pity, party of one.

hey, anyone remember celebreality monday?  let's go all old school today and bring that sucker back.

i am a-wallowing in self pity lately.

i'm all, boo-hoo, i can never leave my house.  85% of the time, someone in my house is crying.  i am so over being primarily responsible for four lives, four butts to wipe, four mouths to stuff (if you're confused on the math, i'm counting my own life, butt and mouth in there).  i can't even go to the doctor or the grocery store without having to pack a week's worth of water, food and first aid supplies.  i'm constantly meeting everyone else's needs and wants, constantly trying to finish at least one task before three more get added to my list, constantly having to bear the burden that is simply listening to all the NOISE.  blah blah blah, woe is me. 

last night, some kid spilled milk on my new-but-already-stained-with-blood-and-puke slipcover.  and i was all, it sucks that we can't have nice things.

and it's true.  we can't really have nice things and expect them to stay nice.  stainless steel?  white slipcovers? a rug under the dining room table? what are we, idiots?  apparently so, since we have all of these things.

but god later whispered, you can't have nice things because you have wonderful things.  yeah, i totally wish my house would stay clean for at least thirty seconds before looking like a tornado-ravaged landfill.  i wish my slipcovers would stay white, my stainless would actually stay stainless, and the rug under my dining room table did not feel crusty and smell like cheese.  but those nice things lose their niceness because of the wonderful little things running around ruining them.  and i'd rather have ruined nice things than unappreciated wonderful things.


today is penelope's birthday, which is cause enough for a celebratory sunday post.

she is two.  she says 'pingo' instead of 'mango.'  she says 'nank' instead of 'thanks.'  she says 'washwash' instead of 'washcloth.'  she is always crying that her 'eyes burm,' which no one really knows the meaning of.  she is fiercely independent, stubborn as all get-out, and not a physical touch kid.  she is goofy goofy goofy.  her hair is a wild, wild mess.  she runs like a drunk.  she makes me laugh every. stinkin. day.

i frequently think back to how things might have gone very, very differently and i am so grateful to have her in my life.  days would be too quiet and boring without this one:

this photo accurately sums up where we are now: independent, reading a book, wearing her own choice of shoes.


check it IZZOUT. (or, part one of the hillbilly chronicles.)

holy cow.  would you look at that?  (not the gazebo-turned-wasp-mansion.  the other thing.)

what is it, you ask?  WHAT IS IT, YOU ASK?!!

that, my friends, is part of my garden.  and also a trench. see?

you see, last spring i read a bunch of gardening books proclaiming the wonder that is the raised bed garden, and i knew that i eventually wanted to garden that way.  as it was, we purchased a house last may and therefore had no cha-ching left in the ol' bank account for such luxuries as lumber and dirt.  so to get a garden in last summer, i had todd till a couple of plots (first one big one, then a smaller one nearby after i got greedy for more vegetables and determined one garden was not enough) and planted the next day.  it was already past the recommended planting times for our stuff, so i just did everything i could to get my seeds in without cutting it too close to the wire.  (also, we must have literally cut it too close to the wire when we tilled, as i keep finding bits of what appear to be phone cable in my garden.)

so.  fast forward to this summer.  i'm still wanting to do raised bed gardening, but i'm unconvinced that i need to pay for anything to do it.  because i insist on being a cheapskate hillbilly.

so let's look one more time at the glorious photo from above:

this whole area was the smaller plot todd tilled last summer.  it's about 9' x 16'.  and all that black gold, iowa tea colloquially called dirt?  all freshly shovel-tilled by the capable, loving, and now manly-looking hands of yours truly.  after i tilled it, i marked off a four-foot strip that was to become the raised bed, then a two-foot strip that will be a walkway.  that way i won't have to walk on any planting dirt, and i ended up with what felt like tons of free dirt to build up my beds.  this single raised bed and trench cost me nearly twelve hours of work...yikes, apparently this might not be the 'cheapest' way to go if cost of labor is factored in. 

um...while the sod strip and that whole other (20' x 16') side of the garden will hopefully get machine-tilled this summer, they'll probably have to wait until next summer to get raised up, unless they go all josh groban and jesus does it for me.  which i've heard is unlikely.

coming next week: parts two and three of the hillbilly chronicles, or: 'where my chickens will live and also the big pile of garbage i put there on purpose' and 'check out what almost gave me tetanus.'  stay tuned.

