come as you are, soaked in bleach.

our house is pretty big, but there's very little indoor storage since the previous owners finished both the basement and the attic.  (and since it's 100 years old, there aren't many closets and none of the few closets we do have is very large.)  not that i'm complaining about the finished basement and attic - i've loved having the option of a downstairs family room and only occasionally think about the fact that i'm probably getting radon poisoning being down there all the time. 

the attic, on the other hand, is a little different...they started finishing it, meaning they hung a bunch of drywall and installed a skylight, but it's really poorly insulated and the staircase up there basically challenges you to cheat death every time you use it.  so.  i don't like storing things up there because it's hard to carry anything up there without a resulting amount of pure mammalian fear pumping through my veins, plus the skylight would cause everything to fade, plus since it's somewhat finished i feel bad using it as a giant closet, plus it's cold and i'm just throwing that out there while i'm complaining about stuff.

all that being said, i had not been forced to use the attic for storage before now because our house has a three-car garage.  yes.  had i been allotting yard space when the decisions were made, we'd probably have a two-car garage and a chicken coop, but no one asked me.  so i'm just happy with the extra storage space out there.

when we first moved, i just put everything into that stall of the garage that had previously been in our rented garage.  it was basically all just plastic bins and baby gear, and i had never before had a problem having all of those things in a garage-space rather than a house-space.  but something's different with this particular garage and EVERYTHING had started growing mold.  so i freaked out and had todd bring in every last tub and bin and whatnot and put it in the basement family room while i figured out what to do with it.

fast forward to this week.  in prepping for the coming kiddo, i went to get out the car seat and bouncy seat and swing, etc...ALL COMPLETELY COVERED IN MOLD.  it was disgusting.  say what you will about my lackadaisical approach to germs, but mold, y'all, is another story.  in the van voorst house, we don't mess around with spores.  (look in leviticus and you'll see that god has a similar extremist attitude toward stuff like that, so i don't feel unreasonable.)

so...begrudgingly...i broke out the bleach.  as much as i hate that stuff, it is the one thing that will effectively kill all the yuckies, so i did it and i didn't look back.  i washed all removable cloth covers in a hot bleach bath TWICE.  i sprayed down all plastic and metal parts and nonremovable straps with a bleach solution.  and then i rinsed and rinsed and soaped and rinsed like my life depended on it.

because the only thing that freaks me out more than bleach is mold, and once the mold was gone, i was officially freaked out by the bleach. 

but now everything seems to be sporeless and bleachless and back to clean and baby-safe.  i hope.  i hope.  now i just have to figure out where i'm going to put all this stuff once we're done using it this time around, because i am NOT doing this again.

and i said darling, you look really pregnant...tonight...

(did i ruin the romance of that song for anyone else?)

if you were too swept up in the engorgement that is my belly while looking at this post, you may have missed seeing in those photos that i am developing a dreaded condition:  preggerface.

you know....preggerface.  when a preggo's eyes get all squinty and her cheeks get all swollen looking and her nose kind of spreads out flat across her face and her chin gets all doubled up.  you know, preggerface.

preggerface has been the topic of much discussion and anxiety over the course of all of my pregnancies, and i think i've been pretty good at preventing it/avoiding it/scaring it off before now.  not entirely successful, but pretty good.  for reference:

here i am 35 weeks pregnant with atticus.  slight, easily-goes-unnoticed preggerface.

here i am at 38 weeks with penelope.  not displaying any preggerface and also wearing an adult size small tshirt...ah, those were the days.  also in desperate need of a haircut, or at least a comb.

but with this pregnancy it is becoming quite obvious that a majority of my extra weight gain has been in my cheeks.  and you know what? the pregnancy hormones even have me kind of liking it.  i know i'll snap out of it once i'm in my right mind again, but for now, i'm feeling kind of good that my face doesn't look as gaunt as usual.  also, even my eyelids have fattened out (i'm not kidding) so eye makeup looks better. 

i am mourning the presence of mom-arms, which i've gotten each time around, where my bicep is all flabby and about the same diameter as my chest.  but maybe it finally makes me look as freakishly strong as i really am...?

'they' say that the only part of your body that doesn't change when you're pregnant are your ears, and i would be able to vouch for that this time around except that even my ears are doing something wonky...maybe it's psychosomatic, but i swear to you my earrings keep falling out, which has never been a regular occurrence before.

also, while we're on the subject of weird preggobody changes, i smell vaguely like laughing cow cheese at all times.  probably because i've been eating that stuff directly from the wrapper.  (or maybe i've been craving it because i walk around smelling it all day.)

other pregnancy cravings? CLAM CHOWDER.  indian food, even though i've never had it before in my life so i don't know if i'm actually craving it or just assuming i would be if i knew what it tasted like.  buffalo wild wings.  anything that's really highly spiced - for some reason everything tastes super bland right now.  anything with gluten in it, but that's not just because i'm pregnant.  one year later and i still can't stop thinking about cheese balls... and blueberry muffins... and bread that doesn't taste like you dug it out of your potted plants.

