Friday, October 31


As you might know, it is Halloween night.
We dressed up our girls, and told them to sit tight.
True to the characters their costumes portrayed,
Thing One and Thing Two just ran away and played.
The Cat tried to restrain them, but they did not like it.
No, they did not, they didn't like it one bit.
So the pictures their mom got were really quite lame.
But we hope you will enjoy them just the same.

Sunday, October 26

It's like...mandatory, isn't it.

So, when your husband is in med school, and your sole financial responsibility is to try and stay less out of debt, you have to do a lot of improvising. But the other day we did some pretty uncreative improvising. Instead of taking Mia to Disneyland in her "Princess infatuation" years, I took her to.... a Disney show!

I talked it up, and she was pretty excited. She got to go with her best friend Abby, and Abby's mom and I tagged along, too. We plopped the girls in the seats behind the shortest people in the group in front of us, but ended up with them on our laps when the show started. There were dudes in the aisles selling toys that made absolutely no sense: little seizure promoting strobe light wands. I had no idea why the people around us were shelling out $20 dollars for a toy to distract their kid from the show for which they already shelled out $30. And then they spent the rest of the concert trying to get the kid to put the thing away. Why? Because just having the thing in your peripheral vision hurt your eyes, and if looking directly into it for longer than a second didn't cause brain hemorrhaging, it did hypnotize you into buying the other spinning 20 dollar light-up toy.

The show began. A small adult trying to pass off as a little kid came out and flapped her arms to accentuate each syllable as she told the kids she was looking for Mickey Mouse. Mia was... stony. I wasn't too worried. "She'll be excited when she sees Mickey." A few seconds later, out pops the ears. The crowd cheers. I notice I'm cheering more loudly than the kid on my lap. She didn't move for pretty much the whole first half. I tried moving her arms for her. Whispering explanations as to what she was seeing. She was just a little unimpressed stone. "Huh. Maybe she's worried about the very animated actors" who did sometimes look like they were being thrown into epileptic fits by the little seizure promoting strobe light wands out in the audience. Finally some characters she liked came out and she yelled over to Abby, "Look! Tigger!!"

After the intermission, things livened up. Mia's favorites from the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse were on, and she was smiling and clapping after the songs. The choreography for her favorite, "Hot Dog Dance" wasn't very well-thought out. They invite everyone in the audience to stand, and, common sense on their side, the parents stand up their kids while remaining seated. Great- now all the kids will enjoy a break from their seats and Bop to the Hot Dog Diddy. Ah- but no- the performers tell the parents to stand, too. So a bunch of grown-ups get to heave their kids up to their head level to see over the other parents holding their kids up to see over the other parents holding their kids up so their kids can see the Hot Dog Dance.

She's mentioned the show a few dozen times since we went Saturday. I'm thinking we've fulfilled our parental Disney duties. For the next few years, anyway.

Friday, October 17

Protecting Marriage

Fellow blogger, Erika, posted this.

Breezi alerted me to a big ol' debate going on Facebook, specifically about the involvement of LDS people in the support of a "Yes" vote.

I feel so helpless and hopeless lately about the state of our country. A part of what I wrote back to Breezi- "as long as there are people in this country who believe it is okay to leave God out of our government simply because a few people are offended by the idea of Him, we are really lost as a people. The government that our forefathers built this nation on included God, and the assumption that the people of the nation worshipped Him. Yes, they wanted people to worship how, what or where they may- but I don't think they included a back-up plan for when the country decided to bag the whole "Diety idea" completely. Basically, I believe there's no going back. From here on out, it's just going to get worse. I don't think that lets us off the hook- I do believe there are a few people out there whose eternal salvation can still be affected by the good around them."

What drives you to do good? The hope of a better future for your children? The simple knowledge that you are doing what you should- what you wish everyone would? I'm not asking because I want to start up an intellectual dialogue. I am looking for a more positive spin on my thoughts.

Thursday, October 16

Getting your way

When I ask the girls during car-rides "Do you want to listen to music?" I can pretty much guarantee that Anya and Bree will give their usual responses to every question: "YeAAaaaah!" and "NOOoooooooo" respectively, and that a little three-year-old request will inevitably pop up from the very back seat: "I want Hootie and da Bwowingfish!"

