Monday, March 28, 2011

missing in action.

Sorry. It's been awhile. Things have been undeniably crazy around these parts. While I don't have the energy...or even the recap the last week of our lives, I'll tell you this: four-year-olds playing soccer is the greatest thing on Earth. No matter how crappy things are going, it is impossible not to laugh uproariously at six pre-schoolers on a soccer field. For the record, our team is unquestionably bad. Hysterically bad. Like, "we hope we have to play the gold team" bad. And the kids don't care one iota. At least my kid doesn't. On a positive note, our kids are apparently wonderful listeners...when Coach Andrew says, "stand here," while the other team prepares to inbound the ball, those kids stand there. And then they watch the other team's players move the ball right past them into the goal. Over. And over. And over. And my stomach hurt from laughing and cheering so hard. Here are some pictures.
Aside from the adventures of the Soccer night last week (I think the only night we were able to sit down and eat as a family) S asked me, "Mom, will you make me spaghetti and meatballs?"

"Not tonight, but another night...sure."


Then she ate a little more aglio e olio...and then hit me with this one, "Mom, what's a meatball?"

M and I cracked up. Of course, I'm dutifully making spaghetti and meatballs because while S is a pretty good eater as far as four-year-olds go, she's not usually interested in trying new things, so when she asks for something she's never had, I'll make it. Now PW's meatballs are simmering on my stove, and my house smells like heaven. For the record, I've deviated from my darling Ree's ground beef/pork combo. We're actually having bison meatballs. We're exotic like that. Plus I think it's funny to say Bison Balls. I crack myself up.

Until next time, peeps...

Friday, March 18, 2011

how PW is bad for the environment.

I think my newish devotion to Pioneer Woman has been kind of obvious. I mean, I want this woman to be my neighbor, my friend. I want to sit around and sip coffee in the afternoon with her. I might be willing to move to Oklahoma to make this happen.

Anyway, I'm trying to take it easy this afternoon since it's been a tough day in the breathing department and the swelling ankle department. Naturally, I have been looking at recipes in the PW archives and on Tasty Kitchen. A girl who's worried about being as big as a bus should be looking at dessert recipes, right? I thought so.

I came across a few new recipes that I want to try. Recipes that I am certain Mr. Ouiser will like and that Little Ouiser will try. Then I printed them and put them on the cookbook holder, so I'll see them when the time comes to make next week's menu. I realized as I put the recipes in the kitchen that since I've developed my PW obsession, I've been printing (and trying) a lot more recipes. A lot. Granted, the ones that I like earn a coveted spot in the World's Greatest Cookbook and the ones that I don't like make it into the scrap drawing paper pile, so things aren't really getting wasted. Alas, more paper is still being used...and more ink. And we've been eating more meat, so I worry that my love for Ree Drummond might be killing the planet.

Oh, well. I'm not going to worry too much. I'm busy simmering the sauce for tonight's pasta.

Thursday, March 17, 2011


So, we've got a dilemma. Go figure.

There's this dog. Not our dog...though that's also a dilemma. This dog belongs (we think) to some neighbors. He has a collar but no tags, and we see him on their porch, so we assume he belongs there. This dog is a roamer. He is in our yard by 7am every morning, where he does his morning business and then pseudo-buries it like a cat in a litter box. So, not only is this dog crapping in our yard, he's then digging in our yard. He frolics across our lawn multiple times a day. Multiple times a day it torments Otis. Understandably. He also tends to lurk when S and I are outside playing, which, frankly, frightens me. I have no reason to suspect that the dog is anything but friendly, but that doesn't mean that I want a strange dog anywhere near my family. You don't hear stories about attack dogs mauling small children. You hear stories about dogs whose owners swear they're harmless mauling small children.

Here's the dilemma.

M wants to just call animal control. Let them come out and issue a warning or whatever it is that animal control does if you're found blatantly not in compliance with the law. I worry that will be bad. I tend to think we should go meet these people and explain the issue (you know...poop, digging, fear for my daughter's lovely face). I like to assume that they'd be reasonable. But maybe not. Maybe we'd be subjected to flaming bags of dog sh!+ on our front porch. Maybe these people are mafia.

Anyway, here's today's big question: would you try to contact the neighbors on your own, or would you refer it to the proper authorities?

We're at a loss for how to handle the situation, so I've decided to open it up for debate. Your participation in the debate is appreciated.

For the record, this dog has apparently been roaming the 'hood for a good long while. Either he only craps in ours, or no one else cares.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

the soccer monster.

