these are a few of my unfavorite things.

here is an update on things i am morally opposed to.

1.  hand soap that smells like coffee.

2.  bold comic sans on anything official.  or anything unofficial.

3.  rolls of toilet paper that are facing the wrong way (the flap should go over, not under, people.  were you raised in a barn?!)

4. chocolate and orange flavors together.

5.  people who call you out when you're picking your nose with your thumb.  (you're supposed to pretend you think i'm just itching the inside of my nose.)

6.  microfleece blankets.

7.  people who say 'nucular' instead of 'nuclear.'

8.  burps that smell like food.

9.  limoges eggs and, in general, any home decor made of porcelain.

10.  christmas gifts sprinkled with a heavy coating of cigarette ashes.

i like REALLY big b-tts and i cannot lie. but i can keep a secret.

we've been up to something secret.  i can't tell you what it is at this moment, but i can tell you this:  it involves a 670-square-foot sign that reads, 'hot, tasty b-tts.'*

interest piqued?  i knew it would be, you sicko.  stick around and i'll tell you about it next week.

*you would be shocked at the kind of searches that lead weirdos to my blog.  to avoid random pervert traffic via google search, i should probably stop filling my blog with inappropriate key words.  instead, i have resorted to typing in code.  crack that, pervs.

tweet this.

you may know that i don't have a twitter account.  and that, friends, is on principle.

twitter just gives people license for idiocy and narcissism, and i'm already annoyed by people who abuse their opportunity to update their facebook status with, say, news of their failing health.  call me cold-hearted, but i don't need a play-by-play of your bout with the flu or gangrene or whatever it is.  a simple, 'i caught the common cold and am now on my deathbed' is sufficient for me to learn of your ailments and offer up sympathetic prayers to the heavens.  what does NOT incite me to any remotely compassionate emotion is status updates spaced 2-3 minutes apart that go a little something like this:

*have the flu but decided to eat taco john's anyway.  suspecting this is a bad idea.

*just barfed up taco john's.

*omg, just took my temp and it's like 104.  i'm pretty sure this is not the flu.  i think i have food poisoning.  maybe i should call 911.

*no, my brother came over yesterday and he just called and he has the flu.  i bet it's just the flu.

*i'd go to sleep if it weren't for this darn flu.  now i'm soooo tirrrred.

*my stomach hurts so much from all the puking.  but god is good.

*what do you think:  i've been barfing for three hours and i can't sleep and i have chills and a fever and can't keep down even a single potato ole.  webMD says i probably have cancer.  should i go to the doctor?
insert lots of response comments consisting of webMD diagnoses and adamant "absolutely - my sister thought she had the flu but really it was a parasite and would have died if she didn't get to the doctor in time"s here.

*just made a doctor appointment.  they couldn't get me in to the regular doctor, though, and i have to see the on-call doctor.  life really sucks for me right now.  don't they know i probably have the flu and can only be comforted by my regular doctor?

*just saw the on-call doctor.  he doesn't seem as wealthy as my regular guy; his dockers were starting to wear out at the pockets, but he's not married and kind of cute.  life really sucks for me right now since i look like a barfed-up potato ole, but remember, i have the flu, so that's understandable i guess.  maybe he could see past that and just love me for me and we could get married and i would be Mrs. On-Call Doctor.

*forgot to mention:  i was officially diagnosed with the flu.  anyone want to bring chicken soup and crackers and burn down taco john's for me?  pretty pleeeease?

*my flu seems to be letting up, but now i'm experiencing some joint pain in my shoulder.  but at least i don't have a fever, and god is good, right?  (insert bible verse about enduring shoulder pain.)