anyway, that's all i can think of for now, unless you were dying to know that i wear todd's clothing about 98% of the time i'm not in public.  last night i was waddling around in his break-away pants and a baseball jersey (that is, wah wah, getting too small) and todd was like, 'is that what i look like when i walk around?!' all horrified.  also, unless looking in a mirror, i can no longer see any part of my body that would be covered by a pair of extra-modest bermuda shorts.  which i have a feeling is more a blessing than anything else, so i avoid the mirror.

there you have it.  i'm swollen and squinty and smelly and hungry and dressed like a man.  your day doesn't look quite so bad right about now, does it?

video vednesday: ruckuldumng.

the kids have really been getting excited about bringing finneas home.  atticus frequently pretends that he has a baby in his tummy, who subsequently comes out and starts to cry and needs to be rocked.  his baby's name was 'finneas' for a while, then it was 'baby moses' for a long time, and now it is 'baby saint nicholas,' as a further result of our convoluted christmas theology.

penelope also likes to pretend to have a baby in her tummy, and she rocks her baby as well.  apparently, her baby's name is ruckuldumng.

single digits!!

in the pregnancy countdown, we're now officially in the single digits.  nine weeks to go.  i am in shock.

over the course of each of our three pregnancies, we've done our best to document weekly swelling growth from week 19 on.  this was the first time we dropped the ball and forgot to do a week.  the third kid always gets jipped.  or so i've heard; i'm a firstborn and have never known jip-edness in my life.

anyway.  on to the photos.  i could have done them in some kind of collage where they're all conveniently side-by-side and framed nicely and whatever.  but first, i'm raising two toddlers and a fetus and a blog, so i don't have time for these things.  second, the basic summary of my photo editing know-how is how to click 'autotone.'  so take a walk down 'preggo' memory lane (which is different than 'preggo memory' lane, which is very short and chaotic and scattered and sleepy.)

yikes.  word to the wise: FLASH IS NEVER YOUR FRIEND.

isn't he absolutely glowing?

remind me to send a note to old man winter that his lighting sucks.

so there you have it, friends.  i have nine more weeks to go and i've already gained my total amount of weight from either of my two previous pregnancies.  either finneas or i should be considered a truck of a human being, and i'm not sure which i would prefer.

still up in the air about whether to do an epidural birth or go natural, in case anyone's holding their breath for the results of that little decision.  but we just bought two packages of newbie diapers, and i pulled out the baby elmer fudd-style hat for him to wear home from the hospital, so i'd say we're basically prepared to be parents again.  

as long as i can squeeze in a pedicure first.  because i'm not going to lie, a good pedicure can make or break how you feel about your post-baby body.  at least in my experience.  and considering i'm on track to gain 5-10 pounds more with this kid than with the other two, i have a feeling i'm going to need all the help i can get.

noah clown sees you when you're sleeping. comforting.

this year, atticus has been much more aware of the christmas season and a lot of the hullabaloo that goes along with it.  while we don't tell him santa is real or pretend that he visits our house, i'm perfectly fine with him talking about him/pretending to be him the way he would any other fictional character he finds fascinating and readily identifiable.

leaving him to his own three-year-old devices to piece together the facts about santa has been pretty entertaining.  for example, i don't think he's ever seen an image of santa in a sleigh, but he has seen santa riding in an electric truck.  so i'm pretty sure he thinks that's santa's main mode of transportation.  which probably led to this little nugget of toddler wisdom:

"mom, if santa fell outta his power truck, he would not say 'ho ho ho,' he would cry."  A+, little learner.

also, he has been confused by the fact that santa closely resembles various illustrators' depiction of noah.  at the beginning of christmas season (so, october for those of us who frequent hobby lobby) he would see santa figurines/wrapping paper/bedazzled sweaters/what have you and would usually ask, 'who's that, mom? noah?'  and mostly because i'm afraid of the wrath of strangers who have very strong opinions about the fact that my toddler doesn't know who santa is, i'd correct him and we'd leave it at that.

i thought he had learned to distinguish the difference between santa and noah (although, even as an adult i am forced to recognize that the only difference sometimes is that santa wears a hat while noah probably has some kind of bird's nest in his hair), but the other day at wal-mart we had this conversation:

atticus: (looking at a giant inflatable lawn santa popping out of a giant inflatable lawn christmas tree) who's that, mom? a noah clown?

paige: no, it's santa.

atticus: (quite disdainful of my ignorance) no, mom.  it's a noah clown.

not sure where the clown part came from, unless the thing reminded him of a jack-in-the-box.  but it struck me that 'a noah clown' is the perfect description of santa's jolly-old-silverfox good looks.  so maybe i have something to learn from atticus this christmas after all.