the greatest news there is to share!

two months before i turned 18, i became a christian.

two months before i turned 19, i got a job babysitting for a family in town, partly for a little extra money and mostly so i had an excuse to bring a car to college.  in an unexpected twist, since the car i brought was an SUV, i actually paid more in gas to get to and from work than i actually made working.  but i couldn't quit because i fell in love with the family i worked for.

when i started babysitting, the girls were seven and eleven.  i spent a ton of time with them, taking them to school in the mornings and either picking them up in the afternoon, or being at the house by the time the bus dropped them off.  we ate dinner together a few nights a week, and i got to take them to dance classes and be at their recitals.  i got invited to live life with them, to be a part of their family, and i loved it.

last week i got a facebook message from vail, who is now (if i'm doing the math right) eighteen and a senior in high school.  which makes me feel olllllld, so luckily she had some great news for me to keep my mind off of my imminent death-by-old-age:


i'm not kidding, i broke out in goosebumps and started crying and just kept thanking jesus for his goodness.  and that is what it is to be a part of the family of god.  it says in scripture that the angels themselves rejoice everytime a sinner repents and comes to christ, and we get a taste of that when we celebrate along with them.  i get to see the goodness of god that he answered my prayers for her, and that he is continuing to love us and save us, each in individual, unique ways and times.  i get to spend eternity with vail, loving and thanking god for everything he's done for us both.

so for something a little different today, i was hoping that all of you reading this who are also part of the family of god would leave a short, quick comment congratulating vail and praising god for saving her.

(if you don't have a blogger identity to post with, i will be posting a link on my facebook and i'd love it if you'd comment there.)

from the mouths of children and infants you have ordained praise.

one thing i'm loving about atticus right now is his fascination with what's found in scripture.  he has come up to me multiple times waving around a wrapping paper roll and pretending to cut my ear off.  unfortunately, since he's peter, he cannot also be jesus and reattach my ear, and when i ask penelope to do it, she looks at me like, 'uh...your ear is still there.  i have no idea what's going on.'  so then i have to walk around for a while clutching my ear because no one's around to reattach it.  such is life.


then the other day atticus was playing with the broom, but when i asked him if he was going to help me sweep, he answered, 'it's a cross, mom.  jesus is going to die on it.'  oh.  my mistake.  then he said, 'he's going to die for me and my sin.'  which made this mama's heart swell.


one morning a week or two ago, the kids were talking in their beds before i got them up for the day.  before going in, i paused to hear what they were saying, and the following conversation ensued:

A: sissy.  sissy.  get in the tomb.  GET IN THE TOMB, SIS.  (pause)  good.  now you're dead.  now get out of the tomb, GET OUT OF THE TOMB, SIS.  now the tomb is empty!  you risen!



and this week on our way to church, a chris tomlin song came on and after listening to the lyrics for a while, atticus responded, 'i'm going to follow god, mom.  do you want to come?'  to which i obviously said a hearty 'yes.'  then he asked penelope and todd if they wanted to come.  they both agreed they did.  then he shouted, 'let's go!'

it is such an amazing feeling to see big truths settling into little hearts.  my most fervent prayer is that my kids would come to know, love, and trust jesus and that he would entrust them with big things for his kingdom, however small those things may look to the world.

"i have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth." - 3 john 1:4

get ready for a jumbo (or is it a mega?) blog post.

one thing i've never been able to keep straight is diaper pack sizing. you'd think after three kids, i'd have it down, but i still have no idea what is intended by the heirarchy of pack sizing. i don't mean the size of the diapers themselves: 1, 2, 3, 4, etc, is pretty straightforward. however, the sizing of the packages those diapers come in is a totally different issue.

i had to look it up on the target site to even know the following, but the smallest package of huggies you can buy is a 'jumbo' pack of little swimmers. then next is a 'mega' pack of pull-ups. then next is a 'value' pack of run-o-the-mill dipes. then next is a 'big' pack. then a 'giant' pack.

um...apparently words accurately indicating size mean nothing to these people. how am i supposed to intuit that a big pack is actually larger than a mega pack but smaller than a giant pack?!

and then the clincher is that todd came home the other day with a great, big box of diapers called a special pack. 'special' isn't even a size word. what is going on?! soon they're just going to start rolling out boxes with nonsense words on them, like 'bonus koosh pack' and 'smelt pack, now with 150% more diapers than the leading flounding pack!'

