Archive for Team Wonderful

Current View from Behind Mrs. Wonderful’s Computer


We never took down the blog. I sometimes thought it might be a good idea, but it seemed like a lot of work. So I didn’t. Rex-Goliath asked me tonight what a blog was. What better way to show him?

So maybe I’ll update.

Life is vastly different than it was three years ago. Insanely different.


Our kids are kids. Legit kids. Chloë is in middle school. MIDDLE SCHOOL. Rex-Goliath is in first grade. And Xavier (of whom is known as “The Babby” and shall remain The Babby until he is well into his thirties) is finishing up preschool.


We have had some good times. Three more Smell Ya Later School parties. One first annual Christmas party. We have made new friends in our cool little university neighborhood. We’ve moved on from Thomas the Tank Engine to Cars to Star Wars. We build with the little Legos now. Duplos are history. We are reading the Little House on the Prairie books because Mama read them as a child and the boys seem to like them.


Dan is going to graduate around the same time I do. Computer science. He likes to code and program and all that. He has a knack for it. He enjoys it.


I have six weeks left of didactic work before clinical rotations. I feel as if I have been presented with so much information in the past 3 years, yet remember nothing. Allegedly, you learn everything on rotations. I’m counting on that. I have tried to wring every last drop out of this pharmacy school thing. I work two jobs (best way to learn). I have a niece. I am heavily involved with an amazing student-run free clinic as well as a national organization for clinics of this type. I ran a 7K. I have aspirations and I’m leaving it all on the field.

This rock and roll lifestyle isn’t easy. We have 5 people in a 2 bedroom place. Dan is sometimes trapped with the kids for days because I am gone. The man does so much to make it easy for me to go to school. I sometimes go 48 hours without being able to cuddle with my kids. There are people I call family and friends that I never see. We are student loan living. With one car. We are making it work though. 

The end is in sight.

So is the beginning.




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Crazy math professors and paper chains

Aloha from Team Member Elizabeth, at the new house.
It feels a lot bigger than the “Ugly House” since it’s two levels, but the place is actually smaller. Didn’t stop me from joining the crew! I’ve made a cozy bedroom beneath the nearly-four-year-old’s bed, which is below the loft of the eight year old, and is next to the crib of the 17-month-old. We’ve all got our little places and, being the teenager, I admit it’s not terrible at all. I’m starting to like watching The Bachelor with Leah, eating “ice cream” sandwiches after the kids have gone to bed (don’t tell anybody I know!).
Dinners are quality time. Daddy’s hand might stop on you and turn you into the biggest Torcho in the world; the red sauce will possibly transform you into a teleportating zombie baby. Polenta may give you magical underwear powers and Garbage Meal could make you grow facial hair you have to shave after dinner. You really never know. The few things to expect are “I DON’T WANNA DO NAPKINS!” or “I wan’ big fork!” and of course “Dig in!” which cannot be said loud enough.
The trains are chugging along and everyone is still alive (for now)…..
Tah tah for now everyone.

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Red Sticker Day

As a family, we have plenty of weird rituals and quirky little activities. My favorite is Election Day.

I have a deep personal belief that voting is important. It is our right and our duty. If you don’t vote, you have no right to complain. This is one of the few things that I want to teach the kids.

So we drag them to the little Lutheran church down the road to breathe in some of that musty old-church air and do their civic duty (read: stand in a reasonably quiet manner, watch their parents vote, and let their parents think that they are reflecting on the importance of this day even if they are really mentally counting the number of SweetTarts left in their Halloween candy bags). They get their little red stickers, Mr. Wonderful and I vote for the most liberal candidates we can find (and thirty-three unopposed judges) – win-win!

Will the kids do this with their kids? I hope. Most likely, it will go down something like this:

Child: Daddy, where are you going?

Rex-Goliath: To go vote.

Child (whining): Whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy? How long is that gonna take?

Rex-Goliath: Dude, stop whining. It could be way worse. My parents made me go with. And they took a family picture! You better count your blessings that Grandpa Dan and Grandma Leah aren’t your parents.