*wow, my shoulder really hurts.

at this point, i'm all like, i bet a punch to the face would take your mind off your joint pain.

so, anyway, back to twitter.

now, i've never even been to the twitter site (it is a website, right?) to see if my suspicions are valid, but it's mainly because i don't need to.  i'm guessing that 60% of people who have twitter use it to offer up-to-the-minute doppler on their bathroom habits, favorite foods, and the crazy antics of their pets.  and you know what?  i don't need that kind of crap in my life right now.  or ever.  so no twitter it is.

mry crizzmizz, foo.

merry christmas from the van vizzorsts, yizz'all.  wishing you many stockings full of solid gold grillz.  we all know that's what you asked for.

merry christmas for when you're sad.

i prayed that god would sanctify me.

i know that's a scary thing to pray, and it's not something that i usually have the cajones to ask for, but i just got to a point where i was all, i don't even care what it costs, god.  all i want is to be truly, deeply in love with you.  all i want is to be like you.  all i want is to bring you enjoyment and glory and happiness.  all i want is you.  so i prayed for it.

and lately, on the heels of that, i've found myself completely overwhelmed by everything going on in our world: the loss of family members, traveling across the state and then across the country for funerals, selling our house, finding todd a new job, leaving our friends and our church and my sister and the only community our marriage has ever lived in, and other things that i haven't even told you about yet.  and all of it during christmas.

and i think about how bittersweet this season has been for us: it has been an advent of truly focusing on the coming christ-child, and waiting for the amazing day when he comes back for us.  it has been an advent of very little talk of presents, and much talk of jesus.  but it has also been a season of great confusion and loss and fear.  and i tell god that this isn't how i thought it would go, and it's not how i thought he would answer my prayer.

but he reminds me that there is plenty of room in the christmas season for confusion and loss.  when mary was told she'd have the son of god, i'm sure she didn't imagine it would involve birthing him in a glorified latrine and later watching his murder.  christmas is bittersweet because the gospel is bittersweet: life can only come through death.

when that baby was born, he was born to die.  god the father sent us his son,  knowing that he would suffer great loss because of our depravity.  oh, there is so much joy in the gospel, that our god paid the exorbitant price for our sin so that we wouldn't have to; that god himself earned our righteousness for us and we are holy in the eyes of our god; that the only one powerful enough to conquer death was also loving enough to actually do it.

but there's sorrow and mourning at our wretchedness, that we reject the god who does this, that jesus went through all he did because he was taking on the death that we had earned for ourselves.  he didn't deserve that.   we did.

and i'm comforted this christmas season, knowing that feeling sad or confused or lost doesn't detract from the true spirit of christmas, but that it turns me toward the god who suffered great loss so that i could gain everything.

'what's up,' bi-weekly ed.

okay.  as you may have been able to tell, this has been a crazy couple of weeks for us.  so crazy, in fact, i didn't post an update last friday.  so this post will involve two weeks.  are you ready?

the kids and i made cinnamon applesauce ornaments, which the kids loved.  they've been carrying them around since, sniffing them.  i even caught penelope eating one the other day. 

the kids hung their ornaments on the tree, which went more smoothly than last year since a) they're older, and b) i spent all of naptime sorting them into piles by owner, and pre-hooking each of them.  no frantic attempts to get hooks on them quicker than our coked-out kids this year.  other than the fact that the very first ornament penelope tried to hang ended up shattered on the floor, it all went well.

we traveled up to northwest iowa for todd's brother's funeral.

we announced that we're moving.

i've been frantically trying to get the house in order to put on the market next month.  i've spent the last week and half scraping wallpaper glue off our bedroom walls so that i can paint them and they can stop looking like this.  then we will have some hope of actually selling our house to anyone other than the directors of SAW.  please don't judge me for how long it has taken me to get around to this, or for the fact that i'm only doing it to sell the house and would have otherwise lived with it for an indeterminate amount of time.