and then what about those store brands that have 'family' packs of diapers? i mean, i get it when like pasta salad or toothbrushes or chips come in a family-sized package. the understanding is that a lot of the members of the family will be splitting the items amongst themselves. diapers don't tend to be that way...hopefully.

so really, this blog is really just a desperate cry from a frazzled mom who can't even remember which kid is which half the time - PLEASE, diaper companies, make sense in your advertising. what about just saying "pretty small pack" and even "relatively large pack, comparatively"? or if you want to get creative, i suggest using ROYGBIV or something, with violet being those packs of diapers that you have to strap to the top of your car because they're so big.

and while we're making suggestions to the baby industry, why has no one ever made a baby swing frame that supports a car seat?! that way you wouldn't have to get the baby out of the swing to put them in the car seat, or vice versa.

i'm brilliant and yet no one listens to me.

so, here's a little insight into my crazy.

if you haven't heard, i'm deathly afraid of bleach. and bleach cleaners. and cleaners that don't have bleach in them.

before you start thinking i'm a total disgustoid, let me reassure you that i do, in fact, like things to be clean and hygienic. i have a go-to cleaner that i make that is half vinegar, half water with a squirt of dish soap. and if i've said it once, i've said it about a quatrillion times: this is what they would use to clean heaven if heaven ever got dirty. i use it on my counters, in my bathrooms, and even to mop the floors. (my hardwood is polyurethaned - don't use it on waxed floors. and i have no idea what the results would be on laminate - i doubt heaven has 'wood-look' flooring, so even if you can't clean laminate with it, i still maintain that this is worthy to be used by the heavenly custodial staff.)

ANYWAY. i've been using my vinegar solution (aka, 'cleaning nectar') for a long time and i've been happy with the results. except i've found that it is somewhat useless against three-year-old-boy-urine-smell. lately the smell has gotten a little too intense, so i decided (begrudgingly) to bust out the bleach.

even though i just mixed up a 10:1 water and bleach solution, i was still super freaked out. i mean seriously, it smells noxious and permanently stains whatever it touches - i'm freaked out by people who aren't freaked out by that. so in order to play it as safe as possible, i grabbed a few rags, moved everything out of the way (towels, toilet paper), stripped down to my 'bleaching uniform' (skivvies), cracked the balcony door to let out the fumes (yes, we have a balcony off our bathroom because we're classy. and yes, it only houses an old broken down air conditioning unit because we're also working class), and sprayed that stuff with my arm extended as far away from my body as possible and with my eyes closed. then i wiped everything down and rinsed incessantly with clean water. i'm pretty sure i would have been a ridiculous sight to see had you been peering through my balcony door. but hopefully you weren't.

when i was done, i wiped down my whole body - especially the soles of my feet - with a clean, wet rag so i didn't track bleach through the house, and put the rags to wash in a load all by themselves so they didn't cross-contaminate. then i waited a few hours before returning all towels, etc, to their rightful places just in case any rogue bleach was still damp and waiting to ruin anything.

i'm thinking about getting special flip flops to wear only when i'm cleaning with bleach (which will probably happen more regularly now that i have two boys, one of whom has been insistent that he wants to start standing up to pee). and i'm thinking i will call them my bleachflops.

anyone else seriously OCD about stuff like this? i'm hoping i'm not the only one, because that would make me not only crazy, but 'lonely crazy,' which is a sad, scary place to be.

thwr: that would be a very literal hot mess.

paige: i had a dream a while back where i found a vending machine that served fried chicken.

todd: that's...disgusting.

paige: what?! it's the best idea i've had in a long time.  it's too bad i was unconscious at the time. 

and that's how we roll.

video vednesday: what are you doing in here, little kitty cat?

we don't need meows.

um, i have to say, i have no idea what this guy is talking about for the first 75% of this video.

beautiful, beautiful.

hello, you beautiful people.  isn't the internet lovely this morning? 

the birds are chirping, the sun is shining, there's a high of 70*...AND I GOT FOUR HOURS OF CONSECUTIVE SLEEP LAST NIGHT.

that's right, friends.  april 17 is the day that will go down in history as the morning after finneas only woke up once during the night.  now, i realize i can't count on this being the case from here on out, but seriously.  it's just nice to know it's even a possibility.

today is going to be a bright, bright sunshiney day.

