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what's up weekly!

so, this didn't happen this past week, but it happened shortly before the week started, and i forgot to add it to my last update.  so here you go, i call it a bonus bit of news!

i had these heirloom roses that i tried to bring from story city, but they didn't survive the winter.  they'd been all dead and vine-y and sitting next to the garage for a while, so i figured i'd dump them into the compost pile.  at which point they attacked me.  i looked like i got had by cat kirk.  i mean, Rose Kirk.




this week i was super insanely ridiculously productive.  first, i cut some carpet for the basement, cleared out a play space down there for the kids, and spray painted this old coffee table to stand in as an art table.  why i insist on spray painting stuff while wearing one of the few pieces of normal, everyday (read: not too small, or too 'todd's-old-tshirts') clothing that i own, i can't tell you.  but it's who i am.  it's how i do.



i also started pry-bar-ing my closet apart, to make room for a closet system, and i started painting the kitchen floors.  i am Paige Van Voorst When The Weather Is Nice and I Actually Care About Life and Other Stuff, hear me roar.  (seriously though, i was so wired and productive on monday, that i went to bed wondering if i am on drugs and just don't know it somehow.)



this bird is nesting on top of our motion-sensor light.  



i have mixed feelings about this.  i mean, on the one hand, it's cute, right?  it's a dove.  who doesn't love a dove?  i mean, it even rhymes with 'love,' and i think that's your cue that you have to love it.  (although, so does 'glove,' which i feel neutral about, and 'shove,' which i don't love at all.  so i think that may be some faulty reasoning i just performed up there.)  plus, it's a nesting mama dove, which means there will be little lovely dovelies in there soon.

HOWEVER.  this dove is a thief, or at least a co-conspirator.  the nest was built by a couple of robins, who even had a little egg and everything.  then one day, i noticed this sparrow kept hanging around on top of the garage roof, yelling at them, etc. etc.  one day, mrs. robin's egg was suddenly found splatted on my driveway.  whether the robins couldn't handle the noisy neighbor and cut-and-run, or whether the sparrow knocked it out of the nest while the robins were gone, i'm unsure.  but either way, it was that durned sparrow's fault!

so then (this whole thing deserves its own blog post, i guess; it's like a bird soap opera), the sparrow just kept hanging out on top of the garage, calling out to other birds, presumably to find a renter for his squatted digs.  and lo and behold, Said Dove answered the call.

so what am i supposed to think of all this?  she's clearly not a bird on the up-and-up.  unless maybe she was lied to and told the nest was was like a spec nest or something, and she's totally innocent in all of this.  i wouldn't put it past that sparrow to pull something like that, either.  okay, it's settled: i'm giving this dove the benefit of the doubt.  and also, i think i need to get a t.v. because i get weird when given too much free rein when it comes to entertaining myself.

anyway, back to human news.

we did s'mores on memorial day.  more photos to come, but here's a teaser as to how it went:




GIRLFRIEND GOT HER FIRST TOOTH THIS WEEK, AND IS NOW SITTING UP!  all the better for stroller rides, now that she can see what's up all around her.




speaking of stroller rides, we've been going on lots of walks around here lately.  i'll have to tell you more about that next week, but there are tons of really nice trails around here, so we've been checking them out.



and lastly, i started an indoor cycling class, which makes me have so much respect for people who ride bikes.  like, normal ones that go places.  because it is HARD, people, and i'm not even having to balance myself or navigate anything.  so if you ride a bike at all, here are two kudos for you on this lovely friday morning.

riding dirty.

so, on tuesday, i took all the kids to the DMV by myself.

my license was so expired, i was getting pretty darn close to the point of riding dirty.  it expired march 26, and they give you 60 days to renew it.  which means i had until may 25.  i kept putting it off, and putting it off, hoping a convenient time would crop up for me to go.  (as though i was expecting the clouds to part and an angel to come down and be all like, 'here, let me watch the kids for you during business hours!')

well, shockingly, no convenient time came, so saturday morning todd and i drove to waterloo so that he could wrangle the kids while i did my thang.  so i got up early, showered (!), and did my hair, which is no small feat, considering i'm once again entering duggar territory.  i got dressed!  i wore earrings!  we got to the DMV and it was locked!

yeah.  it was closed on saturday for the holiday weekend.

