Saturday, December 29, 2007

Clean up, aisle 6

We're back. The trip was awesome, and we had a great time with the family. We got way too many wonderful gifts (thank you, everyone!), ate way too much great food, and even took a trip to the top of the CN tower (Thanks, Scott and Tracy!) However, the car ride home seemed to last 3 hours longer than necessary (not sure how that happened), and it was a bit dicey, driving through freezing rain and snow, fueled by Tim Horton's coffee and double chocolate donuts. Dr. B is ill, so I drove the whole way (I only missed a turn once, but it didn't take an extra 3 hours, I swear!), and was plenty tired by the time we rolled into our driveway. We drove over the mountain and picked Lucy up at her Pet Lodge (a wonderful place, and I wish I could stay there), and returned home again to find that our beautiful Christmas tree had gone all moldy.


So, our relaxing evening turned into a desperate attempt to undecorate for the holidays. Dr. B's cold migrated to me, and we have been pounding Theraflu, trying to sleep when we can (me with Rowan because Theraflu is not a cure for snoring), and cleaning in short spurts. Our friends are coming tomorrow, and the house is no where near spotless, the cupboards are bare, the gifts have not all been made/gotten, and I'm too tired to care. Happily, I know our friends will understand, especially after what she's been through lately with chicken pox, RSV and a toddler on a cross-Atlantic flight. Rowan is feeling better, thanks to "the Regulator", but I'm wondering if it isn't working a little too well. I never dreamed that much poop could come from such a little girl.

OK, she's down for a nap, so I'm off to shower. Then, more cleaning. And laundry. And grocery shopping.

Fun times.

PS: Congratulations to my cousin and her husband on the birth of their first child!!! We can't wait to meet the newest addition to the family! What a wonderful Christmas present.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Code Beige

Warning!!! Failure. Failure. Failure.

This year, the potatoes were just too wet. No matter how hard we tried, the lefse just wouldn't roll. We managed a few pieces, but 9/10ths of it went into the dumpster. Not just potatoes, butter, cream and flour, but many hours of hard work.


I know it happens, but it's still really disappointing when it does. I guess it'll make next year's batch that much more satisfying.

Excuse me. I need to go drown my sorrows. (In cookies.)

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Christmas Lights

We're busy making preparations for the holidays. Today is day 1 of the Lefse Fabrication Extravaganza. Dr. B promised to come home before lunch (yeah, and if he makes it, I'm a monkey's uncle) to help with the baking of the spuds, peeling, ricing (twice), mixing, portioning, and chilling of the dough. Then tomorrow our friends Seth and Erin come to help us roll and "bake" on the griddle. This year we're only doing a half batch, since we didn't get around to it before Thanksgiving. This will yield 160 pieces (40 rounds), instead of 320, like we usually make. (Now you can see why we need help.) Much beer will be consumed, appetizers eaten (including MIL's smoky salmon and pecan cheese ball), and all will be followed by a traditional North Dakota My Mom's Meatballs dinner, with potatoes and gravy, my cranberry-almond squash, and of course, lefse with butter and sugar. Mmmm... Everything for dinner has been prepared ahead, and just needs to be thrown in the oven while we work, except for boiling a few spuds. I may have baked nary a Christmas cookie this year, but most of our favorite holiday foods will be present on this one day. Yum.

Then on Saturday, we load up the car to head north. Rowan gets her second international trip before she turns one--how many babies can say that? We're off to the suburbs of Toronto, to visit Jeff's aunt and uncle and cousins Steph and Scott and their families. Steph's got a lot of really fun stuff planned, and we can't wait to see them all and to visit Toronto--I've never been there, and Dr. B hasn't for many years. It will be good to get out of Dodge for a while, and go somewhere a bit more, um, shall we say cosmopolitan? (Not that Central PA isn't lovely, but frankly people, the mullet is over. Like fifteen years ago. Give it up.) We'll open our gifts here on Friday. I have no qualms about it not being "the day", and Dr. B is rapidly getting over his. I reminded him, "you're a Buddhist. What does it matter to you when Jesus was born? And we don't even know for sure what day it was, anyway." Being the logical sort he is, the insistence on opening the gifts on the same day as "everyone else" petered out, but quick. I can't wait to see his face when he opens his presents, and to watch Rowan enjoying, um, well? Likely the wrapping paper and boxes mostly. Toys, too, but I'm thinking it will be the garbage that really excites her.

So, if you don't hear from me, may you and yours have a wonderful celebration of whatever you're celebrating this time of year. May you have lots of good food, good bev, and good cheer. May your pants fit the next morning, may there be no need for Pepto, and may Santa and his reindeer clean up the kitchen for you while you sleep.

Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Battle of the Joe

She won our wrestling match., originally uploaded by MrsBinParis.

She loves beer, and now here's proof of a new beverage choice for the 6 month old set.
While drinking my crappy marshmallow latté (note to self: bad baristas at our Barnes and Noble, stick with plain old joe), Rowan fought me for control of the cup. (This happens every morning with my mug of home brewed coffee, too.) She finally won, but I managed to drain the cup first. Sucking on the lid kept her happy for a good twenty minutes.

Her Norwegian, Swedish and Icelandic genes are making themselves known.

Next thing you know, she'll be asking for lutefisk.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Code Brown

As I've mentioned before, Rowan's been constipated. The prune juice/rice cereal combination was helping, but I was still searching for the right combination. I went to my family for advice. My dad laughed when he answered the phone. "She must be just like you. When you were little, you wouldn't go for a week! Then when you did, you'd plug up the toilet every time. Man, if we didn't break it up, you'd clog the whole works. I couldn't believe such a big turd could come from such a little girl!!!"

My dad's wife Pam suggested giving her fruit and eliminating the rice, and my cousins suggested warm wheat bags, pear juice, and bottom burps. I went to friends, who said rice was constipating for her son, and she had success with oat cereal. Since I can only do one new food every 5 days for fear of allergies (I have tons, so I do have to be careful), I began by introducing oats on Saturday morning. Mixed with the prune juice, she ate it happily.

Saturday night we couldn't get a babysitter to attend a department party, so Dr. B invited his Solar Decathalon group and Energy Club out for a dinner to celebrate the end of a good semester. I put on my purple Sonia Rykiel skirt and a turtleneck with boots, and dressed Rowan in my current favorite of her outfits. I topped a pink, long-sleeved onesie and pink tights with a brown velvet pinafore and bloomers. She looked adorable as I strapped her in the car seat, kicking and screaming. I hoped she would be better at the restaurant.

We arrived, and Rowan calmed down as we placed her carseat in the sling. While she was content, I chose to leave her in the seat, knowing she would want to be out and held later on. Students started arriving, and appetizers and drinks were ordered. I promptly spilled spinach dip on my designer skirt. But Rowan seemed happy, the students were nice and polite and very excited about their project, and overall the evening was going very well.

I kept up a lively chatter, leaning over every few minutes to talk with Rowan, hand her a toy, or kiss her cheek. As I leaned over again, I smelled something. "Pew!" I said, smiling, as I reached down to unclick the carseat buckle. It was somewhat buried in the fabric of her skirt, and as I pulled my hand away, I noticed the brown velvet had leaked all over my hand.

Except this wasn't velvet.

"Crap." I said, "Honey, can you put the handle up? I need to change her, now. And please, get me another napkin..." I headed to the bathroom.

Great. No changing station. One sink that worked, and it was one of those motion-sensored ones, and I was wearing black, which guaranteed a bunch of frantic hand-waving in front of the little sensor. No soap, except for a few wimpy suds from the pump at the non-working sink.

And poop. Everywhere. And not just poop. This was Liqui-Poo, espresso brown. Like when you pull out the coffeemaker basket half way through the brewing process. Little chunks and all. On her dress, filling her bloomers. Swirled down her tights. Soaking the crotch of the onesie. In the cracks of the carseat buckle. Soaking the carseat liner. And even... on her pacifier. (Shudder.)

I got the changing pad out of the diaper bag, and looked at her, lying there between the two sinks, happy as a clam. I put it under her head, and grabbed a handful of paper towels to put under her butt. Four seconds later, they were soaked through, so I changed them, stuffing the used ones in the over-full trash bin.