in closing, i thought this jack handy quote summarizes how i feel:

"is there anything more beautiful than a beautiful, beautiful flamingo, flying across in front of a beautiful sunset? and he's carrying a beautiful rose in his beak, and also he's carrying a very beautiful painting with his feet.  and also, you're drunk."


i confess...

i can't keep it a secret any longer, although it's probably in my best interest to do so: i think ke$ha is awesome.  well, not her person so much as her music.  minus the lyrics.

and what's not to love? i mean, for pete's sake, she has a DOLLAR SIGN IN HER NAME.  i tried the whole 'using symbols for letters' thing in my name once: p@!ge is decidedly not cool.  (and i don't know why it hyperlinked, but i'm okay with it.) how does ke$ha pull it off?!

plus, everytime her music comes on the radio, i feel like i'm in an exclusive nightclub rather than a minivan.  granted, a nightclub that needs its floors mopped and where you'll probably catch hepatitis.  but whatever. unfortunately, our minivan-turned-nightclub is no more, because tiny ears + dirtydirtyhobag lyrics = bad parenting.

so when my kids grow up and ask whether i love them, i will tell them that not only did i live through cystic acne during pregnancy, but i also gave up listening to ke$ha for them.  and that, friends, is deep, deep maternal love.

(but i'm still going to make it rain glitter every so often, just to keep the memories alive.) 

i should probably move to a bell tower pretty soon to live out the rest of my days in solitude.

two days ago, the inner corner of my eye started hurting.  i figured it was just from rubbing it too much and/or bawling like a baby during finneas' overnight feedings.  i swear i cry more these days than finneas does.  then last night my eyelid started to swell, and by 3:00 this morning, it was all droopy and so swollen that my eyelashes are curling in toward my eye.  it hurt so bad that i couldn't get back to sleep, and so at 5:00 i just decided to cut my losses and get out of bed.

which is why i am awake at 6:30, trying to peer through my huncheye to write this blog, and why my floor is freshly mopped and my windows are freshly cleaned and also i'm getting pretty well near enough to legally blind to not appreciate any of that.

maybe later today, once the sun gets its lazy patooty out of bed, i'll take a picture chronicling The Eye.  you'll see what i mean.  be prepared to fill with pity and disgust.

any doctors in the audience?  any hypochondriacs with a finely tuned webMD navigational skill set?  seriously, i look like a hot mess...and also it hurts, which is of secondary import.

video vednesday: OHP.

this video will comprise the best eight seconds of your day. i promise.

a very, VERY van voorst post (gratuitous family photo week)

last week, todd's parents came down to meet finneas for the first time, since they winter in arizona and hadn't been in iowa when he was born.

tony stayed just for the afternoon on tuesday and headed back for a few days, while jacqi stayed and helped me with the kids and the housework and the yardwork and overall survival for the rest of the week.  she had the magic touch and finneas basically passed out any time she touched him.  it was glorious.

tony came back on saturday, and we all spent easter together before they headed back home.
we had a wonderful time and are so grateful they were able to come and spend some time with us!

a very van voorst easter

whut up.

i have officially dubbed this week, 'gratuitous family photo week,' and it just so happens that yesterday was easter, so we'll start there.

we began our morning with a traditional tricycle ride, just like they did in jesus' day.

the kids (meaning penelope) actually smiled for photos for about two and a half seconds.

then things got serious.

then things got grumpy.  (also, todd's parents were able to spend easter with us!)

a photo of just me and todd!! (i think we only got one just-the-two-of-us photo in 2011.)

and here, you can see that the kids were D.O.N.E. with photos.

a close-up of finn at this point.  he had started the morning off with a sweater vest and tie, which got spit up on them, and a pair of jeans, which ended up covered in massive amounts of poop (which shot all the way down his leg, onto his sock, and onto our sweet pastor's wife, who was wearing a white blouse. lovely.)

happy day-after-easter from the van voorst clan.

finneas at one month

baby finn is one month old today! am i the only one who can't believe it?

he is doing AMAZINGLY well - i could have about twenty more babies like him.  except that it would mean actually having twenty more babies.  so maybe not.  but if i were going to have twenty babies, i would hope they're all like him.  you know what i mean.