so we went to t.j. maxx instead and i drowned my sorrows in new throw pillows.

considering monday was memorial day, i couldn't come back until tuesday.  may 27.  with all the kids.  by myself.  and i would have to do my hair again, since no one wants to look like a moron in their license picture.  they issue those things for like seven years or something at this point.  

so i did it.  i took them.  we got there and i loaded the littlest kids in the double stroller, and handed all solid-food-eaters some bread and milk to keep them occupied.  we walked in, and discovered that there were twenty to twenty-five people in line ahead of us.  

we were there for close to an hour before getting called.  in the meantime, finneas kept kicking the butt of the stranger sitting in front of us, laurelai was on the verge of crying the entire time, atticus kept trying to lay his face on the floor, and penelope loudly observed that the lady behind us had 'funny, GIANT nails.'  to diffuse the comment, i was like, 'aren't they a pretty color?'  and penelope was like, 'eh.'

so we finally got up to the counter, and the DMV lady kept having conversations with her co-worker in the middle of me answering her questions.  atticus was trying to climb onto the counter so that he could see inside that vision-checker box thing.  the lady took my picture and told me to wait at the other end of the counter for the  temporary printed paper version to be handed to me.  if there was one silver lining to her inattentiveness and disinterestedness, it was that she never said anything about me being so delinquent in renewing my license.  (either that, or she was like, no one is going to want to give this lady, with her millions of kids, a driving test, so we'll just move them along.)

by the time i got my sheet of paper, the kids were pretty close to freaking out, and i don't blame them.  and then i looked down at my picture and realized that IT LOOKS LIKE I HAVE A LAZY EYE.  YOU GUYS.  IT LOOKS LIKE I HAVE A LAZY EYE IN MY DRIVER'S LICENSE PHOTO.  

the kids were not sympathetic to this complaint, by the way.

so i went to t.j. maxx and drowned my sorrows by taking back my new throw pillows.

also, i got asked twice in the same morning if all my kids were 'mine.'  um, i'm not really sure whose they would be if they WEREN'T mine.  and one girl was like, 'irish twins, huh?'  i guess.  if you want to be derrogatory and also bad at math, since i just told you how far apart they all are.

baaahhh.  end of story.  sad day.

mes'morial day.

some back story:

i've always been a bit type-A, and i've always hated things getting dirty or sticky.  i've grown a lot in these areas since becoming a parent, but they're still wired in there somewhere.  on top of that, i have a big family.  if you let one kid get sticky, the clean-up is intense.  if you let all the kids get sticky, you feel like the only solution is mail-ordering some new kids, because the old ones are beyond help.  believe me before you judge me: scrubbing down four children who are still too little to bathe themselves, but not too little to somehow get things like peanut butter in their ears, is harder than it sounds.  just believe me.

so anyway, i don't usually volunteer to let them get dirty or sticky.  sure, i let them run around outside in the sawdust pile (we have a sawdust pile, btdubs) and get normal-kid-levels of dirty, but stuff like finger painting and body painting and even, if i'm being brutally honest, blowing bubbles and eating ketchup are sometimes not options at our house.  big family mamas hear me on this.

which brings us to today's post:  today is the day that i let the kids run around in their undergarments and eat millions of s'mores, the stickiest, gooiest, stain-iest food known to man.  and i'm cool with it.  because it's one day.  it's mes'morial day.

i feel like i'm vindicated as a parent by mes'morial day.  i feel like the other 364 days of the year, i can be all, 'no you can't use glitter!  no you can't have ketchup!  no you can't paint-by-number!  no you can't use glue!  no you can't eat glue!'  because of mes'morial day.  (and also the fact that i feed my kids pb&j for breakfast nearly every morning of their existence.  but that is neither here nor there.)

i obviously do not have photos of it happening this year yet, as this blog was set to post at midnight this morning and we do not cheat father time by eating our s'mores early.  but just imagine chocolate and marshmallows on every square inch and in every orafice of every of-age child, and you've got a pretty accurate idea of what's about to go down.

bring it on.

what's to the up to the WEEKLY?!

ugh, the week started off with sick kids.  fever, fatigue, hacking cough, labored breathing.  the boys got it the worst, penelope got the cough without the fever.  luckily, they all slept well through the nights, which is always the barometer for how rough a sickness is for us (read: me).