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How to be a parent; 11/1/2010 edition

Dinner tonight: kids are too busy saying “fuck” around the dinner table to eat; the baby throws his soup bowl on the floor, clean it up; a three year old spills his orange soda all over the table, clean it up; a full quart of soygurt falls out of the fridge and spills all over the floor, clean it up; pour oneself a strong vodka Coke Zero and keep plugging along.

This is how it’s done rookies.

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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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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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Family Fun ‘n’ Run

I had two goals this summer: take the PCAT and run a 5K. I signed up for the Torchlight 5K this spring to force myself back into running. I knew that I wouldn’t want to waste the $23 entrance fee, so I was going to run that sucker come hell or high water.

Once the PCAT was done, I had a month to get myself able to run three miles. I ran a little pre-PCAT, but come June, I felt the need to really focus on the exam. To get started, I used some podcasts based on the Couch-to-5K program, a regimen designed to take you from watching Law & Order with Fritos stuck to your bum to an elite runner. Or at least someone able to hack and stumble their way through 3.2 miles. The program is nine weeks. I wound up using the early weeks of podcasts, but once the race loomed closer, I switched to just running as much as I could, which was not as often as I should. If one were to have the full nine weeks, the program is pretty sweet. The music is electronic-y and changes tempo to tell you when to walk and when to run, taking willpower out of the equation. This is helpful for me, because my idea of a good interval involves forty-five seconds of running, followed by ten minutes of walking. DJ Steveboy (no, I don’t know if that is the name on his drivers’ license) keeps me honest.

I tend to only enjoy running only in perfect conditions: minimal sun, cool, no humidity, light to no wind, flat land or downhill the entire way. Running in South Saint Paul during July offers none of this. The whole run is torture and I want to die. Although I came close, I did not actually run a full 5K prior to the race. So I was a little nervous.

The Torchlight 5K takes place in downtown Minneapolis as part of the Aquatennial celebration. The Torchlight Parade follows the run. The atmosphere is festive, and there is a large crowd (mostly people staking their claim on prime parade-watching territory with those no-sew fringed polar fleece blankets that are ubiquitous over the holidays in the midwest – people were camping out hours before the parade with pizza and board games). Family Fun Night (read: glorified school carnival) was occurring in Loring Park, so we decided to bring the boys for a little pre-race “fun.”

Rex-Goliath, suspicious of the concept of Family Fun.

Rex-Goliath, not even really in the mood for Family Fun.

Rex-Goliath, participating in Family Fun despite serious reservations as Daddy bought $10 in tickets and we were going to have at least $4 worth of fun, dammit

Xavier is down with Family Fun.

Rex-Goliath, not so sure that fishing for ducks so sad that they are laying sideways in the pool is going to be good Family Fun. Carnie Dude in the background is not exactly enthusiastically promoting his booth.

Rex-Goliath was most impressed by the one attraction not requiring tickets.

Cute baby with a cute butterfly on his shoulder.

Ah, finally a bit of Family Fun.

Some of the runners take these races seriously. These are the weirdos running around before the race to warm up while I am wiping noses at Family Fun. Then there are people like me – I try to limit my walking prior to the race. Overexerting myself might bring my time up from the Granny category to the Invalid category. The race ends with drinking in the park, and I am pretty sure that some of my race cohorts had already partaken in a few beverages. There were girls in tutus and argyle kneesocks. There were the dudes in super-short jorts and trucker hats, one of whom had speakers duct taped to his shorts playing such hits as “Vogue” and “Dancing Queen.”

The large number of racers definitely helped my performance because the pack was huge, slow-moving, and took a good mile to thin out even a bit. We ran down Hennepin, around the Mill City Museum, and over the Stone Arch Bridge. I was able to run the entire way , which was my goal. I passed the finish line triumphantly, with plenty of people behind me. All week I had been having visions of being dead last, the float carrying Miss Aquatennial about to run me over, clowns pointing and laughing. 5K run? Check.

–Mrs. Wonderful

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