he had been eating about eleven times a day, and waking up between three and four times a night.  i have to say, i was tired.  so a couple days ago, i worked on getting him to a two and a half-to-three hour schedule, and it was like magic - not only did he take to it (after a day or so of opposition), but he's now sleeping for four-to-five hour stretches at night, meaning a he only gets up two to three times.

during the day, he eats, which takes him about twenty minutes, then stays awake for about an hour before falling back asleep.  he sleeps in his bed now, rather than the swing, for naps.  it's taken some getting used to on my end, since our house is so much bigger than the apartment we lived in when the bigger two kids were babies, so it's a little unnerving to have him so far away and to need a monitor just to hear him.  but he sleeps better away from where the kids are screaming and running around and stuffing balloons in finneas' face in the name of sharing.

he is by far the least spitty baby i've ever had - he hardly ever needs a bib, and smells only vaguely like spoiled milk.  victory.  also? instead of ten poopy diapers a day like we were doing, we're at one to two more major episodes.  our house smells only vaguely like crap all the time.  another victory.

hair? significantly less than he was born with.  pimples? significantly more than he was born with.

and...that's about all.  i'm distracted by this dream i had where i had my grandma dye my hair champagne blonde, so i can't be expected to write a coherent blog.

i love my baby!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (inordinate number of exclamation points.)

post-edit: of course, as soon as i posted this, he stopped sleeping as long at night, and went back to waking up every 2.5 - 3 hours.  also, just for reference, his last feeding is at 9:30 (more or less) and his first feeding is usually between 6:00 and 7:00 am.

two facts about me that you may or may not find interesting.

1.  if you don't at least tolerate the counting crows, i don't really trust you.

2.  over the last three years, i have frequently found myself thinking, 'at least urine is sterile.'

take those for what you will.

video vednesday: freedom

check out the amazing testimonies of some women from our church.

paige 'spidey' v.v.

the other morning finneas was having a hard time going back to sleep at 4:00 a.m., and i was having a hard time staying awake during the same time period, so todd took him downstairs to let me get some sleep before it was time to nurse again.

he came back up around 7:00 and we switched places, with me taking finn and todd crawling in bed.  suddenly, he jumped up and started smacking at the bed.  turns out?  a moderately-sized black spider had been sharing sleeping quarters with yours truly.

which makes me think that one of two things will happen in the near future: 1) i will develop a large boil somewhere on my body that will pop open with a swarm of baby spiders in about nine months, or however long spider gestation is, or 2) i will soon start feeling an urge to dress in red spandex and swing, tarzan-like, from skyscraper to skyscraper on the deceptively delicate-looking web that i shoot from my wrists.

of the two, i think the latter possibility is the more appealing.  that way, if you're needing a ride to the top floor of a building but the elevator's broken, you will feel a strong desire to be my friend, self-motivated as the desire might be.  but then you'll be obligated to stay my friend even after i gracefully swoop you to where you need to be so that you don't look like you were just using me for my superhuman skills. 

and in that way, my radioactive spider blood will actually win me friends.  whom i promise not to upside-down-french, no matter how close of besties we become.  (sorry to mislead you if you thought this would go there.)

to further prove my point.

on saturday night, todd and i decided to pretend we're brave, and we took all three kids to a wedding.  uh...yeah.  my kids are great kids, but they're little.  and they don't totally understand the concept of 'the whisper,' much less silence.  during the recessional, as the wedding party was leaving the auditorium, atticus asked really loudly, 'are they all going potty?'

toward the end of the ceremony, i left to feed finn in the van.  by myself.  awesome.

we then took the kids to the reception, where penelope ran laps around our table and seemed to be bound and determined to get kidnapped.  atticus spent the entire time asking if it was time to eat cake.

then it was time to feed finneas again, so i retreated to the bathroom.  a sweet lady from the family ministry at my church was nice enough to bring me a chair, placing it next to the sink, where i promptly plopped myself and got down to business.  over the course of a few minutes, multiple veteran moms either entered or left, and each one had a story about some weird place she ended up nursing.  the groom's mom said she nursed him in her church's outhouse all through a freezing cold march.  another lady said she had to stand in a crowded bathroom in C.Y. stephens during a concert.  i shared a story about the time i had to nurse atticus on an open (unlidded) toilet in a nasty, tiny airport bathroom.

and in between sharing breastfeeding stories, i became the stall monitor, directing people to the nearest open toilet.  so while never convenient, at least breastfeeding has proven itself helpful to others in some regard.