My guardian angel must have been watching out for me, because at some point I had the foresight to include a new pack of wipes and a clean outfit for her. I stripped off her clothes as carefully as I could, dodging her poopy feet (try explaining both spinach dip and poop footprints to a dry cleaner) and throwing them into a plastic bag from a roll that I have never been so thankful to have in my bag. I rolled up the Bundle Me winter car seat liner, glad that it had caught the brunt of the mess, and cleaned the cracks of the buckle with a wipe and my fingernail. I wiped her, finding poo everywhere from her belly button to her temples. Finally, she was buck naked, lying on the counter, and happy as she could be. She charmed all the ladies that came in to pee as I wiped the crap off her forehead. I dressed her again, washed my hands repeatedly, and picked up the carseat, diaper bag and baby to head back to the dining area.

The students were laughing when I came back, and announced "Code Brown". They found it hilarious.

Me, not so much.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

I'm not a Craft Blogger, but...

My baby is suffering. She has some wicked constipation, and it kills me to hold her as she screams and tries to poop. After a visit with her doctor, I tried to give her a bottle with prune juice and water, but she completely refused it. So I got creative, and mixed her rice cereal with prune juice. Looks exactly like what I'm trying to get her to produce, but at least she's eating it. For now.

I went to my family for help, and my cousin had some wonderful advice. She's been through this before, and knows that I am searching for anything that will take away her discomfort. She recommended several things, including warm baths, massages, and ultimately the infant suppositories. But the one thing that really struck me was the idea of a warm wheat bag on her tummy.

And of course, I didn't have one.

But being the desperate Mom I am, I got creative once more. A bag of barley and an old sock became the perfect soother for her sore belly. She loved it, and was soon smiling again. Before I went to warm it again for her nap, I opened it up again and added a torn-open bag of peppermint tea. The scent was refreshing and soothing when it came out of the microwave, and she slid into sleep with the warm bag resting on her mid-section.

Since we all are sick of reports from China about lead, and the commercialism of the season, too, this would be an easy gift you could make yourself, and it's really inexpensive. To make it prettier, here's what you need to do:

Homemade Soother

  • fabric (you don't need much), cut into the shape you like (2 pieces, or one big one folded in half). You could make a rectangle, a U-shaped thing for your neck, an eye-pillow shape, etc.
  • thread to match
  • wheat or barley (not quick-cook) or small, dry beans
  • your favorite aromatic herb (lavender, chamomile, peppermint--a tea bag torn open works great!)

Make a little bag out of your fabric by sewing up two sides with the wrong sides of the fabric together, turn inside out. Fill with the grain and add the herbs (optional). Fold in the sides of the last side and sew shut.

Warm in the microwave in 20-30 second intervals until warm. Use to soothe sore muscles, tired eyes, or even a constipated baby's stomach.


One of the most incredible, and incredibly nice and genuinely good people I have had the honor to meet. His story is amazing, his music is beautiful, and he is a good reminder that miracles really do still happen. Especially when combined with lots of hard work.

This is a video of him back in '97. He used to tour colleges, and I saw him several times in the 90's. His performances were mind-blowing, and he would even remember me from performance to performance when we would talk to him after the show. He is truly a nice guy, as well as an amazing performer.


Tuesday, December 11, 2007


Tuesday dawned, and I hurried about to get fed, showered and ready in order to try to get to Walmart in time for the Wii's to hit the shelves at 10:30 AM.

Yeah, I had a snowball's chance in Honduras on that one. I walked into the Electronics department at 10:32. People were lined up at 7:00 and the Wii's weren't even still in the building by the time we arrived.


So, we picked up some random stuff and headed home. I fed Rowan a little bit of her rice cereal and a whole lot of prunes (hoping they would work their magic), nursed her and put her down for a nap.

Due to the recent lack of sleep at night (she's not staying asleep between the hours of 7 and 11 like she used to), she slept blissfully. For hours. I prepared the enchiladas I would later pop in the oven for dinner, froze some banana baby food for Rowan, tried to make some carrot baby food (tough carrots = garbage), cleaned up the kitchen, and tackled the big pile of junk on the kitchen table.

Around 3, Lucy started to look agitated. She ran, at top speed, up the stairs. Then, she ran down. And sat. Looking at me. POINTEDLY.

I stood up, and she ran to the bottom of the steps, dancing in circles. I took a few steps, and she went up, just four steps, then turned around.

"Show me, girl!" I said. What's that, Lassie? Timmie's fallen down the well at the old mill?

I cocked an ear and listened, and heard nothing.

What if there's something wrong with the baby? Is she in trouble? Did she put her doudou over her face? Did she puke and choke on it? Maybe she had a poopsplosion? Is she breathing???

I ran up the stairs, and followed Lucy into Rowan's room. She turned and checked to see that I was behind her, did a 360 degree circle, and sat down, pressing her body against the crib, poking her nose between the slats, and looking in at the baby.

Who was sound asleep.

I placed a hand gently on her chest, just to make sure.

And she woke up.

Lucy, jubilant, ran down the stairs to the door, ready for her afternoon walk.

Lassie could have learned a few lessons from Lucy.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Holly Jolly

Warning: Long post.

We've been busy, as you all have, preparing for the holidays. Since it's been a few years for me since we've really celebrated a North American Christmas (2 years ago, we were in France; last year I was an invalid, so there were [gasp] no decorations!!!, and this time we're going to Canada to celebrate with the closest-geographically family), this year I wanted to do it up right. I insisted on a Christmas tree, decorated the house with all my holiday ornaments, and began (albeit a little late) the shopping. This is not as easy to do with an infant, so I'm not done yet. And some people may just get gift cards if I can't think of anything brilliant to get them. I'm just saying. There haven't been any cookies baked yet, but I'm sure I'll break down at some point. And we've already attended one holiday party, following which I ate the entire box of peanut butter meltaways I got as a favor in one day. (Yeah, I don't think I need any cookies.)

But this is the year when we start deciding how it will be. How our family will celebrate Christmas. Morning or Eve? Lots of family or intimate? Turkey or Not? When I was a kid, we started with the big celebrations, but my mom made a decision one year that Christmas would be celebrated at home. We forged our own traditions, and still these mean the most to me. Dressing up on Christmas Eve, just the 4 of us (5 when Dr. B joined the family). Having a supper of homemade soups, open-face sandwiches, hors d'oeuvres, pickles and olives and nuts and other little grabbie things, and yummy beverages. Family pictures in front of the tree. Slowly opening gifts, one at a time and taking turns, and taking the time to ooooh and aaaah. My sister trying to be the last one to open a gift every year (and the look of horror on her face when she realized I had hidden one under the chair and beat her at her own game.) Listening to our Christmas Music (ie: Elvis, Dean Martin, the Oak Ridge Boys, [my favorites], Glen Campbell, Andy Williams, Jim Neighbors, and Jackie Gleason [not as much my favorites].) Staying up late with my Mom talking after everyone else surrendered to sleep, then sleeping in the next day. Opening Santa's gifts, then making breakfast. Playing with our new toys (when I was little). Spending Christmas Day doing much of nothing, most of the time in our pajamas. Watching the parade if we didn't sleep through it. Then helping prepare Christmas dinner, which was always Prime Rib of Beef, served in the dining room on the good china and crystal.

This was Christmas to me. I miss it, every year, and I miss my Mom more. But I know that the traditions we start will be just as important for Rowan as mine were for me. And I am blessed that Dr. B knew my Mom and loves her traditions as much as I do. (Well, except for the patient gift-opening thing. He hates that part.) When December rolls around, he asks for Elvis to be put in the stereo, and sings along with Deano while driving through the snowy night.

So when I got this email from a friend, I knew I had to answer. Rather than forwarding it on, I thought I'd post it here, and start another dreaded meme. And this time, I'm not chickening out and not tagging anyone--I'm tagging everyone who reads this! But especially those I think won't do it, like Katia and Kyliemac. And Vivi. And Aimee. Come on, guys. Share. And if you are a non-blogger, (Margaret! Borgenfamily!) please email me your answers. I'm snoopy that way.

Happy Holidays, Everyone!

