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'what's up' weekly.

Ugh, so it has been a while, huh?  Sorry about that.  It has been a super full week, and I didn't have tons of access to the internet, and yadda yadda yadda.  Let me give you a rundown of everything and you'll see what I mean.

Last Friday, it was beautiful, so we spent our morning doing tea time and art study at the table, but we spent our afternoon doing nature study in the yard, looking for signs of spring.




That night, a few friends threw us a gender reveal party, where we got to announce that this coming baby is a GIRL!  Can you even believe it?? Boy, girl, boy, girl, boy, girl, as though these things can be planned.  Lolo LOVED the reveal (even though we had already told the kids the good news before the party).


We revealed it by shooting pink silly string everywhere.  And by 'everywhere,' I mean the front yard, since I don't want that stuff anywhere near mypreciousssssss rug.




I still am a little uncertain of the gender of the baby, to be honest - I mean, first of all, I know that some of you reading this have had the very experience I'm suspicious of: being told it's a girl and then finding out, nope, whoopsie, I meant boy.  Second of all, the baby was not very cooperative during the scan - her feet were kind of crossed and folded right underneath her tuckus, making it hard to see anything clearly.  We had to go back and check like five or six times to see if she had moved enough to get a good look.  And third of all, our ultrasound tech very obviously did not know what she was doing.  She said she typically works in radiology, had no idea what pictures she was supposed to be taking, took an hour and a half to do the scan, and even still told me I have to come back at 28 weeks to get some pictures of the things she wasn't able to get pictures of.  So... like I said, I'm skeptical that we know for certain this baby is a girl, and you better believe I'll be asking for a re-check at my 28 week scan.

On Saturday, Penelope spent the morning bird watching and nature journaling from the comfort of our bed, and I had a NINETY MINUTE massage appointment (thank you, Christmas Gift from Todd!).  While I was gone, the kids played outside, and the boys claimed it was too hot out for shirts. 





After I got home, I took Finneas grocery shopping with me to prepare for a road trip we would be taking on Monday.  I did make him put a shirt on before we left.

Sunday, a couple of Candeo friends visited for a bit after church, then after that, I got to packing.  Packing, itinerary planning, and loading the van for road trips takes about 8 hours, so I was super tired by the end of the night.

Monday morning we rose bright and early to hit the road for Waco, TX.  It's a super weird story, but the long and short of it is that my sister works in the world of publishing and media and interiors styling, and had gotten invited to a small press event with Chip and Joanna Gaines (there ended up being only twenty of us there, so by small, I mean intimate).  She is also working on launching her own magazine, and has named me an editor and writer, and I got to go along on official Picket Magazine Editor business.  Look at me, guys, I'm a jet setting business woman who gets to meet celebrities on random Tuesdays.  Also, I'm a homeschool mom and I have a million kids.  One of these things is not like the other.

I'll post more in-depth about our trip next week, but here are a few highlights:

These sisters were really excited to hit the road.



Lauren and I met and interviewed Chip and Joanna, and spent the rest of the day playing around with her new line of chalk paint, touring their offices, and shopping at Magnolia Home with freeeeee moneyyyyyy.  It's a rough life being a paparazzo, I'll tell you that right now.



After the kids got up from naps, Todd brought them into town and we all hung out in the Silos area.





Wednesday, Laurelai woke up with a fever and the barfs, which made the fourteen-hour drive home interesting.  All I can say is DEAR LORD WE NEED A BIGGER VAN.  In the photo below, there are four people (well, technically five people), two carseats, and massive barf bucket on that tiny back bench seat.  It is no easy feat hauling and seating a preggo body all the way back there.



Y


Yesterday, we just laid super low.  The kids slept until about 9:00, and we literally did nothing but eat and sleep and watch Netflix all day. 

And here it is, Friday again.  That went quickly!  I'm now officially 23 weeks and counting.


And that was our weird week.  How was your weird week?

*Just a housekeeping note - there will be a Facebook live chat on the topic of child training and discipline on Monday night at 8:00 pm on The Minivan Voorsts FB page.  Don't miss it!  If you have questions you'd like for me to cover in our time, pop over there sometime beforehand and leave a comment on the preview video, or even shoot me a message if you'd like to remain anonymous.  I'll make sure to try to cover any specifics that are brought up!

what's up weekly.

