'what's up weekly.'

This week started off funnnnnnnnnnnn.  Our babysitters from Cedar Falls (Ellie and Bethany) came down on Thursday night to stay for a few days.  Hot dang.  So much fun.  We hung out, we chatted, we laughed, we watched America's Funniest Home Videos, they watched the kids so Todd and I could go on a date - amazing. 

Oh, and also?  They helped me paint my kitchen.

Maybe you've heard me bemoaning the color of our kitchen walls over the last year and a half that we've lived here.  What you didn't see was me actually doing anything to change said putrid color of the walls.  So a day or two before they came down, I got a text from Ellie saying, "We want to help you paint your kitchen."  And I was all, whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaOKAY!

But then I had to figure out what color I wanted.  (I'm not really a huge fan of color on the walls - I honestly don't love it if I walk into a room and notice the walls at all.  It's the stuff on the walls, or the stuff in front of the walls that I like seeing.  So give me a nice, humble, 'I don't star in the play, I just run the soundboard' kind of wall color.)  Anyway.  I picked up a few paint chips, I spent way too long deliberating over what would look good with the cabinets and the tile and the countertops and the low lighting, I got the paint mixed.... and it turned out to be basically the exact same color that I chose for the rest of the house.  Go figure.  Also, I didn't get an "After" photo.  Go figure.

We painted the ceiling, walls and trim.  It was a major undertaking, and I am sooooooo excited to finally get to brag about the fact that not a single wall in my house looks like boogers.

The girls left on Sunday afternoon, leaving us all very sad.  Penelope assuaged her grief by blogging about the weekend.  Her blog is by far the brightest spot in my life right now.  (In her post about nature facts, she had this little tidbit to share about wolves: "the wolf, first fact, (each animal has two facts) it is a relative of the dog  family which includes, hyenas, wild dogs, pet dogs, and wolfs.  second fact wolfs like any other dogs can't climb trees but can climb down."  Who knew?  I seriously can't get enough of her writing.)

On Monday morning, we high-tailed it out of the house to get to Penelope's dentist appointment.  When we arrived, they told us they must have gotten mixed up and she wasn't in the system.  So we drove home.  On Tuesday morning, we high-tailed it out of the house to get to Laurelai's dentist appointment.  When we arrived, they told us their computers were down and they couldn't see her that day.  So we drove home.  (Sidenote: since when do you need scheduling software to clean a kid's teeth?  Also, why were we witnessing other kids being called back to have their teeth cleaned and we were sent home?)  I was annoyed, but I don't have a picture of that, so instead I'll just share this photo of Todd and me (and Callista) testing out the timer on the camera.

Yesterday, a friend offered to watch the kids so Todd and I could go on a date.  Two date nights in one week?!?! OKAY!

And that's basically our week, other than a mountain of folded laundry so tall that it started at the floor and came up to my hip.  It made me cry.  Again, no photo of that, so let Laurelai play you home with her adorableness.

tomorrow is friiiiiiidayyyyyyyyyyyy!

We're pretty excited about it.

our trip to the science center.

For Rocco's birthday, we headed up to Iowa to spend the weekend with my parents.  They have a family membership to a lot of the most fun places in town, so we trekked over to the Science Center for the morning to check out the dinosaur exhibit.

Everyone's on the move.  It is impossible to keep track of everyone super well when we're out and about.

Except this one.  He's easy to keep track of, because he's always strapped into this thing.  I keep this umbrella stroller in the van and it goes ev.ery.where. with us.

This happened at one point, because kids are kids, and public is public.

They learned how to build with certain shapes to guarantee a stronger structure.  

They tested their designs with dog biscuits.

Callista eventually got bored enough to sleep.  Apparently the dog biscuit experiment was a real snoozer.

We also checked out their space zone for a little while before heading out.

What a fun morning!  We got to see so much, and yet there was still so much left unexplored.  Any of my Iowa readers have a favorite part of Science Center we missed and should be sure to check out next time we're there?

ab rehab giveaway!

Today's the day, friends.  The giveaway for three Ab Rehab DVDs is starting on the Minivan Voorsts Facebook page, so make sure to head over there to enter!  I also created Mind the Gap, the Facebook group you can join if you're on your own journey to heal your diastasis recti, whether you use Ab Rehab or not, whether you've been working on it for a while or are just now starting out.  Join up if you'd like some accountability and encouragement!