on sunday, we moved finneas to a bottle.  he'd started biting, and his diapers hadn't been as wet, so i suspected he was getting too little to eat.  so i've been adding a few teaspoons of coconut oil to each of his bottles, and not only has he seemed happier, but he's starting to fill out and even go longer stretches through the night.  the only sad part was that, with everything else going on, i didn't even think about the fact that we're done nursing.  that's really sad in and of itself, and it's even sadder that i didn't take any time to grieve it.  but we're both doing well with the transition, so that's good.

monday night, we had made dinner plans with friends whose daughter ended up getting sick, so since i had not planned on cooking, i just popped a huge bowl of popcorn and set out apples and chocolate chips and walnuts and we all ate on the couch and watched elf.  it was magical.

tuesday night, my grandfather passed away.

wednesday night, in celebration of the first big snow of the year, we went out to eat and then drove around looking at the christmas lights.  while at the restaurant, the assistant manager took a liking to our kids and bought them each a little treasure out of the toy vending machines.  atticus ended up with a holographic sticker with the image of a racecar being protected by a guardian angel dragon.  penelope got this:

a bit unnerving, all things considered, but the guy couldn't control which toy came out of the machine, and it was a sweet gesture. 

yesterday, todd's office was closed due to weather, so we stayed at home and played in the snow.

which quickly devolved into this:

so we bribed everyone with some hot chocolate (or, hot candy, as penelope calls it) so they'd come in and stop crying.  atticus only cried harder once inside.  i'm not sure why. 

and those were our crazy weeks.  how are you guys doing with christmas coming up so quickly?

in memory.

my grandpa passed away, somewhat suddenly, on tuesday night.  it's been a rough couple of days.

he came out from south carolina last summer to help us get settled into our current house.  it was the first time he had met the kids, and penelope stole his heart, which is why every.single.picture we have of him from that week also includes her.  she probably could have asked him for a fully-funded college education and he would've been all, sure no probz.  now that i think about it, i wonder why she didn't...

that visit is probably among my favorite memories of him.  that, and this one time that he was visiting us at my mom's, and i had recently become a christian.  he went to drive our car for some reason, and i had some crazy christian music cd BLARING and about gave him a heart attack when he turned the ignition.  he came bolting into the house, asked me to please turn the radio down so he could get in and actually drive, and then he paid me ten bucks for being a christian and told me not to tell lauren.  (about the cash, not the conversion.)  i still laugh out loud about that.

so, here's some news.

if you haven't already heard, we're moving.

like, away.

long story short, about two weeks ago we were asked by paul sabino to help him plant a church in cedar falls.  a week ago, we said yes.  (actually, now that i relay it, i see it was a pretty short story to begin with.)

so, we'll be moving to cedar falls.  i don't know when.  we're hoping to get our house on the market sometime in january, and todd is looking for something to do once we get there - although stay-at-home dadding has become a fad, somebody has to man up and bring home the bacon or we will all starve to death.  so to avoid that, he's looking for a job.

and what do i think of all this?  i have days where i'm really excited to go.  i have other days where i'm totally overwhelmed by the to-do list and tasks to be accomplished in order to get there.  (and believe me, the list is loooong and giving yourself four weeks to get the house sellable when you also have three kids to keep alive is surprisingly difficult.)  and i have yet other days where i grieve the loss of the family we've become a part of here. 

not to mention, i finally have my grocery routine worked out:  i have an egg guy and a honey guy and a grocery order drop-off once a month and i know when our co-op runs deals and i know at which stores everything will be cheapest.  i love that 80-year-old Junior always carries my groceries out at fareway.  i ask the aldi guy how his wife and four sons are doing.  AND WHAT IF CF DOESN'T HAVE AN ALDI?!  oh, i don't even want to consider that possibility; it makes me want to hurl.  yes, hurl.

anyway, yeah.  we had planned to stay here.  we bought a beautiful, 'forever' home that we're going to have to leave behind.  we had committed to co-lead a connection group this spring, and we're leaving our other co-leader to fend for himself.  my sister lives here and i have a hard time imagining living without her.  we have great friends.  we love our church.  i will cry when i have to break the news to my 90-year-old widow-lady neighbor.  there's a lot about this move that is going to bite the big one.

