Archive for Chloë

She’s eight, folks

Okay, so this one is nearly a month late. But hey, better late than never, right? Come to think of it, considering that I have altered the date, I have no idea why I have even shared that I am tardy to the party. I am too honest.

It is hard having two blended families. It is hard spending half of your life at one house, and half at the other (I imagine). The big perk: three birthday celebrations. Here are the pics from celebration #1, a little shindig at the Ranchero De-Luxe with a very exclusive guest list (read: only people that reside in apartment 2C or stay here regularly):

Members of Team Wonderful are forced to make their own birthday cupcakes

Miss Chloë, expert pastry chef

Xavier catches up on reading while waiting for cupcakes

The batter was actually better than the cupcakes themselves. Especially with soy ice cream.

Would you believe that you can get eight candles into a mini-cupcake?

Her first grown-up gift, a joint project between Elizabeth, Dan and I

Elizabeth is CRAZY!

The birthday girl, contemplating her defeat of Daddy at checkers

After going through these pictures, I realized that I should clarify something: my children do own clothes – nice coordinating outfits, even. They just choose to rip them off and strew them about the house.

–Mrs. Wonderful

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First Day of School

We had several first days of school this year, since everyone in the family save for the baby is involved in some sort of educational endeavor. The first came in August, when Dan and I started school. For me, this was no big deal. I have been at it for a few years now. Dan, however, has not been in an academic classroom since high school. Here he is, backpack packed, coffee in hand, ready for Precalculus.

Chloë was up next. Also an old hat at school, she was ready for third grade with a vengeance. Pleased at the concept of starting third grade? Not so much. Ready? Yes. She grew up a lot over the summer – learned to ride a bike, shot up an inch or two, cut some bangs, and gained a fair amount of maturity. She seems like a third-grader.

 

 

 

On Chloë’s first day of school, we always take pictures in front of the Ranchero. We used to do it in front of a charming tree with orange berries on it, but the tree became diseased and had to be removed this year. So now we just do it in front of the Ranch. I have unfortunate visions of Chloë standing in this very same spot wearing her high school graduation cap and gown, an elderly Princess Pug snoring on the sidewalk in the background.

 

Here she is, ready for her first day of kindergarten at the Ranchero, standing in front of the tree before its unfortunate demise.

 

 

I read about a little German tradition where the kids kid little horns filled with school supplies and candy on the first day of school, and it sounded like the cutest idea ever. I think they are called tootwaffles. Or strumptoots. Or tootenstrumpen. Or something. I love giving gifts, the kids mildly dislike receiving gifts, and Dan hates picking up pieces from mechanical pencils and mediating fights over dessert-shaped erasers, so the whole concept seemed win-win to me.

Rex-Goliath had two first days of school – one for preschool, which has a parent-child component to it. On Mondays, Dan brings both boys, puts Xavier in the baby room, and hangs out with Rex-Goliath in the preschool room. Apparently they do an art project together (which Rex-Goliath has little interest in because there is a huge plastic truck beckoning him from the toy shelf) and sit in a circle and sing songs (which Rex-Goliath has little interest in because he is not too keen on singing and that truck is really calling his name). Then they allow him to actually play with the truck while Dan is forced to hang out with the other parents and talk about parenting. Which he really enjoys. They do provide hot water, he tells me. So if one were to bring tea bags or some Taster’s Choice and their own mug, sugar packets and stirring implement they could have a hot beverage. Or you could just bring a travel mug of vodka on ice and save yourself the trouble. On Wednesdays, Dan is allowed to just drop Rex-Goliath off, so he can enjoy his vodka on ice without comparing potty training progress and swapping discipline tips.

Here he is, ready to go to preschool orientation.

Xavier, also excited for preschool orientation.

 

The second first day of school is for Tiny Talk. Rex-Goliath, although actually speaking English these days, does not always speak intelligible English. So he is enrolled in speech therapy, which includes one day of speech preschool with other speech-challenged kids. They call it Tiny Talk, and he enjoys it. The best part of the whole thing is that a tiny bus comes to pick him up at our door – it is the cutest thing ever.

The little bus-shaped nametag they have to wear is adorable.

Here’s to a good year. Or at least survival.

