(bi.) (weekly.) wut. up.

last week, i summarized the two weeks when our computer had been down.  this week, you get to hear about this week and last.  confusing but whatever.

finneas conquered an entire pear (sans peel) by himself.  he looks tired (and super sticky), but triumphant.

in finn-related news, he is also now officially mobile.  so i put him in one of those sleep sacks all day to keep him in one place.  mean?  maybe.  am i okay with it?  yepper.

atticus went to his first movie-theater movie (finding nemo), with my mom.  to deal with my grief, i washed the windows.  the living room upper doesn't pop out, so i had to get creative.  it looks only slightly ridiculous from the inside...

...but this is what the neighbors got to see:

freaky random arm hanging out the window.  yep, that's the van voorst house.

we're trying again with the potty training, which means penelope spends lots of time on the potty, watching movies and chugging milk with her big brother by her side.  (popcorn party for lunch.  don't judge.)

atticus got to see his first walking stick, and also got slobberfinger marks all over my freshly-cleaned dining room window.  we were both perplexed.

we have budding artists in our home.  atticus drew his first face (he usually spends his time drawing construction and farm machinery), and gave the face a whole little family.  i added my own artistic two cents.

and penelope dedicated her muraltastic efforts to our back hallway.

and finally, i began doing a fitness challenge and reading plato's republic on monday.  i have never felt so physically or mentally defunct in my life.  maybe in a month i will have ripped pectorals, and also can eloquently describe a utopian State, and everyone will be jealous of me.  but for now, my biceps appear to be made of latex gloves and my brain feels only slightly more substantial, so my outlook is grim.

has anyone else read the republic and want to give me some tips?  i'm kind of floundering.  ('justice and peace are as husbandmen and corn.'  anyone?)

why (two of the five) van voorsts love old threshers.

old threshers is kitsch.  it's not for everyone.  if you have a heart for thriving metropolises, love contemporary art, or only wear skinny jeans, it is possible old threshers might not be your thing.  if, on the other hand, you only wear your incredibly long hair in a bun, only venture to town in your wagon to buy flour in 50# bulk, or use words like 'yonder,' old threshers might bore you because your whole life is one long old threshers reunion.  and if you turn up your hoity-toity nose at anything remotely folksy, old threshers is DEFINITELY not for you; take your snark to the sweet corn festival.  we don't want you here.

however.  if you are not any of these people, you will LOVE old threshers.  let me convince you:

first stop, my personal favorite, the log village (yes, that sign is cut from a tree stump). 
 here is where you'll find people dressed up in 1850's clothing, cooking over an open fire, and hand-shaving wood shingles for the barn roof.  they have a bunch of farm animals, a reenactment one-room schoolhouse, a stagecoach inn, a general store, and this old bearded guy doing a medicine show.  you can hear a town hall presentation on ol'fashinned canning procedures.  you'll find a trading post where you can meet all of your rabbit skin needs.  you can also buy a walking taco if you feel so inclined.

why do i love this place?  more like, why DON'T i love this place?!  first, i worked here a couple of weekends in middle school, dressing up in period garb and explaining to uninformed tourists where the phrase 'sleep tight' actually came from.  (rope beds, newbie.)  second, i love all things homestead.  i love seeing the reenactments of daily life, and getting to talk to a guy in suspenders about the swiss method of composting cow crap.  (yes, i did leave my family to fend for themselves while i had this very informative conversation.)  and third, their garden is AWESOME:

please ignore my rampant case of White Lumpy Mom Legs.

okay.  so that's my primary reason for loving the OT.   atticus' reason for loving it?  it's basically a tribute to all things Historical Methods of Transportation and Farming.

we got to ride trolleys:

and a steam train:

atticus and poppy doug

and see steam engines on parade:

and look at hundreds of antique tractors:

there are a couple of you specifically that i think would probably love old threshers as much as atticus and i do, so you should come with us next year!  we'll make a party of it!  (as though it's not already a party.)

i'm totally serious.  keep your calendars open for labor day weekend next year if you want to come!!

there were so many photos of fun things we did over the weekend that i'll post a few more next week, including a photo of a decimated roast turkey leg.  you're not going to want to miss it.

video vednesday: sing it if you know it. duhduhdududuhdudu.

peanut butter tuesday, you know what i mean?

my dear friend jeska sent this to me.  you have to watch them both - so funny!  or, just watch the second one and try to guess what the first one is supposed to be.

