Posts tagged world domination

The End of an Era

We are moving.

Tonight is our final night at the Ranchero De-Luxe, and I have been surprisingly sentimental about the place. It shouldn’t be surprising. We brought Rex-Goliath home from the hospital when we lived here. We planned, financed, and threw a wedding when we lived here. I went into labor with Xavier here. We had terrible fights, funny jokes, sad moments, and live-changing ecstatic times. The Big Plan was both conceived and realized on this patch of beige carpet that I am currently sitting on. We came up with the “Smell Ya Later, School” Party concept at our kitchen table. Both boys learned to crawl and walk, said their first words, threw their first tantrums. Chloë started kindergarten, lost her first tooth, had her first slumber party, and learned to ride a bike here. Dan and I both went back to school here. Chuckë lived and died here. A lot of hard work and time has been put in here. We have cleaned a metric ton of child vomit off of the floor here. We became a family here.

Tomorrow morning, we will move into the Family Student Housing at the University of Minnesota. For the most part, this is a move up in the world. We’ll have two levels. It will be a better commute for me next fall.

But we’ll have no pug dog. Grandma Vicky has graciously taken the crazy messed-up dog. P. Puggs and I have been through a lot – she used to curl up behind my knees in a sleeping bag when we lived in a house that none of the residents could afford to heat, we subsisted on peanut butter crackers for months when finances were tight. She has put up with so much tail-pulling and eye-poking from kids. She will be missed, but now she has a doggie friend (Tate) and someone to dote on her. No one pulls her tail at Gramma Vicky’s. All dogs go to heaven.

It feels appropriate to move at this juncture. A lot has changed in four years – we have a good thing going. We are ready for the next phase – on to bigger and better things. Stay tuned.

Bonus pic for Ashlee, because she thinks that it is funny that I label my boxes with words like “crap.” It is not funny, however, that Dan labels boxes containing my Martha Stewart magazine collection with “stupid magazines.”

— Mrs. Wonderful


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Phase 1 is Over

We never had a Plan B. So I guess it is a pretty good thing that Plan A is going, well, according to plan.

Today, this very morning, I received an email from the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities offering me admission to their Pharm D program. I feel like I just delivered a baby. A three year-old baby.

We have been at this for some time. This little plan was hatched shortly after Rex-Goliath was born, and the kid is nearly four. I want to make this clear: this whole thing was a joint effort. Long before I was even able to enroll in classes, Dan was working two (sometimes three) jobs to make this financially possible. There were weeks where I was hardly home because I was studying microbiology. I didn’t do dishes for an entire semester. The man is amazingly supportive, and I am so lucky to have him.

For those of you not familiar with the process, getting in to pharmacy school is the hardest part. In general, if you can get in, you will graduate. It takes a long time – you cannot just decide to apply and be done with it the next day. They look at a lot of factors – GPA, PCAT score, extracurricular activities, leadership, volunteering. You have to write an essay summing up your life and your desire to be a pharmacist that cannot be longer than a page. You have to enter every single college transcript you have into the application system (PharmCAS), despite the fact that you have to send the damn things to PharmCAS anyway. I have six transcripts under several aliases. Just tracking all of those down took time (and fees). Then they take weeks to verify that what you entered matches what is actually on the paper copy. And they charge you $150 plus $50 for each additional school (I applied to seven). Then you fill out supplemental applications, repeating much of the information you already put on the PharmCas application. You write about a billion essays. You pay about $50 a supplemental. At this point, you’ve so much money on fees that you feel as if you are throwing wads of cash out the window. You have to endure the nerve-wracking interview while wearing pantyhose. If you are the spouse, you have to listen to the applicant talk about this crap ad nauseum. For years. And then you wait.

The whole thing has felt like a big checklist. After every semester (heck, every exam), I would say a little prayer of thanks (even though I am atheist) and breathe a sigh of relief. After the PCAT. After the interview. Things have gone so smoothly up until this point, it seemed like I was due for a hurdle. I was preparing myself to be waitlisted.

I wasn’t even expecting the news to arrive until tomorrow. And I was expecting snail mail, not email. I was wondering if Dan would intercept it while I was at class. And if the envelope was thing vs. thick, would that be an indicator. I about fell out of my chair when I clicked on Gmail this morning.

I have to say some thank-yous: To Mr.Wonderful, for being the best partner I could ever wish for, to the kids for putting up with how difficult this has been (and it will not change for some time). To Ashlee, Abdi, and Phil for writing my letters of recommendation. To Vicky, for all of her support. Warren and Deb, for the support and all of the advice. The three of you have been our biggest cheerleaders. Thanks to all of our friends and family.

Off we go. On to Phase Two.

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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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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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Last Weekend of Vacation

I always have big plans for winter break. Study for the PCAT, organize the pictures on the computer, put all of that crap I’ve been meaning to sell on ebay. I always for get that the first portion of the break is eaten up by Christmas preparations. Then there is Christmas itself, which eats up several days of our time. After that is the weird few days between Christmas and New Year’s where you try to find places for all of the new crap you have. We live in a house strewn with gift boxes for that period of time. It feels as if time is standing still. Then you celebrate New Year’s. Finally, there is one week left before school starts, this one of which I spent dealing with Financial Aid, buying books ($782.43 so far, still a few course packets to buy), convincing Dan that we need to purchase a MyRide65 car seat for Xavier, and rearranging the furniture.