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? gift bags. I'm a crappy wrapper. I do both, but prefer the easier and prettier. (Really, I am a terrible wrapper. A kindergartner could do better.) This year, my goal is to sew some reusable ones out of some Christmas fabric I got.

2. Real tree or artificial? Real, but I'm allergic, so I have to trim it wearing gloves or my hands break out.

3. When do you put up the tree? Usually Thanksgiving weekend, but this year I was still in the Bahamas, so we did it the next weekend.

4. When do you take the tree down? New Year's Day if we have to work on Jan. 2, Jan. 2 if we don't. We water with a combination of water and 7up, and it stays very fresh. One year, it was in front of the window and it actually had new growth by the time we took it down!

5. Do you like eggnog? Meh. Creamy, sweet and rich? I'd rather have ice cream.

6. Favorite gift received as a child? I loved my play kitchen. Papa Borgen made me a cupboard, and I got the stove, sink and fridge and the little table and chairs. Later Grandpa Skarphol made me a play house for it, and I was set!

7. Do you have a Nativity scene? no

8. Hardest person to buy for? Dr. B

9. Easiest person to buy for? Dr. B's Mom. She always wants mock turtlenecks from Talbot's in red, white and black. Easiest being? Lucy. She doesn't care if she gets rawhides every year.

10. Worst Christmas Gift you ever received? a sweatshirt with scottie dogs appliquéd on it, and a little lace collar and bow sewn at the neck. I was twelve, but even then I wouldn't wear it.

11. Mail or email Christmas cards? Mail. And usually late. New Year's cards!

12. Favorite Christmas Movie? I love White Christmas. I totally want to wear one of those big red dresses with the fur trim like Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen. And I always fall asleep in the middle. But also love Elf and a Christmas Story. Will have to rent the new Shrek one this year.

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? I used to start right after Halloween, but now that Rowan's here, um... last week?

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? Yes. I used to teach in Catholic schools, and got a lot of gifts. Better to share, IMO.

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Shrimp with cocktail sauce, Spritz cookies, iced sugar cookies, lefse with butter and sugar, Mom's meatballs and olives and other nibblies. Oh, and Dr. B's Mom's Pecan Salmon Cheese Ball. It's so good, I could eat it every single day.

16. Clear lights or colored on the tree? I want multicolored, but I'm waiting for the clear ones to die first. The dumb things just keep working.

17. Favorite Christmas song? What Child Is This, Coventry Carol, Blue Christmas (Elvis) and anything on Billy McLaughlin's Wintersongs and Traditionals Christmas album. (He is an AMAZING guitarist and songwriter, who has had to relearn all his own music left-handed due to a neuromuscular disease that nearly ended his career. He inspires me in so many ways.) Hint: I would love the two new Holiday albums he has on his website. Heh. Please play these videos to get a taste of his music. He is unbelievable.

18. Travel at Christmas or stay home? I like to stay at home, but this year we are going to Canada. I really am looking forward to it!

19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer? Only if I sing it.

20. Angel on the tree top or a star? I used to do an angel, but I now have a small collection (Catholic school Xmas presents!) so I do a star and keep all my angels together. I also have a snowman grouping. I only have one penguin and one polar bear, though. (Not that I need any more.)

21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? Dr. B likes morning, I like Eve. We have to decide this between us.

22. Most annoying thing about this time of year? How all my pants shrink. I just hate that!

23. What is the "corniest" family tradition you do, or miss doing? The annual last-gift fight with my sister. And I used to love to lie under the tree and blur my eyes and look at the lights and ornaments when I was a kid. I thought it was really beautiful. I still do.

24. Ugliest Christmas Decoration ever invented? I'm not a big fan of anything mechanical that dances and plays a tune.

25. Which looks best, theme trees or homey trees? homey trees for me, but whatever makes you happy makes me happy! (OK, I do think the pink, marabou feather with high heels and bustiers à la Victoria's Secret are just horrible.)

Friday, December 07, 2007


When I was pregnant, I had a few odd cravings. Lucky Charms. Root Beer. (Not mixed.) Donuts. Ice Cream. I ate a lot of organic low-fat cheez doodles, lemon drops, ginger ale, saltine crackers, Mac'n'Cheese (Annie's Naturals--Dr. B insisted on the fancy organic mac) and frozen Canadian Bacon pizza. These were things that I could keep down, and didn't repulse me at the thought of eating them. (Then. Now? A different story.)

After finding two 1960's copies of Julia Child's first two French cookbooks, in near-mint condition, I was inspired. On a bitter cold night, I peeled potatoes and measured cream for Scalloped Potatoes, tweaking it into a meal by adding ham. I pulled out the french cornichons and tossed a lovely vinaigrette for the salad.

And as the scent of butter, cream and pork wafted from the oven, a craving hit.


I wanted a beer. NOW.

Dr. B kindly trudged through the snow to our local liquor shop around the corner and explained it to the grandmotherly lady at the counter.

"My wife is pregnant, and she's craving a beer."

She pulled out 3 bottles of non-alcoholic brew, and popped them in a bag.

"No charge," she said with a smile.

They say kids like the foods that are around them. What you eat when you're pregnant and nursing becomes their preference.

If so, our daughter will be a connoisseur of chocolate, stinky cheeses, ice cream and coffee. Already she's showing that these things, though not traditional American "kid food", are to her liking. Each day, I have to carefully hold her far away from my right hand as I sip my morning java.

And in the evening? Well, watch what happens...

Wisconsin Baby: Beer Loving is Genetic from Ronica on Vimeo.

Friday, November 30, 2007


Lately, I've been complaining. Way too much. Though there will always be things to complain about (I could write a diatribe on the idiotic pedestrians in this town), there are sure a lot of wonderful things in my life, too. Since I missed the holiday (shucks, I was in the Bahamas), it's about time I was thankful for something.

So here goes. This is what I've been thinking about lately. And I'm ever so thankful.

*my beautiful daughter
*my wonderful, thoughtful husband (He just said, "what can I do to make life less stressful for you right now?" and then cleaned things willingly.)
*being able to stay home with Rowan, and play with her in my jammies until noon if I want. (She doesn't care if I have bad breath, either.)
*our supportive family (who watched Rowan for me while I snorkeled!)
*great friends who check on me just to see how I'm doing. I love that.
*Lucy. She's the greatest dog ever. (I found her sleeping on the floor next to Rowan's crib at 6:00 yesterday morning. And the night we came home, she went into Rowan's room to check on her after I put her to bed.)
*adult cartoons. (I love Family Guy. And King of the Hill. And I love that Rowan doesn't understand it yet.)
*chocolate. and red wine. and ice cream. (see last post)
*good books and a library card
*penguin flannel sheets (on sale even!) Because Penguins are So Sensitive to My Needs.
*warm sweaters, Converse All Stars and jeans that fit
*gummy smiles
*snow (!!!) (That's a hint, Mama Nature. Send so me, soon please?)
*how my pores get miniscule in the wintertime
*the feeling of cold air in my nose
*cuddling up in flannel sheets and under lots of heavy blankets
*the lovely warm/cold contrast when you come inside or go outside
*squishy socks and wool haus schus (indoor clogs from Germany)
*drinking hot coffee and watching the snow fall (again with the hint!)
*decorating for Christmas, and remembering the holidays with my Mom.
*the sparkle of the sun on the snow
*the excitement of finding the perfect gift for someone I love.
*wrapping presents while listening to REM Green (personal tradition).
*falling asleep during the movie "White Christmas" (which I have never made it through.)
*Christmas any cookies
*Holiday parties
*OPI tiny treasures Russian collection. Itty Bitty Nail Polishes!
*finding a hairdresser I like who does a good job on my hair (which isn't easy). She doesn't have as many tattoos as KC, but her hair is pink. And she didn't bat an eye when I stopped in and asked her to touch up a spot I wasn't satisfied with.
*Rowan taking naps. Hallelujah! (#2 today, right now.)
*friends who will watch her while we go to a department function tonight. Our first night out together without her--gulp!
*finding convenience foods that are delicious and don't just taste like plastic and preservatives and make me fart a lot later. Hey, I'm a new mom. I don't have time to cook from scratch all the time anymore--I'd rather play with my baby than sautée shallots and clarify butter.
*peace and quiet. Even if it is just for a few minutes while she, her Dad, and the dog take a nap on a Saturday afternoon.
*the firewire that allowed me to get our Bahamas pics off the computer that went kablooey. (I'll upload them next week. Dr. B agreed that tomorrow we go on the hunt for the Christmas Tree. Yipee!)
*finally finishing this post and picking out what I'm going to wear for the party tonight.
*really, I'm done now.