'as the mice infest,' installment two.

when we last left you yesterday, todd had just pulled out the fridge to assess the mouse-in-the-trap situation. he realized that the trap was barely holding onto the mouse's tail, and that the little guy's whole body was down the waterline hole and he was hanging on for dear life.  to move the trap meant that the mouse might get free, but to leave it there meant the mouse might starve to death just hanging in that hole.  but if we waited for it to die before trying to remove the trap, we would risk the mouse carcass falling out of the trap and down the hole and rotting there where we couldn't get to it.

you can see what a conundrum we had found ourselves in. 

so todd grabbed some needle-nosed pliers and pulled the thing out by its tail, trap still attached.  and you know what, you guys?! it was SOOO CUTE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  with its tiny little paws and pink little nose and desperate squeaks for help.  (since becoming a mother, i anthropomorphize animals - all animals, including whole raw chickens from Fareway - into babies in my mind.  and this poor little furry baby needed some help escaping his sad destiny.)

at first i was really torn.  couldn't we just let him go outside where he could live out his mousey days in peace and happiness, maybe making a squirrel buddy or two and playing clever tricks on Bubbles, the neighbors' outdoor cat?

but, i'm a realist.  i am aware that either the cat would eat him and we'd be no better off, or he'd just find his way into another house (or ours again).  so i sentenced him to death.  but how?  not starvation or even a quick bludgeoning with the hammer; too harsh, don't you think?

so todd tied him in a plastic bag, stuck him under the wheel of his car, and backed up over him.  quick, (hopefully) painless, and mess-free since he was already in a garbage bag.

and that's how the van voorsts turn something simple like killing a mouse into a whole-evening ordeal replete with tears and nausea.

in the three days following Brandon the Mouse's death, we fatally trapped five more mice, including one in the basement (they had been EVERYWHERE).  i think they had been staging a coup, maybe something along the lines of Animal Farm, so i felt less bad about smothering that spark before it became a fire.  i did it in the name of democracy.

i heard from the neighbor that when they harvest the corn out of the field a few blocks south of our house, the mice come in droves.  so i have started a Mouse Death bean counter on the side of the blog.  i'll update it, as i'm somewhat confident that this will not be the end of the mice this season.

apparently wild animals see our house as a beacon of welcoming light.

i've said it before: we have critters that find their way into our house, and i don't think i'll ever get used to it.  remember the gerbil-sized spider?  or the time a bat was in bed with us?  or the time we saw a mouse run across our ceiling?

well.  a few weeks back, i was in the kitchen folding laundry, and i saw movement out of the corner of my eye.  i looked over and there was a mouse busting in from the dining room, but it made it under the fridge before i could log any distinguishing characteristics (size, color, memorable tattoos).  so instead of breaking out my detective notepad in a cool, calm, and ready-for-investigation manner, i started screaming.

todd was upstairs putting the kids to bed, and took about an hour (probably around 90 real-life seconds ) to come running down the stairs.  when he found out i was screaming about a mouse, he was perturbed (read: pissed at me for scaring the crap out of him).  he pulled out the fridge, but the mouse had crawled down the hole where the waterline comes up.  yes.  the mouse was going to play it that way.

the next day i was upstairs putting away the laundry, and again, i saw a mouse busting across the floor in the bathroom, where he got under the door to the attic.  being by myself and not wanting to get rabies, i didn't even bother to see if i could trap him.  i just put on shoes so as not to walk around barefoot in our mouse-infested house and waited for todd to come home.

before he came home, YET ANOTHER MOUSE ran across the kitchen floor and hid under my stove.  this was getting to be too much and also i wondered if the health department investigates private residences. so todd set some mouse traps and asked if we were trying to catch one very mobile mouse or multiple isolated mice. since i had not documented the mouse-slash-mice's distinguishing marks or license plate numbers, i wasn't sure, so we covered all our bases. we set loaded traps under the fridge, under the stove, in the basement, and in the attic access.

