Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween 2008

Our Sweet Little Candy Corn, originally uploaded by MrsBinParis.

I've been trying. The little stinker refuses to face front with a smile. This is one of 2 photos I got where you can even see both of her eyes, and don't ask me how I got the whole thing blurry except her face, because I have no idea. Watch flickr for more, which I'll upload as I edit them. But I do think she turned out pretty cute (and yes, I did make her costume), and she got lots of "Aw!"'s and treats today when we went to Target and to her Dad's office, with more to come tonight. (Yeah, we're going out. You nuts? People give away free Reese's peanut butter cups! We can't turn that down. And it's not like she knows how much candy Mom and Dad are supposed to eat.)

We wish you all a very Happy Halloween! May you get lots of peanut butter cups! (And no bit o' honey and circus peanuts. Except for Wendy and laurenorange, of course. You guys can have them ALL.)

Watch flickr for more, which I'll upload as I edit them.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Mikayla Teevee

I wanted to be a perfect parent.

I also wanted to be a supermodel astrophysicist who saved the world and cured cancer and the common cold, all while looking really hot and piloting my own personal jet.

So yeah, it's not happening. I make mistakes, a lot. I fail, keep trying, and still I don't live up to my own expectations. And that's OK.

Until recently, Rowan didn't watch TV. At all. We read a lot, listened to music, and played. But just a few weeks ago, she started noticing when it was on. And after a particularly frustrating morning, I turned to the preschool channels for help.

And all of a sudden, she's watching. Climbing on top of her little kitchen to get closer to the screen. Dancing along with the Dancey Dance bunch. And absolutely mesmerized by Dora (which I do not get.) Snuggling in my lap and munching on Ritz peanut butter sandwich crackers and glazing over like a true couch potato. (I do enjoy the snuggly part. And the crackers.)

Dr. B came home from work early one night, and caught a few minutes of Yo Gabba Gabba! He was hooked. He spent the next 2 days obsessively researching the "cool" shows for her to watch, and the annoying ones to avoid. He wants to be modern and hip and for her never to play princess or Barbie or watch Barney. I'd love to agree with him, and am avoiding these things as much as possible, but I know they are inevitable.

Dooo-dit. Doooo- dit. Dooo-dit. Dun dun dun dun dun dun dun dun...

So anyway, I've been slowly exposing her to a few shows, seeing what she likes and what she doesn't. OK. I lied. Seeing what I like and what I don't, and what she responds to off that list. Doing it quickly before she's old enough to ask for Barney herself. ("What? Barney who? Barney Rubble? OK! Flintstone time!") We are lucky to have the KIDS channel that has listings and shows what's on 4 of the channels at a time to make it easy to pick. Plus, we have found Sesame Street free OnDemand, so I use that when I need it. I try not to have it on all day long, but it does have a place in our day.

That being said, here are a few of my choices, and the ones I avoid. And I'm waiting for the rerelease of the Electric Company.

The Watchy-Watch Bunch

1. Yo Gabba Gabba! (Free iron-ons downloadable here.)
2. Sesame Street
3. the Backyardigans
4. Bob the Builder (not Joe the Plumber. I have always liked Bob, maybe because he's positive and he fixes stuff rather than throw it out and buy new. He's very green, our Bob.)
5. Roary the Racecar
6. Sunny Side Up (AM talk for tots! I love Chica the Chicken.)
7. Max and Ruby
8. Blue's Clues (eh. Easy to ignore.)
9. Little Bill
10. Jack's Big Music Show
11. Maggie and the Ferocious Beast (I should hate this, but I don't. I like that the beast is called "Ferocious" and he's a total wuss.)

The Turn Offy Off Bunch

1. Barney and Friends (it's mostly the friends I have a problem with.)
2. Fifi and the Flowertots (this makes me want to yak.)
3. Dragon Tales
4. Thomas and Friends (that's the tank engine)
5. Dora the Explorer (and all her spin-offs)
6. Miss Spider's Sunny Patch Friends
7. Lazytown (Creepy. Scary. Gives me nightmares.)
8. Reba. (I know that's not a kids show, but one second of it burns my eyeballs. If it comes on, Dr. B and I scream and leap for the remote. Just had to share.)