Have a wonderful weekend!

She must be teething

The vacation was wonderful. She was a charmer. We got home, after the flight home from hell, and still she was an angel, though she was tired. Smiling, laughing, trying to entertain me. She'd catch my eye and give me a big, gummy grin. Bouncing away in her jumperoo, she played happily while I waded through mountains of laundry.

Then came today.

She shrieks and complains from dawn to dusk, and beyond. No naps. Screaming, twisting, writhing, crying. Tylenol gives me 20 minutes of respite, that's it. Her lower lip is red, and she sucks on it constantly. She bites me. And then tries to swallow the entire boob.

She coughs, gagging, and then tries to shove her fist further down her throat. Her attention span has shortened to 4 seconds. She sleeps only in the car when "Baba O'Reilly" is cranked, loud. Then the radio DJ changes to some drippy light rock crap and she wakes up wailing. She's not happy sitting, lying down, being held, standing, rocking, in the jumperoo, in the carseat, in the stroller, anywhere. I've tried the orajel, the cool teething rings, Sophie la Girafe, sucking on a rag, everything. There's just no way to make her happy. She's hurting. (So am I.)

Her dad has had a lot of late meetings and events, so Mom has been going it solo. Thank heavens for red wine.

And chocolate.

Did I mention brownies?

PS. Ice cream. I forgot the ice cream. Who needs meals?

PPS. She finally passed out as I wrote this. Hallelujah. I need a refill.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Paradise Lost

The Bahamas was wonderful. I had a fabulous time with my family. We swam, walked on the beach, wore lovely sundresses and sandals and left our jackets in the closet, enjoyed the beautiful wedding, ate way too much, I read a completely fluffy novel while Rowan napped, and I even snorkeled on a coral reef in the middle of the ocean. It was unbelievable! I didn't want to leave, but after grabbing a few quick souvenirs, the driver loaded my bags and I jumped on the shuttle for the airport.

Then the nightmare started.

3 different lines of security at the Nassau airport (the shoes off, computer out, whole bit, which is no fun once with a stroller and carseat and infant, much less three times), a zillion people all leaving at the same time (=long lines, very hot airport, few chairs), no lunch, a rough flight, then 4 hours of layover in Atlanta that became 7 hours when things were delayed over and over again, computer screens at the airport that stopped working (thus 8 thousand loud announcements = zero naps for Rowan), a billion zillion trillion people in Atlanta, 3 gate changes, a crying, tired, fussy baby, way too much stuff, not enough diapers, repeated announcements begging 4 people to leave the plane because we were "overweight" (I would have taken the deal they offered if they had thrown in a case of diapers and a toothbrush), lots of turbulence, worries because no one took their deal (would we plummet to the ground because of our weight problem?) and we finally landed in State College around 11:30 PM. And it was raining, and very cold. And we have no jetways. (The pilot himself carried my bag, and the flight attendant covered Rowan with a blanket so I could walk down the plane stairs and run across the tarmac.)

Luckily, I had 6 "surrogate grandparents" who helped me in Nassau and Atlanta and State College. I don't know what I would have done without their willing arms to rock the baby and help me carry the stroller and carseat, which had to be gate checked in Atlanta.

Then, this morning I went to boot up my computer to post a cute pic of Rowan in her bikini on the beach for you and lo and behold, it won't boot.


Back to reality. Sigh.

PS: I have a doctor's appointment today, so don't expect quick responses if you emailed me. I got lucky because Dr. B left his laptop at home, but when I get showered and get home from the doc's office (just routine getting-to-know-you, so I don't have to go to the ER for a headache), I have a boatload of laundry to do. Or should I say a planeload?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


So we're ready. The bags are packed, and way too heavy. Her bikinis, my capris, sunscreen and hats--we're prepared not only for our 5 day trip, but for a season in the Bahamas.

So while you're choking down dry turkey and washing it down with wine, I'll be wandering around the Atlanta airport for hours and hours, on my way to the Bahamas, with the baby.

Wish me luck. I agreed to sing at the wedding. (Gulp.)

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


It seems to be going 'round the internet--no one is in the mood to post. Well, me neither. But in the interest of being a whiney brat, I do have some excuses. OK, way too many excuses. So, in no particular order...

*One week from tomorrow Rowan and I are flying to the Bahamas for my sister's and Josh's wedding. Been busy buying and gathering stuff for that. I have my dress, it's altered, got the Super Sucker 3000 to wear under it, got jewelry, shoes, wrap, etc. Rowan has 2 bikinis. (I am looking forward to the ritual putting away of the summer clothes when we return--my closet is stuffed and I still have nothing to wear!) I wonder if they'll have Jerk Turkey or something.

*I made 88 of Judeen's Norwegian Meatballs (my Mom's recipe--the best!) and froze them in preparation for the holidays. Didn't sample one, so I hope they don't suck. Haven't had the Lefse Weekend yet, but I'm thinking about it. Need recruits.

*We got our PA drivers' licenses and license plates. And it was a huge saga. Took 6 trips. (Really.) Needed every sort of documentation you could imagine, in duplicate (and a few they forgot to tell us about.) Plus, they're closed on Columbus Day. Columbus Day. AND the 2 days before. You know, because it's such a major holiday. I commented that it was as bad as French bureaucracy. Dr. B said, "No wonder. The government in Pennsylvania is actually older than that of France." He's right. (To be fair, the guy behind the counter here was nicer than the ones in France. And he never said, "It's not possible! It's not possible!" and then wasted 20 minutes of our time flirting with his coworkers after showing up 1/2 an hour late, like the french bureaucrat did.)

*Started to think about what we're doing for Xmas. More on that later.

*Organized Rowan's room so when she grows out of stuff I have 4 boxes on the floor of her closet to drop the too tiny togs into. (Mine, Sam's, Angie's, Christine's.) Thank God for hand-me-downs.

*Stripped, sanded and primed her high chair. Need to touch up the primer (and do the top of the tray) and then paint it. It's going to be "Apple A Day" red.

*Got Rowan's dress for the wedding. Made family and friends trek all over looking for another size of the same dress (they were out here) for the reception in April. (The bride found it in Minneapolis.) Her dress matches mine and the bride's. And I found it at Walmart, of all places. But hey--2 $14 dresses is better than one for 70 bucks at Macy's. And I know she'll have one that fits for the celebration in the Twin Cities. And it's not like anyone will care if it's not silk. She's just going to drool on it.

*Took Lucy for a short walk with Rowan in the Baby Bjorn on Tuesday night when Jeff was out of town. It started pouring. Like BUCKETS. Then I dropped my keys and couldn't find them. (I think Rowan kicked them out of my pocket.) Panic ensued, I cried, it was dark, we were wet and cold, Rowan fell asleep, I worried she had hypothermia, but I finally found them. It was more traumatic than it sounds, really. So we were all in our jammies by 6. And Lucy rubbed wet dog all over the couches.

*My migraines are back. Damn it. Insomnia, too. Fun fun!

*Our friends are coming for a week to visit us! We are so excited. I'm thinking outlet malls, fondue bourguignonne, Tarot games and yarn stores. Can't wait!!! (And she's bringing goodies...)

*Sat choosing paint colors for the stupid greeney-yellow kitchen ("pineapple mousse"--yuck.) with Dr. B. He's really stubborn. We're compromising by letting him choose. (I guess that's because he gave up on I won the picture hanging argument.) I hope we get this done by the time A, J and M get here.

*I'm on steroids. Random rash, stupid sensitive skin. (Seriously. Don't even have a clue what this one is from. I'm allergic to just about everything. Including gold. Who's allergic to gold????)