we didn't have to wait long for the gratifying sound of the trap being sprung under the fridge...but unfortunately it was followed by a bunch of squeaking and some desperate scurrying sounds.  the mouse had not been killed, but merely handicapped, and now we had to figure out what the crap to do with a live-but-trapped mouse.  so todd pulled the fridge out to see what we were dealing with...and saw nothing at first.

sorry, but this story is really long (at least how i tell it), so let's do this up soap-opera style and wait for another installment of "as the mice infest."  can you handle the anticipation?  will the mouse get free?  will todd contract rabies?  will i find it in my heart to let the little guy live and perhaps adopt it into our family as a baby brother?  tune in tomorrow to find out.


wow.  i haven't been able to post on the past two fridays, so it feels good to once again sum up our goings-on over the last few weeks.  since kind of a lot of stuff has happened, this week i'll tell you about the 'lost weeks,' and next week i'll tell you about this week and next week.  make sense?  okay.  are you ready?  sweet.

we took the kids down to my parents' for old thresher's weekend.  what?! you don't know what old thresher's is?!  it's basically a weekend celebrating the antique tractor, the garage sale, and the country crafts movement.  yeah, i'm all over it.  while i'll post a full-on blog about it next week, here's a little sampling of what you missed out on:


then we took a little road trip up to my dad's to check out the church plant in his town and celebrate his birthday.  we went to steak and shake and the kids got sugared up on jello cake.  it was an awesome day all around.

penelope putting the kaibosh on any more paparazzi action regarding her steak and shake hat.
then PENELOPE POOPED IN THE POTTY for the first time on labor day.  also on labor day, i scared her so badly made such a big deal about her pooping in the potty that she waited two and a half weeks to do it again.

 finneas turned six months, and narrowly escaped strangulation.

i burned a pan of popcorn.  as in, lit it on fire.  i left it unattended for a second, started smelling smoke, and walked into the kitchen to see smoke billowing out the sides of the pan.  (our smoke detector, which goes off each and every time i even open the oven door, failed to sound.)  the result?

leave it to me.  my pan is now burnt to crap and it permanently smells like a smoker's hand.

and finally, i found the one carrot that looks like a finger that resides in every bag of baby carrots (the movie, 'bridesmaids,' anyone?)

sweet.  here's hoping next week's update is half as awesome as this week's.

what we were up to last year at this time:

i puked into my own eye.
atticus nearly threw up at burger king.  on video!

finneas at six months.

(we still don't have our photos moved over from the hard drive, so please bear with this wordy post with no photos.  just trust me that he's even cuter than he was last month.)

finneas turned six months old on the sixth.  here's what's happening with him now:

weight: 14.6 pounds (fourth percentile)
length: 26.5 pounds (42nd percentile)
wrestling moniker: finneas "the raspberry" v.v.

he is still super chill, but now really interested in pretty much anything he can get his hands (and mouth) on - he's especially fond of trying to catch people's legs as they walk by.

he is trying to figure out how to crawl, which involves a lot of face-planting while on his belly and wildly flailing his arms and legs.  he has recently figured out how to get up onto all fours, so it's only a matter of time before we have no more stationary children.  sad.

he had his first illness this month and did a decent job of powering through.

we're doing a little with baby-led weaning (AKA, Lazymom's Intro to Solids) and he LOVES all things Real-Person Food.  one day last week i skinned a pear and let him gnaw away on it.  he finished the whole thing (except the core, obviously.)  i didn't even mush it or anything, just held it in front of him for him to slowly chip away at with his little chipmunk teeth.  a couple nights ago he went nutso over split pea soup.  hoping he starts pudging out soon.

he dropped his evening nap recently, and is down to two naps a day (morning and afternoon).  he typically wakes up for the day sometime between 7:30 and 8:30 a.m. and goes down for the night between 6:30 and 7:30 p.m.  i wake him up and feed him before i go to bed, but he goes right back to sleep after that (usually).