so apparently, to sum up, christmas is a time when santa and two of each kind of animal board an electric truck and come to entertain you by popping out of your landscaping.

ahh, to see christmas through the eyes of a child.

christmas decorating: inflatables.

i'm only saying this because i have a tendency to say racy and controversial things on my blog:  i think christmas yard inflatables are the weirdest.

you know what i'm talking about.  those bizarre, five-to-ten-feet-tall blow up snowmen/santas/snoopies/whatever that people love putting all over their front lawns.  i just don't get them.  i find them tacky and it's a bit unnerving to me that some of them are tall enough to watch me sleep through my bedroom window.  because honestly, i really think they do that.  because what other purpose could they possibly serve?

unfortunately for todd, i was at walmart the other day and saw how much those things cost.  THEY'RE LIKE A HUNDRED BUCKS PER INFLATABLE.   and have you ever noticed that most people who have one have like seven?  it's like instead of investing their fortunes in iowa farm land or gold bricks, they thought this was the more solid way to go.  so everytime we're driving now i insist on pointing out things like, 'oh my word, that's like three hundred bucks right there' or 'four hundred dollars?! on INFLATABLES?!'

and deep down, i know todd loves being interrupted for my latest observation of the 'devil-may-care' fiscal and aesthetic choices of our neighbors, which is why i continue to do it.  it really is all for him.

video vednesday: i don't care what the mayor says, christmas is full of cheer.

merry christmas, y'all!

listen, my children, and you shall hear...

...of the midnight (or 4pm-ish) ride of paige's first and only experience getting a professional massage.  (or, 'why we don't incorporate santa into our christmas traditions.')

once upon a time, a beautiful maiden named paige van voorst married a handsome prince-slash-lumberjack. one year, this doting husband decided to get his touch-loving princess-wife a professional massage as a gift for valentine's day or her birthday or something.  so he searched the yellow pages and made phone calls, to get her the best massage in all the land.  when his plans were all in order, he gleefully told her the news, or rather had his messenger boy sound a bugle and then read the grand news from a fancy scroll with gold handles.

but neither the prince-husband nor the messenger boy had any inkling that the appointment had been made with no ordinary massage therapist.  oh, no.  and upon arriving at this massage therapist's quaint cottage (read: downtown office above a chiropractic clinic) the beautiful maiden started to get a sinking feeling that this would be no ordinary massage.

yes, rather than being a petite, dark-haired fairy with a magical wand of healing and relaxation as paige had envisioned, the massage therapist was instead a very old, very large mortal woman with three teeth and a crazy eye.

the entryway of the woman's cottage was decorated with every angelic image ever crafted: floor-to-ceiling wallpaper made of images of angels printed on an ink-jet printer and torn out of magazines, mod-podged to the wall.  shelves and tables and cabinets cluttered with tiny and not-so-tiny angel figurines.  a computer screen saver of an angel flying to and fro.  paige quickly counted them all and determined that there were thousands of legions of angels and was no longer surprised that john seemed so freaked out when he was writing revelation.

though paige was fairly confident that she was about to become the subject of some bizarre experimentation and/or the main course for dinner, she decided the promise of a massage was worth staying for, so she asked for a tour of the rest of the cottage.  she was not surprised to find that every room in the place had been decorated similarly, although each room had its own theme: mickey mouse in one massage room, santa in the other.  in the santa room they stayed, and the old woman directed the maiden to undress and cover with a sheet under the watchful and protective gaze of 150,000 santa eyes.

when the woman returned, she put on the soothing sounds of 'celtic relaxation' and lit some incense to set a relaxing mood, although paige voluntarily chose to remain a tiny bit tense (read: as alert as a jungle gazelle) in case she had to exercise some kind of 'fight or flight' response.  and involutarily chose to remain a little bit tense because the woman spent the next 70 minutes talking incessantly about new mexico and about how she was able to knead even brawny man muscle into ground beef, and also she remained tense because she realized too late that she hadn't shaved her legs which is a good thing to do before a massage.

but do not worry, friends.  this story ends happily ever after.  paige did live to see the light of day again, though it did aggravate the migraine she developed from not drinking enough water after the massage.  she did not end up an ingredient in some kind of stew, nor is she over 70% sure that those santa eyes sucked some of the years off the end of her life.  and even if they did, she'll probably die only three or four years sooner than she would have otherwise because, let's face it, her diet's not all that great....blah, blah, blah, happily ever after, the end.


celebreality monday

we take weekly pictures of the pregnancy (or, rather, weekly pictures of me being pregnant, and progressively more so). we usually take three or four and then i go through and decide which one is the 'keeper,' where my hair looks nice and i don't look half stoned. this is the one i have chosen for this week:

now, for a celebreality flipideedoo: what you can't see here is that my back has been killing me, i only shower three times a week, i wear the same pajamas for 48 to 72 hours on end, and i'm kind of generally horrible to be around at times. in fact, here's a more accurate picture of what greets todd when he rushes home from work:

this was not staged. this was todd taking my picture when the light was in my eyes and we were on our way out the door to church. i wanted him to wait until the sun was higher (and therefore more photogenic and also not burning my retinas) and to all around not take my picture. he chose his own path instead. he was snarled at by his doting helpmate. hence this intimate moment between husband and wife, captured on film and forever treasured by the van voorsts.

should have seen it coming.