then, we grilled out for the first time this year.  we have a charcoal grill, because we're cheap, and basically, we don't know how to use it.  so we both end up totally downtrodden every time we act like we're going to cook on it.  but long story short, todd actually made some brats.  and then later, i created a charcoal chimney out of a coffee can and (hopefully) our days of grill-mourning are over.  (look at me go, mom!  thanks for taking me camping!  though, i did get that little tidbit off of pinterest.  but all those years of camping paid off, since i now know how hang our food in a garbage sack from a tree branch, and shower out of a gallon jug and plug the hole with a golf tee, and make a dump cake.)

here is a photo of our grilled meat for your viewing pleasure:



atticus learned that our cherry tree is capable of being climbed, and can now be found up there most of the time.




we took our friend ally out to dinner for her birthday.  we originally intended to go to this place called Viet Noodle (vietnamese healthy food restaurant!), but it was locked when we got there (still not sure why), so we headed to a different asian place instead.  and oh my good gracious, do i have three words for you: vietnamese milk coffee.  just.  i can't even.  just, vietnamese milk coffee.  over ice.  you'll thank me for this someday.




todd said this photo makes it look like he died, but that i honor his memory by ordering a mountain dew whenever i go out to eat, and setting it in front of an empty chair. 




how thrilled are the kids in this picture?!





yesterday ally helped me corral all the kids on a mega grocery shopping outing (i only go once every three weeks now, so i really do mean mega).  no one died or got kidnapped!  although, penelope left her sample of canteloupe-on-a-toothpick somewhere in the soda aisle at fareway, so if you find it, just stick it in the mail to us.  pleaseandthanksss.


GARAGE SALE SEASON IS UPON US!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

oh, y'all.  cue the choir, put on your makeup, and dance around in your fanciest shoes.  it's garage sale season!  and you know what that means: A WEED WHACKER FOR TEN BUCKS!  amongst other things.

i have only been out one morning so far, but we made the rounds at a neighborhood sale, so you know we came home with a haul.  tons of kids' books: i love buying our kids' books at garage sales, because then i don't feel so bad when they get ripped to smithereens, as children's books inevitably do.  (or, at least they do at our house - how on earth did so many of my mom's generation come away with so many unscathed books from their childhood?  i have yet to find out the secret, other than the 'you're not allowed to read' rule, which actually is occasionally instituted in our house when our books become threadbare and scarce.  until the next garage sale season, when we replenish.  i'm not a bad mom.)  i shop from booklists on sites like ambleside online, or look for recognizable authors like jan brett or eric carle, so that we're not spending oodles of quarters on stinker books.  (there are some serious turds out there, parading themselves around as though they're genuine 'children's literature,' when all they really are is boring, insipid, glossy-bound cousins of children's literature.  rants!)  (TONS OF PARENTHESES!!)

anyway.  children's books.  a weed whacker.  some hostas and a hummingbird feeder.  shoes for penelope.  a $1 bag of seashells that is this season's hottest toy.  (you can count them!  you can pile them!  you can push them with a toy pay loader!)  this is why i love garage sales: you never know what you're going to get, but whatever it is, it usually is awesome and also cheap.  granted, you have to dig through all the junk and the broken stuff and the way overpriced stuff and the boats, etc. that people are trying to pawn off on some sucker.  but there really is a veritable goldmine out there.  plus, it's a good chance to get some sunshine and take advantage of the ample opportunities to teach your kids about not touching everything in sight and also not whining or peeing their pants.  what i'm saying is garage sales allow you to be thrifty AND a good parent.  and what's not to love about that?

and every once in a while, there's a black diamond kind of sale: i already found it this year, and totally reveled in it.  girl was selling all kinds of shoes and jewelry and clothes - in brand new, still-in-style condition, and for insanely cheap prices.  want one of over fifty pairs of shoes she's selling?  that will be a dollar.  want some earrings that are still on the little card they were purchased on?  that will be a dollar.  want some nice church clothes?  that will be a dollar.  oh yes, i had a heyday there and dropped like fifteen bucks, but seriously: tons of jewelry, two pairs of wedge heels, and a top for church?  totallyworthitthankyouverymuch.

anyway, that's my only point:  garage sale season is up and running and i am in my element.  the only issue is figuring out an efficient way to tote the kids around to all those sales... any tips?