*Decided I have a love/hate relationship with our local grocery emporium, Wegman's. Love the huge selection, wonderful pre-made meals, fantastic meat/fish department, decent (for an American grocery store) bakery and patisserie, to-die-for cheese counter, good produce, store brand that tastes better than the commercial brands (really--they even make low fat ice cream that's better than Ben and Jerry's, and super cheap), and new and wonderful things (including a lot from local farmers) every time I go, etc. Hate the fact that I rarely get out of there for under 100 bucks, sometimes 200. (Not that it's expensive--there's just so much good stuff! Good thing I'm breast feeding, or I'd be seriously fat.) Hate that they don't have Tony Chachere's Original Creole Seasoning (and I'm out.) And that no one else in town does either. Zatarain's just isn't the same.

*Perpetually sweeping and vacuuming up leaves. By the boatload. Because the way our townhouses are designed, they fly into the kitchen every time the door is opened. Then they fly into the living room. Then the dog lays on them and they stick to her fur and she drags them upstairs. Really irritating.

*Wondering where to buy decent baby tights. The cheap ones don't have articulated feet (they're like tube socks, so they have way too much fabric at the ankles) and Macy's doesn't sell tights any more. Anyone?

*Preparing to buy velcro to stick Rowan's shoes to her tights and inside her shoes so they stay on during pictures. She can get them off in 13 seconds flat, so I hope this works.

*Trying to figure out how the heck I'm going to get me, the baby, and all her crap to the Bahamas. I think I need a truck for inside the airport. Do they sell diapers in paradise?

*Watching Rowan's new thing--scritch scritch scritch. She scratches at everything with her fingernails. And she can put her feet in her mouth, and does pretty much every time you take her diaper off. (Yeah, she inherited my bendiness.)

*Speaking of bendiness, I'm wishing for a yoga studio that has child care. Or that Dr. B would come home early one night a week so I could go. HINT.

*Made a hair appointment for a cut and highlights. Hoping this woman is better than the last one. I look like Dorothy Hamill right now. It's bad.

*Made a doctor's appointment so I don't have to go to the ER every time I get a rash or an ingrown toenail. And so I don't have to call my doctor friends and beg for advice on a Sunday night when I get a migraine. Said doctor friend even drove to her office to double check in her book for me. Now that's a good friend. Thanks, Brenda!!! (Snaps to Brenda) Note: here it's really weird. You just pick a random doctor and call them. No hoops, no hierarchies, no special numbers to call. It was so freeing, I was completely at a loss. Couldn't do it. Finally, I got a recommendation. She was booked, but a colleague had an opening. I hope I like her.

*Wasting my time on Facebook. Because getting to the next level in Vampires, Slayers, Zombies and Werewolves is really that important. (I am a Zombie Ninja right now.) And arguing about whether "de" is a valid Scrabulous word. And throwing turkeys at people. Heh.

*Wasting more time writing long, boring blog posts that no one really wants to read because I'm just whining. And wondering why the Brits spell whining with a spare 'g', like this: "whingeing". Looks like "Hwin-Jing" to me. I guess it is "hwinjing". I just learned a new word! But I really don't think I could use it in conversation and keep a straight face. And frankly, I'm not sure I know how to whinge, anyway. I think it might have something to do with plumbing.

*Watching The Flight of the Conchords on YouTube. They just tickle my funny bone. (The most beautiful girl... with a kebab.) Enjoy.

*Watching Dancing with the Stars on It's like figure skating, but not. Tacky, flashy costumes, cheesy arrangements of popular tunes, sweaty smiling people, and scores! Guilty pleasure. I wish I could do it. I would rock those sequins.

OK, enough time wasting. Back to real work. Off to find velcro.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Hold Me Closer

Happy Halloween 2007, originally uploaded by MrsBinParis.

I wasn't going to make her a costume.

I held out, until the night before.

I saw the little white tights, laying on her dresser. Her pink maryjane Robeez. And the little pink long-sleeved T-shirt with the snaps, just like a little leotard, and I couldn't resist.

So, we headed to JoAnn fabrics, I grabbed some elastic and a yard and a half of rose and pink tulle, and got out the scissors.

I tied knot after knot while we watched The Great Pumpkin, and the next morning dressed my Tiny Dancer. I considered putting on her sunglasses and buying her a tiny piano, but Dr. B thought that was a little over the top. She was a hit at the mall (waiting for the car to be done with the PA emissions test), at her Daddy's work, and at Otto's for supper. I even got in the spirit and put on tights, ballet flats, a jersey skirt and a wrap sweater, all in black. I was her choreographer. I even had the speech planned, "You got dreams? You want fame? Well, right here's where you start paying! IN SPIT!!!" But no one even noticed me. It was all about her.

And she drooled all over the tulle.

Of Socks and Pumpkin Pants

Happy Halloweek!, originally uploaded by MrsBinParis.

Last Tuesday was a very sad day.

A pair of my most favorite socks (that I wear all the time, not just in October, similar to my penguin socks) were decidedly done. They were worn through on the heels, and I'm not about to learn to darn a pair of socks that cost 2 bucks, so I had to put my Vampire Socks in the trash.


I set out to find a replacement. And I did. Two, in fact. Please note that the candy corn ones are extra versatile, because you can wear them for Thanksgiving as well. (Corn is Thanksgivingy, right?) I love the witch boot pair, because they remind me of those witch cartoons you used to see back in the day, when Bugs was on every Saturday morning, and the parents slept in and let you eat pudding pops for breakfast (OK, maybe they didn't know about that) and watch hours and hours of TV in your jammies.

And the rest of the girls are getting in the spirit, too. Rowan's have little spiders on them. And for some reason, orange daisies. Lucy's ghost scarf glows in the dark, too.

Happy Halloweek!!!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Sucking on Sophie

Sucking on Sophie from Ronica on Vimeo.

When Rowan gets tired, she starts acting, well, sort of strange. This video is a good example. It was taken Saturday afternoon, in the dressing room at Macy's while her dad was trying on pants. After manically nursing the rubber giraffe's face and shrieking a bit, she makes a fart noise with her mouth. Three minutes later, she was passed out in her stroller, in what we call the Buddha pose (ie no neck, eyes closed, mouth closed.) She slept for a good half hour, long enough to get Dr. B a pair of jeans, a pair of pants and two new shirts. (They were having some good sales!) All in all, a good day's work.

Friday, October 26, 2007

F'in a UFO

Detail of collar, originally uploaded by MrsBinParis.

Knitters are famous for UFO's, me included. This was a sweater I started for Louise, the summer before we left Paris to move back to the US. I finished it, except for the weaving in and buttons, but there were things I wanted to fix.

So it sat in my knitting basket for about a year.

I finally decided that since I'd lost the pattern and couldn't remember what kind of yarn it was, much less what size needles, I should just finish the dumb thing before my own child, conceived and born since I'd laid it down, would outgrow it.

So I grabbed some buttons at Walmart and spent way too much time poorly sewing in the billions of ends. I washed and blocked it, and now it's sitting, waiting to dry (which is taking forever because it's been raining for days and days and days.)

An unusual color for a baby girl, perhaps, but I like it. I think it's Debbie Bliss Cashmerino, but I really don't remember. It's not perfect by any means, but it's done. UFO is FO'd!

Now I need to get moving on the shawl collared shrug I'm knitting for her, before she outgrows that one, too!

Sunday, October 21, 2007


Dr. B grew up in a hockey family, in a hockey town, and though he didn't play himself, he is a die-hard fan. Upon marrying him, I had to learn, and quick.

So I did, and we are forever Sioux fans, cheering loud for our guys in green.

Then, we moved to Wisconsin, and when they weren't playing our team, we cheered the Badgers on.

Upon moving to Pennsylvania, we were disappointed knowing that Penn State didn't have a team in the college conference, Hockey East. They have a club team, but it's just not quite the same as the crazy fervor of "yoooooooooooouuuuuuuurrrrrrrrrr North Dakotaaaaaaahhhh Fighting SIIIIIIIIIOOOOOOOOOOUUUUUUUUUUUUXXXXXXXXX!!!!" (Insert blasting opening chords of "Y'all Ready for this?")