I'm not a fan of Hootie, but I've heard "only wanna be wid yeeeoouuuuww" about three times per car ride for the last two months. I'm sure by the time this phase is over, added up, I will have been listening in relative agony for about a week of my life. Thanks a lot, Zach.

Even though I'm not sure why they each learned the exact opposite, I'm hoping the twins keep their all-purpose "yes" and "no" answers. It makes for an exciting Dora watching experience-

"Do YOU see the purple mongolian pygmie striped marmaset?"

And, I can see this working to my advantage. Just ask the appropriate twin for the desired answer.

"You guys want to finish all your dinner, Anya?"

"Do you want your face to freeze that way, Bree?"

"Hey, Anya- do you guys want to clean your room?"

"Bree, are you guys going to keep pestering each other?"

"Anya, do you think mommy is having a good hair day?"

"Do these pants make my rear look big, Bree?"

Oh, that reminds me. My cousin posted this and I thought it was hilareous.

Tuesday, October 14

Hello autumn

While Mia was napping, I took the babies for a stroll and found the prettiest place right behind our neighborhood. I turned around, went home, grabbed the camera and strolled back. There's something so valuable to me about this once-a-year backdrop.

Monday, October 13

Goodbye summer

It's cold out. After a fleeting summer romance, each of the girls had to say goodbye to their favorite friend.

Anya did.

Bree did.

Mia kind of did.

So hard to let go.


Sunday, October 12

I voted

Yeah. That's right.

I took the advice of the First Presidency, and voted for the candidate that most closely fits my political beliefs. The answer was neither. Couldn't vote for either. So. Here's the Van Wagoner household dream ticket. Ta da!

The toddler grapevine

Zach stayed in nursery to help with the twins and Mia today, and witnessed an accident. So did Abby, Mia's little friend.

When we got home, I found this e-mail from Abby's mommy:

Hey, Abby told us today on the way home that Mia was hit by a car. Is that true? Is she okay? I mostly don't believe her, but I thought I should double-check.

I fell to pieces. After gathering all my strength, I replied,

Actually, yes, she was hit by a car. But it was a toy car in nursery that a boy threw up in the air and landed hard on her head. Traumatic...

Friday, October 10

Another tag!

This tag from McClelland Mania is called the Brillante Weblog-Premio 2008 Award. I don't know why.

The rules: Answer the following questions with one word answers and pass it on to seven others.

Here are the questions:
1. Where is your cell phone? deactivated
2. Where is your significant other? upstairs
3. Your hair color? fake
4. Your mother? female
5. Your father? old
6. Your favorite thing? love
7. Your dream last night? revealing
8. Your dream/goal? settlement
9. The room you're in? all-purpose
10. Your hobby? blogging
11. Your fear? immobility
12. Where do you want to be in 6 years? vacation
13. Where were you last night? home
14. What you're not? tactful
15. One of your wish-list items? manners
16. Where you grew up? didn't
17. The last thing you did? console
18. What are you wearing? worn-out
19. Your TV? off
20. Your pet? someday
21. Your computer? used
22. Your mood? assorted
23. Missing someone? someones
24. Your car? extravagent
25. Something you're not wearing? jewelry
26. Favorite store? book
27. Your summer? fleeting
28. Love someone? Zach
29. Your favorite color? clear
30. When is the last time you laughed? constantly
31. Last time you cried? forgot

Melissa, Michelle, Ally, Blogstalker, Amelia, Britney, Zach

Wednesday, October 8


Have you ever had the dream that your teeth were falling out? I feel them crunch, and spit them into my hand, one by one, then two or three at a time, until my hand is full of broken teeth bits.

When we were first married, Zach said he could hear my teeth squeak as I ground my jaws together while I slept. I had no idea.

I stopped for a while, I think.

But a few weeks ago, I was looking at my teeth and noticed the points of my top canine teeth were gone. Gone! They are flat now! They were there less than a year ago- I'm positive.

And then came the pain.

I called the dentist and they got me in quick. This morning I went for my new-patient appointment. The dentist said "You have beautiful teeth. No cavities." I was shocked. I thought I must have a hole the size of... well... a cavity at least.

What was causing the pain?

Me. My clenched jaw. Inflamed the nerve in that tooth.