(do not read while eating or bathing - if that's even possible - or if you have a weak stomach. you're welcome.)

i give my kids baths twice a week: sunday mornings before church (or saturday night if we're going to the early service) and wednesday mornings so they can be clean for children's church that night. yes, i could bathe them more and yes, they do start to develop a smell in between so i know i probably should bathe them more. but it's either twice a week or never, since i don't have the motivation to do it more than that and also i do not feel like paying the water bill for more-than-twice-a-week baths. selfish reasoning? yes. effective reasoning? also yes.

SO. on to the actual point of the story. it's wednesday. the kids are in the tub together, and i'm taking advantage of the situation by cleaning the bathroom and putting away towels while they fight to the death play. suddenly, telltale bubbles start rising from under penelope, and she giggles and says, 'tooting! tooting!'

me: 'are you tooting, sis?'

penelope: 'yep!'

and my response, occuring to me only because the day or two before i had realized that i had never experienced a child pooping in the tub, was: 'haha, okay. toot all you want, just don't poop in the tub.'

penelope: (a little timidly) pooping.


penelope: yep.

so i scramble to get the kids out of the tub and wrapped in towels to warm up, but then i don't know what to do. are you allowed to just drain turds or am i civically responsible for dredging them out by hand? like, if i send them down the tub drain rather than the toilet, are they more likely to end up in my drinking water later on? since i have no idea, i don't think about it too hard and risk it by sending those suckers down the drain.

no such luck. unfortunately, penelope had been a tad constipated and these little guys are rock hard little pellets that basically just pile up on top of the drain and keep the rest of the crap water in the tub.

and at this moment i realize the irony of my 'i'm not a germophobe' post on monday, because i'm gagging as i figure out whether or not 'plan b' has anything to do with waiting until todd gets ten hours.

well, sparing the details, i man up and do what needs to be done, and then i scrub that tub and my hands as though...well, as though they are covered in fecal matter. which is pretty thorough scrubbing for those of you who have never had the pleasure.

then i put the kids back in the tub and hope that NEVER EVER happens again. and then i tell myself that just to think those things jinxes me, because look how i found myself here. had i not blogged about being proudly anti-antibac and prided myself on the fact that my kids weren't tub-poopers, i bet this never would have happened.

actually, it probably would have, but it does seem a bit fortuitous, does it not?

christmas decorating: porch lights

we have a glassed-in porch on the front of our house, which i was super excited to string with lights this year.  so proactively i went to hobby lobby and bought a bunch of those suction-cup hook things, and got ready to string the yards and yards of lights i purchased at a garage sale this summer.  (we have 13 windows across the front, so the 'yards and yards of lights' are not an exaggeration nor unnecessary.)

well, turns out those suction cup things only suck, they don't suction, because half of them wouldn't even stick to the window in the first place and the other half popped off the second the lights touched them.

so i tried scotch tape.

unsurprisingly, a no-go.

so i came inside ready to get creative and/or violent and luckily came across a bunch of thumbtacks, most of which were clear (and a few of which were kicky neon, which perked me up a bit).  but do you have any idea how hard it is to drive a tiny thumbtack into a solid wood window pane?!  NOT FUN. 

so pretty soon i was only partway done and my thumb was all blistered from tacking, and the lights were all askew and i found myself saying weird stuff out loud like, "unfortunately for you fellas, christmas is non-negotiable," and "damn the jellyfish! DAMN ALL THE JELLYFISH!" which really doesn't make sense in the context but it came to mind so i said it.  what can i say? i'm a big mess of crazy.

anyway.  i got one half of the porch done and called it quits for the day week and a half.  i finally got around to finishing it, but i think i'm going to turn all white trash and leave them up there until next christmas because a) it's festive and i think we should change our opinions of people who do that and b) thinking of having to do this again in 11.5 months makes my thumb threaten to secede.

however, it really did end up being worth it:

doesn't that make you want to just curl up on that porch swing with a cup of cocoa and bask slowly freeze to death in the glow?  it does me.

video vednesday: i am not afraid to tattle on zee perpetrator.

my project is entitled: i don't think it's fair on a field trip for teachers to force you to ride a horse that has crazy eyes and a bad attitude.