S is practically grown now. She'd probably fit right in at Colgate, though she'd admittedly have trouble getting a drink at the Old Stone Jug. (That's a place, right?) Maybe I'm being overly dramatic. I'm prone to that. In reality, she just had her first soccer practice last night. Getting my baby strapped into shin guards was weird. Putting her in cleats was extra weird. Implementing the "no cleats in the car" rule that I grew up with was extra super weird. Last night, it was tough to see her growing up. Today, we're back to sending her to preschool so she can learn more about the letter "U." Maybe it's not time for Colgate after all.

Anyway, here's the play-by-play for S's soccer debut.
  • My brother Drew is her coach. Through no instruction of ours, she calls him "Coach Andrew," which is funny because mostly she calls him "My Drewsey."
  • We had a crazy search around the house and car before practice last night because we couldn't find her "purple soccer headband." Learn from my mistake. Never tell your four-year-old that a particular headband is for a particular function. It's like losing a lovey. Luckily, I found it and the whole soccer season isn't in the crapper.
  • When Drew had the kids introduce themselves, most of the kids were reserved. S proclaimed, "And I am S," and she honest-to-God curtsied. Then she told everyone she was going to be a princess when she grows up. No doubt, kid.
  • It was cold at practice last night. I sent S in shorts anyway because she's hot natured. All the other kids were bundled up tight, as were their parents. And all the kiddos and parents were complaining about the cold. Not S. Because she's the soccer monster. And soccer monsters are tough as nails. Nails, I tell you.
  • Here's the breakdown of our team: S is the tallest and hottest. Her fave friend SR is the tiniest and the coldest. She ran to either me or her mother begging to get warmed up every three minutes. Our buddy L is the thirstiest. He'd run onto the field, kick the ball, then run back for a drink. I don't know the other three kids who were there, but one is almost as tall as S, one is the hacker, and the other has no distinguishing trait thus far.
  • At the end of practice (very loose interpretation of the term practice, by the way), Drew huddled the kids up. S interrupted him every four seconds. Sincerely. She wanted to talk about the team's name. They'll have gold jerseys, and she thinks that they should call themselves the Gold Heroes. She wants to be Hero Stella. Drew could not get a word in edgewise. We had to have a talk with her about that on the way home. I'm afraid he'll kick her off the team if she keeps it up. Who am I kidding? She's the Soccer Monster*. Any coach would want her!!
Next week, I believe Drew is breaking out the orange cones and having them do something other than run around chasing balls. That'll be a trip. Then her first game is next Saturday. It will be awesome...until she realizes that there's Gatorade and snacks on the sidelines. Then we'll have lost her.

*Here's how she got that awesome nickname. The straps at the top of her shin guards don't really fit properly, and the velcro digs into her calves. I cut two small pieces of flannel to put underneath to keep it from irritating her. When I realized that I needed to do this, we needed to be in the car on the way to practice, so I didn't have a chance to dig through the fabric store that is my attic. However, I had some flannel next to the sewing machine to make burp cloths for T. It has monsters all over it. S looked at it like I'd lost my mind when I tried to put it near her body. After all, this is the child that would totally wear a tiara and fairy wings to practice if I'd let her. Then I explained to her that it makes her "My Little Soccer Monster." She bought it, and when she's the captain of the US Women's Soccer team, Soccer Monster licensed apparel will be all the rage with little girls across the country :)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

on the job learning.

Parenting is awesome. It really is. If ever there was a job where you learn as you go, this is it. You learn how to take care of the kiddo(s). You learn how to take care of yourself and your SO while caring for the kiddo. You learn how to live all over again because things are just different when there are little ones involved. Good different, definitely, but different just the same.

Case in point: cooking.

I love to cook. Truly love it. I love to chop things. I love to mix things. I love to smell the things that I'm cooking, knowing that there is a semi-magical transformation happening as the yeast and the water and the pinch of sugar combine with flour to make pizza dough. Or how something as simple as smelling onions and garlic and butter can make everything seem alright, no matter how bad a day you've had. Love it.

There's a funny thing happening in my kitchen these days, though. There's a four-year-old who wants to help. Always. She gets seriously peeved if there's nothing she can do to help, and sometimes there isn't. Sometimes everything has to happen at the stove, where it's too hot, or at the cutting board, where things are too sharp. She is not a happy camper when Mama says, "I'm sorry, there's nothing for you to help with right now."

I love that she wants to help. I love that she's interested. I really do. Really. I love it. And I know that children helping in the kitchen is good for them in lots of ways. They are exposed to fractions. They learn to follow written instructions. They see what goes into the preparation of their food, and kids really do eat more varied things if they're involved in the prep work. I've seen it. And I want S to want to cook. I love the idea of having time with her in the kitchen...when she's older.