but there's also this feeling of peace that we're doing what god would have us do.  it's the right decision for us, and we both know it deeply.  it costs us something, but we know that obedience in following god is always worth the cost.

i'll probably talk about the move more and more in the coming weeks/months, but that's all i'm able to say for now.  it's a pretty emotional thing, and it's still quite new, and i'm working on wrapping my head around it.  but if you have any questions, i'd be happy to answer them.

in the meantime, anyone have any leads on a job?  anyone have some well-intentioned and wealthy distant relative that has been waiting for a good opportunity to shower cash on total strangers?  anyone?

only a year in the making.

last december, i was in major nesting mode before finneas came.  as in, i was meltingdown that the color of nearly every.single.wall. in our house was Smoker Teeth Yellow.  (because we all know that babies can't stand that color.)  that everything, as a result, looked brownbrownbrown and i HATE brown.  (except our bathroom, i guess.)  that we didn't even have a crib for finneas to sleep in, since the other two kids were both still sleeping in cribs.  (this is how we solved that.)  that we didn't have a nursery because the kids' cribs were in what was to become the nursery.

in order to support me and also shut me up, todd offered to help me paint one of our front upstairs bedrooms in preparation for the big kids to move in there so finneas could have the nursery.  finally, a year later, it is more than just painted and is basically complete.  considering that only the kitchen and downstairs bathroom are also 'finished' in my mind, that's a big accomplishment.

here's what it looked like last december 21st (so almost a year exactly):

yikes, right?! and here's what it looks like now:



and this dresser...: looks like this:

it's hard to see, but i wrapped the knobs in jute.

i was so desperate to get the room finished, i just dug around the house for stuff to put on top of the dresser, and came up with frames full of scrapbook paper and a cut-out children's book illustration.  don't tell the kids that Fish Is Fish is no longer.  so...Fish Isn't Fish, i guess.  but i got the book for twelve cents at a garage sale, so maybe i'll spring for a full-priced copy someday if my conscience gets the better of me.  (who am i kidding?  i'll never personally pay full price for a kids' book.) 

my mother-in-law's uncle made that little ship in the bottle.

lauren made these prints for the kids for christmas last year, and this bowl is the one made infamous in this post.  clearly, i freaked out over nothing since you can't even tell it's broken.

anyway.  it feels good to have it done, although the timing is ironic (and a little depressing), which i'll tell you about tomorrow.

todd's brother passed away from cancer yesterday morning.  it will be quiet on the blog for the next few days, but i'll be back next week.

video vednesday: i say, jesus, why you look like a shark?

(if you're totally lost on why this is funny, here's a brief background.)

i think the problem is, you don't even see things the same.

finneas at nine months.

finn turned nine months last week.  he is now fully gestated twice over.


length: 28 inches (33rd percentile)
weight: 16.0 pounds (first percentile)

still tiny.  i admit i weighed him three different days, hoping to see some growth.  the first two days, he still weighed 15.6 lb, which is what he's weighed for a while.  then the third time, he weighed 16 pounds, so we're going with that.  cheating?  maybe a little.  but he's still in 3-6 month clothes, so i need a little encouragement that he's growing.  but i'm hoping soon (as in, sometime before christmas maybe) he'll move up to the next size, since he's gained a bunch of length (1.5 inches over the last month!).

what is there to say about him?  he's precious.  he loves waving and smiling, and has said 'mama' a few times.  he's all-out crawling, and likes sitting up on his knees to play.  he loves playing with the big kids' toys, and the big kids hate it when he does.  he got his eighth tooth this month.

he's in a bit of a clingy stage right now, where he just wants to be held whenever he's awake, which is a bit challenging, but also sweet in some ways.  there's a little part of my heart that melts when he just crawls laps around the island, whining, trying to keep up with me as i'm cooking.  (but the part of my heart that hates tripping over kids and listening to whining stays hard as stone and cold as ice.)