This week was a fun one!  On Friday night, a couple college girls watched the kids so Todd and I could go out on a date.  We hit up the local Cajun restaurant, and I ordered the SPICIEST gf pasta with the SPICIEST shrimp on the face of the planet, and it was so stinking good.  I don't have a bucket list, but if I did, it would absolutely include a trip to Louisiana.  For heaven's sake, there's a place on earth that centers their cuisine around shellfish, cream sauce, butter, deep-fried stuff breaded in cornmeal, and blow-your-mind hot sauce.  UM HELLO. OKAY.  RIGHT?! 

The only less-than-stellar part of the night was watching the live band.  They were awesome and jazzy and very talented, don't get me wrong.  But there is something really depressing about watching a a fifty-year-old local guy with a day job getting that into playing the clarinet. 

After dinner, we went to the grocery store to buy sauerkraut and chicken, because we like to party.  Then we came home and chatted the night away with the lovely girls who had watched the kids.

On Saturday, we had a community serve day at our church, so I got to spend the morning deep cleaning the building of a local afterschool program.  It was really fun, but so tiring - it's pathetic how easily I tire at this point.  And I still have a long way to go in this pregnancy.  (Speaking of which, I'm now 22 weeks along.)



On Sunday, we actually made it to church for the first time in three weeks.  I'd had a migraine the first week, the second week the kids and Todd were all still working the flu out of their systems.  So it was good to finally get back into a normal groove.

Tuesday was Valentine's Day.  Todd and the boys got flowers for the girls and me, and it was so stinking cute.  The boys brought them to the door, and the girls basically melted into puddles.  Rocco was not convinced he actually wanted to give his flowers away instead of just crushing them himself, so that put a minor hiccup in the whole affair, but overall it was a success.








Yesterday was a really full day - Atticus has been having some terrible migraines at night this week, which is something we've never dealt with before.  He can hardly move.  He won't eat.  He goes to bed at 6:00 p. m. with an ice pack on his head, just to be able to sleep off the pain.  So I called and got him a last minute appointment with the chiropractor, who did a major adjustment on him, so I'm hoping that helps.  But he was still nauseous at lunchtime, so he laid down and took a nap and had to miss going to the ultrasound.

WHICH WAS THE HIGH POINT OF THE DAY, obviously!  (The ultrasound, not the fact that Atticus had to miss it.)  A friend brought her kiddos over and laid them down for nap here, so that she could hold down the fort while we were gone.  Todd got off work early, and we took Penelope and Finneas with us to see the baby!  It was so fun (and so very, very long - why on earth they think it's reasonable to expect a pregnant woman to lie on her back for an hour and a half without passing out is beyond me.  I always feel so lightheaded and nauseous after those things.)

We found out the gender and it's a....it's a...



...it's a SURPRISE!  We're not telling until tomorrow.  :)  A friend is throwing us a gender reveal party tonight, where we'll announce it for the first time in person, then we'll post it on the FB page.

The kids have spent the week finally bagging the leaves in the yard that we raked up in November.  (By their choice, not mine!)  They even coerced the neighbor girl to help.  And it's good timing, too, since it's already getting so warm and I'm terrified that if we wait much longer we'll end up with a bunch of ticks living in the leaves.  Yuck.



And that was our week.  Next week holds some really exciting stuff that I can't tell you about just yet, but believe you me - next week's What's Up Weekly is going to be stellar.

the biggest enemies your schedule will face.

So.  Yesterday, you finished brainstorming and planning.  You sketched out a routine or a schedule on paper that, in theory, should work for you.  And, if life were entirely mechanized, it would definitely work.  The problem is that life is lived by people.  And if 'people' are anything like 'me specifically,' it's the people that will be the biggest problem in getting the routine to work.

I have a great routine down.  It works, it's simultaneously rigid enough and flexible enough, it encourages a lot of work AND a lot of margin, it provides predictability to the kids...  It's just that I get in the way of it a lot of the time.  For instance, this Tuesday (note: one day after I spent an hour on Facebook telling all y'all how to get a handle on things), I was supposed to be getting ready for Connection Group.  I was supposed to have dinner started, and cleaning started, and makeup-ing and hair-brushing started, and instead I procrastinated and procrastinated and procrastinated until I was running SO STINKING LATE.  And then I was all in panic mode, tornadoing around the house trying to get stuff done.  Was it because the routine was off?  Was it because of unforeseen circumstances that arose?  No.  It was because I was an idiot and didn't work the routine.