For the whole story of my journey healing my diastasis recti once, and an update on how I'm recovering my core after a subsequent pregnancy, check out these past posts, listed in order:

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

healing my diastasis recti: a progress report.

diastasis recti: Q & A with someone who knows more than I do.

my diastasis recti: the final verdict on Ab Rehab.

using Ab Rehab during pregnancy.

am I dealing with another diastasis recti?

what's up weekly.

Last Saturday, Rocco turned two!  So we headed out of town for the weekend to celebrate at my parents' house.  I still can't believe he's two.  Partly because the time goes so quickly, and partly because he still takes a bottle like a giant baby.

I know, I know.  He's way too old to be taking a bottle; you don't have to convince me.  But if you want to fight about it, take it up with him.  He will NOT be convinced otherwise.  This summer, we went to South Dakota to visit Todd's parents, and I forgot the bottle at home, so I figured it would be a good time to transition him to a sippy cup.  He did not drink an ounce the entire week we were there.  That's how stubborn he is about this.  So here's to hoping there isn't a bottle photo taken on his third birthday, but I can't promise anything.

To get you to stop riding my back about the bottle, I'll distract you with something else you can judge me for: he got chocolate chips on his birthday oatmeal.  Want to fight about it?

I'll tell you more about his party next week, but long story short, it was dinosaur-themed, which means two things: a morning at the dino exhibit at the Science Center, and foam dinosaur masks for one and all.  SO fun!

He got magnet letters for his birthday, and Penelope wasted no time in flexing her creative muscles.

Hi I'm 7.  Mom is in the kitchen, Dad is napping.  To bug him, yell: 424803[...]

On Saturday night, my mom and stepdad watched the kids so we could go on a date night with my sister and her husband.  It was AMAZING.  First, we stopped to look at the house they're buying (!!), then we went to this place called the Cheese Bar, where it's basically All Cheese, All the Time, so you know it was right up my alley.  Then we stopped and grabbed coffee.

Sunday morning we went to church with my parents, then headed for home.

Monday was spent resting and recovering.  I don't know why, but I am just so easily exhausted anymore.  So it was nice to have a day to rest, because Tuesday was scheduled to be insane: two dentist appointments, a speech therapy appointment, an afternoon gardening with the folks from the CCUA to get my garden beds ready for winter, connection group, and overnight guests. 

So when Callista was awake for much of the night on Monday, the first thing I did Tuesday morning was cancel our dentist appointments.  Then my overnight guests ended up needing to take a rain check, so that freed up the day a bit.  The biggest undertaking that day was getting all the dead plants pulled out of my garden, covering everything with lots of compost and straw, and planting garlic and onions.

On Wednesday, the piano tuner came, because the kids have started lessons and any time they open the lid to play, it sounds like a freaking car crash.  It turns out that my piano is nearly an entire half-step flat, which is why it sounds so god-awful when they try to play along with the lessons.  (We're using Hoffman Academy online lessons, so it's painfully obvious that our piano doesn't match the instructor's.)  But the good news is that it appears that someone dumped some serious money into this piano at one point, since the piano tuner said all the guts have basically been redone and are pretty new.  Not too shabby for a free, hand-me-down, hundred-year-old piano.

And last night, some of our very favorite Cedar Falls babysitters arrived to spend a few days in Columbia, and we couldn't be more excited.  We just love Ellie and Bethany, and the kids are basically foaming at the mouth.  This photo was taken last fall when they came down to visit, and we're hoping to recreate it (plus Callista).

Have a great weekend!

am i dealing with another diastasis recti? (AND ANNOUNCING NEXT WEEK'S GIVEAWAY!)

So.  If you've been reading along for a while, you know I've struggled with something called a diastasis recti after having All The Babies.  I was slouching and very weak through my core, and had a large "bulge" in my stomach and a lot of lower back pain.  It turned out that I had a separation between the two vertical lengths of my ab muscles that was about two fingers wide, which was compromising my posture, strength and shape.

Long story short (or, if you'd prefer, long story long), I used a program called Ab Rehab to totally close the gap.  And when I say totally close, I mean totally close.  It took me probably four to five months of doing the exercises daily, but I got there.  My posture improved, and I actually felt strong for the first time in years.  I was able to start running and doing yoga without risking injury, and was really starting to feel at home in my body.

Then I got pregnant again.  Go figure.

I was really curious to see if strengthening my core and healing my diastasis would have any effect on how I felt during pregnancy, and how quickly and fully I'd recover my core strength after delivery.