He said 99.9 percent of the time, the cause of this in adults is stress. He said, "So try to look at what is stressful in your life and limit it." I made it look like I was getting up to leave, and said, "Alrighty- be seein' ya!" They got the joke. Later, the assistant was flossing me and asked if I had kids. When he found out their ages he called the dentist back and said "Hey- I know what her stress has been over!" and told him. It was kind of cute.

But really. It's not like having kids is going to get any easier, is it? I guess things like moving eight times in six years, changing states, and certain unmentionables have definitely added to the levels of AAaaaaaaAaahhhhhh! in my life. Maybe things will get better. I just hate to look at life that way. I want to be able to say things are okay the way thay are. I can handle this. But to tell the absolute truth, I am at a point where I have to rely on a hope of a better future to keep my sanity. There's no way I could live my whole life like this.

A part of me thinks there is something inherently wrong with that reasoning. But another part of me knows there's a reason we age, and we grow, and things change. Because we're not wired to stay in the exact same situation forever.

Here's where my thoughts went.

'Night! *squeak squeak squeak squeak*

Picture Tag

Got tagged by Hollie.

Go to "My pictures." Choose the 4th folder, 4th picture. Tell us about it.

I save everything I shoot. I got to the B'- Barker. A family from three moves ago. This was the fourth shot. No- I'm not proud of my fill lighting. She wrote me to see if we'd be visiting Utah anytime soon. They need a new family shot with their new baby. :( Sorry. I'm seriously thinking I should advertise here in Ohio, though.

Hey, y'all. I'm a photographer. Gitch'er pictures heeeeere! Sigh. My heart's just not as into it anymore. Nowadays, everyone has a business called "Photography by insert name here." Maybe I'm not as much a joiner as I thought. It even bugs me that I'm hearing the name Mia all over the place now. I thought it was relatively unique when we named her three years ago. Maybe I'll dye my hair green.

Okay. Whose 4th folder pictures do we want to see. Wa, Nog, Maury, Steph, Breezi. That should start a nice chain. Tag!

Tuesday, October 7


I can't stand the word verification thingys that make sure robots aren't commenting on our blogs. I took the feature off my blog a few months ago, and so far, no robots have tried leaving their two cents.

In my efforts to allieviate my absolute hatred for typing letters that don't make words, I have created two games.

First game: Try to come up with an acronym that has something to do with the post. I've never shared any with you, because I would have to explain this game in a comment, and I don't want to distract from your post like that. Sometimes, the letters have a kind of personalized license plate thing going on- like when I was commenting on the blog of the gal who has been discussing the LDS church, the letters were something like whyjldks. That one I did share, because it was just so- weird.

Second game: Try and get all the letters in one glance. Usually I need two glances, sometimes three. I think Seinfeld had the same idea with gas fill-ups; stopping on perfect change with one squeeze. When I get a one-glancer, I'm pretty darn proud of myself. Just like finishing boring chores as fast as I possibly can, the point is to get this crappy word verification out of the way as quickly as possible. I'd like to see this game turned into a competition between a whole group of people.

This is going to be big. Bigger than MadLibs. Brush up on your typing skills, in case you get an invite to a word verification party. Soon.

Click here.

Sunday, October 5

Blackmail material

So bedtime got better. Dinnertime, however, got worse.

Now she complains that her booster seat hurts her legs (which it does- they are long, heavy toddler legs and they just dangle off the hard plastic seat. I wouldn't be able to sit like that longer than a minute, either.) We let her sit on the regular chair, but can't strap her in. So between bites, she finds reason after reason to jump off the chair.

I wouldn't really have a problem with this, but between feeding two babies, and myself, I don't usually notice that once off the chair, she doesn't come back. She has started building a diaper tower or is using the pulled-off couch cushion as a trampoline. Lately, if I notice her getting off the chair, I stop her and threaten to stick her on the booster seat and strap her in. But what cunning three-year-old is going to let a wimpy little threat like that stop her? Today she used her no-fail excuse: gotta go potty.

Ten minutes later, I've finished feeding the twins, and have started eating myself, when I see Mia's plate, still full of food, and Mia's seat, still vacant of Mia.

"What are you doing, Mim? You need to finish your dinner."

"Blah-hoogah boogah!"