I feel like you probably get it - or at least, know me well enough to not be shocked that I did something an idiot would do.  I'm sure it's clear by now that I am no Dwight Schrute.



So, let's quickly address four common reasons why WE are our own routines' worst enemies:

Laziness

This would probably be named more than any other reason, if we're being honest with ourselves.  It truly is a daily struggle against our lazy flesh to choose to do what we don't want to do.  But at a certain point, you just have to man up and choose to do different, or things will never be different.

One time, shortly after I'd had Laurelai and we were in the very early, busy stages of our first church plant, I was venting to a friend about how Todd likes all the horizontal surfaces to be cleared when he gets home, and I was like, "I just can't.  I know he wishes it were different, but I just can't right now."  And that friend, who will forever remain on my list of favorite people because of this very exchange, looked in my face, put her hand gently on my leg, and said, "Paige.  You can.  You're just being lazy."  OUCH.  Also, TRUE.

There are always a million great-sounding reasons why we can't do the things that, deep down, we just don't feel like doing.  And that friend was so sweet to me by being honest... and then helping me brainstorm how to make a change.  She was like, "Put a movie on for the kids half an hour before he comes home, so they're not continuing to tear the place up, and just PICK UP for ten minutes."  And in that moment, it became very obvious that I just hadn't wanted to pick up.  Because she was right - it literally only takes ten minutes of effort to make my husband feel loved, and I was just being lazy.

*I do want to take just a minute here to encourage you to evaluate yourself soberly, however:  I think it is very easy to feel the pressure of thought patterns like, "I'm not doing enough, there's more to be done, I took a break for a while today and that makes me entirely unproductive and therefore I'm lazy."  NO.  You need rest.  Rest is good work.  Rest does not equal laziness.  For some of us, rest requires repentance from the mindset that we are only as valuable as we are productive, that our day is only valuable if we can list off the million and one things we did that day, that we are better if we are busier.  This is not biblical.  You NEED rest.  You just also NEED to work - even if it's work you don't feel like doing.  'Are you accomplishing both on purpose?' is the question.


Distractedness

This is my major problem right now.  I am so easily sucked in by social media.  I am at a point where I have to address it and take some drastic measures to take back my day.  (I'll keep you updated on that.)  When it's not social media, it's books.  When it's not books, it's ____________.  Identify what is distracting you, and CHOOSE what you will do about it.  Choose your real life.  Choose your 'now' life.  Multitasking is not a virtue, friend.  Single-mindedness is.  Focus and attentiveness are.  Faithfulness to the most important things is.  Oh, it is so hard, but I am personally needing to rip off the bandaid and make radical changes in how I spend both my free time and my work time, because there are enough distractions in family life without intentionally making it worse by adding extras to the chaos.


Feeling overwhelmed

There are seasons that will overwhelm you - and not because you're doing something wrong.  Frequently, seasons come where the work is actually, objectively, literally too much to manage on your own.  Life with a newborn.  Life with multiple kids under three.  Major transitions such as moves, and job changes, and illness, and loss, and rough patches in marriage.  They're all intense in their own way.  Do yourself a favor and take yesterday's advice:  get rid of EVERYTHING that is not helping you just stay above water.  Even good things can get put on pause for a while.  Allow yourself the freedom to scale back to as manageable a load as you're capable of scaling back to.

HOWEVER.  Sometimes, we feel overwhelmed because we have taken too much on ourselves.  It is our own fault.  If we feel like we never see our families, or sit down and eat dinner together, because we're too busy driving kids to soccer practice and ballet lessons and library events and homeschool co-op meetings and yadda yadda yadda... we're picking good things at the expense of the best things.  Too many good things make them all kind of bad things.  Be honest about why you're feeling overwhelmed, and if the problem is you, choose to make a change, even if it hurts.


Inefficiency

I covered this in the live chat a bit, but to touch on it again briefly: sometimes we have a reasonable amount of work, and a reasonable amount of time in which to do it, and we just kind of... don't know how to do it well.  Identify what these things might be, and then seek out wisdom and resources and tools that help you do it better.   If you have so much stuff that you can't realistically get your house clean in a reasonable amount of time (and the problem isn't that your cleaning routine is inefficient, like I covered in the chat), maybe you need to own less stuff.  And if you don't know how to declutter efficiently and with discernment, ask someone to teach you.  Read a book on it.  Or just start learning the hard way by pitching a bunch of stuff and crossing your fingers that you don't miss it later.  Get more efficient at the stuff in your life that you're currently not doing super well.


