my preschooler) are wildly opinionated and stubborn (so I suppose I should still be in preschool). I don't know what's coming next, but I assure you that I've mostly given up on expectations. As much as I can, I have to just go with the flow, and if you know me, you know that's something.

I digress.

The point is: last night was perfect. It was exactly what I wanted it to be.

After dinner, I mentioned that we should have some family art time. We all dutifully grabbed paper and markers and crayons, turned on some music, and headed to the table. We drew and colored and had a grand ol' time. S wanted to take turns drawing fruits, so I drew and colored a strawberry. Then I suggested that we make up a story about the strawberry, and she embraced the concept with vigor.

We wrote three pages of S's first masterpiece The Strawberry that Loved to Play in the Patch. I will save it forever because she may someday be a famous author, and I'll be able to prove that her illustrious career in words began at the tender age of three. The story is illustrated, it has a cover, and it's bound together with red embroidery thread. It was a lovely, lovely evening.

Of course, now we are going to have to write more and more stories, which is fine until I want to blog about them instead of writing them. Alas, I must encourage the creative genius.

I'll leave you with M's rendering of our family. It's classic Mr. Ouiser.

Friday, January 14, 2011

one of those days.

I still haven't puked. It's not about that. And I refuse to be ruled by fear.

Today is one of those days, though. It's not what you're thinking. It's one of those days during which I must make/do something to my house. If I weren't pregnant, and I knew how to put the third row seat down in the new car, I'd be on my way to pick up the antique bench I bought for our "entryway." Alas, I have to wait for Mr. Ouiser for that.

So these are the days on which bizarre things are born. Like today's Vintage Tea Towel window treatment. Tea towels, embroidery thread, and nails. Done.
For the record, this is the window that's being replaced. My windows are not that dirty. Also, don't say anything about the lighting or picture quality. I'm such a slacker that you're lucky you get pictures at all.

squeaky clean.

This is going to sound bad, and I don't mean it that way. Trust me, I don't. But, somehow. Somehow our house is just neater when M is out of town. I don't know why because he is not a messy person. Maybe it's because I spend less time on dinner when I'm not feeding him and thus more time picking up toys and crayons. Really it's probably an illusion. Anyway, he's been out of town for the better part of the week. He was in Washington being awesome on Tuesday and Wednesday, and he went to Kentucky yesterday. So the house has been pretty well picked up.

On top of that, S came down with a stomach bug yesterday and yacked all over the place. So, now things are picked up and disinfected. I mean, wow. My house is clean. At least the parts we go into are clean. I don't even count the formal room or the baby's room yet (though I did dust and sweep them the other day).

S's sheets and blankets are being washed in hot water as I type, and I'm guessing that I'll acquire said stomach bug as soon as I get her bed remade. I think that's the way it goes, right? You think you're in the clear...then WHAM! I'm seriously hoping that doesn't happen because being pregnant is miserable enough without adding a stomach bug into the mix.

I'm hoping that all of you have a lovely, puke and snow free weekend. Now, please send me all of your barf-free thoughts. I'd appreciate it. And you know I'd do it for you.

Happy Friday, peeps.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

a change of attitude??

It's been a busy few days. Since I know you were all waiting anxiously, we did unload the Saturn on an unsuspecting auto dealership. If you're in the Nashville area, and you see a used dark blue Hybrid Saturn Vue, don't buy it. Seriously. We are now the proud owners of a 2008 Honda Pilot, and it's a pretty sweet ride. I've been driving around in the snow like a professional. So, that's one less thing to worry about.

There's also the aforementioned snow. We awoke Monday morning to a few inches' accumulation, so school is naturally cancelled indefinitely. Now it's snowing again, so I'm afraid people are going to start digging out their Y2K stashes.

Here's the whole possible change of attitude thing: snow gear. When I realized on Monday that I was going to have to march my pregnant butt out into the snow for the second time this season, I cringed. And shivered. And maybe even cried a little. Because as a not pregnant person, I hate the cold, but I have the option to layer. There is no layering as a pregnant lady as nothing fits this expanding belly. But then...oh! I remembered that M has an old ski bib/pants/thing hanging in the closet. And a big Colgate-worthy parka in another closet. Let me tell you, I will never play in the snow again without serious clothing. I didn't even mind being out there despite the fact that my hands kept disappearing into the coat's sleeves. Never again, people. It was magical.

