the whutupdate. (you won't believe how pretty this week looks!)

Happy Friday, y'all.  I think you can tell what the Most Exciting News of the Week Award goes to: the blog got a massive and long-overdue facelift!  This has been in the works for about three years... I'm nothing if not the tortoise in the fable.  But, finish line reached.  Doesn't it look grand??

AND THERE IS MORE GOOD NEWS!  After we push our way through today, we're done with this six-week stretch of school, and ready for a break.  Whew.  I'm trying to decide whether we'll take one or two weeks off.  It's mid-February, and it seems like it might do our souls good to wait until March to start back up again, plus I'm getting the Spring Cleaning Fever.  

At least once a year, I start getting the jibblies about how disorganized and dirty everything has gotten since the last time I scrubbed everything down within an inch of its life.  The kids have been stuck inside all winter, which means toy bins are crazy messed up and stuff is strewn into every nook of every cranny.  The kitchen cabinets and windows are all covered with a thin film of yuck.  Don't even get me started on the state of the basement.  Everything is just gross and messy and I'm getting antsy to do something about it.  So we might take two weeks off to give me as much time as possible to hopefully get a handle on everything.  We shall see.

And lastly, I haven't gotten around to sealing our countertops yet, but that is on the docket for this weekend so that NEXT WEEKEND we can get those installed, followed by our new sink and new backsplash tile.  Then after that we're ready for floor tiles and appliances and paint and art... This is getting real, people.  My kitchen is about to look awwwwwwwwwesome.  I'll have to show you a preview next week.

And with that, here are a couple of photos of some random stuff from the week.  I gave them artsy names because I can.

Brothers Coloring, 2016:

Brothers Coloring II, With an Audience

Penelope Looking Resigned to the Unknown; Brothers Looking Optimistic:

Until next week!

video vednesday: yeah, well, there's something i gotta tell you about her.

...just remind me later.

rocco's modern life: three months.

My littlest buddy is now three months old!  We survived the newborn stage crapstorm with aplomb!

Actually, until the last couple of weeks, it was almost like we never even had a newborn.  He was such a great eater and sleeper that the state of overwhelm that is generally inevitable was, well, evitable?  Granted, the last few weeks have seen a regression in sleeping and eating habits, but you know what?  I'll still take it, because look at this face:


I know this photo is blurry, but he just looks so cute!

Oh my word, he is such a doll.  He's got these huge ol' hands, just like Atticus did, and he loves sucking multiple fingers at a time, just like Finneas did (and does).  He's super strong and can hold his head up during tummy time for 15-20 minutes, no prob.  (Some of that is probably due to the fact that I let him sleep on his tummy, so I'll walk in the room and he's already up and just checking stuff out.)

To get to sleep, he turns his head from one side to the other for like ten minutes straight.  He smiles nonstop. He actually sleeps in his carseat when necessary, which is a first for a Van Voorst kidlet.  He isn't a baby who always smells like old milk, which is great, but he is super urpey.  Bummer.  He's growing super well, and is almost out of his 3-month clothing, right on schedule!

He is loved and adored by one and all!

I know this photo is blurry, too, but again, he just looks so cute!

And that's our boy, our tiny Rocky.


This week was full of the usual-of-late: school, snow, and sickness.

Rocco is still getting over his cold, though he's definitely on the upswing.  He's started sleeping for much longer stretches during the day (his feedings are almost always three hours apart) and for slightly longer stretches at night - three to four hours at a time, which is no seven to nine hours like he used to do, but it's also no 1.5 to two hours either, which is where we were at for a week or so.

My eyes are finally totally healed up, and no one else got any of that nastiness, which is great.  My throat has been hurting for the last three weeks, but that seems to be healing as well, so between that and getting more sleep this week, I'm feeling like a veritable spring morning.

Unfortunately, Todd is down for the count - again.  We started January off with him catching a horrible cold, then we transitioned into my eye thing, then Rocco's cold, which spread mildly between the kids, and now that we're all feeling better, Todd seems to have the flu.