Then there are about a hundred I don't have an opinion on yet. (And the watchy watches may turn into Offy offs any day now.)

So, what about you?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Bit O' Honey and Circus Peanuts

Our friends stopped by at 7:30, and at 8 we headed off to campus, to the dorm that hosted trick or treating for the kids. Rowan was all decked out in her costume (photos to come, don't bug me--I'll get to it.) PK crawled around in his bee costume, allowing the hood to stay up due to the whipping wind. We walked from the parking lot, cutting through buildings, until we got to the dorm that was affiliated with Dr. B's college.

We started in the basement, and Rowan really didn't know what to make of it. She wouldn't carry her bucket, didn't want candy, and stared at the "crazy" guy in the straight jacket strapped to a chair, possibly considering climbing up in his lap for a story. At the end of the hall, she met a vampire lady, and clung to me, screaming and crying with her first official Halloween fright. (Earlier she had a similar reaction to the vacuum cleaner and a turtle puppet, so I'm not quite sure what it is she's scared of.)

By the second floor, though, she'd figured it out. She strutted from room to room, taking candy out of their bags and putting it in her bucket, which she'd heave over her shoulder as it got heavier. Due to a lack of nap time, she didn't offer a single smile or thank you, but many got kisses blown to them and bye-byes waved. She was a big hit with the girls, who kept calling her their "Candy Corn Cutie".

On the top floor, we met a group of young men who were in classes taught by Dr. B and Dr. K. They talked and joked with us, and we all commiserated over bad Halloween candy.

"Walmart candy--those bags of non-descript yuck!" "Circus peanuts." "Wax bottles." "Bit O' Honey!" And the good ones: Peanut butter cups, Skittles, and the houses that gave out the full sized bars.

"Wow. Interesting to know that bad candy is the same all the way from your generation to ours," said one boy.


I looked at him, puzzled. My generation?

And on the drive home, it dawned on me. This boy was likely born around the time I started college.

I am so old.

(But not too old to raid her stash. Don't tell her, OK?)

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Preschool TV Fashion in France

Rowan's recently gotten into watching TV. I've set up her own playlist on the remote, and we watch Sesame Street (also free On Demand, which I love), Sprout, Noggin, and even a little SpongeBob. Her attention span is short, but so are the clips on the shows, and she loves the colors and music, often clapping along (and actually, her steady beat is already pretty good.) She dances with the television, shaking her tush and rocking back and forth from foot to foot, spinning in a circle, waving her arms and waggling her head back and forth.

A very dear friend suggested a french show her son loves, so we started watching on Rowan loves the music, dancing along with it, and clapping her hands with the little bear every time he does during the theme song. We love seeing so many little aspects of french culture embedded in it.

Here's one of her favorites. After singing along with the theme song, we started watching. I remembered walking the two blocks to our local marché, and ordering fruits, veggies, cheese, butter, bread and meat from the vendors. Then I looked more carefully.

Watch Papa Ours' pants. The length.

Hilarious. Even french cartoon men wear their pants too short.

We want to see this smile again, really soon.* Updated

Graham grins!, originally uploaded by MrsBinParis.

Please keep him, his family and the hospital staff in your prayers. Things are slowly getting better, but still very slowly.

Rowan misses her friend. So do we.

***Graham is home from the hospital, and doing much better. They are still trying to figure out if it was Mycoplasma or not, whether the intubation caused his lung to collapse or if the pneumonia did (that they didn't notice a few hours before), and if the drugs interactions were the reason for his great distress, since some didn't show up on his computerized chart. Scary stuff. But thankfully, he's OK and is at home again. We are very relieved. Thanks for all the prayers and good thoughts.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

And then life shakes you

I complain a lot. Too much. About stupid stuff, but who doesn't? We all get bogged down by little crap that we don't even remember a year later. Poopy diapers. Crabby kids. Overflowing toilets. Leaves that blow in my door all the freaking time.

Nothing really important.