the other morning he woke up early, i think because he's teething again, so i brought him into our bed and laid next to him.  he would doze as long as i had him cuddled against me and was holding and stroking his hand.  if i stopped stroking his hand, or if i moved away at all, he'd immediately stir.  then after a while, he scooted away from me, cuddled up next to todd's pillow, and fell asleep.  it was the sweetest. thing. ever.

todd asked me the other night if he's been my favorite baby.  clearly, i don't have a favorite baby, but this has been my favorite baby phase if i can remember correctly.  i loved the babymoon stage with atticus, but it was fraught with new-mom anxiety and confusion and overwhelmedness.  after penelope was born, i was so stressed out and not sleeping and not eating because of my postpartum depression.  this time around, i've been able to feel confident and flexible and (dare i say it?!) relaxed about the whole new-baby thing.  (or, as relaxed as one can possibly be while only getting two hours of sleep at a time and constantly covered in someone else's barf). 

can i say, without jinxing myself, that i'm sad he's growing so quickly and i kind of want the baby stage to stick around a little longer?  i realize i'm only saying that because he's now sleeping through the night and everything is coming up roses, but i'm pretty confident i mean it.  i love snuggling him and sniffing his head and blowing raspberries into his mouth to make him laugh.  desperately hoping no teenager of mine will be up for having his mom blow raspberries into his mouth.  which is why i want him to stay a baby forever and ever. 

video vednesday: MINE'S THE SUN.

what if it were made of barbecue spare ribs?  i know i would; heck, i'd have seconds.

oh, the things i never imagined i'd say.

me: what are you eating?!
penelope: a raisin.
me: DON'T eat stuff off the floor... we don't even have raisins.

friend: i'm not good at entertaining kids.
me: me neither.  just have a bunch of kids close together so they can entertain each other.  that's what i do.

(penelope starts crying in the other room)
me: if she wants comfort bad enough, she'll come find me.

me: yeah, i bet elmo's penis is red.  good observation.

does anyone else ever wonder how their life got to looking the way it does?


so...what the frack?  where have i been your whole life for the last week?

first, our internet crapped out, but not really since it was only because i was an idiot and didn't check to see if our router was plugged in.  then the internet guy plugged it in and it was smooth sailing for about four days.

then on tuesday, i had the whole day planned out and it all depended on the computer: potty training.  a whole morning of watching shaun the sheep on the laptop while waiting for a toddler to do her business.  (our normal tv is in the basement, which is not only far away from finneas during nap and probably full of radon, but also beige-carpeted, making it a less-than-ideal location for potty training.  ergo, the use of the laptop for movies.)

then about thirty minutes in, the hard drive crashed.  as in, CRASHED.  dead.  shortly thereafter, since i couldn't keep penelope on the potty anymore because there was nothing to entertain her, she pooped in her undies.  i called my friend kristy bawling.  then, while on the phone, penelope peed in her undies while walking from the dining room, to the living room, and into the entryway.  it was everywhere.

so, in potty training news, we're on hiatus.  i couldn't take it.  (kristy was super enlightening, by the way.  hey, Type A-ers, did you know you can throw in the towel on something you've already started?  that just because you started something doesn't mean you have to finish it rightnow?  who knew?!)

then on to computer news:  we had our friend travis look at it and confirm the hard drive had gone kaput.  then over the weekend my mom installed a new one and helped us move our files over (thank GOODNESS only a couple of files were lost, and most of them were sermon podcasts that were easy enough to find again online.  we did lose one photo entitled "a boot full of lotion."  i can't for the life of me remember what it was a photo of, but i'm probably better off without it.)

so then last night i sat down to blog for the week...and our internet actually was down.  which is how i found myself at mcdonald's posting this blog.  stupid.

needless to say, i'm ready to throw in the towel on technology and start wearing jumpers and bun cozies and stop wearing mascara.  do it up old school.  how would i then blog, you ask?  i'd probably handwrite all my posts and stand on the steps of city hall and read them aloud.  more work, yes, but with the care and human touch that is so lacking in this age of technology and isolationism.

and what's the worst part of all of this?  i have had so much to tell you!  we went to old threshers, atticus saw his first movie in a theater, i thought of some handy cleaning tips for the less-than-Type-A housewife, i lit a pan of popcorn on fire, etc. etc.  so hold on to your hats.  here we go!!

video vednesday: "the system is down"

This is Todd from work posting on behalf of Paige.