Someone has been sick nearly every day since the beginning of the year, and I, for one, am ready to be done with it.  Luckily, even though WINTER STORM KAYLA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! dumped some snow over the last few days, it's stayed pretty warm, so I've been letting the big kids spend the afternoons outside where hopefully the sunshine and fresh air will keep them healthy, and the fact that they always forget to close the door behind them will help to air the bugs out of the house.  Fingers crossed.

Other than that, things have been trucking along pretty smoothly.  Rocco turned three months old, and is still the sweetest thing, even though he's been sick.  I'll post more about him next week.

As for what I've been reading, Todd and I have been reading through Shepherding A Child's Heart together in the evenings, which has been great, as I've felt a little overwhelmed lately at the prospect of consistent, diligent discipline of so many kids.  It's been great to get some guidance and be able to refocus.  I'm also hoping to finish up L'Abri today - my word, it's an incredible story.  If you haven't read it, you really should!  AND, I've decided to try to do a six-month read-through of the Bible, and I'm asking for your prayers that I'd stay committed and find the time each day to stay on track.

And that's where we're at as we head into February!


Oh, no.  I've discovered something dangerous.  Our library has a used book store. 

I've only been in there three times, so I don't really know all the details, but it seems to me they don't do occasional book sales, they just put everything out as it comes, if that makes sense.  And admittedly, this softens my heart a little toward our library, which could use a few points in its favor.  After all, they allow patrons to look at internet porn out in plain sight in the middle of the afternoon.  Plus, there's always a waitlist for the Harry Potter books.  Spring for a couple more sets, ya old cheapskate library.  Or better yet, maybe I should just finally buy them for myself and stop expecting the library to be my everything.

Anyway, I got spoiled when we lived in Ames, where the library is EXCELLENT and I never saw anyone looking at porn.  So all that to say, I've half-hated our library the whole time we've been here.  It needed a little sumpn-sumpn going for it, and this used book store is at least a step in that direction.

Exhibit A:

All of the above books were 50 cents or less, except for Walden, which was a brand new, nicely bound hardback copy for $2, and weirdly, Journey to the Centre of the Earth, which was a paperback in okay condition that cost a whole dollar.  Still scratching my head on that one, but I'm the sucker who paid a dollar for it, so joke's on me.  But either way, I got this whole stacka stuff for well under ten bucks.

Exhibit B:

Now, these are just cool, and the language is excellent (not all choppy and short-sentenced the way they now make story compilations for kids).  These were each $3, but they're from the 1930's and the binding is still super tight, plus I thought Atticus especially would love them (which he really does), so I splurged.

And now, for the crowning jewel... Exhibit C:

Now these.  Just, these.  They're leather bound and stamped in 24-carat gold foil (they still had some of the original invoice paperwork tucked inside).  They contain all kinds of classic works, many of which are eventually on our school reading lists (I'll get to that in a sec).  Plus, they were only a buck each!  Plus, aren't they gorgeous?!?!  I mean, look:

Yeah, ya do.

As for how I decide what to get, I use my own nostalgia as well as the Ambleside Online reading lists and priorities to help me pick.  I also love looking for coffee-table books (so far I've found a couple great ones, unfortunately not pictured; one on birds, and one on the pencil drawings of Leonardo Da Vinci).

Our homeschool method is very, very literature-heavy, and it's nice to be able to build up our library a dollar or two at a time.  So I've just started familiarizing myself with our upcoming years' booklists, and checking in at the library every few weeks to see if they've gotten anything new.  

And the crazy thing is, I've only grazed the surface of what the book store holds.  I've only looked extensively through the children's chapter books and the classics.  There are still tons more to find, I'm sure!  This is seriously one of the best things about Cedar Falls.  Take that how you will.

bring on the blizzard.