We got a text message yesterday. Our friends' son, who is just a few weeks younger than Rowan, is in the Peds ICU. They don't know what's wrong. Every few hours, I'd get a new one: aggressive infection, but his heart is OK. Airlift to the big hospital in Danville. He's no longer purple. Only one seizure. Intubated. Sedated. On IV's. Rash is improving. CT scan says his brain is OK, they think.

But they still don't know what's wrong. Infectious disease? Scarlet fever? Still don't know.

His dad called me yesterday afternoon, and cried while he told me what was happening. So did I. He asked me to go to their house and get some clothes together for them. Rowan fell asleep, so I made them some banana and chocolate chip muffins while I waited. Then another friend called and said he'd do it, since he was going to take the stuff to them anyway, and had the time. He and his wife live halfway in between here and the hospital, so they can most easily be the go-betweens. He'd stop in for the muffins.

Secretly, I was relieved. If it was infectious, and was on his toys--what if Rowan picked it up? I feel for them, I am so worried, but I have to protect her, too.

The friend's wife called as they were driving home from the hospital and gave me the update. Things are looking better, but they still don't know much. He's in a clean room, and everyone is in masks and gowns to go in. Just like an episode of House, they are still trying to figure out what is going on. They know they will be there for at least a week, if not longer. We are praying for Graham, Angie and Erik, and the doctors and nurses taking care of him.

Every minute, every step, every breath she took was magic. I attacked her with kisses, and she attacked back. Her dad scooped her up, tossing her in the air and both of them squealed with delight. Such a relief, knowing she was OK.

Amazing, how something like this even makes tantrums look precious.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

OAK Soup: There's a party in my tummy!

I love soup. Not the canned variety (generally, yuck), but homemade, slow-simmering, use up the little bits of junk you don't know what to do with soup. When I was a kid, I hated soup, but I think that was mainly because the stuff I got was bland canned soup--until my mom started making her own. Then, I couldn't get enough.

I make my own stock when I can, cooking a chicken carcass with onions and garlic and all their skins, parsley, carrots, celery (if I have it, which is rare), herbs and peppercorns. Last time I did that, I froze some.

Today, I put it to good use.

Usually my soups are OAK soups. As my mom used to say, "Once Around the Kitchen!" A little of this, a little of that. Add until it smells good. (Mom taught me to cook by smell, and I still do.) That's what I made today, but it turned out so yummy, I want to write it down, so I can do it again. So can you, if you like. Here's what I did. All measurements are very, very approximate.

Autumn Ham and Butter Bean Soup

1 onion, chopped
3-4 cloves of garlic, sliced
about 3/4 cup sliced carrots
about 3/4 cup sliced celery
1 cup sliced fully cooked ham, cut into batons (little sticks)
a bit of olive oil, and a knob of butter
about a quart of chicken stock
1 can diced tomatoes
1 large bay leaf
1/2 T. Herbes de Provence
some ground pepper
a few drops of Liquid Smoke. (This stuff really is liquid smoke! I saw a show on it. Very interesting. I wanted to up the smoky flavor. It worked.)
One can butter beans, rinsed and drained.

Sautée onion, carrots and celery in oil and butter until fragrant. Sprinkle a little salt on it. Add ham and garlic, and keep cooking until you can smell the garlic.

Add everything else except the beans. I also added a few shake of Penzey's Granulated Garlic because it always adds such a mellow garlicky flavor, and really enhances the fresh garlic. You don't have to do this. But if you do, you won't regret it.

Simmer for a while. A few hours if you have the time. In the crock pot if you want. Whatever.

Just before serving, remove bay leaf and add salt and more pepper to taste. (I don't salt my stock, so add just before serving. I don't need much usually, so it's quite a low-sodium food.) Add the beans, stir to heat them up, and ladle into bowls (The beans will fall apart if you add them earlier. Home cooked beans would be firmer. I only had canned.)

Serve with yummy bread, and top with some grated, hard cheese like Parmeggiano Reggiano or Pecorino or something, if you like. We didn't tonight, but it would be tasty. I had red wine, he had a beer. Both were great with it. Serves about 4 people.