The minivan voorst family computer officially went from lappy to crappy.

"Unable to locate hard drive" is not a promising forecast. If it is fixable, your regularly scheduled programming will resume shortly. If it is not fixable, it may be a while before you can again enjoy the blog stylings of the minivan voorsts.

Stay tuned...

who i would marry if todd wouldn't take me.

oh, vinegar.  how i love thee.

i would like to take a moment to tell you that i am deeply and passionately in love with distilled white vinegar.  i use it to clean my stainless, disinfect my counters, clean my fruits and veggies, kill weeds, mop my floors, clean out my washing machine and dishwasher, and generally make my house smell like a vlasic factory.

i really should own stock in it, considering i go through a gallon or so per month.

here are my favorite uses:

drano: pour a bunch of baking soda down a slightly clogged drain, then pour a bunch of vinegar down.  it'll bubble up and clear out the clog.

disinfectant spray/mop solution: mix half water and half vinegar (less vinegar if mopping), add a squirt of dish soap and go to tizzown.

stainless steel polish: pour a little vinegar on a microfiber cloth and wipe stainless in direction of the 'grain.'

remove buildup in washer or dishwasher: run machine empty with a cup of vinegar poured in.

rinse-aid: fill rinse-aid compartment of dishwasher with vinegar rather than the store-bought stuff.

fruit and veggie wash: soak fruit/veggies in a bowl of 90% water, 10% vinegar for a minute or two; rinse.  bowl of water might just look disgustingly dirty after this.

weed killer: add a little salt to the disinfectant mixture above and spot-spray.

windex: again with the disinfectant mixture, but make sure the dish soap is dawn brand and add a little extra soap.  also, make sure to squeegee just because that's how windows ought to be washed.  my two cents.

chicken stock: cover chicken bones in water, add some white vinegar, let sit for 15 minutes to one hour before bringing to a boil, reducing to a simmer and leaving to simmer for up to 24 hours. the vinegar pulls the gelatin out of the bones.

deodorizer: spray directly on a stinky rug spot (animal-slash-toddler pee, spilled milk, etc.) after first having used soap and water to get the bulk of the actual yuck out.  let air dry.

strip cloth diapers: while i usually use bleach for this, i'll be trying it with vinegar soon.  run diapers on super-hot with a squirt of dawn detergent.  after that full cycle is done, run 3-4 rinse cycles with some white vinegar poured in.

pickles: is it weird to anyone else that i've never made pickles?

any other ideas for it?  you know i'm willing to try pretty much anything weird.

potty animals.

i would like to start by saying i'm sorry i didn't end up posting thursday and friday.  our shoddy internet was down.  and by 'down,' i mean unplugged from the power source, which we didn't realize until the internet guy came to our house two days later to troubleshoot, plugged it back into the wall, and left.   and here we are.

i would like to continue by updating you with penelope's potty-training news:  there is no update.  since Successful Monday, there has been no deposit made in the tot potty (the totty?).  maybe i scared her away from ever using it again with my overwhelmingly loud celebratory antics.  maybe she's simply a thrill-seeker and the newness has worn off.  or maybe she misses the feel of poop all squished up against her skin.  who knows.  whatever the case, no progress has been made.

so this week we're going to get serious:  we're going to walmart this morning to let her pick out some new undies, and we'll store a stack of towels under the coffee table and let her set up shop on the potty.  (with atticus, i just let him spend a few days sitting on the potty in the middle of the living room while watching elmo and chugging juice.  worked like a chizzarm.  hoping it will be the same this time around.)