In honor of today's projected snow storm, and to keep my mind off of the nagging anxiety that rises in my chest every time there is a possibility of the heat going out in the dead of winter, I thought I'd post photos of a milder snow day we had last month.

Penelope started the afternoon off on a victorious foot by being the first to nail someone in the face with a snowball.  She is clearly a very gracious winner.

But no harm, no foul.

And, true to form, she celebrated when she then nailed Todd in the face.

Atticus felt the need to take an impromptu rest/plank break.  You know; just cuz.

The kids spent time building the World's Tiniest Snowman (they're sitting down in this picture.)  Penelope named him SnowFellow.

When they got inside, I made them some hot chocolate to warm them up.  It turns out Finneas was the one who really went to town on his mug of cocoa.  Go figure.

So, I will be spending the day looking at these photos and reminding myself that there are, indeed, blessings that come with snow, and praying Todd makes it home safely from work tonight.  And promising myself that someday, someday, we will live in a place where, even if the power goes out, there is no possibility of dying of exposure.  So bring on the blizzard.

in which atticus turned seven... a couple of months ago.

Well, I feel a bit sheepish.  I have put off posting about Atticus' seventh birthday for nearly two months now.  Whoa-zers.  So, today's the day, my friends.  Without further ado: Atticus' Seventh Birthday Party. 

Naturally, knowing Atticus, it was army-themed.

Todd had not only taken Atticus to Hobby Lobby to choose his decorations, but he also set up all the decorations himself.  I, on the other hand, didn't even bother to set the sandwich fixin's out on a platter, but rather just set the plastic packages out on the table and called it good.  I think I really need to improve my game next time - Todd definitely won this round of "Who Put In Adequate Amounts of Effort?"

After lunch, the kids spent a little time playing with the army figures Todd brought home.

And then it was time for cake and ice cream.  Ahhhh, the cake.  When Todd asked Atticus what kind of cake he wanted, Atticus immediately responded with, "Camouflage."  And then Todd was all, "Um, they don't really make camouflage cake."  And then they got to Wal-Mart, and what did they find?  A kit for making a camouflage cake.  

But as it turns out, camouflage cake just kind of looks moldy.

Laurelai wants you to think that she's skeptical of the moldy-looking cake, but I draw your attention to Exhibit A: clear evidence of cake consumption.  We were not fooled.

After cake and ice cream, it was time to open presents.  Everyone knows him well - he received a classic set of Legos, a few Lego sets, the Lego movie, a pair of real walkie-talkies, and a Swiss Army watch.  The child was in heaven.

And when all that was said and done, and the little kids had been laid down for nap, the best part of the day ensued:  Atticus and his Great-Grandpa Jim got down on the floor together to build a Lego submarine.

And there you have it.  Two months too late, I'll grant you.  But still.

weekly 'what's up': in which i use way too many gross descriptive words for the state of my eye.

This week.  Ohhh, this week.

Rocco was adorable (as usual), but sick for most of the week, causing him to regress to newborn sleeping and eating habits.  Instead of sleeping for 2.5-3.5 hour stretches during the day, and starting the night off with a good solid 7-hour stretch like normal, he has been getting up every 1.5-2.5 hours, barely eating and barely sleeping, around the clock.  Poor him, and who am I kidding, poor me.  Moment of silence while I pity us.

Also, as it turns out, that eye 'irritation,' as my eye doctor called it when I got it checked out, was actually a violent case of pink eye.  How do I know this?  Because after a full week of battling with the awful pain and disgustingness in that eye, it moved to my other eye, meaning it was contagious.  So now I knew what I was dealing with, but it was also a freak-out moment because a) I hadn't been as diligent about disinfecting everything I touched to prevent it spreading to everyone else as I should have been, b) it meant that I could spend another full week battling infection and possible contamination.

