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the battle of the [belly] bulge... my diastasis recti.

(You're about to see some awfully personal photos.  Be gentle, y'all.)

I'mma shoot you folks straight: childbearing has done a number on my body.  To clarify, I haven't suffered any major baby-related physical trauma, and I'm so over-the-moon thankful that my body has been willing to produce my babies.  I'm not overlooking my blessings.  But, my body has also stretched and changed and essentially turned itself inside out five times now, and it shows.




One thing I've been struggling with since Finneas was born (and that has gotten progressively worse, especially after Rocco's 9.5+ pounds resided inside me) is a diastasis recti, which is just fancy-pants doctor-talk for a separation of my ab muscles.  The two columns of abdominal muscles that run down the front of your belly part ways for a while during pregnancy, and they're supposed to reunite when all is said and done.  But that doesn't always happen, especially after multiple kiddos.



After Finneas was born, I noticed my posture had gotten really bad.  It was like I couldn't hold myself upright.  I now kind of hunch over when I sit, and slouch when I stand.  This bugs me to NO. END, and I suspect it's because my core strength is pretty compromised by the diastasis recti.  (And my slouchiness then probably makes it worse.  Gah.)  Then, when I announced my pregnancy with Laurelai, a family member said he had already known for a while, since I had started showing a long time prior to telling him.  I was four weeks pregnant when we had this discussion.  Ouch.

At first, I wasn't sure what was causing it, other than just the umbrella phrase, "Mom Bod."  But I started hearing more people talk about diastasis recti, so I checked myself for it, and sure enough, I have a gap between my abs that is about two fingers wide.  (If you're curious about your own abdominals, but don't know how to check for a separation, there are lots of online tutorials.  Or, better yet, if you're in the Twin Cities area, you can get in touch with Kelley Suggs from Lithe Wellness Solutions and schedule a free ab check!)

You can see what I mean about my belly bulge in some of these photos Todd took recently when I wasn't thinking about sucking in my stomach:




I have been spending the last few months hoping that my belly roundness will diminish as I lose some of the baby weight.  But I'm currently within two pounds of my pre-Rocco weight, and within six pounds of my high school weight, and my shape is still radically round in the belly region.  (And the boob region and the hips region and the biceps region, but one complaint at a time.) Well, I've finally had enough - I'm tired of feeling weak and looking schlumpy.

So I got in touch with Kelley and got my hands on a copy of her Ab Rehab DVD.  It's a program of exercises that take about ten minutes a day for about ten weeks that gently and increasingly train the abdominal wall back into healthy shape.  You can do the program a few months postpartum (like me), or even years after having your last baby.  I'm starting today and will keep you posted as I go along.


(Here is a 'before' shot, and for reference, my stomach circumference at its roundest point, without sucking in or slouching, is 33.5 inches.  I'll be measuring as I go to see if it's changing.)




Wish me luck, y'all!

*I was not financially compensated for this post. I received the DVD for review purposes. The opinions are completely my own based on my experience.*

how it only took us twelve hours to get down to columbia.

If you've been watching Todd's instagram*, you already know that last week's moving experience was a bit rocky.  Moving out of the Cedar Falls house actually started really smoothly: we loaded the truck in record time on Wednesday, and we even spent our last night in the empty house on an air mattress so that I could spend Thursday morning cleaning walls, windows, etc.  We left town at 3:30 that afternoon.

At 5:45, we stopped at a gas station so I could feed Rocco, but when we went to get back onto the highway, the U-Haul wouldn't go faster than five miles an hour.  So Todd pulled over, and we were stuck on the shoulder of the on-ramp.  He called U-Haul at 6:15, who said they'd get someone out to help us.  By 6:30, we received a text from them that a towing company should be there in an hour.
 
But an hour later, the towing company called, saying they were driving around Cedar Rapids looking for us, but couldn't find us.  Which made sense, since we were close to two hours south of there!  So we called U-Haul back, who said they'd get in touch with another towing company.  ETA: 45 minutes.

