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.

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