Archive for Pictures

Hallowonderful

Here it is – some quick and dirty coverage of Halloween. Halloween poses a few problems for a decent blog post:

1) It is dark, meaning every. last. picture. is grainy and full of irreparable red eyes.

2) It is late, so the baby is scared and the middle child is tired (“Mama, I’m a sad little owl.”)

3) It is Monday morning, the house looks like a tornado hit it, I have to leave for school soon, and I desperately need a shower. Also, the cable box is not working so I cannot distract the children with Dinosaur Train. This means I have to explain why Rex-Goliath cannot have candy until after lunch about once every three minutes. Lunch is hours away. It seems like a random line to draw in the sand, but for some reason I have this belief that good mothers do not allow cookies and candy prior to lunch. But I am fine with coleslaw and spaghetti for breakfast. I can’t explain it either.

One last note – I feel bad that I somehow did not get a picture of Elizabeth as The Joker or her costume for Princess Pug as a flying pig. Things got a little chaotic as we were trying to get out the door.

Here it is – Halloween 2010:

A baby bluebird!

Rex-Goliath flaps his wings

Chloë waits patiently for the adventure to begin

The obligatory picture with Bill. No clown costume = big disappointment for Team Wonderful

Owls ride bikes, right?

Team Wonderful on the move

Trick or treat!

Final attempt at a picture of all three of them = fail for Mama

Xavier gets a ride in the wagon

Check it out – Mr. Wonderful and I get out of the house at the same time without kids!

Mr. and Mrs. Draper

Sookie Stackhouse, Kat Von D, Betty Draper aka Stefany, Ashlee, Leah

–Mrs. Wonderful

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Happy Birthday, Professor Smoochums

The newest member of Team Wonderful has officially made it to one year. It has been a good one – we’ve babbled, crawled, walked, cut seven teeth, dumped approximately 34 items in the toilet, and tipped over the dog’s water bowl nearly 267 times.

Last night we celebrated with gusto – a little Grandma Vicky, a little cake, and a few balloons make anything a party. Here are the greatest hits:

We decorated with a colorful summer theme.

Hands-down my favorite outfits of the summer. The kids are cute, too.

Dan attempts to show Rex-Goliath proper picture-posing technique so I can capture the cute outfit in megapixels forever.

Ranchero De-Luxe's Next Top Models

Chloë changed outfits to match the party theme. I think Tyra would approve.

You really only need balloons and it is a party. Cake is optional.

Birthday wishes from Xavier's honorary sister. Love you Elizabeth!

Xavier is about to find out the birthday tradition that way outranks ballons in the minds of American children.

We decided to give the birthday baby a present appetizer prior to his birthday meal. I decided to purchase one of those baby bowls with the suction cups on them and matching flatware in an attempt to get Xavier used to eating out of something, with something. This would be in lieu of just dumping food on his highchair tray, which is the equivalent of me pouring individual piles of kung pao tofu in front of each family member and letting them shovel it into their mouths with their hands. Then instead of politely asking to be excused, the children could hurl their cups and silverware to the floor in order to signify the end of the meal.

Xavier foils Mama, again.

Like pretty much anything else in parenting, the suction cup bowl was a good idea in theory, but not so much in practice. It took Houdini Baby about thirty seconds to completely disassemble the thing and divest himself of the nuisance of table manners. Then he licked the toppings off of his pizza and promptly fed the crusts to the waiting pug dog.

Dan makes a mean vegan pizza.

Dan, approving of his Mean Vegan Pizza.

Grandma Vicky and Rex-Goliath, about to sample some Mean Vegan Pizza.

Who's ready for Mean Vegan Pizza?

Who invited Frog?

Time for gift-opening!

I make the mistake of letting him open the card that plays *I Wanna Rock N Roll All Night* first.

Xavier and Grandma Vicky, rocking and rolling all night.

Grandma Vicky, after rocking and rolling all night. She parties every day, you know.

If you could just open this present for me, I have a musical greeting card to attend to.

Just hang in there, Xavier. The toil of unwrapping will be well worth it when you see the gift!

Mama assists with the opening and closing of the greeting card.

The elder children descend like a pack of vultures (vultures couldn't possibly come in flocks) on the baby's presents

The Stay-Puft Baby mounts his defense.

Dude... CAKE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Baby, post first-cake experience.

Chloë, who is well-versed in utensils, post-cake.

Thus ends the First Birthday Bash of Xavier Merten Wonderful. Babies are tough – they want what they want, when they want it, how they want it. The gummy smiles, the off-kilter toddling, and the belly laughs make it all worth it. I hope your first year on the planet was good for you, Little Man. It was good for me. Mama loves you.

–Mrs. Wonderful

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Equal to 20,000 Words

Let’s be honest: Just like Playboy, people really only read blogs for the pictures. So we bring you the pictures of the first 1/3 of summer, uninterrupted by useless prose.