My friend J across the pond commented that she purchased snow gear for herself last winter, and it's made a huge difference. Previously, she'd get her boys all bundled up but they could only play so long before she was frozen like Audrey Griswold, but now they can just play outside in the snow until everyone wants to come inside. Really. I realize now that as mamas, we (I am admittedly new to the game) try to keep our kids safe and warm and comfortable, but we never want to spend the money to keep ourselves in the same state. And, people, the kids' stuff will have to be purchased over and over and over again. Those little twerps keep growing. If you buy stuff for yourself, it'll last forever if you don't gain a bunch of weight or catch it on fire. So, I've declared that I will buy myself snow gear next year. (Not this year...I'm preggers, remember?) I will be prepared and mildly pleasant when it snows. I urge you all to do the same because, seriously, if I can embrace the idea of enjoying snow, anyone can. Anyone.
Now, completely unrelated...I've decided that I must not be all bad when it comes to parenting because my daughter told me this morning that she wants to be Kathy Selden when she grows up. Not Hannah Montana or Dora or anyone else. Kathy Selden. Know who that is? It's Debbie Reynolds's character from Singin' in the Rain. I love it. I also love Gene Kelly. He's a handsome devil, he is. Now go enjoy your day.

Friday, January 07, 2011

divine comedy.

I just spent the better part of an hour playing with polly pocket-sized princess dolls. Don't worry...S was playing, too. The chimney gas hasn't fried my frontal lobe just yet. Anyway, we were pretending that the princesses were having a royal ball in a ballroom that happened to be the metal container for S's Victorian Couture Magnetic Paper Doll. (You read that right.) Snow White was wearing Belle's ball gown. Sleeping Beauty (aka Princess Stella) was wearing Snow White's gown. Jasmine was sporting Cinderella's dress, which is actually ripped. There was an actual Polly Pocket doll at the party, too, and she was wearing something that looked like it was designed by Hannah Montana for skanky-kids-r-us. Also, we don't have polly pocket-sized princes, so we had to improvise. We had to use Gus Gus and Jaq (the mice from Cinderella) and The Mad Hatter and a member of the Lollipop Guild that were Happy Meal toys as princes. There was also a nurse, which was an actual doll from her doll house...the doll whose skirt came off long ago and was inexplicably worn by the Lollipop Guild prince today.

Anyway, Sleeping Beauty/Princess Stella got sick and needed to go with the nurse to the hospital. The nurse suggested that she needed to rest for a week in order to feel better. The nurse then made her a cozy bed and gave her a cup of tea (Chip from Beauty and The Beast). Upon putting Sleeping Beauty/Princess Stella to bed, the nurse was instructed to let Sleeping Beauty/Princess Stella's prince (Gus Gus the Mouse) know where she was so he wouldn't worry. So the bottomless nurse went to tell him, and he asked if he could visit her. He then went to visit her, and asked if he could snuggle in the bed with her to make her feel better.

Now, this is a perfectly reasonable request. Especially from a three-year-old who relies on snuggles to make her feel better when she's ill or cranky. But my mama brain fired up and my internal monologue went something like this:

If I say yes to this, what's next? Sleepovers with boys? Thinking her prom date can spend the night? Bringing home boys from college and expecting to sleep in the same bed? Am I dooming my daughter to a future of questionable morals if I let this mouse-masquerading-as-prince snuggle with the polly pocket princess?

The answer is no, but I literally laughed OUT LOUD at myself for being a complete moron. And then I realized that this was a story I had to share.

I hope you all have wonderful weekends full of princess parties and wholesome fun.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

the one in which i freak my husband out.

