Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Chicago, Day One

For the record, the first day of our trip went like this: Mr. Ouiser and I went to the dentist. Mr. Ouiser got the good hygienist. I got the sadist. Mr. Ouiser got a haircut. Then we hit the road. We stopped to eat in Bowling Green, and I made the monumental mistake of getting a latte at Starbucks. In case you're wondering, T is not over his aversion to dairy. He blew chunks. We drove to Lebanon, Indiana that day. While we didn't eat dinner there, I wish we had. The cutest little restaurant ever was there. I passed it when I ventured out to buy goggles for S. How I remembered her kickboard and forgot her goggles I'll never know. The whole downtown was cute, and the geographer in me desperately wanted to tool around the town square. I did not. Goggles are paramount. Seriously.

The next morning we made it to Chicago and were blessed with an early check-in. We walked to Pizzeria Uno where I continued the assault on my son's digestive system by partaking of the scrumptious deep dish.
Then we headed to American Girl Place. Part of the reason that we chose to visit Chicago was a desire to take S to this store. It's like Disney. She was in heaven from the second we walked through the revolving doors. Of course, nineteen seconds in, the camera battery died. M dutifully found an outlet and proceeded to sit down with T for two hours while we stole power from American Girl. I think we paid them back, though. S got a new doll. She shocked me by choosing one of the My American Girl dolls instead of Kanani, who she has been obsessed with via catalog. What seemed like a hundred years later, she and I went to tea. It is one of my favorite memories of vacation. Her new doll, Skating Mahoney*, and her Bitty Baby doll, Mary*, were seated on either side of her. She had pink lemonade in a tea cup. I had forty-three cups of coffee. We had lots of goodies. Scones. Fruit. Tea sandwiches. Strawberry Mousse. Chocolate and sprinkle covered marshmallows. And we played "Table Topics." I wouldn't trade that tea date with my girl for anything. I think I'll remember it forever, and I hope that she will.
After that we headed back to the hotel. S showed off her wicked swimming moves. T froze. Then we went to bed. It was a very good day.

*Skating Mahoney is truly what my daughter named her doll. Originally, she called her Skating Melissa. Then she called her Sarah. Then Skating Mahoney stuck like glue. Mahoney is the name of Natalie Portman's character in Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium. The "Skating" part is because she chose an ice skating outfit for the doll. Mary is named after the mother of Jesus. She got her at Christmas and was mildly obsessed with the Virgin Mary at the time. You cannot make this stuff up, people. My life is an absolute riot.

Monday, June 27, 2011

an argument for karma.

The Ouisers just spent a few days in the Windy City. Let's start with that. Why I thought a few days in a large city with an overly dramatic four-year-old and an eleven week old was a good idea for a mini holiday, I'll never know. It was a little crazy, but all-in-all, there were some great memories made. I'll likely use the next several days to tell the full story, but I'll start with how our trip proved that there is such a thing as good karma.

I'd like to think that I stack the karma deck in our favor on a regular basis. I let people in the grocery line go ahead of me if they've got a handful of things and I've got enough fruit to feed a small army. I let people out in traffic. I tell people when the tag is sticking out of their shirt or when their baby drops something. Little things, you know.

It was all worth it in Chicago.

Friday, we went to the Field Museum. We grabbed a taxi at our hotel, threw the stroller in the trunk, and started on our adventure. I'm not going to lie. Putting S and T into a cab on a busy street was a little frantic. Getting out of the taxi was more frantic as we didn't want S straying into oncoming traffic. While I paid the bill, M grabbed the stroller and tried to get the kids situated. Here's where karma took care of us.

I got cash for the trip...for little things like cab rides or snacks or coffee. However, for some unknown reason, I chose to pay with a card for this particular ride. Also, I almost never request a receipt because it's a waste of paper in most cases. But I asked for a receipt this time. Then, the credit card thing was acting wonky and taking forever, but I waited instead of saying, "no big deal," and moving on.

Fifteen minutes later, we were in the museum, ready to explore, and Mr. Ouiser made a pit stop. While I waited with the kids, T started fussing, so I decided to put him in the Baby Bjorn, which was packed in the basket under the stroller. Only it wasn't there anymore. Nor were M's or S's raincoats. Or my emergency bag of tylenol/bandaids/benadryl/hand sanitizer. Or diapers. Or wipes. The only thing there was my raincoat.
Please note the obviously empty stroller basket. Oops.

I very quickly realized that everything had fallen out of the stroller when it was put into the trunk of the taxi, and in our craziness, we hadn't noticed.

Hello, karma. I had a receipt with the cab company's name and the cab number we'd just ridden in. I called, and the very nice taxi driver returned our stuff to the museum within twenty minutes. Normally, I wouldn't have had the receipt with all that glorious information. And our stuff would've been long gone.

To restock the karma deck, I promptly offered to take a family photo for some people standing outside the museum who were doing the mom-and-kid then dad-and-kid photo rotation that we know all too well.