last week's video vednesday blew up my blog ratings, probably because it featured todd van voorst himself.  drawn to his irresistable charisma? (who are you kidding, you know you are.)  lucky you! he recently started a couple of new blogs: once for all delivered, where he discusses thoughts/things he's learning in the areas of doctrine and theology, and sports talk todd, where he pitches his analytical skill to ESPN to hopefully get picked up for his own show and make us RICH.  (crislers, put in a good word for him.)  actually, when he talks about sports, even i am genuinely interested, which is saying something.  so you should check it out.


on thanksgiving the lady across the street stopped by to tell us there was going to be a tree-lighting ceremony downtown the next night.  whut?! what kind of movie set did we move to that they would have a tree-lighting ceremony?!  i LOVE our town.

unfortunately penelope contracted the plague the night before, so she was unable to go.  so todd and atticus went while penelope and i had a girls' night forty five minutes in. 

she LOVES putting on her coat, so when she saw todd and atticus putting theirs on, she begged for hers too until todd gave in and let her put it on.  which made it especially pathetic-looking when she realized that she wasn't able to go with them and started bawling.

all dressed up with nowhere to go.

atticus had a blast seeing santa and watching him light up the tree.  he also got his very own candle (unlit) and sang christmas carols.  also, he took his toy vacuum hose along because it is his pet worm and we all know how much worms love santa.

oh, here is the awesomest townie thing yet:  see up there in that electrical truck? that's santa.  along with some other guy who was presumably up there to keep santa from falling to his death in front of a large crowd of wide-eyed children.  i personally find the extra guy unnecessary as santa apparently manages to keep his big old fatty self inside the sled at all times while it is flying hundreds of feet above the earth faster than the speed of sound.  but whatever.  whatever makes you feel like you're worth what you're paid, extra guy.

ALSO?! santa not only was up in that electrical truck to fire up the lights on the tree, but also to throw ping pong balls at the children below.   ahh, the magic of christmas.

celebreality monday.

i am not a germophobe.  or anything close to it.  which is kind of embarrassing to admit because i'm pretty sure that if you're a germophobe, you'll probably be disgusted at about 90% (margin of error: 10%) of what i'm about to write.

i admit to letting my kids eat days-old pretzels they find on the floor because, other than being stale, i don't really think it could really be all that harmful to their health.  to make matters worse, i'm letting them eat said pretzels off of a floor that has only seen the light of mop up to three times since we moved in seven months ago.  and maybe not even that many times, i really can't remember.  granted, i do draw the line at letting them eat old eggs or cheese or something off the floor, but that's mainly because i'm more than 75% sure that has the slight potential of landing them in the hospital, or at least resulting in some kind of fever or sickness that i personally would rather not deal with.  plus old cheese and eggs get crunchy and i'd like my kids to have a more refined palette than to settle for that.  because while i'm not a germophobe, i'm hoity-toity.

when my kids scrape their knees, i maybe wash out the wound with water - maybe - and if i have tea tree oil on hand, i figure that can't hurt.  but if it's out of reach, i just bandaid up the owie and call it good.

i run a big sink of water to wash my dishes in rather than using a dishwand and constantly running water, which really doesn't gross me out at all but i know some people will not be eating off my dishes now.

i clean my downstairs bathroom whenever we're having company, which is relatively frequently, so it stays relatively clean.  our upstairs bathroom, however, gets cleaned when the toothpaste film on the faucet gets too noticeable for even me to ignore.

i will add a caveat and say that i'm not entirely immune to getting the germ-creeps.  i do use hand sanitizer (occasionally, like in airports and stuff) and i can't stand it when, for whatever reason, public restrooms are not set up so that you can just push your way out the door or use a paper towel and throw it away while you hold the door open with your foot - Big Pharma must design target bathrooms.  i know it's a little weird, but i don't think i could ever own a cat because they stand in their own litter.  and don't even ask me how often i wash my hands...and counters...and dishes...and hands again when i'm working with poultry of any kind.

but really, other than weird little specifics like that, i couldn't care much less.  the word "antibacterial" as a selling point for anything actually makes me kind of not want to buy that thing.  and not entirely because of fears of superbugs or MRSA or whatever (although that's part of it), but more because i think someone's trying to dupe me out of my husband's hard-earned moolah.  because i believe firmly, undyingly, wholeheartedly in good old soap and hot water (and white vinegar for the especially gunky goop).  and while i recognize it's not enough to cut it in every scenario (please do not come anywhere near me with surgical equipment that's been sterilized with dawn dish soap), i really do think that most everyday, around-the-home, even toddler-related ick can be cleaned up with the basic, cheapo stuff people have been relying on for basically ever.

feel free to judge.  and to not want to bring your children to my house.  i'll understand. 

sick day.

as i mentioned briefly last week, thanksgiving night penelope came down with a fever and just was not acting like herself.