But, PA does have hockey. NHL Hockey, and two teams. We were told to support the Penguins, because someone who my mother-in-law used to work with was married to a former Penguin. A plausible reason, and they are owned by Mario Lemieux, the legendary player. So we turned on the game, and started watching.

Good hockey. Fast game, exciting play, and 2 really good fights. And there's a certain player who's getting a lot of buzz. A very young player who is already breaking records, who has impressed Gretzky, was made captain of his team at 19 years old, and who in his first season scored 102 goals. They call him "the next one".

And he's not exactly ugly. (Go on, girls, look. I'll wait.)

OK, I can root for him them. Hmmm... maybe we'll have to go to a game one of these days...


My brother-in-law is amazing. He's a wonderful guy who always makes my husband laugh until tears run down his face. He's dealt with unbelievable things in his life, and always come out stronger. He's a caring husband to my awesome sister-in-law Samantha, and a great father to my 4 incredible nephews and nieces. And he's a very, very talented finishing carpenter who owns his own business, Brownson Construction, in Billings, MT.

This week (10/21), they aired the television show about the Carter Family in Billings who were given a new home on Extreme Home Makeover. Todd's business did the finishing carpentry on the project. (That means the woodwork, doors, windows, etc.) The home is gorgeous (especially the woodwork, ahem), and the story is incredibly heartwarming.

If you missed it, please check out the show at (if you have a US IP address. Foreign ones don't work, sorry.) They don't show him, or even mention him (though they're mentioned on the main contractor's website), but his work speaks for itself. I'm so proud of him!!!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Smile 1.0

Smile 1.0, originally uploaded by MrsBinParis.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


Dr. B and I are no stranger to things changing in our lives. We moved away from our home state for his graduate school, and when he finished that, we left the country and spent a year in Paris. We came home, returning to the familiar, and then began our journey as parents-to-be. For the most part, things always seemed to turn out for us. Whether this is due to my guardian angel or not, we had always come out on top.

Then Rowan was born. Now don't get me wrong--this wasn't a bad thing. But it didn't turn out just as we expected.

Rowan had colic for the first few months of her life. She would scream and cry and fuss for hours and hours on end, and nothing we did would calm her. She would not be soothed. It tore at our hearts to see our little girl upset, when we could find nothing to help her. And not only that, she didn't seem to even know we existed. She didn't love us. She didn't need us. We couldn't help her and she didn't care.

I felt like a failure. For one of the first times in my life, I was failing at something.

I led an easy life--I got good grades, learned easily, made friends, was happy. I was both talented, gifted, lucky. Though I had dealt with things that were difficult, I always came through it. But this time, no amount of thinking or research or planning or intuition could solve this problem. I couldn't do it. And I didn't know how to take that.

I had thought, before she was born, that the connection would be instant. That I would love her more than life itself from day one, like all parents talk about. But it just wasn't that way. I loved her, yes. But I didn't like her that much. She wasn't very easy to like. Yes, she was beautiful, and perfect, and wonderful and a blessing from God. But she was very difficult, and it was difficult to deal with the fact that I wasn't completely in love with my daughter. I felt awful, but sometimes I was very angry, and frustrated and defeated. I was very ashamed. I felt like a terrible mother.

Then, Dr. B had to come to Pennsylvania to start his job, and we spent six weeks visiting family. I was scared. Scared to death. It was all on me.

It was tough, though I had the help of our family. But it was still up to me. Then slowly, it started to get easier. She still had her tough days, but they were fewer. She started smiling, and one day she smiled when she saw me. And things started to change. Very slowly, they started to change.

Last week, Dr. B had a conference in Washington DC for four days. I was all alone, with her and with Lucy. And it was fine. No, better than fine. It was good.

The other day, Rowan had her 4 month shots. She screamed when the nurse poked her, and cried desperately as I gathered up her papers and checked out. We went outside, and I took her in my arms and sat on the grass with her, holding her close and cuddling her and singing silly songs until she calmed down and returned to her happy self.

The next day, she was still reacting to the shots. This time she wasn't fussy, but she did take more naps, and long ones. I found myself checking on her, often.

And then I realized it. I couldn't wait for her to wake up. I missed her.

This is one change I am very proud of. This is a real accomplishment. This means more to me than a doctoral degree or a year abroad or the perfect job or the best performance.

Mom's little angel

I am absolutely, positively in love with my daughter. I look forward to waking her up in the morning, and I can't wait to snuggle with her when I hear her stir. Her laughter gives me that "squeeee!!!" feeling I got the first time Dr. B called me for a date. Her smiles light up my world. When she buries her face in my neck as I carry her up to bed, I'm in heaven.

I'm a Mom, and now I finally feel like a good one.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Heaven Sent

The Littlest Angel, originally uploaded by MrsBinParis.

Thanks, Mom. She's beautiful.


Dr. B and I aren't football fans. Frankly, sports aren't the least bit interesting for us, save of course for the best team in the world. Last night, as we met some of his colleagues for supper at Otto's Brewpub in State College, we were asked who we'd be rooting for during today's big homecoming game. I saw some Badger fans, glowingly happy in their cherry red jackets, and I felt, well, a little homesick.

I like State College. It's my new home, and it's Dr. B's new job, which he really enjoys. It's a great university, great reputation, beautiful area, blah blah blah. But I spent seven years of my life in Cheezland, drinking the wonderful local microbrews with lots of wonderful friends, enjoying squeaky curds (well, not often--I'm not a big fan of those. Cheese really shouldn't squeak.) and eating brats (well, not a lot of those either--have you seen the cholesterol count?) so it's hard to say "Go Lions!" when for years it's been "Go Badgers!" (Of course, unless they were playing the Fighting Sioux, but that's a given. We will always bleed green.)

So today, I admit to mixed emotions when finding out that the Nittany Lions trounced the Badgers in an embarrassing event at the local stadium.

I feel a little guilty. I saw my Wisconsin sweatshirt, neatly folded on the top shelf of the closet, and I didn't put it on.

Shame on me.

Sorry, Badgers. I'll have to do penance.

Would cheese curds and a brat help?

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

A Surprise Will Appear in My Pants

Fortune cookie fortunes always come true.

Child Star

Good Morning! from Ronica on Vimeo.

This is amazing. Pretty much the definition of camera shy.

I guess they'll never make a movie starring her.

Oh well. I'll just have to win the lottery to make my millions. (Maybe I should start playing?)

But you have to admit, she is pretty cute.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Thursday, October 04, 2007


you accidentally put Preparation H on your toe instead of Neosporin, will you get hemorrhoids on your feet?



Rowan is four months old now, and she's starting to develop a schedule. She isn't rigid, but she often takes a morning nap, and sometimes takes an afternoon nap. She likes to go to bed around the same time and wake up around the same time, playing by herself for a few minutes in her crib every morning and greeting me with a grin and a giggle. And knock on wood, she's sleeping through the night. (She won't tonight, because I said that.) I can go out and do errands, but only after the morning nap, and not every day.

When she was little, we'd often strap her in the carseat, go out for dinner, and she'd be great. We could head out late, enjoy our supper, and she'd sleep away, charming the waiters and other restaurant patrons with how good she was.

Dr. B was determined that our child would be different. She'd grow up with our lifestyle, and would naturally take to it. She wouldn't be like other kids, and force her parents to do her bidding. She'd eat artichoke hearts and camembert sandwiches, eschew chicken nuggets and mac'n'cheese, and would behave herself perfectly well in the most trendy/snotty/fancy/of-the-moment restaurants while we leisurely enjoyed a glass of wine and rosemary goat cheese wontons with thai curry lingonberry chutney*.

Last night, Dr. B got home rather late from work. He had a very important phone call with a very important group about a new project that he and a colleague want to try that day, and he had been very nervous about it. The call went well, and he wanted to celebrate. Since he knew I had run errands during the day and taken Lucy for a long walk, he offered to take me out to dinner. But, by the time he got home and we were ready to go, it was 8 PM. And Rowan wasn't having any of it.