Okay, it's as easy and as hard as that.  The common theme you're seeing is Choose.  Your routine will not work for you, even if it's been tailored exactly to your needs and season and personality and work load, if you will not work the routine.  You have to choose to do make it work, or it won't.  It's as easy and as hard as that.

How's that for some tough love this Thursday?

planning to set up your own schedule. (pt 2)

Grab that piece of paper and pen you had out yesterday; we're going to finish planning your routine, and then actually set up and implement it!  (If you missed the first two principles to consider when brainstorming for your schedule, check out yesterday's post to get caught up to speed.)

Third, know your RESPONSIBILITIES AND COMMITMENTS.

List out every single thing you're responsible for.  Like, everything.  Breastfeeding.  Cooking.  Wiping butts.  Grocery shopping.  Vacuuming.  Getting everyone ready for church.  Folding underwear.  Weekly date nights with the husband.  Write it allllll down.

Now, take a quick second to brainstorm - could anyone else be doing any of these things for you so they're not actually on your list anymore?  Keep in mind that everything costs something  - often in home management the question is, "does it cost time, or does it cost money?"  Those aren't the only costs you might be paying to keep something on your list, but they're definitely major players.  Menu planning saves you money, but costs you time.  Hiring a housekeeper costs you money, but saves you time.  What is each task costing you, and what would it cost to delegate out some of your tasks to others? 

Ways I personally delegate in our current life stage:

*Occasionally paying for groceries at the more expensive store because they will deliver to my house.  (Costs money, saves time.)

*Trading discipleship time with college students in exchange for their free babysitting services so we can go on date nights.  (Costs time, saves money.)

*Asking friends or college students to help fold laundry while we talk/hang out.  (Saves time, costs me nothing!)

*Asking Todd to take over doing the kids' bath night.  (Costs Todd time, costs me nothing except expressions of gratitude.) (*Important sidenote: it is not ASKING your husband for help if he's not 'allowed' to say no to the request.  Feel free to ask him, but please allow him the freedom to choose whether he says yes or no.  Please do not just dump your dirty work on an unwilling outside party.  Ask for help, but be willing to get creative in other ways - without bitterness - if they're not up for taking on your burdens as their own.)

*Giving up making things from scratch that I could buy at the store.  Kombucha, yogurt, fermented foods, baked goods, natural body care items and natural cleaning supplies are all items I used to and/or could make myself, but I now either live without or purchase ready-made.  (Costs money, saves time.)

*The main exceptions to the above rule are making my own bone broth, and cooking our at-home meals from scratch.  (Costs time, saves money.)

*Going out to eat/getting takeout on Friday nights, and grabbing lunch on the way home from church on Sundays.  (Costs money, saves time.)

You get the point.  What could you be paying a lower cost for (in terms of time, money, or other resources) than you currently are?  What could you cross off your to-do list all together and just live without, or delegate to someone else?    Be willing to make painful cuts - I promise that it is the only way to get to a place of rest and peace in your schedule.  It will be so worth it in the long run.  You won't regret it.


Fourth, know your PRIORITIES.

Okay, once you've delegated out, and/or simply gotten rid of, everything you possibly can, look at what is left:  Put all those things in order of importance to you, and necessity to your family.  After the 'keeping the kids alive' items that take precedence over everything else simply because of their key role in the survival of your offspring, what is the one most important task to YOU that you want or need to get done each day?  And then, equally important, ask your husband what his top priority is for your day.  That goes in a top slot as well.  Once everything is listed in order, maybe cross the bottom 3 items off the list altogether, just to continue to make life easier by jettisoning stuff that doesn't actually matter in the long run.  (See? I'm talking radical list-chopping.  Take the plunge.) 


Now what?

Okay, now look at your lists.  Start rough-sketching a routine of your day knowing the things you just identified:  What time will you get up?  Not 'what time do you wish you could get up, if you were actually a morning person?'  But, what is a reasonable time to expect YOU, as the person you currently are, to start your day?  Now start filling in the non-negotiables - meals and naptimes have to happen at set times of the day.  Now figure out where all the rest of those priorities on your list will go in the 'in between' spaces.  If you are most productive in the beginning of the day (as many people are) put more up at the top, and leave more room for rest at the bottom of the page.  Figure out how you're going to get around those 'sticky' spots you identified in your personality or your season of life.