the next morning she was in full-blown virus-and-fever mode.  not wanting to eat, only wanting to lay on the couch and watch yo gabba gabba.  (has anyone seen that show?  it's basically awesome and stroke-inducing and confusing and hipster and the best thing EVER...all for the under-five set.)  she would only drink really cold water and kept chewing on her hands, which made me think it was a throat thing.

the poor kid was absolutely miserable.  she wasn't able to nap well, and overnight she slept in our room because she woke up frequently needing water or tylenol.  even with tylenol, she was burning up and completely uncomfortable.  during the day i avoided the meds, and she just cuddled with me for hours and slept intermittently.  it went on like this through sunday.  on monday she seemed to be feeling much better, but by tuesday she was under the weather again, so i took her in to the doctor, who said it was a virus and we should just ride it out.  i was super relieved we wouldn't have to do a round of antibiotics.

sick babe.

atticus was so sweet to her.

cuddled up with her blankie, watching yo gabba gabba.

lots and lots of books.  she'd read all day on a normal day, but i think she understood that while she was sick she got to be spoiled and have as many read to her as she requested.

finally eating something.

by friday evening the fever was RAGING and even yo gabba gabba couldn't cheer her up.  atticus in his favorite hat.

it was a spiderman slippers kind of day.

she was finally feeling well enough by sunday to at least get off the couch and to sit in the kitchen chair and read.  and to eat a little bread.  baby steps.

fter tuesday, she was on the upswing.  since then, we've been laying low, letting her recover and trying to keep the rest of us well-fed and well-rested in order to avoid getting it.  since her fever set in two weeks ago, and none of the rest of us have contracted anything, we seem to be in the clear!  (todd and i got some scratchy throats, but after a ridiculous amount of green tea with honey, it never turned into anything for either of us.)

here's to hoping that's all the yuck that visits our house this cold-and-flu season.  (yeah right, but a girl can hope.)

christmas decorating: one post in what is sure to become a series.

so, i love love love decorating for christmas.  not with weird figurines and stuff like some people get into, but your basic 'tree and lights' kind of stuff.

the first year we were married todd and i picked out a real tree from fareway and i named it christy brinkley and decorated it with commemorative barbie ornaments.  it was kind of the best.  but later we found out (according to our lease, the legal document we were supposed to have read before agreeing to sign, but we apparently didn't get to the fine print about christmas trees) that real trees in our apartment complex were verboten.  i was emotionally crushed.

no real-pine scent? how would it ever feel like christmas without real-pine scent?

well, lucky for me, i had a baby three weeks before the following christmas and could have cared less about real-pine scent, except that it would have been helpful in covering up the stench of puked-up breastmilk and first-time-mom hopelessness that i'm sure filled every nook and cranny of that place.  i did hardly any decorating for christmas because, let's face it, i hardly had time or energy to shower and those commemorative barbies with their froofy blown-out hair and sparkly ball gowns would have only mocked me from their perch among the branches. 

last year we had to get creative because i was all like, i'm going to be a baby about not getting a real tree so i refuse to invest in an artificial tree because maybe someday we'll have a house where we get to pick whatever the crap kind of tree we want and THEN i will get my lovely-smelling tree.  (turns out, when i'm being a baby i also use really long sentences.)  so my mom bought us an eight-dollar, three-foot-tall tree from the dollar store (which was eight times more expensive than you'd think it would be) and i bought a real-pine wreath from flowerama.  still got that piney smell without the eviction notice.  win-win.

then this year...ahh, this year.  as soon as the kids went down for naps the day of atticus' birthday party, i sent todd and my mom off on a tree hunt.  turns out? there's a tree farm just up the road from here and todd got to try his hand at lumberjacking for the first time ever.  and then he got free kringla and cider (the name of the place is kris kringla's, which is hilarious if you've lived in a scandinavian town for more than a week and get the joke.)  and then he and my mom hauled this gorgeous fatty of a tree home, where it is perfuming our house with its delicious scent.  (on a side note, one year growing up we picked out a tree that had, unbeknownst to us, gotten peed on by some woodland creature and our house smelled like animal make for days.)

unfortunately, i have not had time to decorate said tree, and he has stood there in our entryway all naked and sad-looking since sunday.  BUT TODAY IS THE DAY, MY FRIENDS.  today is the day i will bust out the barbies (along with some other ornaments that speak to the more adult, college-educated side of me) and deck the most garish tree you've ever seen. 


video vednesday: ANNOUNCING...

we decided on a name for van voorst spawn #3.  here is todd to introduce you:

in case you were wondering what i thought of pushing a person out of my cooter.

i have never been a 'natural birth' girl, as surprising as that may seem (or not, i don't know what you assume about me).  i kind of surprise myself sometimes.  i also microwave frozen vegetables, often in a plastic bowl, if i'm being entirely honest.  i'm nothing if not hypocritical a veritable mystery.

anyway.  natural birth.