which brings me to my last related topic:  Elmo's Potty Time movie = the awesomest.  we borrowed it from a friend when we trained atticus, and this time around we've checked it out from the library.  it's super fun - elmo rides a trike (impressive for a muppet with no regularly visible legs), discusses the bathroom habits of all his friends and immediate relatives, takes us on a rap tour of a toilet paper factory, and even revelates that, in spanish, going 'number two' is going 'numero dos.'  (not to mention that all the bathroom talk has led one of our children to ask if elmo's penis is red like the rest of his body.)

but my FAVORITE part by far is when a bunch of little kids announce what euphemisms they use to talk about peeing and pooping.  'peeing' gets a lot of 'weewee' and 'peepee' answers, which is hardly a shock, but then these two kids come on the screen are yell, 'I REALLY NEED TO URINATE!' and you're all...whut?!  what kind of inbred scientists teach their kids the actual proper (and too-long-considering-the-situation) words for that?

and while 'pooping' gets a lot of answers like, 'woowoo' and 'poopoo,' there really is no match for the scientifically accurate, relatively objective, and no-holds-barred answer of 'I REALLY NEED TO URINATE!'  however, i would like to imagine that i'm not the only parent wishing some tiny kid would come on screen and scream something like, 'I REALLY NEED TO DEFECATE!' or even, 'A MOVEMENT OF THE BOWELS IS UPON ME!'

but alas, that is the one thing i find wrong with the elmo potty time movie.  other than that, it's a boon.

and that concludes my rambly bathroom post.  BRING ON THE WEEK.

video vednesday: *something-asian captions*

bringing it back OLD SCHOOL this week.

it's hole-digging time.

i have this pipe dream that someday my yard will stop looking like a sailor's beard, all overgrown and patchy and dirty, and start looking like a yard.  you know.  a flat surface with real grass on it.  like i've heard so much about.

so i wanted these daylilies out. i had no idea it would mean digging such a huge, deep hole, then picking through the dirt by hand to retrieve 32 gallons of bulbs before putting the dirt back in. although, i'm realizing what a sorry state my shed is in now that the plants aren't there to cover up the multitude of sins rotting boards.

so anyway.  here's what we did.  i told todd to dig the daylilies out.  he agreed, but then upon starting realized what he had undertaken.  then he kept digging.  and kept digging.  and dug some more.  then i went out to help him sort the dirt and the bulbs.  then he shoveled the dirt back in.  and then, a mere six hours after starting, VIOLA!  done.

todd's battle wounds.

though you can't tell in the following picture, i put down grass seed in that dirty patch, and it is starting to grow.  it is now lush and green and makes the rest of our yard look like a 50-year-old pervert's head in comparison.  but it's a start.


anyone want any daylilies? they're orange and they're free and your yard will be ugly without 32 gallons of them. now to just coerce todd into digging out the fifty bajillion tree stumps and we'll be about 5% of the way to an actual yard.

happy labor daybor.

now that it's eleven in the morning, i figured i should finally post.  we just got back from a long weekend at my parents' and we're pretty much good for nothing.  my kids are currently eating ice cream in their underwear and i am still in my pajamas with no plans to do anything about it.

so for today's news.  though we're not potty training or anything, penelope has been acting more interested in the potty lately.  she likes to sit on it and read books, but has never actually peed or anything.  the other day she came up to me and said, 'mama, i don't have poop in my dipe...' and then a couple minutes later, 'NOW i have poop in my dipe.'  so i figured she was developing an awareness and had planned to start formal potty training next week.  (this last weekend we were away from home, and this next week is going to be super insane, so i figured we'd wait until things settled down.)

this morning she told me she wanted to poop on the potty so she could get ice cream.  i figured it was going to be like all the other times where she just sat for a while and then got bored and moved on to the next game.  so i just left her on her potty and went about my business.  a while later, todd called me in and was like, uh...she pooped!

so in case you're super interested in our bathroom goings-on, penelope has officially pooped in the potty of her own initiative.  i should have known it would happen that way; she's really independent and definitely prefers to do things when SHE decides to.

i got so excited and was squealing, and yelling CONGRATULATIONS and GOOD JOB, and telling her to call people and tell them.  all of the excitement scared her so bad she was on the verge of tears.  so i doubt it will happen again any time soon.  good going, me.