Archive for Dan

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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A New Era

The nerve center for Team Wonderful. Calendars, lists, schedules, oh my!


We are entering uncharted waters over here at the Ranchero. Dan is going to school. College. It has been over a decade since he has been in a classroom not containing miniature chairs and crayons. So tomorrow, we both start class. This should be interesting.

He is already annoyed at the school’s website, miffed at the bureaucracy, resentful of the cost of books, confused as to why the instructor of one of his classes was named “Staff” on the online schedule until this evening, and distrustful that the Financial Aid Office will actually get it right. Thank God Metro doesn’t require a parking pass – that would have sent him over the edge.

He claims to be excited, though. His backpack is all packed and sitting by the door, which is pretty cute. He is going to rock this – I know he will. He is so smart. I am so glad that he decided to go.

A mere $700 in books for the two of us. We got off cheap this semester!


For me, the summer flew by – six weeks of in intense study for the PCAT, six weeks of hell waiting for the results, a day or two of elation when they arrived (for those of you who don’t Facebook or talk to us regularly, I made the 92nd percentile, which is good), then three weeks of waiting for school to start again. We had some adventures that we haven’t posted about yet (Elizabeth came for the week) and some misadventures (community garden=fail). Everyone except Xavier made it to Target field one way or another, we purchased a total of three be-wheeled items for kids to ride, and managed to grill about two dozen blocks of tofu on our tiny grill.

Schedules, completely full. The schedule for Chloë weeks requires two full sheets of paper to print it out.


The current plan is as follows: Dan and I go to school with our schedules offset so as to avoid daycare. Chloë goes to third grade in a couple of weeks, and Rex-Goliath will go to preschool (!). Xavier will continue to pull laundry out of baskets and drag around the rice cooker at home.

Mama Leah at work, fueled by Diet Coke, coffee, Franzia, and Skinnygirl margaritas.


I am almost finished with my initial application to pharmacy school, and if the professor that I beg for a letter of recommendation tomorrow says “yes,” then I will hit submit tomorrow night. I’ll have to fill out a supplemental application for each school, then hopefully someone will invite me for an interview. With any luck, I’ll have an answer by next spring.

Our inboxes, already jammed full. I probably should have tackled that before school. Plenty of room left, though!

For those of you that are interested in trivia, our classes are as follows:

Mr. Wonderful – Precalculus, Writing II, General Psychology

Mrs. Wonderful – Biochemistry, Genetics, Cultural Anthropology

My planner for the year, titled Entropy. Bonus points if you get the joke.

By now, we are fairly adept at tag-team parenting, but this will be a whole new ball game as far as that goes. Dan and I will probably seldom see each other. It will be good, though. We’re moving forward, one semester at a time.

–Mrs. Wonderful

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Funny Guys

Rex-Goliath (hearing a noise in the hallway): That isn’t Daddy – that’s a person.
Mrs. Wonderful: Is Daddy a person?
Rex-Goliath: No! He’s a funny guy.

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Rex-Goliath’s First Baseball Game! But Enough About That, Let’s Talk Trains.

It as a sunny, beautiful June day in good old St. Paul, big time Minneapolis. I spent my morning hustling with Uncle Dave hearing about the latest communist plot being perpetrated by the black man in the White House, all while sweating into some salsa. I cut out early, because this particular day was a big day. Today I would be bringing Rex-Goliath to his First Baseball Game. Significantly – his First Baseball Game at Target Field. But, even more significantly, we would be taking the light rail commuter train to the game. Wait, I should, in an appropriate Victorian Style, capitalize an essential word; let me try that last sentence again.

But, even more significantly, we would be taking the light rail commuter Train to the game.

Train. This is a big deal.

Rex-Goliath dying, going to heaven.

Yes, Rex-Goliath was intrigued by the baseball game proposition. It held his interest, but his interest was in a vague thing – baseball is on T.V., and is allegedly a thing that Daddy had been involved in before, but a baseball game isn’t a rock-fucking-solid Important Thing like trains. A boy can wrap his imagination wholly around riding on a train as a whole body experience. Trains after all, are very useful, and communicate real ideas, and have faces, and literally actually talk.

Daddy is cheeky and is a troublesome engine, courtesy of Sean Olene.

The ball game was a 12:15 start, which was just about the time we left the house for the Fort Snelling light rail station. By the time we drove, parked, walked and began our wait at the train station, a couple of innings had passed. The sun was shining brightly, the birds were singing, and we were all by ourselves at the station, as if the entire train was coming, specially, just for the good little mister and his old man.

A few minutes passed, and lo and behold , a train arrived. Now, the idea of a train and the reality of a train do not necessarily share the same shape, and I could tell from Rex-Goliath that the meeting of these two versions might be a bit at odds. The train was a little too large, a bit too fast, way too loud, and Rex-Goliath was a smidge intimidated. We boarded (although nobody said “All aboard!” as one might expect.) and had to quickly find a seat, because the driver certainly wasn’t waiting for us to sit down to start chug-chug-chugging along the track. Rex-Goliath and I took a seat at the front of the train, and soaked it all in.