 

–Mrs. Wonderful

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Smell Ya Later


Team Wonderful held its second annual Smell Ya Later, School! party in Chloë’s honor this June. One of my favorite things about this event is that it is solely a Team Wonderful tradition. It is something that our family (and our family alone) does. It is a nice way to welcome summer and give the kids one last hurrah together before parting ways until the next September. I cannot wait until all three are in school and we have kids from three different age groups running around like crazy.

We decided to do vintage-style postcards as invitations for this party. Normally, Chloë and I make the invitations for parties with supplies from the scrapbooking store, and the invites wind up costing about what Dan and my wedding invitations did on a piece-by-piece basis (I hope he isn’t reading this). They are fun to make, though. Given that I was taking the PCAT the Saturday prior to the party, we opted for something a little less labor intensive:

One of my greatest worries pre-party was the question of keeping track of the kiddies. Chloë is at the age where parents start dropping their kids off at these sorts of functions, happy to be free of them for a couple of hours. We had the party at Highland Park Reserve, aka “Chutes and Ladders” park. The play structure is installed on the side of a hill and the thing is massive. On a nice day, their can be two hundred children and parents milling about. The noise is deafening. It is the perfect place for a kid to get lost.

To combat possible abductions, I devised a somewhat complicated system to periodically corral the party guests. Each child was given a name tag, but we wrote on it what they wished their name was instead of their given name (At that age, I would have killed to be called “Crystal”). I’m pretty certain that I read somewhere that it was dangerous for children to be out in public with accurate name tags. I also retrieved Chloë’s whistle for its hiding spot (What the PTA was thinking when they gave them out at the school carnival, I do not know – aren’t these people parents?). When I blew the whistle, which is rather loud for a fifty-cent piece of plastic, the children were to come down from the play structure so I could count them. It was the best thing that I could come up with.

On one hand, my crazy security system was not needed. The weather was rainy, and some of the guests that RSVP’d did not show. Most of the parents stayed and chatted amongst themselves. My fears were not unfounded, however. A suspicious-looking man who went by “Uncle Charlie” was skulking about the park, handing out candy and talking about giving rides in his van.
Despite the weather, a good time was had by all:

Chloë and Sierra conspire


Val, aka Daphne, getting her play on


Rex-Goliath, damn-near giving mama a heart attack


I was razzed for the suncreen, but in MN, you never know


Morgan and Sydney are chipmunks


Rex-Goliath thinks Jackie is the bee's knees

And thus ends Chloë’s second grade year.

–Mrs. Wonderful

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7th Annual Celebration of Chloë’s Birth

On October 7th, 2002, Chloë dropped through the ceiling of the home of her mother and I, and we like to celebrate that occasion once a year. I don’t think that it’s a unique practice, so everybody reading this is probably familiar with the idea, if nothing else. Maybe you even do it yourself, in fact, and if not, maybe you could give it a shot – it’s kind of fun!

You get to do things like make fun notes to send to people, inviting them to bring their own little selves to the jamboree.

You can invite anybody you’d like, too. For a beginner, I’d think about sticking to people you know, and maybe the people you know that you think might like to come. An advanced strategy is to invite people you don’t know, but would like to; for example, say, Carla Bruni. This might not work as well.

We kept it simple and invited family, and friends. Even so, sometimes you can be surprised by who shows up.

Usually when you have a celebration, especially if there are people at it, it’s a good idea to have something to do. A good strategy is to do a thing that people enjoy. For instance, instead of sitting down and trying to be very quiet try making a shitload of noise and jumping like a space ape.

Well, woo. Dang that’s a pretty good workout. Maybe it’d be a good idea to have a nice snack. Like cake, a cake is a nice idea for a get-together of this sort. Also you could try: a big cracker, a vat of oatmeal, or even a large piece of ice. Whatever you serve for your snack, don’t forget to start it on fire! Now we’re having a fricken party!

Pro-tip: Put out the fire before you eat your snack.

Here is a kicker, and pretty much the best part of trying out a birthday celebration. Most people are so happy to be there that they actually bring you something, something that they think you might like. A gift of sorts. And you might notice that people come prepared to offer an activity of their own – a lot of times the thing people bring for you will be wrapped in paper that you, get this, TEAR OFF. God bless it, that is a fun idea.

By this point, you’ve probably had enough fun. In fact, you probably want nothing more than to exile your guests and crash. Don’t get crabby though, and above all, don’t start a fight.

I hope these suggestions help you if you want to try your own celebration. We here at Team Wonderful have a lot of good ideas.

– 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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note7

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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