But sometimes, Mama needs the free therapy that comes with kneading dough on her own. Sometimes Mama just needs to be alone in the kitchen. Sometimes this Mama just doesn't have the energy or desire to clean up the extra mess that comes with a four-year-old helping out when there are large quantities of flour involved. And then I feel like a bit of a rotten mother because I'll shoo my little mini-me away.

And then she goes to her play kitchen, makes something herself, sets her little play table properly, invites me to tea, and I know that everything is going to be alright.

Life can be tough, but it is so good. Especially when your preschooler pours you tea and offers you a wooden cupcake.

Monday, March 14, 2011

keeping it short.

Today, the post will be short and sweet.

Things NEVER to say to a woman who is miserably pregnant with her second child:

Oh, the second child is by far the hardest.

Thank you, woman with five kids. I'm going to throw myself in front of a bus now.

Friday, March 11, 2011


I love the weekends. Normally, I love the weekends because the Ouisers all get to be together, and I have some help in the parenting department from 8-6. This weekend is different, though. I'm looking forward to the weekend for Mr. Ouiser. He needs a break. Have you seen him lately? He looks a bit like he's been hit by a truck. Between the amazing amount of work that he has to do at work and the amazing amount of stress in his life that comes from this roller coaster of caring for his dad, he's kind of got a lot going on. He leaves the house in the mornings around 5:30, and he hasn't been home yet this week before 6:30. Then he works from home after he's eaten dinner, twice working for a couple of hours after I went to bed. Also, he hasn't slept well in the five weeks since his dad first got sick. He's constantly on edge, worried that the phone will ring. So, he's operating on practically no sleep. Loads of work. Sick parent stress. And a hormonal wife. Also, there is an upcoming birth to worry about. I don't even think that's made his radar yet.

I think it's safe to say that the man deserves a break. He at least needs a weekend.

So, I'm making dinner. Chicken and dressing. Green beans (he won't eat those, they're for me and S). Cherry Cake Pudding. I'm hoping beyond hope that after dinner, he'll put his feet up and relax. Maybe watch a movie. Maybe he'll just fall asleep. But Mr. Ouiser needs to rest, so send him some restful thoughts, will you?

Here's a photo (shocking, I know) of the little helper that would love for her daddy to get some rest...or at least a yummy cake.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

good things.

I must seriously seem bi-polar lately. One minute I'm gushing over how grateful I am to have wonderful people in my life and yadda yadda. The next minute I'm know desperately down in the dumps. I don't think I'm bi-polar. I think I'm hormonal. Third trimester, you know. Anyway, I've decided to be positive today. Even though it's rainy. That's really something for me. You have no idea.

Anyway, some good things. In no particular order.

1. If you want to make my daughter love you, make her scrambled eggs. If you want her to be your slave for life, make her bacon, too. I didn't make her bacon, but I offered to make her eggs this morning, and she practically leaped out of bed. For the record, I would probably make her eggs more often, but she would literally sit and eat half a dozen eggs if I'd let her, and she is seriously unhappy without three eggs worth of yellow fluffiness. I worry about her cholesterol if I encourage a three-egg-a-day habit. So, eggs for Little Ouiser.

2. Mellie Mellie is coming home a day early this week because she has an eye appointment tomorrow. That means that I'll likely get to sit and have coffee with her and chitchat tomorrow afternoon. It makes my heart so happy.

3. If that weren't enough, C is coming tomorrow night on her way to G's shower in Memphis. My two favorite women in one day. Glorious. I think I'll finally make PW's Cherry Cake Pudding.

4. Pepcid...with a prescription. I mentioned this on Facebook, but my life has so drastically improved in the last three days, that this little miracle pill deserves two shout-outs. Even with Zantac, my heartburn had gotten insanely out of control. I had noticed long ago that my trouble breathing becomes exponentially worse when I'm stressed. I had not put two-and-two together, though, and realized that the constant searing pain from my chest up through my esophagus was causing stress. Duh. Anyway, now that the heartburn is under control, breathing is coming a lot easier, too. And...And!! My doctor told me that it's totally okay to take two Tylenol before bed every single night for the next two months if it helps me sleep through my joint pain. So, hello. Mama's been getting some real sleep the past couple of days. It's miraculous.

5. S helped me make Stuffed Pizza Rolls for dinner last night. We filled them with ham, pineapple, and mozzarella. They were good. She loved them, M loved them, I thought they were pretty darn tasty. And, get this...the whole time we were putting the toppings onto the little squares, I was just dreaming of possibilities. Roast beef, provolone, and roasted red pepper. Diced tomatoes, fresh basil, and mozzarella. Goat cheese, roasted red pepper, and prosciutto. Brie and apple and cranberries. You name it, I want to wrap it in homemade dough, bake it, and devour it. Especially if there are soft cheeses involved. I've almost reached a breaking point in my desperate desire for Brie.

