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what's up weekly: 'too little, too late?' special tuesday edition.

HOLY FRIJOLE.  I realized I have not done a weekly post in like a month.  Bad Van Voorst.  So I will be spending some time this week putting this car in reverse and documenting some of the memorable (as long as I blog about it so I don't end up forgetting it ever happened) stuff that has happened recently.  We're going to have to back way up to a when we were still living in the Cedar Falls house.  I know it wasn't that long ago, but man, it feels like a lifetime.

The kids all got new glasses.  (Well, Atticus just got a new pair of the same frames he had, since his were kick-arse to begin with, but the other two got a whole new look.)  Check Finneas out.  




What a handsome dude.  But Penelope would not be outshone; she also looks freaking awesome in her new specs.



Packing was in full-swing.  Rocco spent most of his waking hours strapped to me in the Ergo so that I could get some stuff accomplished while simultaneously cuddling him/protecting him from the outrageous chaos that moving entails.  I didn't want him to accidentally get packed into a box.


Dannnng, I miss that kitchen already.  Even taking into consideration the apocalyptic mess it became.

The other kids DID end up getting packed into a box, but they ain't mad bout it.



I had tons of help in the couple weeks leading up to the move, so the kids spent a lot of time playing at the local playgrounds and eating ice cream.  (I wish moving was an excuse for ME to go play outside and eat ice cream all the time.  But I guess I'll probably get over it.  *Sigh.*)



 

(Photos courtesy of our awesome babysitters and friends.)

The big kids spent time outside with their best-neighbor-friend Izee...


...and they all spent embarrassing amounts of time watching movies as the house became increasingly chaotic-slash-empty.




Penelope started taking showers on her own, rather than needing to be bathed in the tub by a grownup.  This may not seem like a big deal to some, but in our house it is MAJOR.  Any time a job is removed from a parent's purview of responsibility and put solely in the hands of a capable kid, it is cause for celebration.  She's doing great, although she does still need some help and protocol reminders sometimes.  (And, as an aside, I bought some Noodle Head shampoo/conditioner for her hair, since it's a two-in-one product with a pump, making it easier for her to wash her own hair, and MAN ALIVE - if you have a kiddo with curls, this is the stuff to invest in.  I brush her hair before she hops in the shower, then she uses this stuff, then I don't comb or brush it after she gets out, I just add some mousse - game changer.  They should call it Fro-B-Gone.)



And lastly, Todd surprised me with some high caliber gifts for Mother's Day: this beautiful print by my friend Kate Ahn, and a pair of leather sandals.  Pretty art and pretty shoes?  Best. Mother's. Day. EVAH.  (And Penelope, bless her sweet little soul, requested to pick out a bouquet of flowers for me.  That girl has my whole heart.)


And that was Week One from the Time Capsule Archives of May 2016.  More to come tomorrow, instead of a Video Vednesday, because our life has been full and our blog has been empty.  Stay tuned!

one week down, a bajilliondy to go.

Well, it's been one week since we left Cedar Falls, and it's been intense.  A lot has been going on - getting stranded on the side of the road for five hours, unloading the truck, unpacking boxes, lots of trips to the store for rando stuff for the house, and beginning the long, arduous process of painting erry last wall and ceiling in this place.  And emotions have been running high for many of us.

I've had a few meltdowns this week for various reasons, first and foremost being the fact that so much of our stuff was broken, dinged or damaged in the move.  We don't have super expensive stuff to begin with - 90% of everything I own came from Target or Ikea - so it isn't expected to hold up indefinitely.  But seriously.  It may not be fancy, but it's ours, and it's been really discouraging to see the condition so much of it is in now.

The second largest cause for major meltdowns on my part is the utter lack of storage space in this house, and the absolutely asinine configuration of the few existing storage cubbies.  The cabinets are so cheap and small and stupid, and the closet shelving is completely inefficient.  Luckily, the pure despair that overtook me when trying in vain to organize the bathroom cupboards was lovingly remedied by my husband's willingness to take me to Bed Bath and Beyond and spend more money on mesh metal drawers than makes sense to a normal person.  I'll have to post pictures someday of how organized all our unused toilet paper and tampons are looking.  Woohoo.

And the third largest cause for my psychotic emotional swings has been Missouri Insect Life.  There was a tick just crawling around our car's cupholder.  I found a slug on my leg.  I witnessed a worm-with-a-million-legs trying to eat a fly that was simultaneously trying to eat the worm.  And I found this on my laundry room floor:



(Not my photo, but a dead-ringer for our resident monster-bug.)


Yeah.  If you imagine me screaming for Todd and then clutching my chest and imagining I was having shooting pains in my left arm, you're not far off.  But folks here in Missouri are all just, "Hoho, that's just a lil cave cricket.  NBD.  A-Hoho."  And I'm all, I DID NOT SIGN ON TO LIVE IN THE JUNGLE TAKE ME HOME.

Penelope has also been having a hard time with the transition, but her grief makes more sense than my apparent problems:  She misses her friend Izee.  She misses her house.  She misses her church.  She spends much of the day crying, or fighting with everyone, or wanting time to sit alone by herself in any available empty room.  She is grieving.  It's so hard to mama her through this.  Goodhard, but hard.

I asked Atticus today how he's feeling about the move, and he shrugged.  I asked him if he was feeling sad, or excited, and he replied, "A little bit of both."  I asked him if he wanted to talk about anything and he said no and went back to whatever he had been doing.  I don't know if that makes my mama-job easier or harder with him, if you know what I mean.

And that's an update on our fragile emotional state, if you were wondering how we're doing.

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!


Check out all the posts in this series! Post One: the battle of the [belly] bulge... my diastasis recti. Post Two: healing my diastasis recti: a progress report. Post Three: diastasis recti: a Q&A with someone who knows more than i do.

*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.