Saturday, October 18, 2008

Babe's Anatomy

Before the taping started: "Rowan, where's your nose?"

And Dr. B thought it was pointless to name all her body parts as I washed them in the tub, when she was just two months old. It's amazing how much they soak up.

Note the "Tappe, tappe dans tes mains" at the end. It's from the Petit Ours Brun theme song. She claps along whenever it plays, and tries to hop by stomping her feet when it says, "saute, saute, les pieds joints". She's learning French!

I ironed his shirt, but you don't get to see that.

Dr. B's work on the Solar Decathlon eats up a lot of his time, but it's really an amazing project. Please check out the link for more info, but to put it in a nutshell, this is a world-wide competition where the students build a house that runs entirely on the power of the sun. They design every nut and bolt, and it will compete on the national mall in Washington, DC next summer. Last competition, PSU entered for the first time and took 4th. Dr. B was asked to head up the project for next year's competition, and is in charge of a lot of stuff, including advertising their work. Last winter, I sent an email to the local news, hoping they would interview him and get him some more press.

They finally did, yesterday. They left him on the cutting room floor, but at least you get a (very) little bit of information on this cool project. (That's OK, I'm not wild about his current haircut anyway.) They interview one of the leaders of the project, a cool kid that he works with a lot. It played on the 5 PM news, which of course I missed, but it is online already.

You can watch it here. Turn off your sound for the first 5 seconds, because there's lots of loud static during the ad for some reason. (Hey, we are in Central PA. I'm just happy they put it on the web in the first place, but I wish they would let me embed it.) You can visit the house this weekend (it's homecoming, so parking may be a problem.) It's right by the stadium, so I think it'll be very busy. Dr. B is planning to bike over and see how it's going a little later this afternoon.

Now when they win the next competition, I'll make sure his hair looks great.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Green Slime and a Lentil

I thought she would escape it.

No allergies, whatsoever. "Go ahead, give her peanut butter!" the pediatrician said.

Peanut butter? Fine. But now, we've got other problems.

She doesn't have many words. Mama, Dada, Teeth, Cheese and Ham. Oh, and "Uh?" That one she says a lot.

So, when she's hungry, she often asks for cheese. She's been experimenting with refusing foods, unpredictably. Asking for things by pointing, choosing milk over juice, and Cheezits over Club crackers. Refusing things she used to gobble up. But she always ate her cheese.

She started having diarrhea, lots of it. Then some unexplained diaper rash. Finally, we had Saturday night. Screams, screams and more screams. Only sleeping when she was draped over either our shoulder or our chests. And then came the farts. Frrrp! Frp. Frp frp frp frp. Frrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrp!

After a night of trading off sleeping with her (in which we all overslept and missed church), we'd figured it out.

Dr. B is lactose intolerant, though he manages it with a steady diet of natural yogurt. I was as a baby, which my parents didn't find out until I was a year old. I could eat cheese or ice cream, but no milk. A few years later, I could have it, no problem.

I took away the cheese and milk, and switched her to soy. Screams and farts have stopped. She's eating a little better, and the diaper rash is nearly gone.

But the diarrhea is more stubborn. New colors each time, and new consistencies with every change! Yellow, brown, gray, orange, and green: my life is a rainbow!

So, if you're wondering about the title of this post? Now you know.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

3 Meme

Hit again, by my cousin. She knows I'm a sucker.

So here goes. Trios: 3 joys, 3 fears, 3 goals, 3 current obsessions and 3 random facts:

1. My daughter, especially laughing. No matter what she's laughing at.
2. My relationship with my husband.
3. Living the life I want to live.

1. My family members' health. It can all be taken away in an instant. (This includes my own.)
2. Having the resources to live once we are retired.
3. Bees. (I am allergic.)

1. To raise intelligent, self-reliant, centered and confident child(ren).
2. To treat others with respect and tolerance, even when I don't agree. (I am working on this.)
3. To be kinder to myself.

Current obsessions:
1. Historical fiction. This one's been going on for about 20 years. I just finished this book and this book. Enjoyed both.