Your end product should be exciting.  Encouraging.  Restful.  Realistic.  If it's not, go back and start at principle #1 again and keep brainstorming how to get it to that point.  Once it looks great on paper - with plenty of room for work AND margin - compare it to what life currently looks like.  If it is radically different, do not try to implement it all at once.  Pick one thing to implement the first week, such as a new laundry routine, or getting more regular about enforcing naps.  Then each week make another change, and another, until you're at the spot where the routine is working for you. 

At the end of the day, just remember that you are not a slave to your time.  You're not a slave to your schedule or routine.  Your routine is your employee, at your disposal, not the other way around.  You should feel like your schedule is pushing you to stay accountable and adding helpful, necessary structure, but never ever running the show.  If that's where you're at, you may need to go back and keep making tweaks until it does work for you.


Okay, you now have a routine that has been realistically thought out and intentionally written down!  You've made steps to start implementing it.  Tomorrow we'll cover what will (not 'might,' or 'could,' or 'has potential to,' but will) get in your way of sticking with it: Laziness, Distractedness, Feeling Overwhelmed, and Inefficiency.  We'll talk about how to deal with each of those.

See you tomorrow!

planning to set up your own schedule. (pt. 1)

You guys, the FB Live thing last night was so fun!  I'm really glad we got a chance to do that, and I think I'll plan on setting up another one soon on the topic of discipline.

While we're still on the subject of time management, let's talk schedules/routines.  I walked you through mine last night, but I'd love to get you started on planning your own.  Before you actually jump into the nitty gritty of setting up your schedule, I think it's especially helpful to think through a couple of things that will help you set up a successful schedule.

There are four guiding principles to think through first that have been especially helpful to me; we'll cover the first two today, and get back to the rest tomorrow, to keep this post from getting outrageously long.

Grab a pen and paper, because you're going to be doing some writing.



First, know YOURSELF.

I mean, duh, right? But really, though; know yourself when it comes to getting stuff done.  What works for someone else might not work for you.  Are you a morning person, or not so much?  Are you a list-keeper, or not so much?  Are you a high-capacity or high-energy person, or not so much?  Are you a homebody or not so much?  Do you prefer getting things done all at once, or in short bursts over a longer period of time?   Understand that a lot of these things aren't necessarily sin issues, they're just different ways of being wired.  Sure, they can all contribute in their own way to specific sin issues - procrastination, laziness, wrong priorities.  But just because they can lead to sin, doesn't mean the wiring itself is sinful.  You don't have to change how you are wired in order to successfully get a handle on your time.  Write down your strengths, weaknesses, uniquenesses, genuine sin issues, and biggest points of frustration.


Second, know YOUR SEASON.

If you have one kid, and they're under a year old, you will feel terrible at time management.  It's just a fact.  If you have multiple kids and they're all under five, you will feel terrible at time management.  Expecting yourself to have ample amounts of dedicated quiet time every single day, for instance, if your baby isn't on a sleep schedule yet, and you have preschoolers underfoot, and you have no one pitching in to (actually) help yet, is possibly unrealistic.  All that to say, what about your season of life requires special consideration when juggling your time?  Write it down.

What about your season makes life a little easier than it would be at other times?  Newborns sleep like all the time, so you've got some good chunks of the day to work with.  Preschoolers haven't started school yet and (should) still take naps each day.  Kids over the age of five can be actual contributors to the household work, which can free you up a bit.  What advantages do you have to leverage?  Write them down.


Now, hang onto that piece of paper, because you'll be adding to it.  Tomorrow, we'll cover knowing your responsibilities and commitments, and knowing your priorities.  At that point, you should be better equipped to set up a manageable, flexible routine that actually works for you!

time management for moms.

Time management seems to be a major issue for lots of moms, and I think that's probably for a couple of main reasons: 1) moms really do have a lot to juggle, 2) a lot of us have a ton of freedom to structure our own days, but not a ton of self-discipline, and 3) seasons with kids change so quickly that, even if you do get into a groove, it's usually just a temporary fix - you find yourself in a state of upheaval so often, it's hard to keep up.