he's in that stage where he gets up to sitting in the middle of the night, but can't figure out how to lay back down, so then he just cries until he conks out or someone comes to help him.  we'll probably have to lower his mattress soon so he doesn't learn how to vault over the side in the middle of the night.

he no longer spits up very often.  (he's been a really spitty baby.)

he has figured out that the rug under the dining room is a veritable feast of crusty pretzel bits, dried cheese, and old almonds.  whenever he stops whining because he's not being held, i know it's because he's found something only barely edible and i should come mouth-sweep him.

nursing is still going well, and i'm praying that i can make it a full year for the first time.

he loves music, and gets really quiet to hear people singing.  after a while, he'll start singing along.

he is by far my cuddliest baby, and will even still immediately lay his head on my shoulder and start sucking his fingers whenever his bed is in sight.

he's almost sleeping through the night again.  after a couple months of feeding him two or three times a night, we finally let him cry it out for a couple of nights, and now most nights he'll sleep until 7:30 or 8:00 in the morning after taking a 10 pm feeding.

we took him to the eye doctor the other day because we've noticed his left eye turning in the way the other kids' have done.  he will need to get glasses in march, if not before then if his eye-turn gets worse.  we apparently produce children with very large, very beautiful, and very ineffective eyes.

i love this precious one, and would be perfectly happy to have as much of him as possible to snuggle. (meaning, if he decides to bulk up at any point, i'd be okay with it.)

it wasn't official until we partied it out.

like i mentioned last week, atticus' birthday was on wednesday, so on saturday, we had a party for him.  we began the morning by baking his cake, which the kids really enjoyed.  mostly for this reason: 

the end product: 

the party had a loose construction theme (meaning, this was the cake, the kids wore construction hats, and we used caution tape instead of streamers.  and that's the extent to which paige van voorst throws theme parties.)

the idea for the cake was todd's; the execution was mine.

just like penelope had a special chair to sit in at her birthday party, we also rigged one for atticus (and a bilingual one at that).

we got some hand-me-down toy tools from his cousin, so we just purchased a vintage toy tool box off of etsy and put the tools inside.

penelope did a great job of waiting her turn to open a few gifts of her own.

after opening gifts, we ordered pizza and then did cake and ice cream.  the cake was a hit.

and that was the celebration for atticus' fourth birthday.  i forgot to take down the streamers and balloons overnight, and yesterday when he realized everything was still decorated, he was all, why is my birthday still here? it was a little sad to have to break the news to him that it was simply laziness on my part and it was, anticlimactically, just a regular sunday.

(go here to see atticus' first birthday, second birthday, and third birthday.)

weekly 'what's up.'

i'm noticing that as the weather gets colder and, resultingly, we're doing less, these friday posts are getting more and more boring.  lo siento, but that's how it goes.  i'll try to spice this one up.

over the weekend, my mom took the big kids, and todd, finneas and i went up to visit todd's parents and his brother, who is battling cancer and is in our prayers.  it was a sweet time of getting to know him better, reminiscing and praying for him.

this week i've gotten to spend a lot of time with friends, which means the kids have gotten to spend a lot of time with friends, which means we've spent a lot of time calming meltdowns and explaining that our toys are given to us by god for us to enjoy and to share with others.  a simultaneously good and hard week (but isn't that how most weeks are?).

atticus' birthday was on wednesday.  while we'll have a small family party tomorrow as our main celebration, i did let him pick out our meals for wednesday.  we started the day with cinnamon rolls, which means by lunchtime we were all experiencing a major sugar crash.  great weeping and gnashing of teeth ensued.  and that's the last time i'm letting a preschooler make defining nutritional choices in our house.

atticus had a few four-year-old photos taken:

and then penelope got in on the action:

i had planned to share with you my recipe for make-ahead baked oatmeal, which the kids love, so i wanted to take some photos of it.  (because who doesn't love a good food photo with a recipe?)  unfortunately, i forgot to take the photo before the kids demolished it, and it ended up looking like half-eaten-barf-in-a-pan-with-a-spoon. 