2. Dulce de leche. I made it in my crockpot, like this. I like to cut up some apples I got at the farm down the road, and dip them in it. Rowan loves it, too.

3. Making our home our own, cheaply. Just found some great drapes on clearance for the living room and our bedroom. Have plans to paint our bedroom, and install shelves in the laundry room. Also need to change the cabinet hardware in the kitchen, get new light fixtures, put in hardwood floors... (obviously not all happening at once--a little bit as we can afford it. Which we can't. Hence the clearance curtains!)

Random Facts:
1. I am trying to break my addiction to cleaning my ears with a Qtip. I know it's bad. I know, I know, but I just can't stop. A friend once described the feeling as "eargasms".

2. I have recently fallen in love with Rimmel's quick dry nail polish. I buy crazy colors and don't feel bad because it's cheap. But the colors look good on my skin (hard because I am a true neutral--too warm or too cool both look icky on me), they are surprisingly good quality, and I can be kind of trendy for less than 3 bucks.

3. Caffeine makes me have to pee a lot. When I have to drive a long distance, I eat craisins and drink diet Coke. The craisins soak up the liquid, so I don't have to pee so much. It works!

As for passing this on, I'll ask Vivi, Dee and Doc, because she hasn't posted much in a long time and I'm wondering if she's still out there.

And you! If you are reading this and want to! Please comment and link if you do...

Friday, October 03, 2008

Too Fast

Next week, it will be official. She'll be sixteen months old. SIXTEEN.

She's growing up, so quickly, I can hardly believe it. It seems like just yesterday I was putting her into her very first onesie. Then yesterday, in the attic, I looked around to see 6 large Rubbermaid containers full of outgrown clothes, with another soon to join the stacks.

She's walking, talking, and expressing opinions, all her own. (Most of them are about cheese.) She loves to brush her teeth and take a bath, but would prefer to spend her days naked, wearing shoes of course.

And today, as I walked Lucy just outside our door for the noontime pee-break, she proved just how fast time is flying. She's growing up, whether we like it or not.

By the time I got back in, she was 2 remote-control button pushes away from ordering an OnDemand movie.

It was porn.


Thursday, October 02, 2008

Sarah's Solo

Sarah's Solo, originally uploaded by MrsBinParis.

Here it is: I found the music online, just in case you really want to emulate the possible future VP and play the same tune on your flute. Her part starts at m. 9. Music is here, and the video is here.

Condaleeza Rice is a classically trained concert pianist (thanks, Nicki!), so I guess music is important to the Republican party. May they remember that when they attempt to cut funding to the Arts and Education.

Enjoy, music makers!

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Why is it...

Slicker, originally uploaded by MrsBinParis.

...when you finally give up and decide "that's IT! I'm calling for a hair appointment!" and you do, then the day of the appointment you have a great hair day? (It happens to me every time.)

There must be some sort of name for that. Murphy had a law. What is this one called?

Obviously, it's the same thing as when you decide you are going to start teaching again, subbing just very, very part time, and only dependent on finding child care.

The next few days? She is an angel. A happy, giggly angel who gives you hugs and kisses and just wants to spend all her time with you. Figures.

But, I think it's time. Not just for me, although I am looking forward to getting back into the classroom a little bit, maintaining my credentials so I can go back part or full-time when we're ready, and meeting some people, but mostly for her.

When we go to the library to play on their toys, she is in heaven. She loves to be around other kids, and really behaves herself well. She shares with others, smiles and giggles at things they do, and looks up at them with those big blue eyes. And when it's time to leave, she pitches a fit.

I think she needs some time with other kids. And Mommy could use some time, too. Not that I don't love staying home with her, because I do, but I'm listening to my student teaching mentor, Mrs. Swenby, waaaaaay back in 1996. Her motto (and it is the best teaching advice I've received, ever) is "monitor and adjust". Right now, my monitoring says that it's time to let her stretch a bit. And maybe for me to put on one of my old hats. (Or high heeled boots, as the case may be.)

So we'll see. Nothing crazy, and it won't start tomorrow, but it's time to start thinking about it.

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