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.
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