Later that night, when we were headed to dinner, we decided not to take the stroller...to just carry the baby. M took the stroller back to our room, where he found the door hadn't closed all the way, so all of our stuff was just there, waiting to be stolen. Karma knew that door was open, and she sent M the brainwave that said, "You don't want to push the stroller right now, take it back to room 1204."

On Saturday, karma saved our tails again. S had slept with her baby doll, Mary*, on Thursday evening. Things were so nuts on Friday that she never wanted to play with Mary, but when I got ready to pack things up on Saturday morning, I realized that Mary was missing. She wasn't in any of the drawers or the closet. She wasn't in a bag or a box. She was nowhere. I asked S if she'd seen her, but she answered, "No. She's probably playing hide and seek."


I called the front desk, and they transferred me to housekeeping. Mary had been carried away with the laundry, and the glorious staff of the Omni Hotel put her aside, waiting for a sad little girl to realize her doll was missing. When the concierge brought her to us, he even played along with the idea that Mary was playing hide and seek.

So, seriously. Stack the karma deck. Do it regularly.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

happy father's day.

To celebrate Father's Day, we hosted a little event last night. We had friends over for what I'll now call The Amazing-It's-Not-A-Race Father's Day Scavenger Hunt Thing. Confused? Don't be. It was just a scavenger hunt where you had to both find things and do things. And it wasn't a race. Because races have winners, and subsequently, they have losers. And two of the four children involved are more than somewhat dramatic and competitive. One of those children belongs to me, and the other is S's BFF. Those two...wow.

Anyway, it was loads of fun. Each of the kids got to choose their team name and team colors. There were shirts. The kids got to decorate trophies for their dads. Really, if it hadn't been for the staggering display of tears by S, the night would've been perfect.

We grilled steak and chicken, and neither were overcooked. So, that's a win.

Here are some photos. I can only hope that all you dads out there have as much fun as Mr. Ouiser had this Father's Day...and that all you dads are good enough sports that if your daughter ever chooses to make your team name "Unicorn Princesses" and your team color pink, that you'll play along.

All the teams...ready to roll.
Task: find a stick as long as your arm. Or a stick as long as your child. Whatever.
Task: take a picture of a duck. Or a fake duck.
Task: Eat a french fry. Or an entire order of french fries that had to come from Wendy's despite the fact that it is across town.
Task: Sing a song on a stage. Otherwise titled: Convince your daughter that the playground counts as a stage because the stage she wanted to go to is occupied and the stage your wife suggested is somehow inadequate in the eyes of said daughter.

Task: Run or Walk a Lap. Pouting optional.
The men with their trophies.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

ick continues.

After the oat bran debacle this morning, my toast and turkey sausage seemed like heaven.

Then I had lunch.

Unfortunately, when I made a batch of balsamic vinaigrette* last week, I clearly added too much dijon. I didn't notice it when I used the dressing when it was brand spankin' new, but man (!) that stuff is mustard-y today. And I don't like mustard. This of course begs the question: Why, Ouiser, do you add dijon to your vinaigrette if you don't like mustard?

Because you're supposed to. At least that's what I'm told.

So, if you're keeping score, I'm 0-for-2 today in the meals department. And frankly, I'm going to be batting .000 for the day because Mr. Ouiser won't be home from Ohio at dinnertime, so S will be eating the leftover ravioli that I made her last night, and there is nothing else in the fridge because it's grocery night. I suppose I can throw something together with eggs. I do have some of those.

I also have a screaming baby.

*If you make your own dressings, (why wouldn't you?) you really should get one of these. It actually emulsifies your concoctions. It's fabulous. It'll change your life. Also get a cherry pitter. It'll change your life even more. I couldn't live without either of them. In case you were wondering.


The low sugar experiment continues. Honestly, I feel good. But this morning's breakfast is not so good. Heather had some oat bran cooked with blueberries the other day, and I was intrigued, so this morning, I made some oat bran and stirred in a handful of blueberries. Of course, Heather had also mentioned said oat bran in a post about lemon-blueberry stuff, so naturally, I squeezed some lemon juice into the blueberry lemon oatmeal. And I put a teaspoon of soy-free vegan butter in there for good measure. Sounds pretty good.

Alas, it is not.

Thus, despite the fact that I'm ravenous, I am blogging instead of eating my breakfast. I think I overdid it on the lemon, and I think I'll attempt blueberry oat bran another day, but maybe with butter and cinnamon next time. Maybe.

For now, I am going to nuke some frozen turkey sausage and make a piece of whole wheat toast because there is no way I am going to force myself to eat what's in the bowl in front of me.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

three things.

Thing one: I love insurance. I do. It enables me to be sick and not broke. However, it is a pain in the rear. I'm currently on the phone trying to sort out a claim from T's initial well-child visit. It's hard to get answers from an automaton.

Thing two: If you eat protein at every meal (even just a little) you will almost never be hungry. I have learned this from my no/low-sugar diet. Amazingly when I'm not craving sugar, I'm not craving anything. I have to remind myself to eat because I have to eat to make milk, and T needs the super milk. Try it out. Today I had some leftover chicken (about 1.5 ounces) on a whole wheat tortilla with corn, roasted red pepper, and spinach. And I'm happily full...and I doubt I'll even think about food (other than to blog about it) for hours.