from as early on as i can remember i have always been 100% sold on having an epidural.  i remember a friend telling me 'don't be a hero, get the drugs,' and thinking, 'yeah, that's about right.  a hero i will not be.'

with atticus, everything went so smoothly - the epidural was basically my magical new best friend.  i spent much of my labor laughing and joking with the nurse in between pushes.  at discharge, a nurse sarcastically asked if i was ready to have another baby yet.  i was like, that wouldn't be horrible actually.  (it didn't hurt that the hospital food was basically manna and a surge of post-labor hormones had me bawling about how perfect atticus was.  our hospital basically felt like a 5-star hotel where they also gave you legal drugs and sent you home with your very own lifelike doll.  A+.)

so i went into my birth with penelope overly confident that 'this is how my body labors' and 'this is how the epidural will work.'  FAIL.  the epidural caused my blood pressure to drop dramatically, which meant that they not only stopped giving it to me but my drop in blood pressure left me incredibly confused and woozy and panicked.  so the epidural was highly effective at making my toes tingle, but at absolutely nothing else, pain-wise.  which had major implications in the midst of childbirth.  it was absolute chaos.

so this time around i'm facing a major decision.  i'm still 100% in love with effective epidurals, but now i'm 100% skeptical that i can count on them actually being effective.  so...why go through the extra expense and pain and dashed hope of having an epidural administered but then not having it work?  not to mention the side effects (lowered blood pressure, an EXTREMELY itchy face as i experienced in my labor with atticus)...

but i'm a pansy.  a regular frenchy.  i have no tolerance for pain and really have no desire to feel anything resembling labor (or a stubbed toe, for that matter).  so i'm not ready to jump into a decision to do a natural birth.

so i'm reading reading reading reading.  (there is some CRAZY crap out there - orgasmic birth? no thanks.)  and trying to make a good decision.  and while i NEVER IN A MILLION YEARS EVER thought i would even entertain the thought of a natural birth, i am finding myself at least...curious.  tolerant of the idea.  just not sold.

so it will be interesting to see how this all plays out.  anyone go drug-free and find out everyone was lying about labor and it actually feels like taking a vanilla-scented bath by candlelight?  anyone?  (please keep orgasmic birth stories to yourself, please and thanks.)

celebreality hiatus for the birthday boy.

atticus is three today.  i won't even go into how baffled i am that this could be possible already.  he has been alive for the entirety of obama's presidency.  which seems like he's been alive forever.  and politics aside, i'd vote for another term (or twenty) of this kid.

yesterday we threw him a party, and it was the first year he's really 'gotten' what was going on.  he specifically asked for a chocolate cake with white frosting and a train on top.  the kids helped me make the cake and frosting that atticus requested.  they were most helpful in the cleaning up stage.

yesterday, immediately upon waking, atticus was like, 'i have my party now?'  but instead of partying hard at 7:45 a.m., we held off for a bit and todd took the kids to church.  i stayed home and cleaned, decorated, and made myself presentable (i.e., bathed, which is more than i can say happens most days).

my mom and stepdad, my dad and his wife, and my sister joined us to celebrate, and once todd and the kids got home from church, we kicked off the party in high style.

being a not-planner of parties, i make do.  lunch meat on a tray? cheap, easy and deceptively high class-looking.  insert random celebrity and/or hooker joke here.

party decorations took me all of 7 minutes, and that's only because i'm pregnant and couldn't get up and down off the chair to tape streamers to the walls as quickly as usual.  i think this is the fanciest this chandelier has ever been, which is saying a lot since this chandelier is pretty fancy.

after eating lunch, atticus opened presents.

you can see here that penelope has her one good eye on atticus' new sneakers.  she is a shoe girl through and through.  as soon as he looked away...

...she scurried off with them to the safety of the kitchen chair to try to put them on herself.  she was not a fan of the elastic band holding them together.  such a diva.

after presents, we had cake and ice cream.  note to self: next year, cake and ice cream first.  it's hard getting little people back to the table once there are new toys to be played with, even when lots of sugar is there beckoning them.

atticus blew out his candles like a professional candle blower-outer.

as we've established, atticus turned three.

i know birthdays are supposed to be about the birthday kid, but i just spent the entire day thinking about the night i went into labor with atticus, and the whole experience of bringing him into the world.  i was probably more nostalgic than usual since i'm preparing for yet another upcoming birth.  but either way... until i became a mom, i never thought about birthdays as an opportunity to celebrate the actual work involved in shoving a human into the world.  and to be honest, i loved laboring with atticus (no, i'm not insane, i was just effectively medicated) and that whole time was just surreal and magical and perfect, and i loved spending the whole day thinking about my sweet boy and the privilege i have been given in being his mom.

i love all three years of this little boy and pray hard that i will be given an eternity with him.

the most recent addition to our family

i got the call yesterday.

penelope's glasses were in.

