Tuesday, August 30, 2011

drewser bruiser

Today is my little brother's 26th birthday. In honor of his big day, here's a list of 26 things I love about him.
  1. His undying love for the Chicago Cubs. Next year is our year, buddy.
  2. His ability to just do stuff like our Granddaddy does. I mean sometimes you just learn by doing...even if you are making gates out of old headboards.
  3. The fact that I'm almost as tall as him, which might not be something he loves.
  4. He could crush a person with one of his hugs. It hurts, but you know he means his hugs.
  5. The fact that I can always freak him out by mentioning my boobs.
  6. He once told me that his favorite smell was his baseball glove.
  7. He's great with my kids. In fact, he's pretty awesome with all kids.
  8. He loves football and still has his Peyton Manning UT jersey from when he was ten.
  9. His girlfriend is lovely, and I'm grateful he found her.
  10. He loves to cut grass.
  11. He'll eat almost anything...but not tomatoes, which is actually a strike against him.
  12. He is the loudest clapper on the planet. It's a strange talent that I don't actually love at all because it's humiliating if you're next to him when he starts clapping.
  13. He's fast. Always has been.
  14. He's really cute. Always has been (except when our parents had him sporting a mullet when he was four...maybe even then.)
  15. He's is always willing to help anyone.
  16. He is growing up into a pretty great man. I have high hopes for him.
  17. He could drink milk anytime, anywhere.
  18. He is consistent. He has always loved Snickerdoodles, cereal, cinnamon twists from Taco Bell, the aforementioned milk.
  19. He probably still wishes he was a Ninja Turtle.
  20. He actually plays vinyl records.
  21. He grows a wicked beard. Not a Powers-beard, but it's pretty rocking nonetheless.
  22. He finally got rid of the pillows he'd had since childhood. Those things were rank.
  23. He is not afraid to order seriously girly coffee drinks.
  24. He knows how to use a chainsaw.
  25. I think he'd do just about anything to take care of the people he loves.
  26. He's my little brother.

Monday, August 29, 2011


Yesterday I turned 32. I'm pretty stoked. My thirties have been awesome thus far, and I have no reason to expect a downward trend. In fact, things are looking good. I look forward to T sleeping better, meaning that I'll get more sleep. Before I turn 33 my daughter will go to Kindergarten. We're going to visit CCM soon in Asheville. There are so many things to look forward to.

In addition to the birthday, it was the 11th anniversary of meeting Mr. Ouiser. Thinking about it now, I can't believe what an amazing time it's been. I have more fun with my husband than I can imagine having with anyone else. Add the kids and our friends and families to the mix, and I can't fathom a better cast of characters for my little life.

I am so, so thankful.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

a rather monumental disappointment.

I was supposed to jump out of an airplane this morning. It didn't happen. When we got there, we were informed that the plane was broken down in Georgia. It's a huge bummer, but I'll live. I'm rescheduled for next Saturday.

Life goes on...even though only one item got crossed off the Life List in August. The silver lining is that I know I'll have something to cross off in September. Besides, I probably shouldn't be all jacked up on adrenaline when there are so many friends that are in the path of Irene.

Friday, August 26, 2011

it's almost go time.

Tomorrow, I'll be crossing an item off my Life List. I'm very excited. It means that I'll have crossed two items off the list in a month (the first was learning to braid garlic). I know that not all months can be like that, but it makes me happy nonetheless. I think once it's all over and done, I'll chill on the list for a bit. I've got several projects to finish before Christmas, and I have to finish S's reading nook/calm place/place for peace, which she is trying hard to turn into a three-ring-circus. For the record, I have painted the space and hung the Happy Holland Bunting. If she'd stop trying to put everything she owns or has ever seen into the space, it would be quite nice really.

Anyway, here's a list...

Other projects in the works:
  • My last Pay-It-Forward piece of the year, which I need to finish already. It has to make it all the way to the UK.
  • Coffee sack table runners. (Luckily, I am pretty tight with our local coffee shop owners, so procuring the coffee bean sacks wasn't an issue.)
  • I'm going to paint a couple more floor mats...
  • A Christmas surprise for Mr. Ouiser that I'm so excited about I can hardly stand it.
  • Several other Christmas gifts (so much embroidery, so little time).
  • New chair cushions for our patio set. (It was M's grandparents. We painted it recently, and now the lemon-lime vinyl has to go.)
Now, I must tend to the daughter that's trying to make me insane today. She almost literally has not stopped talking since she woke up, and I'm trying to decide if using earplugs to drown out my child is bad parenting. It probably is. *Shrug*

Thursday, August 25, 2011

cleaning it out.

"Monster Bugs"
An S creation from yesterday, ink and watercolors.