sadly, i'm a 'haggler.'  and sadly, i'm not sad about it.

video vednesday: this house full...of men.

bittersweet, but good.



so, we did it.  we moved laurelai to formula.  or, mostly, anyway.

she had a check up last week, at eight-and-a-half months, and she weighed 12 lb 8 oz.  the doctor was really respectful about the whole thing, but really encouraged us to move her to a concentrated-calorie formula.  and maybe this is something i should feel guilty to admit (and i do, a little), but it was kind of a relief to have that decision made for us by an outside source.  laurelai still wasn't sleeping through the night - waking up at least twice most nights, actually - and i'm tired.  and i've been nursing forever, it feels like.  i did the math last night, and i've spent nearly three of the last five years nursing.  i feel ready for a bit of a break, you know?  and, i get that this is totally self-seeking, but i'm ready to start losing some weight in clean conscience, knowing that it's not going to affect how much she's getting.

it's sad though, and i'm still nursing at least twice a day, since i can't really wrap my head around quitting cold-turkey.  the snuggle time is hard to let go of, when she spends time just staring at me and rubbing my face.  plus, i'm just going to shoot you straight, quitting just-like-that kind of sucks.  it hurts, and i end up leaking milk everywhere, and the last thing i need right now is one more reason to be covered in bodily fluids throughout the day.

so anyway.  we've been at it for a little under a week now, and the transition has been smooth.  she's taking a bottle well, and eating about three ounces every three to four hours.  she started sleeping through the night right away, and i'm feeling a bit more freedom from the tiny-infant stage.

bittersweet, but good.

besties.

todd took these photos of the kids the other day, and they capture so well their relationship.  not that they never fight or irk each other, but they really are pretty inseparable, and i'm so okay with that!

they had just been standing there, looking out the window together.








i hope they remain besties for a long time.

(bi)weekly 'what's up.'

i didn't post last friday since i'm a lazy bum, so we'll do a two-fer today, okay? okay.

atticus finally got a new fish to replace sad, deceased Gunnar the Fish (god rest his soul).  he named the fish Soldier.  and then he changed his mind and renamed him Sword.  Sword the Fish.  which i think is insanely clever, whether atticus realizes it is or not.  Sword just likes to lurk in the shady, corner-y spots, and hates being watched while he eats.  which sounds about right if your name is Sword.



shortly thereafter, atticus got to meet and shake hands with, not one, but three servicemen in uniform!  they were standing in line, buying huge cases of beer at walmart, which kind of made the exchange a little more awkward, but you know what?  if anyone has earned the A-OK to simultaneously wrangle a 24-pack of busch light and shake a preschooler's hand, it's a serviceman.  they were super great about it, and atticus was totally starstruck.  but he did wonder where their swords were, considering they're soldiers and all.

the kids finally got to plant some flowers.  penelope had been asking about it nearly daily since around february.  now she tells everyone she comes in contact with about the pretty flowers in our garden, and what color they are, and how to take care of them.  i have a feeling she's going to be my gardening buddy as the years go by.  (atticus also planted flowers, which he loved doing for the singular reason that he got to dig huge holes in some dirt and not get in trouble for it.  also, todd sweetened the deal by finding some cone-shaped flowers that he said looked like swords.)



in case you hadn't noticed the theme yet, Atticus + Swords = 2gether 4ever. (imagine it carved into a tree with a heart cut out around it. and maybe a sword through the heart, for good measure.)



we had a connection group social.



todd did laurelai's hair.  she was not convinced she loved it.



in todd-specific news, there are three noteworthy items.  ONE: he got glasses!




pretty soon we'll inevitably have one more tiny pair of glasses, and we will take another photo like this and i will have it printed on a canvas and hung in our house, because seriously, is there anything more Van Voorst?

TWO: we think he broke a rib while, in his words, 'playing football with the stupid elders.'  because his ribs hurt so bad, he's having a difficult time sleeping in comfortable positions, which means he wakes up all in pain and literally stiff-necked. (bible jokes!!)  so now he can't lift anything, or rotate his head without turning his whole body, or laughing without whispering 'ha ha oowwwwww ha-owww! stopit-owowow! unnnnnngh!'  i like to be a glass-half-full kind of person, though, and i find these side effects interminably hilarious.  he's lucky he got such a silver-lining kind of wife.