6. I am not so naive as to think that everyone has experienced knee-buckling, gut-wrenching falling in love. Not everyone knows to the very microscopic center of their being that they are with the person that they're supposed to be with. And that's okay. To each his own. But I'm lucky. Mr. Ouiser is my other half. I know it every single day. I just don't always think about it. Today I'm thinking about it because I just finished PW's book. So, if you want to remember what it was like to fall head over heels in love, or if you just want to read about it, you should procure yourself a copy of that book. It's funny how Marlboro Man is so, so nothing like Mr. Ouiser. He's an honest to God cowboy for crying out loud. M is a cartographer. But there's something about the relationship between PW and Marlboro Man that is the same. Maybe it's the way that everything just clicked from the beginning. Maybe it's finding out that I'm not the only person who thought of marrying their future husband within a couple of weeks. Maybe it's knowing that there are men out there who don't play head that will just let you know that they love you and will be there for you and take care of you forever and ever...and be great dads...great human beings, really. It probably doesn't hurt the comparison that M and Marlboro Man both get up for work before the sun rises. The difference being that M puts on chinos and button downs and nice sweaters while Marlboro Man puts on Wranglers and chaps. As I said before, to each his own. Anyway, read the book. Love your husband or wife or whoever.
7. That's enough for one day.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011


I'm not far enough along in this bun-baking process to think that what's going on in my life right now is the proverbial nesting instinct. I've been wrong before, though.

Nesting or not, I've been pseudo-inspired by Simple Mom to do a little closet cleaning. I spent a couple of hours yesterday weeding out the closets and our drawers. M no longer has socks that will allow his toes to show. I no longer have shoes that I have held onto just because I used to love them. I'm pretty good about getting rid of clothes that I haven't worn in recent memory, but I always find it difficult to let go of footwear. No more. The donation box has already been dropped off at the local help center, and the trash pile is already in the outdoor bin. The hand-me-downs that S will never be able to wear are already gone to friends who hopefully can use them. I feel lighter already.

I also had carpenters here this morning to get the ball rolling on a couple of projects we'd like to think about. One such project is a storage bench for our shoes. If that were to be completed, I think I could actually love our enormous closet. For now, the shoes are just everywhere. It is so not Ouiser-like.

Beyond all the closet cleaning, but related to making life a little simpler, I thought this post over at Small Notebook was pretty fabulous. Even if you don't crowd your brain-space with project ideas, I think the message is valid. I suppose it's pointless to de-clutter your house if your mental to-do list is basically insane. Pop over there and read it if you get a chance.

Now, I have pizza dough to make. Have a great Wednesday, peeps.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

busy bees.

You all know I'm a planner. I love a plan. I love a list. So, today was different. I was planning an outing to Nashville tomorrow, but it's supposed to rain. Since I needed to go to four different places and thus move a four-year-old in and out of four different places, I decided on a whim (whoa!) to go today. S and I loaded ourselves into the car and headed east.

First stop: Michael's. I needed several things that would've required internet shopping and three different stops through town if I'd stayed in DC to shop. I love local and all, but that ain't happening. I was prepared to keep S away from the kids' crafts section. I didn't realize I really needed to blindfold her. We didn't even get in the door before she started oooh-ing and aaaah-ing. There were bins of fake flowers outside and in the entryway. She thought they were ravishing. Then as soon as we got in the doors, there were Easter eggs and bits and bobs for decorating said eggs. Then, wham! Easter cupcake supplies. And sparkly baskets. Then St. Patrick's Day cupcake supplies. Then ribbons. Then beads. Then sequins. Then wooden dolls. Then wooden birdhouses. Then paint. And brushes. And stickers. Then yarn. Embroidery thread. More paint. More stickers. More, more, more. I am amazed that I got out of there only buying her two $1 kits to make necklaces (one for her, one for Little Feather Nester).

Second stop: M's office. We went to Chick-fil-A for lunch, which doesn't sound all that exciting, but Cherry Coke is from heaven, as are fountain drinks, and you don't find Cherry Coke "on tap" everywhere.

Third stop: picking up some paperwork from the bank.

Fourth stop: back to M's office. Preggo bladder full of Cherry Coke. You know how it is, right? Plus, S needed to sing for the people in M's office and make him princess dance with her.