So the chimney repair thing is slightly out of control. We had the drywall guy come in to put some holes in the walls and look for signs of damage or mildew or mold or dead bodies buried within said walls. As there were no major issues to be found, he started patching the holes that he created and threw some primer up over the creosote that had seeped through the bricks and caused some issues with the portion of the chimney that runs through the corner of our closet. The stuff just came right back through the primer, so the drywall guy has suggested that the only way to guarantee that it doesn't eat back through our paint is to frame the corner and put up real walls. This tripled the price of an already too expensive job. We were more than willing to pay for someone who knew what to look for to come in and make sure we weren't slowly poisoning ourselves with mildew. The new issue is another story. Seriously. We're talking about a major chunk of change, and lest you've forgotten, we've got a new car to buy in the immediate future.

Anyway, it turns out that we need to let the whole thing dry out for awhile before we do anything to the brick, so we're just sitting on it for a bit. It's the interior corner of the closet, and other than the inconvenience of having a lot of my closet stuff hanging out in the corners of the bedroom, it's not a big deal.

Now to freak M out. As Paul-with-Drywall (I like how I just made him a rhyming nickname) was leaving today, I told him about my conversation with the chimney expert about needing to let the bricks dry out thoroughly. He responded that as long as we could live with the mess, it was worth seeing if it would solve all of our problems. And then he added, "but you need to watch out. If any of you have persistent flu symptoms but don't have the flu, it could be caused by chimney gases leaking into the house."


I've been sick for awhile, and even after a full course of antibiotics, some crazy illness has reared its ugly head again. I'm hacking up a lung over here. Now, I am confident that there are no gases leaking into the house. I am certain that there were leaky gases, but I am also certain that we've fixed the issue. So, I am attributing my illness to the fact that everyone is sick with one thing or another around here. I sincerely don't know anyone who lives within fifty miles of us and hasn't been sick in the last month, so really I'm not worried. It's just food for thought. Plus, I am curious to see if M totally flips his lid and starts making us all sleep in bubbles ala Bubble Boy.
Seinfeld image courtesy of Film Stew.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

five minutes and the demise of productivity.

Over on Simple Mom today, they talk about simplifying your life by adding routine to it. Let me tell you, that is Kool-Aid that I drink. I believe in routine. I believe in it with every fiber of my being. Seriously. I learned the power of routine when S was a wee one, and I've not looked back. One night recently, she wanted to read books before brushing her teeth and using the potty, so I let her. We read oodles of books. Then after the bathroom portion of the evening routine she wanted more books. There was a meltdown when I explained that we'd already read all the books we were going to read because it was bedtime. In the mornings, if we ditch the usual get out of bed/make the bed/utilize the facilities/brush teeth and hair, things just don't go right. Dragon breath lurks. S's hair looks like Einstein's. Ten o'clock rolls around and I'll realize the child still hasn't peed and is probably doing serious damage to her kidneys/bladder. It's like that in our lives. There isn't a set schedule, but our routines are important. They keep us moving. We dig it.

So, Simple Mom had a link to someone's every morning five minute routine. Said routine was:
Minute one: make bed
Minute two: open blinds
Minute three: turn off porch lights
Minutes four and five: empty dishwasher.

That's awesome for that lady, but it ain't working for Ouiser. When I am able to pry my eyes open after I hear S moving around upstairs, this is my morning: groan about having to wake up, locate and don slippers and glasses, stumble like a drunk to the bathroom, open the curtains, pee, brush teeth, head upstairs to get the kid, then fake happiness until I am actually happy, which actually happens pretty quickly when I am snuggling with Little Miss Dragon Breath.

So I'd like to say that I understand that in order to make my personal routine happier in the mornings, I should shoehorn myself out of bed before my daughter wakes up. I get that. And sometimes I do because sometimes she sleeps an extra 15 minutes and sometimes I just can't sleep. On those mornings, I make the bed and brew the coffee before I head upstairs to slay the dragon breath. It's lovely. It is. But I'm no fool. To declare that I'm going to get up before the absolute last possible second is a lie. A big, fat lie. It's just not going to happen. No matter how much I like to have the bed made in a timely fashion. I am emphatically not a morning person.

Also, when I was reading that lady's five minute routine, firstly I wanted to know when her teeth got brushed. Secondly, I was amazed at the logistics of the routine. Bed to windows to outdoor light switch to kitchen. Her house must be laid out differently than mine because around these parts, those things don't flow in any semblance of an order. Thirdly, did she actually time her routine? I think it takes me longer than one minute to make my bed.

