'what's up' weekly.

This week was our first full week as a single-car family (and, for a day in there, a no-car family).  Which made it weird.  Which meant I didn't think to take any photos at all.  Derr.  Oh well; even without photos, the week happened, so I'll do my best to document it.

So, as you know from last week, Todd's car basically blew up.  So we've been trading the van back and forth based on what we each have going on during the day.  A few days, Todd took it to work, which meant the rest of us stayed at home all day.

I was surprised by how weird this was.  I tend to be a homebody by nature, and I love orienting our schedule to allow us to be at home as much as possible.  But these last few months I've felt more restless, and it seems the kids fight less when we have stuff on the agenda to go do, so we've been going out more and more.  I was disoriented by the 'stuck' feeling of not being able to just load everyone up and go somewhere.  It was good for me to be corralled, and I'm hoping that after swimming lessons are over at the end of the summer, we'll get back into a very home-centric routine.

An old photo of the Kristy Chrysler in all its glory, next to a dinosaur, because it's a sucker for tourist traps.

I did end up with the van on Wednesday, so we dropped Todd off at work and then headed up to the Amish.  We needed to make good time, though, because a friend of ours (confusingly, also named Todd) was coming over at 11:00 to see what he could figure out with Todd's car.  While he was here, he also took a look at the van, which hasn't had heat or air conditioning in the front since last Fall.  (It's been such a hot summer that I've had to buy an extra stick of deodorant just to keep in the center console because I pit out pretty much every single time we have to go anywhere, which, as I've stated before, is often.)

While he's not sure Todd's car is going to resurrect, he did get the van back in working order.  It is glorious to have cool air coming through the vents; this must be what the 1% feels like every day.

Unfortunately, something must've happened to the battery while he was working on it, because when I rounded up the kids to head to Atticus' speech therapy appointment that afternoon, the van was dead as a doornail.  So after a bit of panic at the thought that both our vehicles were dead, Todd #2 had to come back and work his magic again.  Luckily, he got things working and the van is doing just fine.  Whew.

In other news, I am working on gathering up all of our supplies for the upcoming school year.  I have Amazon orders trickling in nearly every day, and I've been back-and-forth to Staples more times than I can count.  (Oh, wait.  It's only been three times, but one of those times felt like the equivalent of about a thousand lifetimes.)

On Wednesday night, I was all set to go grocery shopping, so I stopped at Walmart first to grab up some super-sale items.  I love this time of year when crayons are only 50 cents, and notebooks are a quarter.  I stock up for the entire year, which meant buying sixty notebooks, and eight boxes of crayons, among other things.  But I took so long deciding on what to buy that I didn't make it over to Aldi before they closed.  So Thursday morning I had to take the van again so that the kids and I could hunt and gather.

We also stopped at Parks and Rec and finally got signed up for swimming lessons, which start on Monday.  (Talk about cutting it close to the wire.)  It was pouring down rain by the time we got out of the building to head home, and a huge clap of thunder made Rocco start screaming, "I'm AFWAID! I'm AFWAID!"  It was so pitiful and adorable I could have died right then and there in the middle of the street.  Which probably wouldn't have helped him overcome his fear of thunder.

Annnnnnnnnnnd, because I saved the best for last, Callista took exactly one independent step this week.  WE HAVE A TODDLER ON OUR HANDS, PEOPLE.

She's lean, she's weaned, and she's a soon-to-be-walking machine.  (And, no, I'm not crying about it.  YOU'RE crying about it.)

how a political candidate got me to reexamine the state of my whole life.

Well, I was faced with the reality of my mortality last night as I passed by a bunch of congressional campaign signs promoting a candidate named Hallie Something.

Here's what I want to know: how are the Hallies of the world old enough to run for U.S. Congress?  Are nineteen-year-olds even allowed to hold office?  Where have all the Debras and the Carols gone?  Can a Hallie even purchase a pantsuit, or would she get carded at the register?  I have so many questions about politics.

I was shaken by those signs.  I still am, to tell you the truth.  It's evident I am no spring chicken, as I am obviously older than any Hallie on the face of the earth, and even those Hallies are apparently no longer too young to run the country.  As I contemplate my age, I must face the fact that I will die someday.  And when that day comes, and my life is in the books, someone named Brooklyn or Sebastian will probably be President of the United States.  That's a sobering thought.