Does any of this sound familiar to you?  Maybe it's just my life, but I kind of get the feeling I'm not alone.  So this week, let's take some time to talk about our time.  It's not a small topic!  Between tonight's live chat on the topic at 8:00 p.m. CST on the FB page, and this week's posts, I'll try to cover:

- What the Bible does (and doesn't) say about time management and goal setting.

- The difference between a schedule and a routine when planning your days.

- Identifying the four basic factors that I have found to be the most helpful when trying to iron out a flexible, fluid system that works with my personality and season of life.   

- What behaviors and attitudes I've been guilty of that have actually been major hindrances to successfully managing my time.  (I'm guessing you'll be able to relate to at least a couple of them.)

- What my average day actually looks like.

- How I have quite a lot of free time, actually, and some of the ways I personally balance the principle of 'everything costs something.' 

- How having a greater number of children has actually saved me a ton of work and time.  I swear.   (Not to proselytize or anything, but it's just one of the many reasons I'd wholeheartedly encourage you to have more kids - they really are life's littlest problem fixers.)


Dang.  I might be a little too optimistic about what all I'm able to get to without actually writing a book or something, but I'll at least cover what I can.

what's up weekly.

Weird week, guys.  Recovering from that stomach bug made this such a weird week.

I already told you about how we kicked off the weekend with a killer bout of the flu.  I'm the only one who escaped (apparently) unscathed - I did have a day where I threw up a few more times than is normal at this point in pregnancy, but not so much that I'm convinced I had the flu.  It may have just been morning sickness.  I didn't get a fever, or body aches, or exhaustion.  I was feeling pretty normal for the most part, which is pretty astonishing when you consider that a) everyone else was knocking. on death's door, and b) I was running on a pretty serious sleep deficit.

By Monday, we were all in recovery mode.  Todd stayed home from work, since he had a pretty serious case of the influenza hangover.  (It's a thing.)  The kids and I got back into the school routine, and luckily it just so happened to be a pretty lightly scheduled week, which made things easy on us.  I started walking on the treadmill again after taking quite a few days off, so it feels good to know that I didn't fall off the bandwagon completely.

The rest of the week has been trying to slowly rev back up into a normal pace of life.  I haven't made a full-on grocery trip in NEARLY FOUR WEEKS.  It's dire around here.  I'm going to try to get there this morning, but if I can't, the next time I can go will be Sunday afternoon... or Tuesday morning.  The kids are wasting away.  They'll tell you all about how I've been making them subsist on salad and leftover chicken.  Pitiful.

I've been battling a nearly constant migraine for the last three or four weeks, and it reared its head again a couple days ago, and it's still going strong.  I think this may be an ongoing thing this pregnancy, which stinks.  Chiropractic seems to help, but only for a few days before the headache comes back.  Bleh.  The week has been further complicated by the fact that this tiny warrior is cutting molars.  He loves every second of it, if you can't tell.  We're all just falling apart around here.



And, other than that, the only other news I have to share is that I'll be starting a series of Facebook live chats, and the first one will take place on Monday night!  We'll start with the topic of time management for moms - something I've had to learn the (very) hard way.  Lots of good stuff should be covered - how to schedule your day in a way that ACTUALLY works with your personality and season of life, how to make sure you get time to yourself, what a typical day looks like for me, resources I've found especially helpful, etc.  If you're still not convinced, you can watch me babble about it for a few minutes if you so choose...



The live chat will take place on the (very recently established) The Minivan Voorsts Facebook page, so even if you haven't added me personally as a friend on Facebook, you can still tune in.  Monday night at 8:00 central.  Please head over and chat with me - ask questions, make comments, be your usual wonderful self. 

Have a great weekend, guys!

perhaps this is a shameless self-promotion?

I'm just going to preface this by saying I feel weird even bringing this up.  I do not assume I am some fount of wisdom and knowledge that people should be drinking from.  So please go easy on me if this seems like a dumb thing to offer.

I've gotten a lot of positive feedback about some of the recent posts I've done about parenting, and a number of ladies have asked for a Facebook Live chat, or series of Live chats, where people are able to ask specific questions and I'm able to more personally interact in real-time.