So that's the five minute part of the post title. Now on to the demise of productivity. I read Simple Mom pretty regularly. It's in my google reader. Of course from there I linked to the five minute lady. Then I realized that I needed to look at a bunch of her other posts because I was so intrigued by her five minute routine. Then I wanted to look at some of her sponsors. Now, luckily, I had places to be today, so I just made a mental note to visit all the links later and left that window open in my browser. Since then, I've thought about it. If I head down the rabbit hole of links, I will inevitably spend an hour looking at random stuff online this afternoon. And, peeps, when I say I've got a mountain of laundry to work on, I mean it. I've got lots that I need to be doing, but there's a good chance that I'll pop my head into the office to look at the computer (just for a second, I swear) and get sucked into the black hole that is the blogosphere. And I realized that I am less productive that I should be because the internet is the demise of productivity.

So there. That's my two cents worth for today. I must now tackle the mountain of laundry. I've got two loads done, and I've got about five to go. Yowsers.

Monday, January 03, 2011

a monumentally bad day.

Let me start this post by saying that I don't need any, "Oh, golly, that sounds awful. Are you okay?" responses. This day was just so ridiculous from top to bottom that I feel the need to share it with the world (or the nine people who read this blog.) Besides, maybe if something bad happened in your day it won't seem so bad when you add it to the stack of mishaps that happened in Ouiser-land today. Or maybe you'll say, "Ouiser, you fool. Listen to what happened to me and be grateful that your life is awesome." And for the record, I've even managed to find a silver lining in this day...which I'll share at the end.

To begin.

Yesterday on the way home from church there was a fairly overwhelming smell of something burning in my car. (This is the same POS Saturn that's been taken in for service three times since Thanksgiving.) When we got home, M investigated all the parts of the car that might be on fire and nothing was even hot, so we assumed it was a fluke.

Now on to today, which was scheduled to be the last day of M's Christmas vacation. I say "scheduled to be" because his boss emailed him on Saturday asking him to go to a Metro Nashville RFP meeting this afternoon. While he tried to get out of it, he couldn't, so the last day of vacation wasn't really going to be a day of vacation. We were determined to make the best of it, though, and we really wanted to go see the Impressionist exhibit at The Frist. So the plan was that we would go to Nashville, eat lunch, go to the museum, and S and I would take M to his 30-minute meeting. We borrowed a portable DVD player so S could watch a movie while M met with other people that got conned out of vacation time.

We're also planning to trade the aforementioned POS Saturn for a Honda Pilot, and there was one that we were thinking of looking at and potentially buying today. So we thought that if S was hanging in there, we might head to the dealership to look at the Honda this afternoon.

Off we went.

It was only 10:45 when we got to Nashville, and S wanted her typical chickenandfriesandasprite so we thought that Buffalo Wild Wings would work. Anyway, at about 10:43 it occurred to me that it was slightly early for lunch, and hey! maybe that smell in my car had something to do with the fact that I was 1500 miles overdue for an oil change. Since we were on a road that I was certain would have plenty of oil change places, we decided to get the oil change before lunch...especially since there was a chance we'd want to trade the Saturn later in the afternoon. We passed a Firestone, and M ran in to ask of they could get our oil changed quickly.

"Yeah, man, right away."

Yeah, right. We unloaded S and headed into the waiting area. We emerged one hour and twenty minutes later. I am not exaggerating even a little bit. One hour and twenty minutes is an eternity when you're pregnant and sitting in a Firestone waiting area with a three-year-old. It seems even longer when Fox News is what's on the telly. So, time check. It's 12:10 by the time we leave Firestone. We head back to Buffalo Wild Wings. Our experience with the dumbest people ever to work in a Firestone was followed by an experience with the dumbest server in the history of the restaurant industry.

Por ejemplo:
"I need the children's chicken tender meal with a Sprite for her, please."
"What kind of dipping sauce would you like with that?"
"Oh, no dipping sauce for her, please."
"Do you want some ranch or something for her to dip her chicken in?"
What I wanted to say: "No. That's what I meant when I said no dipping sauce."
What I said: "No thank you." And I might have kicked M under the table.