Wow.  Color me thoroughly bummed out on this fine Thursday morning.  Off to live the life of the dying.

petty annoyances: cold food.

I have a lot of dumb pet peeves, I can tell you that right now.  It really would behoove me to let go of them, because they serve no purpose other than to make me unreasonably grouchy, and it's not like I need more excuses in this life to walk around rolling my eyes.  However, living loses some of its spiciness if you like everything, I guess, so I'm holding tight to my petty annoyances.  Viva la pet peeve, that's what I say.

But how unsatisfying is a good annoyance if there's no one to share it with?  Super unsatisfying.  Annoyances must be shared in order to reach their full potential and earn their wings.  That's just science.  So prepare to roll your eyes along with me today as I share Petty Annoyance #1 (of many): Food That Used to be Hot, but That Has Gone Cold.

Usually it's just food that I personally cook that annoys me most.  I spend so much time cooking, but by the time it's dished out onto plates, and everyone assembles at the table, and all the various active squabbles are settled, and prayers are said... all the food is ice cold.  Why go to all the hassle of cooking anything at all if it's reverted back to its raw state by the time I get it in my mouth, that's what I'd like to know.

Ooooh, honey.  I'm getting mad just thinking about it.

Vegetables are the worst, am I right?  They just turn to flavorless, pasty mush.  Pinterest can try and convince me to Roast!, or Saute!, or Add Bacon!, but at the end of the day, it doesn't matter what kind of adventure and excitement that vegetable saw on its journey to my plate; a cold, cooked vegetable can't redeem itself by having some bacon bits on top, or telling me colorful stories of the 45 minutes it spent in the roasting pan getting handsy with the garlic.  I imagine I know how People Magazine feels about the other four members of NSync.  Like, "Cool stories and all, guys, but you realize you're not young and relevant anymore, right?  Let's let bygones be bygones."  (I'm looking at you, JC.)  Like, I have no desire to rehash the past in order to justify your leathery presence in my life at the moment.

I would, however, like to take a moment to introduce a ray of sunshine into this superfluous tirade (because I'm nothing if not an eternal optimist) and really commend cooked rice for its ability to do its one job in life: to act like it's been cooked.  I don't know what kind of street learnin' rice had to go through to grasp that difficult lesson, but I would like for it to shoot asparagus a few pointers.

To sum up, my life is very hard, as I think you can see.  Not only do I have to live in a world where I'm eating cold food so consistently that it makes The List, but I also have to rehash it over and over again in my mind until I take the only reasonable course of action: blogging about it.  But I do feel better now that I've gotten it off my chest, and my eye-rolling muscles have been stretched and strengthened to meet the day ahead of me, so I'm glad I took this opportunity.  I will have to make this a regular segment on the blog, because the Good Lord Almighty knows I have pah-lenty of grist for that particular mill.

i want my baby back, baby back, baby back.

Well, Callista is fully weaned, and I am very sad.

My goal with all my kids has been to breastfeed to at least a year, but I've really fought with low supply and slow-growing babies, so I never got to meet the goal until Rocco (#5), who nursed until 14 months or so.  It was a great feeling when we crossed the goal line with Callista when she turned one last month!

For various reasons, I was recently feeling like it was time to wean.  The nursing relationship was still really sweet, and she was doing well, but it was just... time.  I have been pregnant and/or nursing for the past three and a half years without a break, and there were some hormone things I wanted to address.  I was mentally ready for it, I'd logistically gotten myself in a good place by gradually cutting the number of feedings per day, and only nursing after she'd had table foods to help her start to depend on it less.  And at that point, I just picked a day and stopped nursing.

Callista has been totally fine with it.  I, on the other hand, have not.

I didn't expect to be so sad over it.  I've done my fair share of grieving the loss of the breastfeeding days in the past, but that's usually because I have to quit sooner than I want to.  I didn't expect to meet my goal and still feel like I was losing something.

I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that she's the baby.  First of all, she's tiny - fifteen pounds - so she still seems much younger than she is.  Second of all, there isn't another baby on deck, so it feels like all my kids are so big.  I'm not used to being non-pregnant and non-nursing, with my youngest being very nearly a toddler.  It's very disorienting.  Freeing, but also sad.