(but, in the case that i do end up sharing my recipe, i promise it tastes way better than half-eaten-barf-in-a-pan-with-a-spoon, and that coming from someone who typically hates oatmeal with the fury of a thousand red-hot suns.  it's good enough to make me a convert, so that means it's good.)

and last but not least, finneas turned nine months old yesterday.  he is 282 days old.  my pregnancy was 283 days long.  he is pretty close to having lived longer outside myself than inside.  it's crazy that he has to be so big before he reaches that milestone!  but here we are, with a twice-gestated (or something) human on our hands.  i'll post pictures and stats next week.

so that was our week.  any plans for the weekend?

(and happy birthday to kristy, who has an atticus of her own and reads books and is therefore very dear to my heart.)

video vednesday: atticus gets born.

happy birthday to my sweet boy atticus!  i can't believe it's been four years since this day:

stuffing my kids' stockings with prostitute look-a-likes. (hook-a-likes?)

before i knew we were on a limited budget for christmas, i saw this doll in the land of nod catalog:

i was all, that is the cutest thing ever but it is $129.  choke.  who would spend $129 on a doll for their kid?!  (the 90-year-old neighbor asked if it was made out of gold.)  then we decided to make cheapo gifts for the kids this year, and i figured i'd try to finagle it myself.

as you can see, i didn't have any mustard-colored felt for her mouth, so instead of looking 'cute, primitive, and artsy,' my version of the doll looks 'saucy, promiscuous and owing half her earnings to a pimp.'

though i did try to justify giving my two-year-old daughter a 'My Little Ho-bag' doll for christmas so i wouldn't have to redo anything, my common sense and fear of what other people would (rightfully) assume about my mothering have since convinced me to change out her mouth.  i like the color, but the stitching is wonky and i'll have to change it again.  at least her hair doesn't look like a wigger hat anymore.

so, she's still not done, and i'll show you pictures of the finished product someday...maybe...but at least for now she doesn't look like a geisha and she was 100% free, which were the two criteria i was aiming to meet, so i consider this crafting effort owned.

eight hundred: it's like the movie 300 with like 500 more guys.

this is my 800th blog post. why have you people tolerated me for 800 blog posts? i judge you a little, to be honest, because i'm a moron but you keep reading.

(actually, no, that's not true. well, it is true that i'm a moron, but it's not true that i judge you. i love you and adore you and will bake you a pie if you don't leave me.)

anyway. that's crazy. that means that next year sometime i will cross the 'one thousand posts' mark and i'm already thinking up some kind of awesome giveaway.  if you have any ideas for what i should give away, shoot me an email. right now i'm thinking about some kind of large, smoked meat.  we all know you'd enter that giveaway.

anyway, i'm not going to let the impending large-scale blog milestone steal my joy from today.  today, in celebration of eight hundred posts, i give myself (and you too!) free rein to make fun of anything and everything i (you) feel like.  you know, in the spirit of 'the minivan voorsts.'  i think i personally am going to start with josh groban. 

also, in honor of the big eight-oh-oh (say that like ke$ha would say it and you've got yourself a hit and probably a communicable disease), i'm going to 'fess up to something: i have big plans for the blog in the new year.  like, a header with more than just boring text.  and some color!!  and maybe a photo of me on the sidebar in which i'm throwing the wink and the gun.  maybe not that last part, i haven't decided.  but you all have been so sweet to come here almost everyday, and say nice things to me, and not report me to dhs, that i figured i should make it a little more interesting once you get here.

so sometime in january, put on your wizard of oz sunglasses, we're about to go technicolor!