Bath time on the balcony = fun time for babies


Rex-Goliath, giving that lazy bum Frog a ride


Dan teaching Chloë to ride a bike


Xavier, stylin' and profilin'


Rex-Goliath with Leah and Frog


Rex-Goliath will turn anything into a train. Notice how all of the other kids are doing all of the work, though.


Daddy and Xavier on a trip to Grandpa Steve's


J and Bill, in coordinating outfits as usual. Note: on his lower half, J is sporting cargo shorts, black Pumas, and knee-high white socks. If this were a dressy occasion, he might wear a paisley button down in lieu of the tank top.


Only Grandpa Steve takes out the trash with a cigar and a glass of red wine.


Rex-Goliath, cashed out on Grandpa Steve's floor after a hard day of tractors and trains


Dan defiling Grandpa Steve's grill with seitan ribs


Xavier, shortly after taking his first steps. Princess Pug, dejected upon realizing that she is now the sole family members on all fours. Also, confused as to how he did it. She might ask him for some tips when he learns to talk.


This walking thing can tire a baby right quick


Rex-Goliath and Willy play in the sand bottom pool at Willy's house


Xavier watching Rex-Goliath and Willy


Rex-Goliath at the pool


Xavier participating in his own impromptu Pride Celebration


Rex-Goliath's new bed - a half-height bunk bed with room for trains below and a train tunnel on top


The tunnel


Chloë plays in the little house we created behind her lofted bed, much to Dan's chagrin

And that should cover June.

–Mrs. Wonderful

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Raptors and Children and Parks Oh My

This past windy, windy May Day we spent a few hours at the Hyland Lake Park Reserve. The crew has been planning this little excursion for a bit, a month plus, which for our lil’ family is a fairly long-term goal.

You see, a fellow student in Leah’s Microbiology class (“Smart Girl”) mentioned something about a bird release that would be happening thanks to the University of Minnesota Raptor Center. The gal wants to be a bird trainer, which I hadn’t really known was something you could be, but I don’t really think about birds, per se, especially not in any career sense. Apparently it is a tough nut to crack – the bird discipline field. Who knew? Well, who cares; moving on. Smart Girl told Leah about the bird release, and this seemed like a perfect trip for the family, especially because of this one.

None of us have much experience with releasing birds, and I was expecting driving up to the park, and asking around to find out where this little thing was going to occur. I was afraid it’d be in some obscure corner of the park, down a wood-chip trail, with a dozen or two folks gathered around some scruffy dude. Man was I wrong.

Raptor releases are a BFD. This is a full-scale event, with cordoned parking, attendants, tents, informational booths and people. Flocks of people.


And a host of birds, which shouldn’t be surprising, but I was basically picturing a scruffy dude getting out of a busted-up van with a couple of eagles under his arms, saying “Howdy”, chucking the eagles into the air and sparking a smoke. There were actually quite a few volunteers with a low scruff factor, and quite a few birdies on display, in addition to the birds that were specifically there to be set back into the world. This was a pretty big thrill.

Well, there were other sights to see, so we tootled around for a bit while we were waiting for the big release.

We eventually migrated to the staging area, and deliberated about where to perch while we waited for the main event. They had some of the area roped off, but it didn’t seem to signify much of anything as people were sitting everywhere. So, we walked around, lost Rexgoliath a couple of times, and eventually found a nice spot to sit. We settled, started in on our lunch, then promptly had to get up and move behind the roped off area. The birds needed some space to fly, I guess, and even though they have the entire sky the big shots are so important they need some terra firma available as well.

Finally the little presentation started, and there were four birds released in total. A couple of red-tailed hawks, and a couple of Cooper’s hawks. There was a modest amount of fanfare – some spiel about the Center and their work, a bit of introduction on each bird’s particular story of rehabilitation, honorary releasers (including our gal Betty McCollum!), and a countdown for each bird’s triumphant reëntry into the greater world.

A good time was had by all, and although the crew was starting to get a little owly by the time we were on our way out, the kids loved the whole thing up.

(Bonus game: Count the number of ornithological references I tried to drop throughout the post!)

– Wr. Monderful

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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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Baby pictures: At Home, with Family

Welcome back, and for you, a second helping of baby pictures. We left the hospital later in the day, by around five, and we had a nice evening to unwind with the little guy while Chloë and Rex-Goliath spent the night with Laura (Chloë’s Mom to those a bit out of the loop). Laura brought both of them the next afternoon, and some of these pictures capture their first meeting. I won’t prattle on – just check out the photos!

This first set are of a freshly bathed Mama and baby. It’s hard to deny the loveliness.

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Xavier dressed up in the obligatory Baby Brother onesie to meet his older sister and brother.

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Rex-Goliath sitting on Daddy’s lap, holding his brand new baby brother.

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Here is Grandma Vicky. Don’t be alarmed, Xavier was actually in the middle of a killer yawn in this first picture. Grandma doesn’t usually make kids scream until they’re a little older.

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Chloë, ever the amazing older sister, here holding Xavier.

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Xavier just chilling out at the park.

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And to finish the set, here are a few pictures of the precious variety.

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– D. 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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