So I've just been over here crying about my life, and sleeping with heat packs on my boobs to keep my ducts from getting clogged while I wait for my milk supply to dry up.  Callista, on the other hand, has been living the life of a full-fledged human adult, who eats human adult foods, like this dark chocolate she found lying around.

She doesn't appear to be too broken up over the state of her life.  Maybe I should take a cue from her laissez-faire attitude and just embrace this new season.  After I get one more good cry in.

'what's up' weekly.

Well, this week turned out to be a real doozy.  On the one hand, I expected it to be.  I knew I'd be spending the week planning and organizing the upcoming school year, which is always a major undertaking.  (Though, the advantage of doing it this way is that I do literally zero planning the rest of the year.  I prefer to power my way through once and buy back all that time on the back end.)

The few items that have arrived so far.  Did you know Amazon limits the number of items you can order at a single time?  It turns out, you can't put more than fifty items in your cart to check out.  Now I know.

This part of the week was actually successful.  I got all of my lesson plans organized for the whole year, all of my books and curricula ordered, my student and teacher planners designed and printed.  I'm just waiting for things to arrive by mail, and that should be the end of most of the year's planning!  All I really have left on my plate is to reorganize our chore system.  The way we've been doing things has been working fine, but we'll be adding more kids to the 'regular chore' mix next year, and there are a few things I'd like to streamline anyway, so I'll go more into detail on that once I nail down a few things.

BUT.  In addition to all of the school craziness, we had a couple of mechanical failures this week.  First, our air conditioner broke.  It's been hot around these parts lately, and Tuesday was especially hot. (105 degrees at lunchtime.)  I've been having some hormonal swings lately, so at first when I was starting to feel clammy and hot, I just figured it was related to that.  But then when I never actually cooled down, I checked the thermostat, which said it was 80 inside.  So I called the HVAC company, who said they were really backed up but could be out the next day.  So we sauna'd it up the rest of the day and through the night.  The thermostat was at 89 by the time we went to bed.

All I can say is that I was not in a good mood.  Apparently, I don't like being overheated.  I never knew this about myself since I typically run cold, but it's now official.  Turn up the heat on Paige Van Voorst and you won't like the consequences.  I was reduced to a gelatinous puddle of mutinous thoughts directed at others: "Don't block my access to the box fan.  Don't touch me; it's too hot.  Don't talk to me or look at me; your very gaze makes me hot."  I was mad at the couch for being upholstered in too-thick material, I was mad at the windows for being too small, I was mad at my shorts for being too necessary.  In short, I was just a real gem.

Luckily, it was an easy fix.  There was a blockage in the system that was easily cleaned out, and it didn't take anything more than a service call to get the air back up and running again, and my usual angelic demeanor to return.

The Brothers have taken an interest in cuddling Callista lately, which is adorable, but she seems to realize it puts her in a precarious position.

Unluckily, in the meantime, Todd's car decided to die.  We've kind of known it was coming for a while now, but it's been gimping its way back and forth to work alright.  But on Tuesday, about halfway into the drive over to a thing with our Connection Group, Todd said the temperature gauge reached "Boiling: Plus," and the hood started billowing smoke.  He turned around and tried to get all the way home, but a few blocks away, The Egg (my affectionate nickname for it) puttered to a halt and gave up the ghost.  So Todd pushed it into the Dairy Queen parking lot.  He was later able to start it again to get it home, but it's been sitting in our driveway ever since.

I have a feeling this won't be the easy fix that the air conditioner was.  A knowledgeable friend came over to troubleshoot, and there is oil everywhere under the hood.  He's not sure exactly what's wrong, and suggested we take it in to have it looked at.  But that may require towing to get it to a shop, plus any repair costs, and to be honest, Todd's car is worth almost nothing, so we're not sure we want to dump a bunch of money into it.  So we're still uncertain about what we'll end up doing with it.

In better news, today we'll be heading over to swim at my friend Megan's pool - a privilege I don't take lightly knowing first-hand how hot this week has been!


We stayed cool by looking through old family yearbooks.  One of these days I'm going to get current on these; until then, we console ourselves with rehashing 2011 all the time.

And that was our week.  I'm hoping next week is full of a whole lotta nothing.  And also a new free car, if I'm wishing for stuff.

this is why i'm grouchy. (although my hair looks good today, so i should be more grateful.)