A wonderful panorama of surging people, cars, and buildings!


One nervous boy.

Rex-Goliath was in quiet shock and awe for the entire trip, and was admittedly a bit happy once we arrived at Target Field, i the heart of the fourth inning. Rex-Goliath’s reaction to the spectacle of the field was of mild acceptance – the entree of the ballgame was certainly dwarfed by the first course. He was a excited that they were playing baseball, but only when I pointed it out to him, at which point he promptly lost interest in the whole affair. We walked around a bit, pausing briefly to score a $85 beer, went up a couple flights of stairs to our seats, and settled in for the fifth inning. We had a frozen lemonade, a juice box, cotton candy, umm yum yum.





We saw a Justin Morneau blast to the plaza in right field, watched Johnny Damon complete botch a routine fly ball, cheered a bit, clapped a bit, and even heckled the umpire (from the third deck, I’m sure it stung) a bit. By the time Rex-Goliath was getting antsy (and began his incessant request to go back on the train), it was the bottom of the eighth inning and a perfect time to cut out.

Joe Mauer's statue and the boy whose statue will eventually supplant Joe Mauer's statue.

Rex-Goliath was more than ready for the train ride back, but neither of us was prepared for the severe clot of people on the train. Seriously – we could barely get on the damn thing.

Where do these people all come from? Oh yeah, Twin's game.


A tired boy, a busy train ride, a good day.

– Mr. Wonderful

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Dan is Now Officially The Man

Many of you know of my not-so-secret obsession with Martha Stewart. Love her. Love her. She is so organized, always cooks the right thing or has the right craft for the occasion, probably made in her special crafting room, wrapped at her special wrapping station, then scrapbooked about at her special scrapbooking station. Or at least profiled in her magazine. Or possibly made on TV with Jennifer Garner in front of a live studio audience.


Over the years, I have amassed a sizable Martha Stewart Living collection, including somewhere in the neighborhood of ten years’ worth of issues. In addition, I have a few of the special issues of Martha Stewart Kids and Martha Stewart Baby. Of course, I have many years of Martha Stewart Weddings (now useless to me… I’m waiting for some nice person that I know to get engaged so I can pass them on). Lastly, I have every issue ever made of Blueprint, Martha’s attempt to be hip and current – I am so pissed that it never caught on. It was like Martha for my generation. The holiday issue one year had a blond woman in a sparkly dress on the cover, pink Christmas tree in the background, fat pug at her feet. Someday, when I have my own bathroom, I am going to have the thing framed. You just can’t get any more “Leah” than that picture.


I kept my collection, organized by season, in the bottom four cubbies of our IKEA Expedit shelving unit. As a housewife, I needed access to the things. At the beginning of each season, I would page through my issues, getting ideas for recipes and such. It was great fun.

We rearranged the living room this week. Partially due to the embarrassing addition of a very uncouth and much-too-large electronic item, but also partially in preparation for a baby that will be crawling and getting to know the world at the expense of his parents that must clean up the mess. When Rex-Goliath was a little thing, he loved to push over those stacks of magazines. It was great fun. I moved them up a level, but then he started pulling himself up, and the game continued. The Expedit shelf now has toys on the bottom shelf (and a bunch of unsightly wires – must get Martha on this). Why fight nature? Every day, the living room looks like a toy bomb went off. Why not make clean-up easier?


So the vast Martha collection has been relocated to the closet in the kids’ room. This was difficult for me – it is somewhat symbolic of the changing of the guard around here. Dan will be running the house and looking after the kids; I will be learning about integrals and microbes, which may or may not be great fun.

I have to give up some control – this is tough. I have ways that I do things. Systems in place, household routines. Is the world going to come to an end if the laundry isn’t done just the right way? Depends on whose it is – if it is mine or the kids, quite possibly. There are only certain things that get put in the dryer. There are certain ways to hang up wet clothing so that it dries with the fewest wrinkles. I use only the Downy Orchid Allure fabric softener in the Downy ball. I sent Dan to the store last week to buy some “Downy” and he came back with dryer sheets. Dryer sheets. The point of the fabric softener is to keep the things that don’t go in the dryer from being all crispy. He was just proud of himself for remembering to buy the “Orchid Surprise flavor.”


The man wants me to give him the file which contains my grocery list (usually printed and posted on the fridge, highlight things as we run low, list is in order of things as they appear in the supermarket that I prefer to shop at) so he can modify it to suit his shopping habits (purchasing weird food at dirty grocery stores). He buys things that I would not buy, brands that I am unfamiliar with, and does not take into account all of the things that I do when shopping. I tried to explain to Dan my thought process during a shopping trip. We realized that our brains function in completely different ways when pushing a cart under fluorescent lights:

Leah Shopping

Dan Shopping

This will be a great experiment in role reversal. I must remember to teach Dan that when faced with a household dilemma, the first thing to ask himself is, “What would Martha do?” It probably would not involve dryer sheets or Doritos – I can guarantee that.

–Mrs. Wonderful

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Baby Pictures: Birth.

Here is the first in a series of baby photos of our little guy, Xavier Merten Wonderful.