If I were to do something like this, what would you guys like to chat about?  Some of the questions I've gotten recently cover discipline, homeschool, chores for kids, sibling interactions, and further questions regarding taking charge of kids' sleep routines.  Anything sound particularly interesting (or disinteresting), or any other topics you'd like to chat about?  If there's enough interest generated, I'll plan on setting this up soon!

a really long post about a really long three days.

Well.  It's been a rough ride since I last checked in here, and I'm still not 100% confident that we're totally out of the woods yet.

The last time I sat down to write, it was Thursday night (writing Friday's post) and, at the time, I knew that three kids had come down with a stomach bug.  At dinner Thursday night, Penelope was saying her belly felt funny and she didn't want to eat.  By bedtime, Atticus was also saying his belly felt funny.  Excellent.

So we sent them to bed with barf buckets and very explicit instructions to NOT BARF ON THE RUGS.  I can get puke out of bedding.  I can wash puke off the walls.  I can do one bajillion loads of vomit-covered jammies.  But by golly, I can't adequately get that stuff out of the rugs.  (Plus, I really like my rugs, maybe too much, so I like to make sure they're as babied as possible.)

So.  Consider the big kids prepared.  But then LoLo got sick all over her bed.  And then Finneas got sick all over our bed.  And we were like, This is going to be a long night.  We were up and down with them constantly over the course of the next few hours.  By about 1:30 Friday morning, I was just like, I'm not even going to go to sleep - it's so much easier to just stay up than it is to be woken up every ten to fifteen minutes.

A next-morning shot of Laurelai all strung out, and her bed all covered in towels.


Our bed ended up stripped for parts, and we just put Finn on a toddler mattress on the floor.  (After first covering the surrounding rug area with a blanket.)


And I'm really glad I stayed up, because that is the pace they kept up literally all night.  There was not a single stretch longer than twenty minutes in which I wasn't holding back someone's hair, rubbing someone's back, changing someone's jammies, or (worst of all) trying to finagle how to do all this for multiple someones at once.

The night was actually easier than I expected it to be - I kept myself awake watching Friends and folding laundry.  Around 4:00 a.m., I hit a really rough spot and got super sleepy, so I made myself some coffee and read a magazine for a bit.  It revived me until about 6:00, when I started to doze.  (Never for very long, mind you, because the pukes were still going strong.)  Once Todd got up at 8:00 and could take over kid duty, I napped for about 45 minutes until he had to leave for work.

I have no idea what was going through Todd's head when he got upstairs that morning (he had slept on the guest bed in the basement to cover Atticus Duty.)  The aftermath looked postapocalyptic - there were piles and stacks of dirty and clean laundry everywhere, and his wife looked like a zombie-corpse.  He lovingly documented it all on his phone.




Luckily, though, the worst of it was over by that point for the kids.  Once morning came, everyone was in recovery mode.  The big kids didn't even wake up until 11:00!  So we spent the day in jammies, watching Netflix and eating saltines.  I tried to nap a couple of times, but weirdly wasn't even tired - I got about 20 minutes in each time and felt good to go.






I had so much chicken broth bubbling away on Friday.  Pressure cooker broth for immediate use; huge stockpot full of broth for later.  Middle saucepan full of mac and cheese for me, because I earned it WANNA FIGHT ABOUT IT?




HOWEVER.  Saturday morning, Rocco came down with the bug and spent all day dry-heaving.  (The nice thing about getting hit with the flu in the morning is that there's nothing in your stomach yet.)  LoLo and Penelope started running fevers, and Lo even started puking again and had some issues 'below the belt,' ifyaknowwaddimean.



All Rocco wanted to do was cuddle.  You didn't find Todd complaining about it one bit.


Then yesterday morning around 4:00, Todd got hit, so he spent all day yesterday laid out in bed.  Rocco and Lo were still running fevers, Rocco subsisted on broth all day (he wouldn't even touch saltines), and Lo was still dealing with some stuff in both directions.  So, it was yet another day of jammies and Netflix and laundry and praying over my rugs.

Which brings us to today.  So far, I am the only one who has not gotten it.  Knock on wood.  I still have not fully recovered from my all-nighter, pregnancy already lowers a person's immune system, so I suspect I'll probably get it at some point.  But it's also kind of like, I'm still in the shallow tides of morning sickness, so honestly, would it really be all that much worse than what I've already been dealing with for the last four months?  If I caught it, how long would it take before I figured out that I was sicksick? 