I started massively freaking out, since it was getting dark, and we were just sitting in the middle of nowhere with everything we own and no way to leave.  We were just sitting ducks in a totally vulnerable position.  Plus, Rocco spent a good amount of time screaming his head off, which never helps anything.

The towing company finally arrived at 9:15, three hours after we first contacted U-Haul.  But thing is, it wasn't a tow truck, it was just a mechanic, who looked at the engine and discovered we had been leaking oil and transmission fluid, and were burning through gas at an alarming rate.  He recommended that we get towed, but we had to wait to get approval from U-Haul, and then we had to wait for the tow truck to arrive, and then we had to wait to see if we would be approved to have it towed all the way to Columbia.  (There was a very real possibility that they would just tow it as far as the nearest U-Haul rental place, where we would be expected to move all our stuff from the broken truck onto a working truck, on our own.  Um, No.)

Thank our sweet, sweet Lord that they (finally) approved us to get towed all the way to Columbia.  So once the tow truck arrived and we gave them our info and new address, Todd hopped in the car with me and we were able to get back on the road.  At 11:30 p.m.

We finally arrived at the Mission House at 3:00 a.m., almost twelve whole hours after we left Cedar Falls.  And that, friends, is how the Van Voorsts make moving even harder and more complicated than it has to be.


*BTW, if you don't follow Todd's instagram yet, you should.  It's basically the unofficial IG account for the minivan voorsts, since I'm absolutely atrocious at basically anything social media-related.  You'll get to see lots of day-to-day Van Voorsts, if that's your thing.

department of cutiepie ickles.

A friend of ours is a State Patrol officer, and on Friday he came to see the kids and show them his awesome gear.  I love that we know Christians within law enforcement who are working for justice, fighting for the oppressed, and keeping us safe.  I love that the kids are able to know people who are using their gifts to glorify God in many different capacities.

To say they were into it is an understatement.  In the photo below, you can see that all of them are looking and smiling at the camera, except for Finneas, whose eyes are locked on our friend's gun.  (Five similar photos were taken, and he never seems to break eye contact with that thing in any of them.)  Finneas dreams of one day getting to apprehend a true perpetrator.  JUSTICE WILL PREVAIL UNDER THE DILIGENT WATCH OF ONE FINNEAS VAN VOORST.





Laurelai was also pretty into it, though I'm pretty sure the bulletproof vest weighed more than she did.



You all can rest easy in your beds tonight, knowing that these kids will someday grow into your local law enforcers.  Here's to praying that, whatever they decide to do, they would do it with courage and honor.

whoops.

Sorry I've been a no-show.  It's our final push before moving, and I'm having to focus on packing up the house and keeping the kids from killing each other.  In case you hadn't already deduced, I will be taking this whole week off; but never fear - I'll be back here on Monday to catch you up on what's been going down around these parts!

what's up weekly.

This week has been filled with packing, packing, packing and yet more packing.  And I still feel like I've gotten nowhere.  I kind of hit a panic point yesterday.  Like, I just know I'm going to barely get all this done in time to move, and in the meantime, I'm going to kill my adrenals like I did last time we moved, and I'll end up gaining a bunch of weight and taking forever to recover.  I've felt so good and calm up until this point and then... yesterday morning hit.  Ugh.

So, let's spend some time dwelling on the past, shall we?  Specifically the past two weeks when life was dandy.

Penelope had her birthday party, which I will have to tell you more about soon.




She got a checkers set and has spent numerous hours picking on opponents who don't really stand a fair chance.




Laurelai was so stinking cute, I could die.



Finneas spent time preparing for any type of battle, spiritual or physical, that may befall him:




The girls asked me to teach them some ballet, and I happily obliged.  My turn-out has gone to crap and my releve is now so sad I didn't even attempt it, but they forgave me.



The kids wrote these semi-welcoming notes to our babysitters:


"Enter Evryone --> Not for: Robers.  Go BZRK Babysisters. Rite here come in now."



"Welcome to your doom, babysiters MoohaHaha.  Ror. A mesege from Penelope."


Rocco turned SIX MONTHS OLD CAN YOU EVEN BELIEVE IT.