Ohdeedoh is helping clear the kiddie clutter this week. It's Day Three of the Seven Day Toy Cure*. Days One and Two were dedicated to sorting through toys and putting things in an "outbox." This pseudo-staging area for getting rid of things isn't my style, but I can completely see how it works for other people. I'm more visceral in my decluttering. I either want it or I don't. And that's that. And that's all.

Today is dedicated to art supplies. The author indicated that she tends to neglect her kids' supplies. That does not happen around here. I may have mentioned this before, but I believe in art. I believe in art like I believe in God. It's always there, and it's always important to me. (I also believe in baking and Sunday afternoon naps. Mr. Ouiser believes in juice. To each his own.) I think my attitude toward S's art cabinet is much like my approach to cleaning the bathroom. If you stay on top of things, it's never out of hand. So, if S and I are drawing and a marker is dried out, that marker has colored it's last picture. If a glue stick is used up except for the teeniest smidgen of glue that no one will ever use, it's going to the great art bin in the sky. I'm like this with everything. Also, I organize the cabinet regularly. S does a good job of putting things away...she knows that stickers go on a particular shelf, but she just doesn't care if they're all jumbled up, so mama organizes every week or so and everyone's happy. Here are some photos of how our art supplies look.
This seems like a silly post, but it's not. At least I don't think so, since I have declared my allegiance to art. As I was taking these photos, I realized that I regularly, actively encourage S to make stuff, paint stuff, draw stuff. Sometimes to the extreme detriment of my nerves. (Like when she created a "bug machine" the other day with tape, bendy straws, old paper bags, and a toilet paper roll. She has declared that we must keep it forever to keep bugs away. God help me.)

I think it's important for kids to "do" art. When kids are really young, I don't know what it means in terms of expressing themselves, but I know it teaches them things. It teaches them that they can improve by practicing. It teaches them how to manipulate materials, which is both artistic and scientific. It teaches them focus. It's a win-win, folks. Really.

I read somewhere, possibly from SouleMama, that leaving materials out for children to use will encourage them to create. Having everything put away all the time...it's out of sight, out of mind. As much as I want things tidy always, there is always at least one art supply out at our house. It's usually just paper and markers, but sometimes it's not. Sometimes, I'll have a watercolor set, watercolor paper, a jar of water, and a washcloth on the table when S comes downstairs. It becomes her default activity for the day. Sometimes I'll leave out her "jewels" and glue. The other day, I handed her a box that I'd forgotten about. Years ago, I stashed some old ribbon spools, toilet paper rolls, paper sacks, and rinsed paper coffee cups in a box. It got stashed behind something when I unloaded the art cabinet when we moved, but I found it and handed it over. Not only did she create the "bug machine," but she also made a bunch of hand puppets that day and a sculpture (I use the term loosely) of a lighthouse for her daddy and she has played with the ribbon spools daily. Kids are itching to do stuff. Shouldn't we encourage that?

Anyway, this is a long and rather disjointed post, but there it is. Clean out your kids' markers, get out some paper, and make some stuff. Today, S and I will be gluing/making collages when she gets home from school...
Supplies for later.

*In high school, I was taught that you should spell numbers 1-10, and use numerals for all numbers above 11. So I do. I also learned not to start sentences with conjunctions or form incomplete sentences. I chose to ignore those lessons. Most of the time.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

next up...

You know I love a project, and I've got a bunch coming up, but for some reason this one must happen now. Probably because S is involved, and she is one of the few humans that has less patience than I. (I was hoping she would not inherit that trait. Oh, well. I'll take the good with the bad.) Anyway...
Last week, I got this book. It is uhhh-mazing. Love it. I've already read it twice. It speaks to me. It's like Ina, but not food. One of the things it discusses is having a "Place of Peace" in your home. Somewhere you or your children can go to relax. It recommends you also use this space for conflict resolution, but that's beyond my pay grade. When you combine this whole peaceful place idea with my recent desire to create a reading nook for the kiddos, something had to happen, and happen it will.

As I said, I let S in on the idea and the planning. We've drawn ideas for our space, and I let her choose the color that we'll paint the space. I narrowed the choices down to three, and she chose the one that I liked the least, but I have to let some things go. Sometimes. (Rarely.)

So, here are some of the shots I'm using for inspiration. I'll keep you all updated as (what S calls) the calm place comes to fruition.

Images 1-3 are from Ohdeedoh. Image 4 is from the Playful Learning website.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

preschool, year two.

If S were Harry Potter this would be the Chamber of Secrets year. She's not, though. It's just the second year of preschool. I'm hoping she learns her numbers a little better this year...and maybe stops writing her S's backwards. Anyway, let's compare.
First Day of Mother's Day Out, August 2009.
First Day of Preschool, August 2010.

Monday, August 15, 2011

a painterly weekend.

This weekend saw a lot of paint around these parts.