For the first two trimesters of pregnancy, I dealt with awful morning sickness, so I couldn't muster the energy for the exercises.  Then, I did Ab Rehab for about eight weeks, adapting them so that I wasn't laying flat on my back.  At that point in pregnancy, the separation was about three fingers wide.  But then I got too huge and uncomfortable to keep going, so that was the end of that.

Fast forward to today:  I'm currently four months postpartum, and haven't done any of the exercises since those few weeks during pregnancy.  And here's the really amazing thing:

Down the majority of the length of my abs, my gap is only half a finger wide.  At my belly button it's a bit wider - maybe 3/4ths of a finger wide.  I find this amazing.  After my last pregnancy, the separation was four times this wide.  The results of Ab Rehab have shown significant lasting effects!  I couldn't be happier!

This photo was taken a few weeks ago, and my gap has continued to close quickly since then.  At four months postpartum, I do still have some softness and bulging in my core, which is totally normal, but it makes the progress a little hard to see.  If you look kind of where my boobs start moving down toward my belly, you can see it a little more clearly.  I'll talk next week about other measures I'm hoping to take to help with the roundness in my middle section.

I am going to be starting up the exercises again soon, to close up the little remaining separation and prepare my body to start up running and yoga again soon.  And here's the super fun part this time around: I want you guys to join me, so next week I'll be giving away some of these DVDs for freeeeeeeeeeee so we can all buddy up and do them together - maybe we can even start a Facebook group for accountability and awesome group cheers.  YAS.

Okay, so the details on next week's giveaway!

I told Kelley Suggs, the founder of Lithe Wellness Solutions and the brains behind Ab Rehab, that I'd love to give away an Ab Rehab DVD to one of you, and you know what she did?  She sent me three copies to give away!  Is that not the coolest?!  So starting next Monday on the Facebook page, you'll have the chance to sign up to win.  Don't worry; I'll make sure to post reminders on here throughout the week to head over and sign up!

Wondering if you should enter to win?  Here's a helpful video showing you how to determine whether you're dealing with a diastasis recti:

For the whole story of my journey healing my diastasis recti, check out these past posts, listed in order:

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

healing my diastasis recti: a progress report.

diastasis recti: Q & A with someone who knows more than I do.

my diastasis recti: the final verdict on Ab Rehab.

using Ab Rehab during pregnancy.

my november reading goals are set!

Another day, another dollar.  Another month, another stack of books.

I need to just preface this by saying that I didn't meet my entire reading goal last month.  In fact, I rarely do - that's part of the point.  It means the bar is set high.  So, all that to say, you'll see a few books in here that were in last month's stack, too, but I never actually got around to reading them.  Whoops.

So here's to starting fresh this month, and getting some good books under my belt!  I mean, not literally under my belt; that would make me a weirdo.

From the top:

The Holiness of God by R. C. Sproul
I haven't read a deeply theological book in a while, and I'm really excited-slash-intimidated to start this one.  But... R. C. Sproul, amiright?  It'll be so worth it, but it will require some strenuous effort, I think.

The Story of My Life by Helen Keller
I have no idea what to even expect with this one.  I have a verrry general working knowledge of the life of Helen Keller (like, she was blind and deaf, and her teacher's name was Annie Something annnnnd... I'm out).  But I found this at the book sale for 50c, and I'm super into autobiographies lately, and she's Helen Keller, so it has to be good, I'm certain of it.

Abolition of Man by C. S. Lewis
Halfway through this one now.  I'm loving it, but I'm finding that if I ever want to feel like an idiot, a surefire way to accomplish that is to pick up a C. S. Lewis book.  It's painfully clear that I'm a dummy.

Practical Theology for Women by Wendy Horger Alsup
I'm still working my way slowly through this one with my book study gals; we're scheduled to finish it by the end of the month.  I love the subtitle: How Knowing God Makes A Difference in Our Daily Lives.  What we believe should absolutely influence how we do every single thing in life.  That is not an exaggeration.  Do I do the dishes differently because of the Cross of Christ?  Do I sit in traffic differently?  Do I spend my time differently, and handle stress differently, and organize my day differently, because of who God is?  This book is a helpful jumping-off point to start figuring out how our theology can and should be the lens through which we view all parts of life.

The Shaping of a Christian Family by Elisabeth Elliott
This is yet another book that I didn't get to from last month.  I'm on a kick lately of wanting to peer into the childhoods of great women.  I want to know how their homes were run, how they spent their time, what they talked about at the dinner table.  