THREE: someone broke the egg.  (in van voorst lexicon, 'the egg' means todd's car, and 'broke' means 'backed into with a pickup while it was parked on the street.')  it turns out i knew the perpetrator from high school.  small world.  #justbecausewearefriendsdoesnotmeanwewillnotcontactyourinsurancekenny #jk #youareactuallyreallyrespectableforhowyouhandledthatkenny #mpchsforthewin



and three photos!!

one, in which all big kids are in focus and not crying:



two, in which all big kids are actually smiling:



three, in which my heart melts into a slimy puddle on the floor:



and clearly, THE VAN VOORSTS TAKE MANHATTAN!

happy birthday, Van Voorst Family of Cedar Falls!

yesterday, may 14, marked the one-year anniversary of the kids and i moving up here to cedar falls (or, as penelope has taken to calling it as of yesterday, 'super falls').  one year, you guys.  ONE YEAR.

it's kind of been like having a baby, in a way.  where you're all, 'how has it only been a year?! it feels like forever!' and also, 'HOW HAS IT BEEN A YEAR ALREADY?! that flew by!'  but really, it's so crazy to think about how faithful god has been to us through this whole season of life.  he sold our house for a profit.  he brought todd a new job.  and, when we were going to have to spend a bunch of time living separately and waiting for our house to close, god provided a free place for us to live while we house-hunted.

first, we moved into a condo, belonging to a woman who had never met us before, but who allowed us and our three tiny kids to live there for three weeks while she was on vacation.  who does that?!


home sweet temporary home.



the weirdly appropriate view from our back deck during those weeks.


i have a feeling i'll be spending a lot of time over the next couple of weeks thinking about those days.  how i was 28 weeks pregnant when we got here, and how i made millions of batches of fried zucchini to eat while i watched network television during naptime.  (it turns out pregnancy cravings don't stop, even in the midst of major life changes; if anything, they become more pronounced.)  how i sat in the rocker and read 'what is a family?' by edith schaeffer, which was so profound, i decided i wanted to name our kid after her (though that obviously ended up changing).  how penelope pooped her pants at the park.  how atticus kept wetting the bed, i think because of all the transition.  how finneas was still not walking yet.  how the kids could not get enough of PBS and 'it zwibble: the magical dinosaur fairy.'  how i had to blog from starbucks, since there was no internet connection at the house.  how i fell in love with that woman's miele vacuum and front loading washer/dryer, and i will never be the same.

it was such a weird time, and in a lot of ways, it was incredibly stressful, but it was such an awesome time of cocooning and rest in the midst of a huge life overhaul.


our first meal together in our new home.


and when i think about what god has brought us since then- our house, our church, our new daughter, our community - i can totally see his hand of blessing in all of it.  there is no reason that we should be here, doing what we're doing, other than because god has chosen it for good in our lives.  and we are so, so grateful, and excited to see what else he has in store for us!

video vednesday: i touch-a you and-a you die, 'cause i'm invincible!

party on, garth.

yesterday, my parents, my grandpa, todd's parents, and our nephew came to party with us in celebration of penelope's birthday.


we started the day by presenting penelope with a special party dress that she could wear to church and then to her party.  she was in. love.  girlfriend loves to dress up.





finneas, on the other hand, attempted to leave the house like this:


(mama holds 'veto' rights on sunday outfit choices.  i exercised it this morning.)

it was a full house, and we loved seeing so much of our family, including my grandpa, who is visiting from california.  (but will soon be moving to iowa!)





the boy cousins, especially, had a ton of fun together.




penelope had first requested a 'carrot applesauce cake,' which i was hesitant about making, since she'd never had one before and i didn't feel like banking all her birthday dreams on a vegetable cake.  i know that sounds like the opposite of good parenting, but i'm okay with that.  so luckily she changed her mind in the process, and requested a sprinkle cake.  so sprinkles on a funfetti cake fit the bill.





and the highlights of present time were her very own sword and shield (stained PINK!), her tinkerbell high heels, and her pink pickup with horse trailer (horses included).  much fun (and fighting over new toys) will be had in the near future, i can already tell.





she ended the day by wearing her new nightgown to bed.  and also dusting the living room for me.  so we all win.





happy (continued) birthday to my sweetest biggest girl.  i'm so in love with this lady.