I have been up to my eyeballs in homeschool planning stuff lately.  (And I'm tall, so my eyeballs are high up.)  It has to get done; it will get done.  The only problem is that I turn into a certifiable troll when I'm trying to mentally organize All the Things, so I've been outrageously unpleasant to be around.

I did make a bit of progress during our break last week, but it was pretty minimal since I was still trying to keep up with normal life, too.  So Todd gave me the morning on Saturday to go to Panera and sit with an iced coffee and type on my computer until my eyes crossed and my fingers cramped.  (That's approximately 3 hours in layman's "clock" time.)

I made a dent in the list, but I still have a ways to go.  So I may be kind of spotty around here throughout the week while I finish things up.  I am heck-bent on getting this done and over with - I'd like to start our new school year off in a week or two, which sounds idiotic, but we'll be taking a couple weeks off for swimming lessons, and a week off in late August for the kids to spend a week with family, and a week in early fall for our annual trip to South Dakota, so we need to get on this.

Anyway, I'm certain they give out awards to the Summer's Most Relaxed Pool Mom, and the Summer's Tannest Vacation Mom, and the Summer's Fittest Softball League Mom.  Do they give out awards for the Summer's Most Frazzled and Whiny Laptop Mom?  Because it would really feel nice to win at something for once.

Well, back to the salt mines (by which I mean the cursed Staples Print Center website).

Before I go, though, I suppose I could deign to mention a few positives about the current state my life: Monat Root Lifter has recently entered my world, and also my kids seem to be mercifully oblivious to my recent irritability.  (Or maybe they just think this is what I'm always like...  Just an ill-natured old coot with a lot of sexy volume at her roots.)

weekly what's up.

Last weekend, we headed to Iowa to celebrate Callista's first birthday at my mom's.  Not only did we party hearty like you can truly only party with a baby, but we also spent a lot of time outside enjoying nature.  And by 'nature,' I mean a kiddie pool and some whiffle ball.

At first, Rocco was not totally convinced he liked the pool.  He was subtle about it, though.

Don't feel too badly for him, though.  He did eventually come around; literally, the very next photo on the camera card looked like this:

The rest of the kids were sold on the pool from Minute One:

While everyone else was splashing around, Rocco posed for some swim-diaper-glamour-shots.

The only reason I put him in a swim diaper is because he doesn't have any trunks that fit - he has been doing so well with potty training, he even asks to come inside to go potty while he's swimming.  No peeing in the pool for this guy, so no true need for the diaper.  Plus, on a related note, he has already figured out how to stay dry while he's sleeping (even all night), which I never push or expect from kiddos this young.  He just decided he was done peeing himself, I guess, which I can't complain about.

Finneas didn't want to get left out of the glamour-shot action.

Also?  He's well on his way to being a major league baseballer.

Penelope is also on her way to the big leagues.

We came home on Sunday, and basically stayed in a travel coma for a day and a half.  Then, once everyone was feeling better, everyone started feeling worse.  Namely, Laurelai and Rocco caught the weird bug that has been sloooooooooooowly making its way through all the kids.  Atticus and Penelope got it a few weeks ago - a 48-hour headache with a fever, nausea and a sore throat.  Finneas got it about a week later, and now these two.  Laurelai spent most of Tuesday asleep, whereas Rocco spent most of Tuesday awake and whining incessantly.

Wednesday, Todd was home and we had a sparkler-less Fourth of July.  As I had blogged about it here, our friends Ana and Nathan, who came over last night, knew our plight and came bearing fireworks!  "Better friends nary a man e'er had."  (That's not from anything; I just felt like being weird for a second.)

My hair was not nearly as close to this sparkler as the photo would make it seem.  No need for corrective comments, thanks.

Here's a colorful tidbit: the air conditioner in our van doesn't work, so when I hauled the kids out yesterday in the 103-degree heat, it was a bit roasty.  But it was worth it, because we were headed to the DMV, and now I'm a card-carrying, registered-to-vote-here, official resident of this great state.  It feels good.  It feels really good.  I do have to warn you, though, that it may mean that have to start listening to country music and/or Pearl Jam like my life depends on it, because judging by radio airtime, it seems pretty necessary to existence around here.  I don't know which one is better.  Or worse.  (Tar and feather me if you will; I've always hated Pearl Jam.  Nothing personal, and there's nothing wrong with them or anything, it's just that that guy's voice makes me want to outright die is all.)