The Call of the Wild by Jack London
I have no idea why this is the book I picked out when I went to the basement bookshelves to choose some fiction for the month.  I've heard it's good, and that it's about a dog in Alaska...?  I clearly haven't read it before.  I'm a little nervous to start reading a 'cold weather' book when the weather is actually turning cold.  It's probably not the Bell Jar or anything, but I do still wonder whether my mental health can take it.  I guess we're about to find out.  *Note to self: Don't let this one roll over into December.

Ten P's in a Pod by Arnold Pent III
I'm nearly done with this one.  I will say, it's not super well written, but the story itself is incredible.  It's about a family of ten who traveled around the country in the 40's and 50's, sharing the Gospel.  They saw hundreds give their lives to Christ as a result of their traveling ministry, and the story of God's provision through it all is amazing.  I've been really challenged by the dad's loving commitment to prioritizing the whole family's time in the Word (2.5 hours every single day from age 6!) and how deeply the kids grew to love the Bible as a result.  (The book is written by the third-born in the family.)  And, as a sidenote, this family is attributed with starting the modern homeschool movement.

The Vanishing American Adult by Ben Sass
I CAN'T WAIT TO DIG INTO THIS ONE.  It's as if someone took an understanding of American History and some outright common sense and slapped them together into one big DUH of a book.  

Smart Money Smart Kids by Dave Ramsey and Rachel Cruze
Dave Ramsey.  For kids.  Enough said.

I'm really excited for this list, if you can't tell.  I'll probably only get to half of them, but that's cool with me.  What are you reading this month?  Post a photo of your own stack of goal books with the hashtag #mvvbookchallenge so we can have an IG party!

Trying to figure out when you're going to find the time to read?  Glean some inspiration and a few simple tips from this post on finding time to read in busy seasons.

wkka-wkka-wkka-what's up weekly.

Another day, another dollar.  Except in this case, it's been seven days.  So... another seven days, another seven dollars.

This week was FULL of stuff!  Too much to fit into one post, I guess - I had 32 pictures to upload.  That's too many.  So I'll fill you in on what I can, and then maybe tell you more in another post next week.  But as for now... let's see how much I can get covered!

My crazy-town citrus plants are loving the Missouri life.  This idiot key lime thinks November is as good a time as any to start growing limes.  This photo was taken last weekend; since then, all the blossoms have dropped off, and this crazy thing is covered in miniscule limes.  So weird.

This tiny fellow is teaching himself to read.  I JUST CAN'T TAKE IT.  HE IS JUST TOO CUTE.

PenelopeGirl turned 7.5!

Penelope and I worked together to make a mocha cheesecake for Todd's birthday celebration on Saturday night.  (He requested grilled cheese, Spaghetti-O's and cheesecake.  I made it happen.)  Not to brag or anything, my there isn't a single crack on the surface of this cheesecake, which is a major feat accomplished.  However, it did drip cheesecake juice all over the inside of my oven, so the whole house was billowing smoke, I had to open every single window and door in the place to keep us all from asphyxiating, and we hunkered down in the basement to stay below the smoke line.  Top shelf baking skills, Paige Van Voorst.

Laurelai's butterflies emerged from their chrysalises, and Rocco could not have been more enthralled.  ("Bug! Bug!") We got the privilege of releasing them in fifty-degree weather.  I'm pretty sure they all died immediately.

We painted pumpkins, which I'll detail more next week, but I'll give you this teaser:

Sunday Todd preached a sermon on the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, and on Tuesday, some friends came by and 'nailed' the 95 theses to our door in homage to surprise him.  It. Was. Awesome.  I love that we have friends who are as nerdy about this stuff as we are.  (Josh even went to the trouble of coffee-staining each individual sheet!)

And.... HALLOWEEN!!! As per usual, my mom sewed all the kids' costumes.  As per usual, she killed it.

We had: Abraham Lincoln, Dorothy, a U.S. soldier, Mr. Peanut (ahem, I mean MISS Peanut; excuse me), a garden gnome, and a ballerina.

As a side note, Rocco is wearing a 2T costume.  Thumbelina Laurelai is wearing one made for an 18-month old.

We only went around the block, and we still ended up with about twenty seven bajillion pounds of candy.  And it's the good stuff, too - Reese's, Snickers, etc.  Wouldn't you know it, the kids have been fighting over the DumDums like real chumps, leaving the good candy to stare me down all day.  I'm about to gain seventy pounds, you just watch.