Fifth stop: Target to exchange S's shinguards for the ones that A recommended and to return the ginormous bathing suit I bought for the Cincy trip and never put on. Hello, forty bucks, it's nice to see you again...

Sixth stop: Toys R Us. You're getting this right. I took S to Michael's and Toys R Us in the same day. Oddly, she saw a Barbie story book that she wanted to look at when we walked into the toy store. I told her there wasn't a place to sit to read it but that she could look at it as we walked through the store. It kept her occupied for most of the time we were there. We only had two detours into Barbie/Princess land.

I think it's hysterical that my daughter was more enamored with Michael's than with the toy store, but I suppose the nut doesn't fall far from the tree.

Once we got home, we did a little glue batik project (more to come) and now it's dinner time. Sayonara, peeps. I'm wiped out.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

that's just cruel.

My cousin A graduates from high school this year (as do my sister S2 and my cousin J). Because I made a quilt for A's sister H, I am now dutifully making one for her. With all of the nuttiness in my life right now, I look forward to working on the quilt, and I finished piecing the top a few minutes ago. I actually find quilting and embroidery and all that mess pretty relaxing...mostly because it's darn near impossible to be stressing or thinking of other stuff when there are pointy needles involved. You lose concentration, you poke yourself in the fingers...or screw something up that requires a mulligan, and that ain't cool. Anyway, here's the cruel part. Preggers as I am, I am finding it increasingly difficult to sit at my sewing machine. There is no apparent comfortable way to be there. I spent just under half an hour at the machine today, and my back has been in knots ever since. Cruel, cruel world.

Also, the quilt I'm making started off as an Amy Butler pattern. This is the second time I've attempted one of her patterns. The first time it was a bag pattern. I was pretty unhappy with that pattern. I remember thinking that it was poorly written, but I was willing to admit that I was (and am) a sewing novice and as lazy as the day is long. This time, I don't think it's me. I ended up going rogue with the quilt. It just wasn't coming together properly. Plus, get this: I bought $150 worth of fabric for the silly thing. I sincerely have enough material left to make a second quilt. My enormous punch bowl is FULL of leftover fabric. And that's not even counting the extra THREE YARDS of backing fabric. Maybe I can sell the second quilt to pay for the first one. Anyway, I'm not generally a conspiracy theorist. A no-good complainer? Sure. Conspiracy theorist? No. However, I've got to think that our darling Amy Butler has upped the amount of fabric that she says to buy because she also recommends using her fabrics. There's no other conceivable explanation.

I will say this: I was planning to make the quilt bigger than the pattern. Lots of quilt patterns are for lap quilts and throws, but the point of this one is to go on A's bed at college, so I figured out how much extra fabric I'd need to increase the quilt size appropriately. There were random diagrams with loads of multiplication sitting around our house for days before I hit the quilting shop. I guess I should've just bought what the pattern called for after all.

That's enough complaining. Frankly, the all purple quilt is turning out pretty darn cute. A will love it, and that's what matters. Right?

In addition to quilting and embroidering, I thought S needed a little mommy-and-me craft time yesterday, so we made some new playdough and then played with it. Here's the only picture I took of us playing. You've heard of coke bottle glasses? S wears Bonne Maman jar glasses.
Also, my baby girl has strep with a wicked rash. You can see it on her chin in the picture. She's so pitiful.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

so overwhelmed, so much to be thankful for.

Dude. Life is rough sometimes. I know you all know what I mean. We had our recent drama. It sucked, but we were reminded of our blessings, which is always a good thing. But it's just seemed like the crazy keeps happening. It's not really even worth going into. Sick kid. Worried mama. Concern. Hysterical mama. Stress that shouldn't be a part of my life but that I can't let go of. And the pregnancy hormones make it all seem like it's been multiplied by a thousand. Anyone out there that can relate? Anyone else just feel like they're drowning sometimes? Anyway, I've been feeling a lot like that lately.

And then I see how great I have it. That my problems are those bumps in the road I mentioned.

My friend Toddler Tamer posted this today about a friend's crusade to raise money for children's cancer research.

And it's pretty timely because an old friend from college has a daughter who is battling cancer right now. It's gut wrenching.

And I have two friends, A and A, who are living right now with significant physical pain as a part of their daily lives.

And my friend S's husband just lost his father.

And the list could continue.

And I'm trying to remember to just breathe. Just be a good mama to the girl that's here now and the boy that's coming along soon enough. Try not to stress my husband out with hysterical bursts of hormonal crying.

They're just bumps in the road. The sun is shining. I am blessed beyond belief. And I am sending what little positive energy I've got out into the universe for my friends that really need it. We probably all should.