And last but not least, Todd brought home a huge roll of paper one day, and the kids have had a blast having their full bodies traced, and then coloring themselves in.  This self-portrait by Finneas CRACKS ME UP.  You tell me this doesn't look exactly like him, and I'll punch you in your lying mouth.

All he needs is tank top sleeves and a gap-toothed grin.

In all, this week included fireworks, pool time, and a brand new driver's license photo in which I don't look swollen and cross-eyed.  That's a pretty darn good stretch of summer right there.

the one family in the country that didn't have sparklers yesterday. sad face.

We wanted to celebrate the Fourth of July well.  We really did.

We started off by heading up to the Amish together as a whole family, since Todd had the day off.  We bought a watermelon and the first sweet corn of the season.  We were going to do this.

Then Todd spent the entire afternoon hunting around the Gret Stet of Mizzurra for some sparklers.  While he could have easily availed himself of about seven giant inflatable "Uncle Sam Riding a Rocket Missile"s (and you know how I feel about yard inflatables), he couldn't find any lousy old sparklers.  When Todd asked a gal at Walmart whether they had any, she looked at him like he'd asked her if they sold dog turds.

So, after visiting countless stores, he settled on a six-pack of party poppers from Dollar Tree.  Anticlimactic to the most apathetic degree.

BUT, I will say, he done good and got some StarsNBars disposable plates so that I didn't have to clean up dinner, and I cooked a pretty darn patriotic summer supper: locally raised Missouri pork patties, along with corn, watermelon, dinner rolls, and summer squash (all from the Amish).  We thought a photo of Pork, Etc. under artificial light would be a good idea, so here you go:

I almost never put dishes of food on the table - the risk is too high that someone will knock over the platters or burn themselves - so when the kids saw it all laid out, they were like, "It's like a feast! YOU MADE US A FEAST?!"

After dinner, we loaded the kids up in the car and took them out for some frozen custard.  Only one sundae got knocked over in the van on the ride home, so that was actually better than it could have been.  Ice cream and flags because #freedom.

Oh well.  The kids had a grand old time, so don't break the news to them that most Fourth of July celebrations are better than this.  Don't tell them that they missed out on fireworks of any kind.  Let them maintain their blissful ignorance.

Also, their borderline-maniacal ignorance.  Let them keep that, too.

Good gracious, I love these amazing people and this incredible country of ours.  I really do.  (Though, guessing by the lack of fireworks I launched to display my affection to my people or my country, I have a feeling I'm a mild to moderate disappointment to them both.)

what I'm into lately. (Alphabetical Areas of Interest)

Todd has started writing down an alphabetized list of current interests every six months or so, to see what's changing and what's staying the same in the areas of thought, learning, and activities going on in life.  It's really been interesting to see what makes his list each time!  So I thought I've a go at writing up my own list of current areas of interest.

I realize the ironic juxtaposition of writing the word 'current' on a photo of myself in which I'm giant-pregnant and wearing fleece-lined leggings.  This is a decidedly non-current photo that I'm using to declare my decidedly current interests.  

Without further ado:

Andrea Mills.  I've loved her humble, helpful "Large Family, Small House" organization videos on YouTube.

Authority.  Wielding my influence well, responsibly, and confidently.

Balance.  How to say YES to good things, and NO to other good things.  (And how to discern.)

Bookshelves (and a desk).  I need to find a space for pretty, functional bookshelves and a personal desk for myself.

Callista's first birthday.

Chore system update (and reallocation of jobs).

Decorating the nursery.

Doors doors doors! for the house.

Equipping and encouraging other moms to enjoy their kids and manage their homes.

Entrepreneurship.  No lack of business ideas, just lack of know-how, follow-through, guts and time.

FAMILY CLOSET!!  I have big plans, you guys.

Frederick Douglass (narrative).  On my mind a lot since reading it.

Gardening.  I'm really proud of my garden this year, and impressed by how useful it's been.

Giant van.  Excited to someday Expand The Van.

Harry Potter.  I keep asking myself how I don't own these books yet.