so we drove into town to pick them up and have them adjusted.  it was bittersweet, i have to say.  i'm thrilled that they're going to help her see better and correct the lazy eye, which you don't have to tell me is the most important thing.  but it's still sad to think that her pretty eyes will be covered up, and that her days without corrective lenses are over, probably for the rest of her life.  not to mention we're $473 poorer.  ouch.

however, putting all that aside, i think she looks pretty stinking cute.  and just from the looks of her, i secretly suspect that she could now beat me at trivial pursuit.  or science.

as you can see, she's wearing them during lunch.  she has NOT been a big fan of them, so i'm trying to acclimate her a little at a time by picking small chunks of time when she's distracted and her hands are busy.  hence the tomato sauce all over her face.

as i was taking these pictures, atticus wanted his picture taken too.  this is the pose he chose:

other than getting her to keep them on, one major problem i can foresee is that her hands frequently look like this:

i had to soap her glasses down twice in the fifteen minutes of lunch time, since they got REALLY grimy just from her trying to rub her eyes or push them up on her nose.

wish me luck.  i have no idea how long it will take to make these an all-day accessory.  or how on earth i'll be able to keep them clean enough that they'll actually aid her in seeing anything.


i know, i know, i'm a week late in posting this.  but that's how i roll.  stuff gets posted either late or never.  i'm cool with it.

i made as much as i could ahead of time, including desserts, mashed potatoes and rolls, which meant thanksgiving morning was able to kick off somewhat slowly with tea sipping and good conversation with my bestest of unrelated-to-me best friends, jeska.  (she spent the night on wednesday and was able to hang out thursday morning before going to her family's dinner in radcliff.)

however, stuff did start to pick up as i started wrapping the pre-brined turkey with bacon (yes.  bacon.  we're van voorsts.) and getting ingredients pulled together for the stuffing and green bean casserole.  (to my heart's deep and unending grief, french's fried onions and campbell's cream of mushroom are not gluten free, so we had to get creative.)

penelope got ready to help me load the 22-pound (plus 1.5 pounds of bacon) turkey into the oven.  she was just weighed at the doctor's office yesterday and she weighs 23.6 pounds.  virtually exactly the same weight as the finished turkey.  it was quite the job, but she conquered.

(why such a big turkey? short story short, it freezes beautifully and $0.68 a pound is a way better price than i can ever find whole roasting chickens for. cooks all at once and you're set for months.  boom. roasted.)

unfortunately, i was not as successful as i would have hoped with the turkey: even though the meat thermometer indicated the right internal temp, when i had my stepdoug carve it, it was still grossly undercooked inside. so he carved it all up, poured chicken broth over it and popped it back in the oven to cook through. not a total fail on my part, but it did turn out drier than i like and dinner was served an hour and a half later than planned. the hostess with the mostest i am not. the hostess with the mediumest, maybe.

i pulled out my random assortment of fancy dinnerware and table linens.  i'm super proud of my collection because virtually all of it was hand-me-downs or garage sale finds.  take a look below, for instance: 

okay, it's hard to see in this picture, so i'll break it down.  carafes full of soda: 50 cents each at garage sales (plus the price of soda, obviously.)  ice bucket:  gift from todd's mom.  antique crystal tumblers: heirlooms from my great-grandma.  cheesy floral plates with gold rims: up to $1 each at garage sales.  real silver flatware: 25 cents each at an estate sale.  blue gingham ceramic thingy: $1.87 on clearance at bath and bodyworks, paid with gift card.  table cloth: 25 cents at a garage sale.

all presented on an ikea console table.  freutiful.  (frugally beautiful for those of you without a van voorst lexicon.)

the gorgeous flowers jeska brought me along with my very favorite blue wine/water glasses.  i love royal blue glass.

the kids got to spend time with aunt lauren, who was instrumental in directing them away from all the hot surfaces and sharp untensils that inevitably show up at thanksgiving.  she is the reason our kitchen in no way resembled any part of sweeney todd.

again with the thrifty finds.  every single serving piece was a garage sale find, and the lamp was a used-to-be-old-nasty-brass one that some lady gave me for free and i had todd spray paint.  and that yellow bowl? got it for $4, then saw the same one at an antiques tent for $50.  probably coated in lead glaze, but it's gorgeous and super tactile so who cares?

enjoying the meal with the chorpening-kofoed clan.

discovering a zealousness for pumpkin pie.

hyped up on all the fat, sugar and caffeine in the mocha cheesecake.

helping with clean-up.  or rather, whisking imaginary soup around in the ice bucket while lauren and i did dishes.  btw, that pink bucket hat is sized 6-9 months, and he loves it more than his own mother.  he sleeps in it and wakes up crying because it fell off.  it is a permanent and (unbeknownst to him) awkward fixture on that sweet little head.

how was everyone else's thanksgiving? anyone else apathetic about lead poisoning their guests in the name of pretty presentation?