First up: Ladies' Night. Some friends gathered at my house to paint canvas floor mats. CCM made one for us when we got married, but after six years, it's pretty much toast. Thus, a new mat needed to be made. Here are some photos of our efforts.
From the top, the visual stylings of Andrea, me, and Ashley. Laura and Holly will have to forgive me for not having photos of their work.

Next up: Magnet board. S has been lamenting her lack of a corkboard since spending a day at her friend A's house recently. Also, I've been lamenting the fact that she's taping things to our walls. I decided to make her a magnet board for her room out of a cookie sheet. Despite my wanting to make it perfect ("Hi, I'm Ouiser, and it's usually my way or the highway), I let her help. She is thrilled with the end product, and I am, too. However, I fear she loves it too much and will refuse to use it as a magnet board and will still tape stuff to our walls. You win some, you lose some.
The finished product.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

i am no bird, and no net ensnares me.

I was planning to blog today. I even put it on my to-do list. Alas, I am utterly engrossed in Jane Eyre and cannot be bothered to do more than tell you that I'm very busy with all the reading. I am sure you'll forgive me. Otherwise, you wouldn't be here.

Monday, August 08, 2011

practically perfect in every way.

Have I ever mentioned that Mary Poppins is my hero? Because she is. For real. If I ever meet Julie Andrews, I will be tongue tied for sure. It would be like Mr. Ouiser meeting Peyton Manning. Only who are we kidding? Mr. Ouiser would shake Peyton's hand and look him in the eye (because they are totally the same height) and say the perfect amount of whatever it is that men say to each other. I would drool on Mary Poppins and she might think that I was a mute in the end. Oh, well. It would be worth it.

Anyway, as I was defacing my wall with what follows, Mr. Ouiser and I realized that not many people would do this to their wall. Alas, like Mary Poppins, I am not most people. Also, this was done with tongue firmly planted in cheek. It's awesome, though.
I am going to make pieces for the kids that will stick to the wall that say "Rather inclined to giggle; doesn't put things away" and "Extremely stubborn and suspicious." I want to keep those phrases with their current heights, but I want to use the "measuring tape" to mark their heights each year. S is currently coming in at a whopping 45-1/2 inches, which makes her the height of an average six-year-old. T has his four month check-up tomorrow, and I will report his current stats then. I measured him very unscientifically last week and he was 24 inches. Also, I'm betting he weighs 16-1, but M thinks he's 15-something. We shall see. If he stays in Kentucky all week like he currently thinks he might have to despite the fact that he is supposed to be home on Wednesday I might not tell him how big our son is. That'll show him. I am also wondering what he's planning to do for an extra two days of clothes.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

it'll change your life.

Any of you who actually know me, know that I like things nice and neat. Tidy is my thing. It sincerely hurts my heart to look around my house and see the mess that comes along with children.

Making my kids pick up after themselves? Good parenting.

Making my kids conform to my rigid sense of tidiness? Not so much.

So I live with it (gladly, I wouldn't trade my kids and their mess for anything), and I fantastize about the day that there will be no plastic toys or baby swings in my family room.

However, I recently discovered a little trick that makes my life a little better every single day.

I pseudo-clean my bathroom daily. It sounds kind of absurd, but if you clean a little everyday, you rarely have to do any hardcore cleaning. Here's the routine:
  • Wipe down the sink/countertop/faucet. In my reality, this must be done after M puts in his contacts and S brushes her teeth. Otherwise, there will be a mess of salt from the saline solution crusted on one side of the countertop and a blob of toothpaste in the sink. I don't leave a mess in or around the sink because I am practically perfect. Not really.
  • Wipe down the toilet. I wipe down the seat and under the seat and all around the tank daily. I scrub the toilet a couple of times a week.
  • I spray the shower every single time I use it. I came across a recipe for homemade daily shower cleaner last week when I ran out of the Method stuff (1C white vinegar, 1 TBSP dishwashing liquid, 1/4C dishwasher rinse agent). I like it. M doesn't. He turns his nose up at the vinegar smell, but the smell goes away after a few minutes. The shower gets a deep cleaning every couple of weeks.
On a day-to-day basis, that's it. But here's the other thing that makes this work: every time you empty the garbage can in your kitchen, empty your bathroom trashcan. Even if there's only two things in it. If you do it, you'll never end up trying to smoosh an empty toilet paper roll into an overflowing garbage can in the middle of the night. It'll change your life. I swear.

Now, I just have to clean the mirror and scrub the toilet a couple of times a week. The floor gets cleaned when I do the rest of the floors once a week. It's a pretty sweet gig.

Oh, and keep your toilet lid closed. Did you know that every time you flush, water from the toilet splatters? You know what's in your toilet? Keep the lid closed. Seriously. Plus it keeps babies and dogs from drinking toilet water, and the toilet lid is nicer to look at than the inside of the toilet bowl. Think about it.