She didn't get a nap today, and it's showing. Mia is in full-blown pumpkin hour. She has one of the babies' pairs of sunglasses on, her winter boots from last year, and never got her panties back on after her trip to the potty. (Sound familiar anyone? ;) I try not to reward her by laughing.

"Mia, get your panties back on and come finish your dinner."

"Dee dee honk honk!" *giggle giggle*

"Mim- it's not funny. If you don't get those back on, I'll take your picture and show it to every boy you bring home. You'll be soooo embarrassed."

"Take a picture!!!" She poses next to her crumpled-on-the-floor Princess panties.

I will not forget. And this picture's future viewers will not have the benefit of my very skilled artistic computer descretion, either. Mwah ha ha ha haaaaa.

Thursday, October 2

One man's trash

I was getting to the point where I got a pit in my stomach after dinner, just thinking of the next "step." Our night-time routine with Mia. We'd start out fine. Put night-time diapers on the babies and stick them in their cribs,(nice routine for those two, ya think?) Then it was Mia's turn.

You know- it only got hard to put her to bed when we introduced a "bedtime routine?" Yeah. Before that- we put her in bed and she went to sleep. We took her binki away when she turned two, and she still did fine. But we thought- "Gee we've taken her away from her home, her grandparents, cousins, and her binki, not to mention divided our attention to her in three ways, all in a few months. Maybe we should give her something for a change." So we bought into the "kids should have a nightly regimen" crap and started singing songs and reading books and praying right before bed. Things went downhill from there. Bedtime became playtime. Not just any playtime. Exclusive really-nice-mommy playtime. Of course she was going to start balking at going to bed! Don't get me wrong. I think all the singing, reading stuff is important, and can be beneficial for some children before bedtime. But she didn't need it to sleep. "If it aint broke..." Duh.

Up until a couple of weeks ago, Mia's betime went something like this:

Kiss daddy goodnight, brush teeth, potty, pull-ups, P.J.'s, three books, three songs, "Goodnight to Mia," (she started saying goodnight to herself in the mirror at some point. "Good night Mia! I love you!" and then hug and blow herself a kiss.) Then prayers, kiss mommy, get tucked in, pull off the covers, "BIG hug," tucked in again.

At this point there was always a new variation. Potty again, need a drink, need socks on my hands (she started picking her lip when we went to Utah for Christmas last year- our solution,) afraid of the shadows, I have to tell you something, I'm hungry.

The ultimate ending to this chaos each night also came in varied forms. Have a gratitude moment, where we tell each other what things we were grateful the other did that day, get a drink, go potty again, sing another song, say another prayer, add a stuffed animal, arrange the furniture. Usually she'd keep whining and whining until the last resort- threatening to take her favorite toy away. Some nights involved doing just that.

It got worse and worse. She started getting out of bed hours after we thought she was down for the count. We realized we had to turn the actual lamp off, and not just use the light switch. We found out we had to block her direct view of the nightlight. The worst- she started getting up at 5:45- 6:00am and yelling for us. And if she didn't, one of the babies did.

Though she'd never asked, and despite all the warnings we'd read not to "go there," we decided to let her start falling asleep in our bed while Zach studied, with the understanding she'd wake up in her own room. For those of you who don't know, Zach is doing the at-home study option for the first two years of med school. His computer desk and homework station are right next to our bed- the only place for him to get peace and quiet during the days. The first night, she fell asleep within ten minutes, no fussing. It was like the first quiet minute after one of the heinous thunderstorms out here in Ohio. The deafening silence feels so good, but you don't quite believe it's over.

We've had to play around with it. She's had trouble getting to sleep a few nights. But she is actually trying to get to sleep! The other night she decided she'd rather sleep in her own bed. Today is the third day she's put herself down for a nap. And last, but not least, somehow, all of this has affected the babies. The same time we stopped the late night crying with Mia, the babies stopped the early morning rising. We've slept until at least 7 almost every morning for two weeks.

Things are better at our house. Even though I've been grateful for it a couple of times, I'm almost to the point where I think no advice is good advice when it comes to child care. We're so worried about how everyone else does it, (and doesn't do it) we let our personal solutions slip through the cracks undiscovered. We have more faith in people who aren't the parents of our children, who aren't living our lives, and who aren't dealing with our very unique situations. I love hearing successes and botch-ups of other parents. But I'm going to keep in mind that's all they are. Their successes and botch-ups.