I have tried to arrange a friend or babysitter to come over most days over the course of this last week, and have more help coming next week as well.  Even an hour or two of uninterrupted packing time is outrageously helpful in making any kind of progress, so I'm super grateful for the help.  I'm hoping (probably too optimistically) that I can be basically all packed up by next Sunday.  One can dream.  Wish me luck!

as it turns out, we're church planters.

Five years ago yesterday, we purchased our first house in Story City.  Three years ago today, we left that house to move to Cedar Falls to help plant Candeo.  And today, we find ourselves nearing our move date to leave Cedar Falls to help plant Anthem in Columbia.  That's a lot in five years.



If you would have asked me a few years ago if I could see us being church planters, I would have said absolutely not.  If you would have asked me last year if I thought we'd ever plant a church again, I'd have said absolutely not.  It's crazy what God can change in a short amount of time.

A friend recently asked me if we're planning on staying in Columbia for a while, and I've come to realize that I can't answer that question easily.  Would I love to put down roots somewhere, and fall in love with a city that we're able to call home for the long haul?  Absolutely.  But probably more than anything else we've learned in this process, we've learned to hold our plans with very open hands.  God has plans for us, even now, that we can't possibly imagine.  Maybe that means another church plant, maybe not; I don't know.  I just know that I don't want to miss out on what he has for us by trying to direct my own life.

I have no idea what our future will look like, and that's cool with me.  I'm not even a little worried about it now.  Because I've seen God move in ways I could not have imagined, and I wouldn't have known to ask for.  I didn't ever think this would be a life I'd want.  And it's true, it's definitely not always an easy life.  But I've seen God move.  I have seen God perform literal miracles.  I've seen God change me into a person I definitely wouldn't be if I was still safe and comfy at home in Story City.  And I wouldn't trade any of it for that trivial safety and comfort.

So I urge you now: if you feel God is calling you to something, jump into it.  Even if it wasn't in your plan.  It will cost something, but it will pay something bigger.  Just do it.  Just follow.  Just obey.  Trust him to take care of you, even when it's scary and seems hopeless.  Give up whatever you need to give up, just pick his life for you.

If you want to see God's hand move in huge, obvious ways in your life, it is as hard and as easy as that.  I've heard it said that if you follow Jesus at a safe distance, you will stay both safe and distant.   Ask him where he wants you to go, and then just follow, whatever the cost.  As much as I can tell from my own experience, you won't regret it.

I THINK I'M GOING CRAZY.

I'm just popping in this morning to tell you I have a lot on my mind, stuff I've been thinking about and noodling on and wanting to write out.  I want to tell you about how church planting (twice, now) has changed us, and just how faithful God has been as we uproot our life over and over again.  I want to show you a "Before and After" of our kitchen.  I want to tell you about how freaking awesome my husband is.  And I will write all those posts, but I just can't today.

I have not felt this scatter-brained in a very long time.  Since college, maybe.  (I should also tell you about what a wet blanket I was in college because I never slept so I cried basically every day.)  I barely know what's going on at any given moment, and right now my mind is running so fast, I can't slow down enough to write any of that stuff out.  So I'm just going to fold some laundry and watch some Chuck and drink some wine (cool your jets, I wrote this last night; I'm not at the point of day-drinking yet), and pray I'm not actually going crazy or developing adult-onset ADD.  Please pray with me to that end.

happy sixth birthday, penelope!


Happy birthday, my big girl!


You have grown so much this year.  You are so helpful and kind.  You insist on serving others.  You have a mind like a steel trap, and a memory that gives elephants a run for their money.  You are hil.ar.ious.  You are light-hearted.  You dote on the littlest kids and are so helpful and loving with them.  I just absolutely adore you - I love hearing your deep thoughts, and your extensive use of vocabulary, and your funny jokes.  I love your insightful questions and your quick wit.  You are beautiful, inside and out, and I just know you will be used as a mighty tool in the hand of God to accomplish great things for his Kingdom.  I cannot wait to see how he will grow and shape you this year!

Love you, little Sweet P!















video vednesday: i want all girlfriends to tell me that after dates.