Archive for October, 2009

Fall Family Fun

While Dan was slaving away at his unfulfilling and unrewarding chef job, I decided that getting the kids out of the house would be a fine idea. When it is fall, there is no place like the apple orchard/pumpkin patch. I love fall, and feel the need to participate in fall-like activities. That is what families do, right? Frolic in the fallen leaves, the sun dappling on their hair, smelling of apple cider and bonfires? The fam and I meet some friends, the lovely Melissa and Eric (and their adorable offspring, Willy) at Aamodt’s Apple Orchard. Elizabeth was spending the weekend with us, so she joined us.
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We have a lovely picnic (on a blanket, like picnic pros), while the toddlers escape every three minutes or so (amateurs). Rex-Goliath is positively obsessed with the tractor-driven hayride. Pointing, gesturing, making it clear that we should ride the hayride Right Now! We distract him with the hay maze, where a few college co-eds make goo-goo eyes at him the whole time. Chloë enjoys herself, crawling under the rolls of hay while I panick that one will crash down on her and cause disaster.
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PA170142We then spend a few minutes trying to figure out how to pay for the hayride, how to get on the hayride, where to wait in line for the hayride, which hayride to take (not the one with no side railings where Rex-Goliath and Willy could leap off the back with abandon). We then wait. In reality, we probably only waited for about five minutes, but in Toddler Time, that is an eternity.
PA170157Finally. Time for the hayride.
Rex-Goliath will not get on the hayride. Not interested. Will not even move from the spot that he is standing. I am not going to be that parent, dragging my screaming kid onto the hay ride, screaming the whole time, making everyone else’s ride

incredibly enjoyable. And, considering that I have an infant strapped to me, it isn’t that much of an option.
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Once I finally convince Rex-Goliath that I am not trying to trick him into boarding the hayride, he follows me down the path to the miniature tractor

world. Good times. The others meet us after the hayride. The kids zoom around on the little green and yellow trikes and the adults frantically snap pictures, hoping to get a good one because it is impossible to see the LCD screen in bright sun. Let me tell you, these people really have a racket going. We are in a tennis court (maintained in a mediocre manner, at best), with about 15 or so trikes (2-3 of them broken) and a hay bale or two thrown in to make you feel like you are on a real farm. All of us suckers pay $2 a kid for this! The apple orchard people are probably raking it in from these rusty trikes. Shrewd businesspeople are they.
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After the tractor-trikes, we mosey on down the road to the pumpkin patch. By mosey, I mean load up the car, nurse the baby, buckle three children into appropriate child restraints, locate snacks for the two minute ride, tell two children to shut up, call Melissa to double check the location, nearly get stuck in a mud puddle in the apple orchard parking “lot” (read: swamp-like field) and make two u-turns just to get into the pumpkin patch parking lot. Thank God I had Diet Coke.
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Upon reaching the pumpkin farm, we proceed to the actual patch, a process that involves locating a cart, pushing it (containing a child) down a muddy, treacherous path, then through part of a corn maze. The actual patch was a lot less attractive than I thought it would be – mucky, ucky, vines and rotting pumpkins strewn about. Let me give you a piece of advice: save yourself some time, just grab a pumpkin from the giant mountain of pumpkins by the parking lot.
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Elizabeth locates a pumpkin fairly quickly. Rex-Goliath is just loving running around and pointing at the pumpkins. Chloë, however, is a perfectionist (I don’t know anyone else like that). She found a very nice pumpkin and deemed it her “maybe” pumpkin. She set it down in a safe spot in case she couldn’t find a better candidate. She set it down in the pumpkin patch. In the midst of hundreds of other orange, round pumpkins. To never be seen again.

After much searching, Chloë still had yet to locate the perfect pumpkin. We decided to look at the already picked pumpkins. The selection criteria were just as rigorous, but eventually a suitable squash was found. I grabbed a tiny one for Rex-Goliath and a teeny tiny one for Xavier, and we were set.
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There is nothing that I wanted to do more than sleep during that car ride home. The perfect fall family activity day was exhausting. But fun. And I have a lovely set of pictures to prove it.

A big thanks to Elizabeth for all of her help – Shuffling these kids to and fro is so much easier with you! And Dan and I had a good ol’ time telling you all of the things that they won’t teach you in American history until you are a big college student. You should hang out with us more – we have all sorts of obscure facts to share and tell!