At about 3:30 am, on Thursday, July 23rd, 2009, my labor started. We spent a bit of time deliberating whether Dan should plan to go into work that day or not. When I went into labor with Rex-Goliath, it took a while before things really got going, so I figured that we had at least twelve hours before the baby would arrive. Dan went back to bed, but I couldn’t sleep. I decided to pack Princess Pug’s bag, since Grandma Vicky would be coming to get her. I had to keep stopping because the contractions were getting stronger. Once I realized it was taking me 30 minutes to put some Kibbles ‘n’ Bits and a leash in a bag, I decided to wake Dan up again.

Dan called the midwife, Amy, and after talking with me, she recommended that I take a bath and call back in an hour to make sure that this was true labor. For the record, I was pretty sure that this was true labor. I was a little surprised at how painful it had gotten in such a short amount of time. Maybe I had forgotten how difficult labor is in the two years since Rex-Goliath was born? I really hoped she didn’t have twelve more hours of this in store for me. Dan started packing and making arrangements for Rex-Goliath and the dog. I am a planner, and we had checklists for our checklists. Every man, woman, and child had a packing list, and I had long since googled directions to the hospital. Who wants to be bending over in labor pain while trying to get the printer to work? After an hour, Amy and I decided that it would be a good idea to go to the hospital.

The drive to the hospital takes thirty minutes, and frankly, it sucks. Dan had classical music on in the car because he thought that it might be soothing. I thought about ripping the radio out of the car, but then decided to nicely ask Dan to turn the music off. The things that bother you in labor are funny – things that might be mildly irritating or even pleasant in normal circumstances can be rage-inducing. Contractions in a moving vehicle are miserable. Contractions in a moving vehicle while listening to Mozart might make me homicidal.

Dan is bad with directions on a good day, and normally depends on me to just tell him where to go. Since I was focusing on other things, we both hoped that he could find the hospital. About a mile away from the hospital, we encountered a road closed for construction. Dan decided to just drive on the road anyway. Then we were stopped by a barricade that was unmovable. The hospital was in sight. Dan drove over the sidewalk to get around the barricade, and we finally made it to the hospital. it was like something out of an action movie, but much more irritating.

Once we made it to the Labor and Delivery ward at North Memorial, I felt better. Getting to the hospital is always the worst part – sometimes I would have to stop every twenty steps or so for a contraction. Once in the hospital, they have all sorts of contraptions with wheels on them and I don’t have to worry about walking from place to place anymore. Amy met us in the L & D Triage, and after checking Leah she found that I was already at eight centimeters.

Once we made it to the birthing room, Amy wanted to listen to the baby to make sure that everything was okay. I hate fetal monitoring – having things strapped around my belly in labor is excruciating for some reason. During my prenatal appointments, I threatened to labor in the North Memorial parking ramp until I was pushing if I had to have it for any more than a few minutes. The midwife wanted to be able to see that the baby’s heart rate was increasing when I had a contraction, and the little guy just wouldn’t do it. He was being evicted from the only home he has ever known in a fairly dramatic way, but he was proving to be pretty relaxed about the whole thing. Eventually, Amy gave up and took the monitor off.

I labored in the birth tub for about fifteen minutes. By “birth tub,” I mean slightly deeper than normal bathtub. Waterbirth is new to North Memorial, and although the midwives that I see are trying to convince the hospital to invest in a real birth pool with lots of room, it hasn’t happened yet. I have wanted a waterbirth for a long time, and I was willing to do it in the bathtub if that was the only option. Water is helpful at reducing the pain of labor – it is sometimes called “the midwife’s epidural.”

At this point, the midwife that attended Rex-Goliath’s birth, Kathrine, arrived. The hospital wanted the midwives to have two present for waterbirths because they were a new thing. We were excited that Kathrine could be there for this birth because we had such a good experience with her during Rex-Goliath’s birth.

I decided that I felt like pushing, so I did. Pushing this baby out was more difficult than pushing out Rex-Goliath. Once again, I wondered if I was getting soft in my old age. I decided that I was ready to be done with this whole birth thing, pushed like heck, and out came Xavier at 8:37 am. Later she was surprised to find out that it only took about fifteen minutes of pushing. Amy remarked that Xavier had come face-first, which is somewhat unusual. She said that she liked to call these babies “stargazers,” because they come out looking upwards instead of down, like most babies.

Xavier was calm immediately after the birth, just looking around and almost smiling. It took a minute or so before he even let out a little cry. He was 7 lbs, 9 oz and 20 1/2 cm long. He had his first meal from mama shortly after he was born. We went home from the hospital later that day to avoid inedible food, uncomfortable beds, and nurses demanding to know whether or not the baby had pooped yet. Those nurses were really concerned about the contents of Xavier’s diapers.

True to his behavior on his birthday, Xavier is proving to be a very calm baby – he loves to nap and seldom cries. The newest addition to Team Wonderful is fitting in just swell. Which is good, because I don’t think that we can return him at this point.

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We’ll be keeping this little fish.

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After getting out of the birthing tub, these two bums are just laying around.

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The handsome Mr. X.M.W.

– M. & Mme Wonderful

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