So every time my stomach feels churny, I'm just like, Stop being a baby - you're not sick, you're just pregnant.  And then my stomach meekly retreats back into relative submission eventually.  Mind over matter,  right?  Or maybe it's just pride before a fall?  Only time will tell.  Pray for me, guys.  Pray for me.

the weekly 'what's up.' (this one's long, with an inordinate number of Rocco photos.)

Last Friday night, a couple of friends watched the kids so we could go out on a date.  I had ordered a living room rug earlier in the week, and it had come Friday morning.  In the spirit of just getting the living room finished-finished, Todd suggested we spend our date night picking up the last few remaining items on my list.  (a lamp, a doormat, a tall plant, and a planter basket).  I was like, uh, OKAY.

So we hit up Hobby Lobby and Lowes, and had dinner at Red Lobster.  (Now that the morning sickness is nearly gone, I was able to actually stomach the crab legs I've been craving this whole time.  Also, oysters.  Also, I may or may not have just eaten horseradish by the spoonful out of the condiment bowl.)

(Just to break up some of the wordiness of the post, check out the big kids building a """"""fence"""""" in the yard with a bunch of scrap wood.  Our neighbors probably think we're a total bane.)





On Saturday, I woke up with a headache, but powered through.  I went to Walmart to try to get two pairs of Finneas' glasses repaired and OH MY WORD KILL ME - the place here is the worst.  I sat there for 50 minutes watching the lady trying to tighten the exact same screw.  And you know what I left with?  The exact same two just-as-broken pairs of glasses (except one was more broken, because she removed the ear piece just to find out she couldn't replace or repair it) and no new pairs on order.  My head was killing me at the end.  Then I had to bust through Walmart on a Super Speed Shopping Mission, because we had dinner guests coming in like a half an hour, and I had forgotten they were coming, and I had no food to even cook for them. 

By Sunday morning, my headache still hadn't gone away, and had gotten so bad I could hardly get out of bed.  Todd called off the plan to make it to church, and we all laid low.  He put on a Bible movie for the kids to keep the house quiet, made breakfast and lunch for everyone, and ordered in food for dinner.  He was so sweet.

By Monday morning, my headache still hadn't let up, so I made an emergency chiropractor appointment and found a college girl to watch the kids so I could go on my own.  Thank the good Lord for chiropractors - the relief was literally immediate, and the headache hasn't come back!





I refuse to let Rocco grow up faster than I have to let him, so these photos document like one of the only times he's ever taken a bottle on his own.  With so many kids in the house, I don't like to delegate those ten minute cuddle times to anyone else, including him, so I still hold him to give him a bottle.  And yes, he's fourteen months and could probably stand to live without it, but I never read a law that said I couldn't keep giving him a couple bottles a day as an excuse to keep cuddling him, so by golly, I'm gonna keep on keepin on for a little while longer.

I've felt good the rest of the week, and even got three days in a row logged on the treadmill.  Granted, I'm only walking, and it's only a mile a day, and it only takes me like fifteen minutes, but small steps, right?  I'm hoping to start back up with my diastasis recti exercises soon, to hopefully prevent another or further ab separation this pregnancy.


In other news, Rocco found Finneas' flashlight, which he's rarely allowed to play with because A) personal property is guarded closely in these parts, and B) he still hasn't grasped that he shouldn't shine it directly into his retinas, so I always take it away.  He looks pretty proud of himself for finding - and keeping - it.



Also?  Bath time.  DANG HE'S SO CUUUUUUUTE.



Headache bottle time.



Anyone who says fifth-born kids never get any photos taken of them clearly doesn't know the Van Voorsts.


I have spent so much time nesting the past week.  After the bathroom paint job got finished, I was inspired to hang a new blush pink shower curtain and get some art on the walls.



Our living room is coming along.  Loving the new rug and the photo over the couch, taken by my brother-in-law.  (Please ignore how crooked and sad our "coffee table" is.)




Aforementioned new lamp...



Aforementioned new planter basket...


Aforementioned new doormat...



I think next week I might post about how to balance having both a kid-friendly house and home d├ęcor that you actually like.

That being said, now that my new (white) rug is laid down in the living room, three of the kids (so far) have come down with the stomach flu all at once, so we'll see if it withstands its first exposure to real real life in a family of 7+.  Pray for it.  And pray for me.  Because, like I said, three kids (so far) have the active stomach flu.  We could be in for a long few days.