You did see that you can temporarily pop open the minimized ribbon by clicking on a ribbon tab, right?
It then re-minimizes when you click on something.
Using it this way does not work well for you, right?
I don't know of a way to re-size the ribbon, or if that's possible.
If someone else knows how to do that, hopefully they will post that info for you.
It sounds like you would like the Office 2003 style toolbar in Office 2010.
There may be 3rd party tools that can do what you want, but I don't have any experience with them and can't recommend any.