We diapered her, put her in her jammies, and strapped her into the car seat. That's when the trouble started. Before we could snap the buckles, she was wailing. Dr. B was not about to be told what to do by a 17 week old baby. He grabbed the car seat, and walked out the door. As I picked up the diaper bag and began to follow him, the tears started. Dr. B stomped to the gate, and then stomped back when I asked him to lock the door to the house. By the time we clicked her into the base in the car, she was going full force. Bloody murder screaming.

Determined, Dr. B set his jaw and put the car in gear. "I'll feed her at the restaurant," I offered. "The place is close, right?"

More screaming from the back seat.

"I'm sorry, Honey. It's just late. She wants to be home, going to bed."

"She can sleep in her car seat. She'll be fine," he said.

"You tell her that."

We stopped at the end of the drive, and Dr. B sighed. We listened to her scream for a few minutes more, and I turned to look at him. "We can go, honey," I said. "There aren't any cars coming."

He sighed deeply. "I'll take you back, and go get the pizza and bring it home," he said, angry but defeated.

As soon as Rowan's car seat was picked up, she stopped crying. As I unstrapped her, she sighed with relief. She ate slowly as if savoring her meal, and muttered not a peep when I layed her down in her crib, even though her mobile was out of batteries and she had to make due with just the womb bear and a soothie.

Dr. B came home just as I walked back down the stairs, loaded down with spicy stuffed banana peppers, BBQ chicken pizza, wine, and yogurt and coffee (the things I had forgotten at the store.)

"You were right," he said as he poured me a glass of wine. "I pushed it and it didn't work, it wasn't fair. To either of you."

"You can reason with just about anyone," I answered, "except a 4 month old baby. There's no messing with her."

Bring on the chicken nuggets.

*I made this up. Sounds gross, doesn't it?

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Podunk Hospital

Saturday night, Dr. B and I were getting ready for bed, tripping over each other in our tiny bathroom as we tried to brush our teeth, wash our face (OK, mine) and take out our contacts (OK, mine again.) His haus-schuh (German wool clog) brushed over my big toe, and I screamed. "AAAARRGGHHH!!!!! YOU HAVE TO BE MORE CAREFUL!!!"

He took one look at my swollen, pink toe and shook his head.

"Honey, that's infected. It's not getting better. You have to go to the doctor."


Yeah, an ingrown toenail. And I have to go to the doctor. Great.

So, the next day I started making calls. Being new to the area, we didn't yet have a regular doc, and I didn't know who to see. In Madison, at the top-rated clinics and hospitals, I would have gone to Acute Care or Urgent Care, been given a referral, and then seen a special foot doctor at the special clinic. Efficient, clean, organized--and don't you dare deviate from the plan. But no matter what, all I would have to do is tell my problem to whomever answered the phone, and I would be shuttled off to the right person/place/time in a wink.

"Um, I don't know. Huh. Hmm. Uh.... Well, I suppose you should see a podiatrist?"

Great. I got the guy with all the information.

"I don't know if we have any around here. You could always come to the ER."

Wonderful. The emergency room. For a toenail.

"Let me send you back to the ER. They should be able to tell you."

OK, fine. ER. They should know.

"Oh. An ingrown toenail? Infected? Huh. I guess you should see a podiatrist."

This is going great. Boy, I have incredible confidence in the medical system, let me tell you.

"Huh. I don't know if we have any around here. Or if they're taking new patients. Maybe you should just come in to the ER."

(Me) "For a toenail? Really?"

"Yeah, it's fine. No big deal!"

OK. The ER for a toenail. I can't quite accept this.

(Me again, expecting a 3 hour wait.) "So, when are you least busy?"

"Ha ha! Oh, you never know. Sometimes it's quiet, then it gets real busy... might even change between the time you call and the time you arrive. We never know! Just come in when you can."

Okey dokey.

So, Monday morning I ate lunch early, packed Rowan into the car, and after dropping off a shelf to be repaired at the glass shop ("We're real busy, it might take until Friday!"), went to the ER. I packed 3 books for her and a book for me, plus puppy dog finger puppets (it's good to have a soon-to-be uncle who works for Manhattan Toy).

We arrived, and I went up to the desk. "I feel kind of stupid about this, but I have an ingrown toenail." She assured me it was no problem, gave me a form to fill out (name, injury, birthdate and SSN. That was it.) I was shown in to be registered in a few minutes. A few minutes later, I was back in a room. And a few minutes later, I saw a doctor. He didn't quite seem to know what he was doing, but he was quick.

"Hmmm... I don't know if I can do anything with this. I can give you antibiotics, but I think you'll need to see a podiatrist. I don't know if there are any in the area."

Broken record?

I sat there, staring at my toe, and wondering if I'd have to drive all the way to Pittsburgh or Philly to see a doctor. For a stupid ingrown toenail. Would Dr. B have to take off work? Could I drive myself? Would I have to be admitted? Are we talking real surgery here?

A few minutes later, he came back.

"If you can wait 25 minutes, we have a PA that can do the surgical procedure for you."

25 minutes? I was planning on 3 hours!!! "Yeah, I can wait."

I fed Rowan, read her a story, and began reading my own book. Then the PA (a Mommy of one boy, who cooed over Rowan's adorable Robeez) came in, with a nurse (a Daddy of 3 girls) who offered to hold the baby.

Then the fights began. 3 more volunteers came into our room during the procedure, arguing over who got to hold the baby (2 Grandpas and a Grandma.)

Yep, we're in a small town.

The PA was excellent, numbing my toe with lots of lidocaine (4 CC's), cutting quickly and efficiently, and showing me afterwards the jagged edge that had been causing the pain. One of the volunteers cleaned up my foot (after reluctantly giving up the baby). Another came to wheel me to my car afterwards, helping me juggle the diaper bag, my purse and the car seat, and neatly folding my prescriptions and instructions and putting them in the bag for me.

I was given antibiotics, and instructions for 5 pain pills every four hours (2 tylenol, 3 advil.) "We could give you something stronger, but since you're breastfeeding..." the doctor said. I looked at him, and pointed to Rowan.

"29 hours of labor. I'll be fine."

Though the hospital may not have been the model of efficiency and experience Madison's are, they took good care of me, and made me feel more like I was being treated by my aunt and uncle, rather than a big city professional. And it was just fine.

So afterwards, I made a quick stop to get a replacement social security card for mine that I can't find and need to get a driver's license here (gotta love a small town--the wait was about 4 minutes.) We then ran to Walmart to get my prescription filled. After 10 minutes spent entering my information, the clerk smiled and said, "that will be 30 to 40 minutes."

You have got to be kidding me. I didn't wait that long in the ER.

Yeah, whatever. A ploy to get you to shop. But I needed groceries, and Dr. B needed a shoe rack for his closet, and I wanted to try to make a Christmas stocking for Rowan and needed some fuzzy chenille yarn, so I got everything taken care of in one stop. After a caramel sundae chez McDo, we headed home. (You have to take antiobiotics with food, you know, and that's food. Really.) I tried to lay her down for a nap after she ate and we took Lucy out for a potty break (during which Fuzz-Face stepped on my bad toe and then nearly tore my arm off trying to eat a cat), but Rowan was too wound up. We played, then went to meet Dr. B for supper out. (I had the duck sandwich, he had the Eddie D'licious.)

And Rowan hit the wall.

After a whole day of crazy errands and being a very good girl, she'd had enough. So, we took turns eating and holding/walking/soothing her, and came home. She ate again, got PJ'd up, and I laid her down. She was passed out after one revolution of the mobile.

That was just about the most productive day I've had since she was born. I may not have unpacked a single box, but I got a lot done. Sometimes, life is a lot easier in a small town.

Friday, September 28, 2007

I Look Exactly Like This

My sister's getting married in November in the Bahamas. And me being the super nice sister I am, I'm going. (Twist my rubber arm.) Dr. B is staying here. I know, that makes no sense to normal people, but to him it is very clear. He must pay off our debt (well, except student loans, the mortgage and the car) before he can do anything fun. He would just feel too guilty. (I don't understand either, but it's like the vacuum--you just don't argue with Mr. OCD.)