Also, let's not forget that we were at Buffalo Wild Wings. This was not a great culinary experience. At least the Cherry Coke was good. Anyway, it was five after one when we stood up to leave. We were about ten minutes from the museum, which we were going to have to leave at 2 in order for M to get to his meeting. We discussed it and decided that M could leave us at the museum because S can play for hours at ArtQuest at the museum, and she is easily entertained for twenty minutes or so in the gift shop. Plus there's a cafe. With cake. We'd be fine as long as his meeting was really only going to be about half an hour.

That was the modified plan...for M to leave us. But then we arrived at The Frist. And there with us? The entire population of the Metropolitan Statistical Area for Nashville. Seriously, there were people everywhere. I don't know why there were so many people there, but they were there in force. S had no interest in any paintings except for one Renoir that held her attention for nine seconds and two of Degas dancers that she looked at for a total of half an eyeblink. She just wanted ArtQuest. Upstairs we headed. The half of the MSA that wasn't in the Impressionist exhibit was there. S couldn't really participate in any of the activities she wanted to participate in because there were so many people. We couldn't visit the Gift Shop because it was closed for inventory. We decided to leave with M after all, and we placated S with a promise of ice cream if she cooperated.

And she did cooperate. She was as good as gold while M was in his meeting. She was even cute. She watched Singin' in the Rain and laughed her head off because she thinks that movie is hysterical. When M got back to the car after what really was (miraculously) only a half hour meeting, we decided that she was happy enough that we could go look at the car. When we got to the dealership she was downright giddy about the Pilot we were looking at. She says we have to have it for Baby T. She was awesome. Until she realized that we weren't actually going to buy the car today. And actually we might have...except that it would've taken too long and it had already been a long day for her. So, we headed to Sweet CeCe's for FroYo deliciousness. Things were going just fine. You could tell that all three of us were tired, but we were fine. We left downtown Franklin and headed home.

Then the big bad battery light came on. I looked up what that particular light meant and was greeted with the following,"If the battery indicator light comes on while you're driving, there is something wrong with either your battery or the charging system. Cease using auxiliary power devices like the radio or cooling system and have your vehicle serviced immediately. Also, you're screwed." I might've made that last part up. As the only place that can service my POS Saturn was pretty close to where we were, I called. They told me we'd be fine, to go on home...besides no one was there who could look at the car until tomorrow anyway. I was supposed to see if the light was still on in the morning. About fifteen minutes later we were broken down on the side of the highway in the middleoffriggin'nowhere, a little place known as Fairview to those of you in the know. S was in tears because without power, there was no DVD. I was almost in tears because I was so over the day. M was not crying or teary-eyed.

First call placed: my brother. "Please come rescue us." Done.

Second call placed: Walker Chevrolet. "I know you said my car would get us home, but we're stranded in Fairview. Now what? How do I get my car to you?"

Third call placed: GM/Chevrolet Roadside Assistance. After a few minutes of "Press one if you're in America. Press two if you're not an alien. Press three if you like Sweet CeCe's. Please enter your VIN number and blood type," I heard, "We are connecting you to an agent." Then my call got dropped. I nearly screamed.

M called them back, and eventually we were rescued by my darling brother. For all I know, my car is still sitting on the side of the highway, but I'm hoping the tow company found it. If not, I hope some arsonist found it. Or a common thief. Because, seriously, as soon as it's fixed, I'm trading it. No more fooling around. I'm sick of it.

So, here's the silver lining. We were all together. If we'd made it home, the car would've died tomorrow. And tomorrow, S and I are driving to Franklin for my sister's birthday dinner...and S and I might've been stranded in the middle of nowhere alone, which is just the kind of thing that ends up on America's Most Wanted or at least in a Friday the 13th movie. We had M with us, and that made it better. Because frankly, I am pregnant and hormonal and it's cold outside and I forgot to take a coat with me today. It would suck to deal with that alone. In the dark. In a small town where Deliverance is probably rented regularly.

That's really all I've got to say. I'm exhausted, and I'm going to find something to take the place of the gallon of wine I wish I could drink. Maybe there's some slightly fermented apple juice in the back of the fridge. Slightly fermented is probably safe for the baby, right?