– Mrs. Wonderful

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Little Tikes Road Rage

Today Rex-Goliath and I were doing jokes and assaulting each other for a bit in the afternoon. At one point he was coming at me full bore in his Little Tikes car and after he rammed into me I punched it (the car, not Rex-Goliath) in the face. (these cars have faces)

He became irate and angrily got out of his car, came around the front and started hollering at me, while looking inquisitively at the front of his car to see what kind of damage I had done, like a bitter old man looking for the slightest ding or scratch of the paint. There was a little scratch on the bottom (not from me) that he pointed at accusingly. I could tell he was disgusted with me. I laughed and I laughed.

My little guy, the angry driver.

– Mr. Wonderful

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Chloë’s 7th Birthday Clue Hunt

Chloë turned 7 this past October 7th, and on her birthday we gave our present to her. Without giving anything away (because maybe you want to play along!) the present was a bit unconventional in that there is nothing to be given exactly. Our gift to her is an event. But, we wanted her to have some kind of experience in the gift reception, so Leah came up with a fun little hunt for clues. I chronicled most of the hunt, and I’ll fill in with narrative as needed.

After getting home from school for the day, Chloë was greeted by the entire family in the halls of the Ranchero. Leah told Chloë that there was a note waiting for her on our apartment door!

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This was inside…

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!!! What was Princess Pug up to? If I know anything about that dog, I can assure you it was something mischievous at best. Attached to her collar she had a note! What did it say…

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Well, Chloë is no slouch at figuring out clues, so she quickly figured out to look under the… rug! She found a little gift

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and another clue

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Okay. Well again Chloë proved to be a quick study, and knew exactly where to go. At the washer and dryer she spied something. Surely this must be the present!

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Hell yeah candy!

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But there was more than candy and snacks inside. Hmm…. another clue?!

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This clue was a little trickier. Chloë and I discovered little tiny doors in the Ranchero a long time ago where tiny-people-that-will-get-you live, which she loves to show Rex-Goliath. We headed in that direction…

Rex-Goliath was faithfully assisting in the hunt the whole time.

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Ah ha! Another bag. Surely this time it was the real present!

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Alright! What’s inside?

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Footy pajamas! Aww man that’s cool! They have all sorts of kitties and moons and stars and …wait, what’s this?

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Carol and Bill. Ah jeez, does that mean she has to knock on their door?

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Yep!

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Haha Bill. Getting into his skivvies at 4:00 pm. God I love Bill. Anyway, he had a gift, a note, and a dollar of his own for the birthday girl. Dad didn’t snap a picture of the gift – a few bottles of sparkly nail polish.

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Now we’re getting to it! A slumber party! The snacks, the movie rental, the pajamas – they all make so much sense now. But what oh what else could be in store?

Off to the garage!

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And what was inside?

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A beach towel! And a bathing suit (in absentia, it was still en route). Now how does this fit in with a slumber party? Well, we aren’t quite done.

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Well this clue was quite a bit trickier. Where would a little bird leave a note?

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Inside the birdhouse! Of course! Well we got the note out of there, and then… the big reveal.

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Well, of course, after all this, Dad didn’t take a picture of the final note. Our gift to Chloë was a day, with two friends, at the Waterpark of America, a movie and a slumber party. Oh my god what a GREAT PRESENT!

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– Mr. Wonderful

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Goodnight, sweet prince

On Monday, October 5th, 2009, a beloved member of our family and understudy Team Wonderful mascot moved on to other opportunities in the universe at large. Chloë and I discovered Chuckë in repose in the evening, while we were about to begin his weekly house cleaning.

Leah kindly helped Chloë construct a fine coffin for Chuckë with a bed of cotton, which you’ll see below. We talked about his death, and the conversation was bittersweet, and I can only hope that she understood what I tried to tell her. She handled it well, and her tears were pure and heartfelt. It was sad, and beautiful. Without getting into it at any length, I think it is something of a gift to have even this, a passing glance at death, and I was happy to be there with her when she witnessed it. Death is brutish and severe, and hard to make friends with. It takes some time, and some understanding to think all that kindly about. All I can do is try to give her the right perspective, but all the hard work is her own. As it is for us all.

He was a good pet for her, and not too bad for the rest of us. He joined us on the occasion of her 5th birthday, back in 2007, and died just a few days shy of her 7th birthday. It was a good run, and he kept up an appreciable and inspiring level of vim, vitality, and running-inside-a-big-ol-wheel vigor to the very end. He went out on top, and I wish him the best of luck in his new life as a bird, some grass, a touch of morning dew and a little bit of breeze, or whatever comes his way.

Bless you lil’ dude, you were a better hamster than I a man.

– Mr. Wonderful

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