One last bit of insight into our bathroom: when you buy a new pack of toilet paper and stash it under the sink, take all the rolls out. And always replace the roll if you use the last of the tp. It's just nicer that way.

That's the end of my bathroom gospel. Changed your life, didn't it?

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

what a difference a day makes.

Last week, our lovely trees were trimmed. They are still lovely, and they are enormously tall. The house is getting more sun now, which means I'm going to need to put some curtains in places I hadn't anticipated needing them, but that's okay. We no longer have to fear being smooshed by trees falling on our roof.

Bonuses to having trees trimmed (aside from a lack of fear):
  • Enough sunlight that I can actually have a kitchen garden, a potager if you will. And things will grow in it.
  • I think I can squeeze in a couple of dwarf apple trees.
  • I can grow flowers, and I still have enough shaded lawn for a shade garden.
  • We can now see the sky from the house. Before, the canopy was so dense that you had to go outside to see if it was sunny or not. You couldn't really tell from inside.
  • Bugs cannot use tree limbs as bridges to our windows. Hooray!!
  • You can see our house from the street.
Drawbacks to having the trees trimmed:

  • We'll have to move several of the shade-loving plants that we'd installed a few weeks ago...lest they bake.
  • The formal room is getting enough sun now that it's a little toasty in the morning.
  • We're going to have to mow the lawn.
  • I miss the shade from the tree in our courtyard. I'll get over it.
  • You can see our house from the street, which means you can see the atrocious state of the siding on the second floor. You can also see quite clearly the turquoise shutters and iron trim. I have someone lined up to rectify the turquoise issue.
Here are some before and after pics. And a random bullet that I can't seem to get rid of.
  • The front yard.
The front yard, looking toward the street. See the big tree in the right foreground? It's in the before picture, you can just barely see it because of all the branches and brush.

The big tree in the courtyard. See the sky in the after picture??

Monday, August 01, 2011

a new goal.

A girl needs goals, and I have a new one. We have a lot of books. My books, M's books, the kids' books. I'm going to read them. All of them. There are some books that I've tried to read and couldn't get through, some that belong to M that I've never tried, and some that I don't know where they came from. I'm starting with the shelf in our bedroom. The contents of Shelf One are as follows (The ones that I've read are bolded):

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
Open by Andre Agassi
For One More Day by Mitch Albom
This I Believe II edited by Jay Allison
Pride and Prejudice
Sense and Sensibility
Northanger Abbey
Mansfield Park
Lady Susan by Jane Austen
Gourmet Rhapsody
The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barberry
The Templar Legacy by Steve Berry*
Bringing It to the Table
The Art of the Commonplace by Wendell Berry
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
The DaVinci Code
Angels and Demons by Dan Brown
A Walk in the Woods**
I'm a Stranger Here Myself**
In a Sunburned Country
A Short History of Nearly Everything**
The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid
At Home
The Lost Continent**
Neither Here Nor There
Notes from a Small Island**
The Mother Tongue by Bill Bryson
Girl with the Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier
My Life in France by Julia Child
The Green Hour by Todd Christopher
Don't Know Much about History by Kenneth Davis
Geek Dad by Ken Denmead***
The Bluegrass Conspiracy by Sally Denton
Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond
Black Heels to Tractor Wheels by Ree Drummond (Pioneer Woman)
Three Musketeers
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
Tennessee by Wilma Dykeman

*I tried this one last week, but it opened with a pretty graphic torture scene, and I put it away. In the interest of attaining my goal, I almost moved it to another shelf, but I decided that was silly. Instead, I feel obligated to disclose that I am not going to read this book.
**Bill Bryson is easily one of my favorite writers. I want to have a beer with him. Also, all of the starred Bill Bryson books are on loan to others. Some of them have been gone so long that I don't know who has them. If you've got one or more of them, please bring them home. I miss them.
***I'm not going to read this one either.

Once I've finished off shelf number one, I'll move on to the second shelf. I started this insanity last week and read For One More Day. And I re-read The Great Gatsby, which is on Shelf Two. It was amazing. In fact, I'd forgotten how good that book is. I can't wait to see Carey Mulligan play Daisy because I adore her. Did you see An Education? Oh, Carey Mulligan. Oh, Peter Sarsgaard. I swoon.
Other things I can tell you based solely on Shelf One...aside from proclaiming my undying love for Bill Bryson? Muriel Barberry is kind of incredible. The Elegance of the Hedgehog was one of my favorite books that I read last year. I love Alexandre Dumas. And Victor Hugo...though Les Miserables is also Shelf Two.

Basically, I love books. Now, I am going to pursue some less electronic things like playing My Little Pony with S, reading (Jane Eyre today), and a little sewing.

Happy Monday, peeps. And Happy August!!