Health.  Keeping up the motivation to maintain healthy habits instead of getting lazy about it.

Iced coffee from Panera.  With half-and-half.  Daaannnnng.

Jen Wilkin.  I just love her.  Planning to see her speak at Cstone in October!

Kim by Rudyard Kipling.  I love his writing style; started this book yesterday.

Large family books.  I'd love to eventually own a collection of books just about large families - memoirs, how-to's, Biblical encouragement, etc.

L'Abri.  This book was literally life-changing, and I've been thinking about it a lot lately.  Excited to read it again someday.

Lightroom.  I'd like to find the time to sort through all of our digital photos and get caught up on making yearbooks.

Missing my Connection Group girls.  This summer has felt long already, and I'm getting antsy to start up our Saturday morning book discussion group again this Fall.

Monat.  I've been trying to invest in taking good care of my hair lately (for theological reasons!  I'll share soon), and I'm excited to see how my hair responds to this nature-based, silicone-free system.

Nature Study.  I HAVE to figure out how we're going to do better at this next school year.

Organizing our home for beauty AND function.

Pantry storage ideas and updates.

Planning and prep for next school year.

Potty training: successfully completing it with Rocco, and finishing my ebook on the topic.

Presence:  MENTAL focus on the things right in front of me.

Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio.  I just love this book.

Pork tacos.  I seriously can't get enough.

Portfolios.  It's been fun to review all we've accomplished this year!

QUIT DREAMING AND START DOING! "Do it scared" has been on my mind a lot.

Rocco.  I am seriously obsessed with how cute he is right now.

Rum and Coke.  I don't know what kind of magical rum my mom used in making one recently, but it was heavenly.

Sausage and cabbage skillet bowls.  So good, so easy.  It's literally just sausage and sautéed coleslaw.  Bingo bango.

School supply season is upon us!  The BEST time of the year!

Stepping out of intense Salt ministry.  I think it will be a bittersweet relief.

Summer break.  Good Lord, it's going to kill me.

Tank tops and light wash jean shorts: my summer uniform.

Tomato staking.  Working on finishing this book and implementing the good stuff.

Trim Healthy Mama.  This has been such a blessing to my health.

Time Management.  Thinking of ways to utilize my time more productively.

Unstructured days.  They simultaneously feel refreshing and wasted.

Vacation.  I'm DYING for it.  So excited for our trip to South Dakota later this summer.

Web presence - blog design, domain name, vlogging.  I have no idea what I'm doing, so I'm trying to learn more and do better.

(X)panding my blog reach and strategy.

YouTube.  I've really enjoyed the new means of providing encouragement, help, and ministry through this platform.  Trying to navigate how to make it less time-intensive.

Z...ero.  Coke Zero.  I've been drinking way too much of this, and it really needs to stop.  Trying to move my taste buds over to La Croix instead, but every single summer meal goes better with a Coke, amiright?

Okay, it's your turn!  You should sit down and write one of these out - it's easier and also more challenging than it would seem on the surface.  If you have a blog, post it there and share the link in the comments!

callista's first birthday party!


Well, her birth certificate and some very vivid labor memories would testify to the fact that she is, indeed, a full year old, so I decided to accept it and allow her to have a birthday party.

We started off with some lunch...

(The beer is Todd's and not a child's, just to clarify for all of you who assumed otherwise.)

… and then Lissy Lou got her first experience with a birthday cake.  My mom decorated it like a unicorn and it was FLAME.  Like, seriously.  How adorable is this?!

She wasn't sure what she thought about it right at first...

…and the ice cream was a little cold...

…but she was eventually convinced and started shoving it in her mouth with both hands.

After cake came PRESENTS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The kids were all so sweet and got their own gifts for her.  Penelope bought her a dress, Finneas got her the cutest swimsuit EVER, Laurelai got her some goldfish crackers and a baby doll (which is now Callista's new BFF), and Atticus made her a couple of clothespin dolls.

And this photo cracks me up.  For anyone out there who has had a hard time seeing the resemblance between us, I present you with evidence we're related:

I hand-dyed a muslin blanket for her to match her new room...

…and the presence of my sister's dog May was a present in itself.  (Although, I'm not sure May was all that thrilled.)

And with that, the celebrations are over and she has been duly ushered from babyhood into the realm of the Big Kids!