This last weekend before the craziness ensues, I decided to enjoy a little time with the kids. Dan was gone Friday night, so we spent a lovely evening at home, giving Xavier his first bath in the sink, among other activities.

Chloë and Rex-Goliath helped, showing him the best way to play with squirty toys.

Rex-Goliath loves playing with water, so the sink coupled with his baby brother splashing was beyond exciting. I sure am glad we forked over $20 for that baby bathtub that was useful for less than six months.

I couldn’t resist doing this picture, cheesy as it may be.

This may be the type of thing that only a parent finds endearing, but I am going to post about it anyway. For better or for worse, this blog has become the record of the kids’ childhoods, and these are the type of memories that make you smile years down the road when your children are different people, yet the same people. A few weeks ago, when going through pictures on the desktop computer, I came across one where Rex-Goliath had plugged in all manner of electric appliances to a stool from IKEA. I remember when he used to do that! He did that for a good year, there were always things plugged into his crib, or the stove. He was fascinated by fans and would turn them on and off, plug them in and unplug them. My mommy instinct was shrieking “No!” the entire time, but I held back. He was so meticulous about it, so careful. So fascinated.

As most of you know, small household appliances have given way to tank engines. Most boys that play with train sets do things like set up the tracks and run the trains along the tracks. Santa knew Rex-Goliath better than that, and conveniently left a roll of duct tape and a rubber band ball in his stocking. Because Rex-Goliath does things like this with trains:

To be completely accurate, Mama helped with this one. But Rex-Goliath directed the action. I have assisted in attaching many items to trains – trains that are not meant to be part of the train set, cars, baby toys, even a Playmobil carriage meant to be pulled by a plastic horse. Sometimes the carriage contains princesses, sometimes it contains Santa Percy.

On Saturday, we met Melissa and Willy at Edinborough Park, an beautiful indoor playground with a giant play structure, a bounce house, and a room full of scooters and bouncy balls. The “park” has a park feel to it – plenty of trees, pathways and a stream.

For those of you who do not have children – these things did not exist when we were kids. Or maybe my parents were ogres and hid them from my brother and I. I would have adored this sort of thing when I was little. They are so tall – like three McDonald’s Playlands stacked. I was wearing Xavier, so unfortunately, I wasn’t able to do much climbing around, but next time we’ll bring Dan so I can.

Rex-Goliath and Willy had a good ol’ time on the little trike/bike thingies.

Xavier spent some time chilling in his car seat while the moms drank coffee and chatted.

Chloë collected bouncy balls.

Rex-Goliath and Willy, contemplating the meaning of life.

Rex-Goliath, in the play structure.

Okay, fun’s over. Starting tomorrow, we’ll see what Mama Leah is made of. I wonder if my model train-rubber band skills will be useful?

–Mrs. Wonderful

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After a month, and what’s new.

It is a lovely August Sunday afternoon, all is (relatively) quiet at home, the house is (relatively) clean, and the first month of Xavier’s time with us has passed much as it began, peacefully and gently.

Xavier has been growing into his own just a bit more. He’s chunking up just a bit from some good ol’ Momma milk. Chin number two is in full effect and multiple arm rolls are blooming. He’s finding his voice and letting everybody know he’s got ideas when they come to him. (In related news I have recently inaugurated my ear plugs.) His personality is burgeoning, in the subtle way of a newborn. You get hints, at most, of what you’ve got on your hands. He hints at being a bit mellower than some of us in Team Wonderful. He hints at being a bit more laid back. He hints at being a calm little dude. Of course, I could just be desperately hoping, and reading my own tea leaves in whatever manner suits me.

We’ve spent the last four weeks formulating vast overarching schemas by which to affect our influence upon the gentle world, and hanging out at home in exodus from the day to day to day of the greater outside. Apart from cashiers at retailers around town and some of the beautiful people in our life (of whom pictures will be coming), we haven’t really seen anybody. Which, in all truth, isn’t that different from how we live normally. Just a bit more exaggerated when I’ve been off work and living like a housewife.

Tomorrow will see the first gradual signs of the Team Wonderful machinery grinding back into action, as we reengage with the world. I will return to work after a (generous) leave of four-plus weeks. I may or may not be looking forward to this. Leah restarts class as she begins hitting the “Get Into Pharmacy School” plan with a bit more gusto. It will be interesting to see how we maintain our sanity as we juggle my erratic and sometimes overwhelming work schedule with her daunting and aggressive class schedule with our lovely if sometimes overwhelming set of children. With a bit of help from Vodka Dad and Box Wine Mom we’ll make it out alive. Or dead, but at the very least we’ll make it out.

In future posts I’ll share some pictures of family, which should be interesting to nobody but the people in the pictures. Chloë and Rex-Goliath(!) have been taking some pictures, and I think I’ll dedicate a couple of posts to sharing some of this as well.

We hope all is well with you. Let us know how you are! This blog can serve many masters.

– Mr. Wonderful

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