When I visited my aunt in August, we looked at the website for the resort we're going to be at for the wedding, and I realized that my stained and stretched out t-shirts and 4 year old capri pants just weren't going to cut it. So, I hit the Herberger's and bought a whole bunch of tropical-looking sundresses on 70% off. Got some new sandals, too. Found a bikini, sun hat and cover up for Rowan on clearance at Target. When visiting my sister the next week, we even found a dress for me to wear for the wedding at the BCBG Max Azria outlet. 40 bucks for a 400 dollar dress--not bad.

But, the thing I didn't have was a swimsuit. This being the Caribbean, I didn't think I could weasel my way out of wearing one too easily, and the last one I bought (in 2000 I think) was looking a little tired. It's so old, I'm not even sure the elastic still has the boing factor--I may be able to carry my suntan lotion in the extra room in the booty region.

But I hate suit shopping. Who doesn't? It sucks. The last time I had success was at a Lands' End inlet, after going through about 40 suits. Pick your reason for denial:

Smoosh the boobs
Poochy on the butt
Only fit when I slouch (I have a very long torso)
Two words: Michelin Man
So high in the leg I look like Jane Fonda circa 1983, only fatter
Make my skin look like dead fish flesh
Those fluorescent lights!

I'd heard Victoria's Secret had good suits. Really good.

Yeah, I didn't believe it either.

But, I gave it a go. To hedge my bets, I got a "long torso" size, 2 piece tankini. Ordered 2 sizes and 2 color combinations, knowing full well that the smaller one wouldn't fit, and expecting that neither one would look decent on me.

But I was wrong. Not about the smaller one fitting. It didn't.

But the other one did. See it up there? I look exactly like that in it. Really!

OK, not exactly. (Her hair is longer.) But I don't look half bad. The tummy pooch is hidden, it's not too high on the legs, the color is (for once) not black, the pattern is very cheerful without making me feel like I should be waiting tables at Cheezburger in Paradise, and it keeps the girls in place without smooshing them much. I actually like it. AND the matching capri pants were on sale for 10 bucks.

How can you beat that?

Friday, September 21, 2007


I knew all those hours of practicing the trombone would pay off.

Zerbet from Ronica on Vimeo.

Band Directors make the best zerbeters. And their daughters are so zerbetable.

And it appears that an audio suggestion works as well...

5 Minutes

Rowan Amelia, 15 weeks, originally uploaded by MrsBinParis.

Rowan is in a good mood today, but her naps have been short. Often, but short. Since I can't get much done unpacking-wise, I've been using the time to upload photos and videos.

This is my latest favorite, taken yesterday. Click it to head over to flickr to see more photos from the last 3 weeks.

And maybe this time she'll sleep for more than 5 minutes, and I can get a box unpacked.

Yeah, right.


Booty Dance from Ronica on Vimeo.

This diaper made her butt look big, so Rowan decided to channel Beyoncé and do a booty dance. Topless blonde Beyoncé, that is.


Finally. Captured on camera.

Rowan Laughing at her Dad from Ronica on Vimeo.

She really does laugh and smile, occasionally.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

You Know You're A Mom When...

... you start dancing to the muzak at Walmart in the lampshade isle, just to make your baby laugh.

In my defense, I think it was Patti Smith.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007


I won't be a *itch and tell you I was in my jeans 2 weeks after Rowan was born.

(Woops. Sorry about that. I just did, didn't I? Oh well, don't think it's anything I did. It's genetics, not willpower.)

But I have to celebrate today.

Thanks to breast feeding, stress, and being too lazy to walk downstairs and get the clean, folded jeans next to the dryer...

I am wearing my SKINNY JEANS! For the first time in 2 years!

End brag.

(If it makes you feel better, I do have a big old zit on my forehead.)

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Vacuum Debate

When we moved to France, we had to store all of our stuff. Dr. B, being the Obsessive-Compulsive that he is, freaked out at the end, and began throwing things away. Important things. Cleaning things.

He tossed my mop. My bucket. My broom. The dustpan. Even... the vacuum cleaner.

"It smells like dog! It stinks anyway. Doesn't work for crap."

Well, it did work (or else all that dirt I emptied out of the cup each time was imaginary.) And yeah, it smelled like dog. Likely, any vac would. Because we have a dog.

He was in the midst of a big freak out about getting us to France, learning the language, dotting all the i's and crossing the t's, having no money, etc., so I didn't argue. I know better than to argue with him when he's in the midst of a big freak out. (Or at least let him win part of it. It's a control issue. Logic schmlogic.)
We came back, and our new home had all hardwood floors. With no need for a big vac, I bought new mops and brooms, and made due with a small hand vac for necessary suck ups. It was fine. I still hate mopping, but it was fine.

Now we're in a place with carpet. Lots of new, nice carpet. And it needs vacuuming.

And so the argument begins.

I need your help. We are discussing the Bissell Lift Off and the Dyson Animal (or not the Animal--whatever, a Dyson anyway.) My sister has the Dyson, and loves it. However, I'm not in love with the ginormous price tag, whether I have a Bed, Bath and Beyond All Hope 20% off coupon or not (currently I don't.) Dr. B is convinced it is better, because the inventor is a scientist and of course scientists know better than people who have been making vacuums for umpteen billion years. I think he's buying into the hype of the brilliant inventor's brilliant marketing scheme, personally. Chances are, the Bissell works as well, or not so much worse that anyone would notice unless you told them. (Don't all people with Dysons tell you they have a Dyson? So you'll notice how clean their floor is, of course. Because you wouldn't have noticed otherwise.) The Bissell has a cool feature, too, that I like--the center part pulls out and is easy to carry around (I'm thinking stairs.) I'm not a neat freak (though my sister might argue), but I do like a clean house, especially with a little one who will eventually be toddling around it.

So, what do you think? All I can find online are a bunch of people who buy one, use it once, and rave about how great it is. Yeah, well, the first time you use a bagless it is pretty amazing to see the dirt. I'm over that. (Last one, the "doggie stinky vac" was a bagless, too.) I want to know if the Bissell does a good job, if it will last, and if it is a good alternative. I just have a hard time spending as much for a vacuum as I did for my wedding gown (which was worth every penny.)

UPDATE: We got the Bissell. It works great, is fairly quiet, moves very smoothly, and doesn't lose the on-board parts every time you move it. If it had a retractable cord, I think it would be the perfect machine. (Well, that and if it vacuumed the house for me while I was taking a nap. That would be even better.)

Saturday, September 15, 2007

The Deal

Dr. B has been very busy at work, building his new program and wanting to impress (or at least not tick off) the people around him, so managing the household is pretty much left up to me (except for the AM and PM Lucy walks--he takes care of them.) With a house full of boxes and a 3.5 month old baby, I don't exactly have all my ducks in a row yet, but I'm working on it, slowly but surely. After waking up several days in a row with an aching back, I gave myself a little more slack when it comes to unpacking (and it helped--my back feels much better now). Dr. B promised to help more on the weekend, and I took him at his word. As long as I was able to sit on the couch again, find clean towels, clothes and dishes, and had a bed to sleep in, I could survive.

On Friday night, we were invited to a colleague's home for supper and dog-acquainting. Rowan had another of her no-nap days (after several blissful sleeping-through-the-night and 3 hour nap days), so I was a bit frazzled when he got home from the U. After helping him to find a pair of casual pants to wear (searching his closet and the laundry bin, and subsequently rejecting 5 or 6 options for various reasons), I asked him to change her pants and her outfit so I could also change out of my unpacking clothes, slap on a little lipstick and fluff up my hair.

He laid her on the couch, and got ready to change her pants. Overheard, from upstairs...

"It's naked time! Whoopee! Naked time! Are you ready?"

"Goooo!!!!" (that was Rowan.)

"Ok, here we go. Are you wet or poopy? Just wet. OK, no problem."

He pulls the diaper out from under her.

"Alright. So, I have to reach over there for another diaper. Now, don't pee. It will be just a second, so don't pee. Do we have an understanding?"

"Gaaaahhh!" (Rowan again.)

I am sure you can see where this one is headed.

He reaches for the diaper, and in that split second--you got it.


All over the couch and his carefully chosen pants.

"Hey! Ack! What the... Argh! We had a deal! We had an accord!!! I thought we had an understanding!!!"

Rowan: "Goooo!!!"

Then, she giggled.

Yep. She knows exactly what she is doing.
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