Thing three: I am getting old. Want to know how I know? The people around me are getting older. Take, for example, the junior bridesmaids and flower girl from our wedding. I was going to post a picture, but my scanner is dead as a doornail. So trust me. The oldest was 14 when M and I tied the knot. Two others were 12, one was 11, and the youngest was seven.

But now? Now Hillary, the oldest, is 20. She just finished her second year of college. Sarah and Abbe are both 18 and have now graduated from high school. Susannah turned 17 yesterday, and she's gearing up for her senior year of high school. And Olivia, my youngest sister, is 14 and starting high school in the fall. So, while simple math can enlighten me to their ages (and to my own, you'd think), it takes seeing these girls all growing up before my eyes to make me feel like a geriatric. I believe I shall get my wish of being an old southern lady sooner than I think. That's how I feel at least. Maybe I'll go by some supportive undergarments to help the transition into my golden years.

I'll leave you with a picture from Sarah's graduation on Saturday. I may be old, but I do not have to act like it.
Please note that Susannah (aka The Short One*, S3, Little Fairy) was very ill. She might want me to explain why this isn't her best photograph. There is no excuse for me.

*Funny how I call her the short one, eh? In comparison, I'd be the tall one, and I'm not quite 5'4". I'm 5'3-3/4". My family is not blessed with immense height. Thank goodness my children seem to take after their father. They may never have to climb grocery shelves for dry goods.

Friday, June 03, 2011


A few ways my life has changed since April 7th.
  • Obviously, I've cut out refined sugars. (in the interest of full disclosure, I ate a TBSP of semisweet mini chocolate chips on my oat bran this morning. it's the first treat-like sugar I've had in over a week. there was also melted almond butter on the oat bran.)
  • I only use my towel once before washing it. Yeast thrives in warm, damp places like towels, and I'm not going through all this diflucan/low sugar mess just to wipe yeast back on my body. I will get you, yeast. Fear me!!!
  • I don't sleep that much.
  • I use all of the available baby nap time to get things done. Since I have an older child, which means that I can't nap when T does, I use my time. Laundry. Cleaning. And...
  • My kitchen prep work gets done early in the day. While T sleeps, I do all the chopping and measuring for dinner ahead of time. I also put water in pots (salted and oiled, if need be) for pasta or rice or quinoa or whatever. I get out plates. I try to get the table set.* There is no way I can get this stuff done when he's awake because he's rotten and wants to be held always.
  • Yoga. It's happening a lot around these parts, and I feel pretty good.
  • I shower at night. Three reasons: my hair looks better "slept on," the baby's sleep is erratic and I can't relax in the shower if I think he might be screaming and S might be smothering him with a pillow, and it helps me relax at the end of the evening.
  • I run the dishwasher immediately after dinner, and I empty it before I go to bed. Not having to do it in the morning makes my mornings significantly better. Significantly.
  • I shop for groceries at night. I am not brave enough yet to take two children to the grocery store. Especially when one is an unpredictable wee one and the other is whiny and asks for one of everything she sees. I wait until they're asleep, and I go alone. It is magical. If you regularly shop with a kid in tow, I highly recommend trying it out.
  • I don't blog very much. Like I said, I have to use all the minutes in the day to keep this place running smoothly because I do not want to lower my standards unless I have to.
*I was unable to set the table yesterday because S had set up a fruit stand. There is still a sign taped to the table. Also, she asked me today if the cherries I gave her came from the farm where we get produce when we can. Then she asked me if they were in season. She picks up on a lot. I heart her. So, so much. Even though I want to strangle her with a spaghetti noodle sometimes. Most of the time. Whatever.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

an exchange between the Ouiser women.

S got in trouble for not listening this morning. It wasn't anything big at all. I went into the basement to start some laundry, and she asked to come with me. I told her no...that I would be right back and that she could come with me when I put the laundry into the dryer. She came downstairs anyway. When I asked her what the consequence should be for disobeying, she said, "maybe I can never come back into the basement ever, ever again." I said no to that one because she might remember it when she's 15 and I want her to help with the laundry. I told her that the consequence would be that she couldn't have any sweet treats today. Usually she gets one sweet thing per day. Graham crackers. A popsicle. Ice cream. A piece of chocolate for dessert.

Fast forward to five minutes ago. It's rest time, so she's hanging out in the big chair watching Clifford.

Little Ouiser: "Mom, can I have a popsicle?"
Ouiser (while eating a banana): "No. Remember when you didn't listen to me this morning? No sweet treats today."
Little Ouiser: "Oh, yeah. Well, can I have a banana? It's not a treat."
Ouiser: "All food is a treat.*"
Little Ouiser: "Not tomatoes."

End Scene.

I guess the girl doesn't like tomatoes.

*This was a pathetic attempt to teach her that food, while a necessity, shouldn't be taken for granted. Especially not the super good stuff that she gets. There are people all over the world who would think that getting a fresh banana everyday was the absolute bee's knees. No lesson was taught, however, because she threw me for a loop with the tomato comment. All I wanted to do was laugh.