When the doctor had diagnosed it as simply a reaction to my face wash, he said there was nothing I could do but ride it out.  So that's what I did with the first eye.  But once it moved to my other eye, I started fighting that sucker like there was no tomorrow.  Homeopathic drops.  Folk remedies.  Essential oils.  Hot compresses.  Potato poultices.  Supplements.  Preventive remedies for the kids.  Disinfecting the entire house with hydrogen peroxide, and disinfecting myself with copious amounts of hand soap and sanitizer.  And you know what?  IT WORKED.  Eye One took seven full days to begin healing, and still remained itchy for a few days beyond that.  And meanwhile it was swollen, weeping, bright red, gritty, and it got stuck shut every night.  Eye Two was mildly irritated, but barely pink, only moderately itchy, and not at all weepy, sticky or swollen.  And it was fully healed by the end of day three.  AND no one else seems to have caught it as far as I can tell.  PRAISE THE LORD!

Okay, but enough about my eye.  I guess.

Rocco is still not feeling 100%, but he upgraded to a bigger bed this week, so at least he has room to move about the cabin now.  The little bassinet was no match for him anymore, so we moved the pack and play into our room instead.  And it barrrrrrrely fits.  But I wasn't ready to put him in his own room yet, so this is where we're at for now.

And as for other news this week, it has all been great: the weather was beautiful, so the big kids got to play outside a few times, school went well, January is almost over, and we're gearing up to start re-doing our kitchen!!!  I'm going to start sealing the bottom of our new butcher block counters tomorrow to get them ready for imminent install... oh. my. stinkin. word.  My cup runneth over more than my eye does, so I really can't complain.  Looking forward to moving forward!

large family love.

Yesterday morning after school, the kids all disappeared upstairs for a while and remained pretty well occupied.  They finally came downstairs to say they had set up a 'birthday' party for Rocco turning two months old.  They had made decorations, presents and a cake.

This really does say "Happy Birthday," but some letters were a bit side-heavy and needed some propping up; hence it looking like "Harrk Birthday."

This is the cake, built by Penelope.  If you look, you can see it has two candles and a number "2" on top.

This is Rocco, showing off some of his many gifts.

And this right here is a perfect illustration of one of the beauties of having a large family: there is so much love.  When Atticus was born, he came home to two people who loved him and adored him and missed hiim while he was asleep.  When Rocco was born, he came home to six people who loved and adored him and missed him (and threw him parties) while he was asleep.  They all have so many people to love, and so many people who love them.

What great kids, and what a wonderful, spontaneous surprise!  My life is G-O-O-D.

'harry potter happy fun time yeah' is over now. everyone return to your seats.

Happy Monday, everyone!  Back to the grindstone.  We took a break from school last week, so I'm anticipating today will be a bit rocky, but it was worth it - with everyone being sick and my eye being all disgusting, all I really felt like doing last week was drinking coffee in my sweatpants while I read the Order of the Phoenix.  So that's what I did.  Priorities, amiright?

And before you go calling me entirely selfish in my decision-making, the kids were seeming to need a break as well.  Not only were they not feeling well, but we didn't really even take a full week off over the holidays, so the last break they got was when they were down at my mom's right after Rocco was born.  And with it being the end of January, when everyone feels like killing each other, it was a perfect time for them to just relax a little bit and shake things up.

And that right there is one of the things I love best about homeschooling: it's so flexible.  I knew where I was at, I knew where the kids were at, and I was able to adjust things accordingly.  We're all feeling (mostly) better now, and we're rested, so we're a bit more eager to start school this morning than we would be otherwise.

That being said, though, break is over.  I think the kids will be fine, I'm sure I will be fine, although I'm sure one of us will cry (but only one, so those are pretty good stats, right? RIGHT?!).  Plus, we're in the middle of The Wind in the Willows and Heidi, both books I never read as a child and that I'm loving, so I'm excited to get back into the swing.  But today is Monday, and I no longer have discretionary Harry Potter time to claim.  So, if you get a sec today, raise a cup of coffee and at least search out a HP quote on Pinterest in my honor.  Because, as of today, it's back to real life for the Van Voorsts.