bathroom emergency at the van voorst house.

the other day the dreaded inevitable happened: i didn't realize there was no more toilet paper in the downstairs bathroom until it was too late.  i panicked, trying to figure out what i was going to do, when i realized that atticus is now big enough to run errands for me.  phew, sigh of relief.

so i'm all, atticus come in here.  (the first time ever, i might add, that i was alone in the bathroom and requested preschooler company.)  i ask him to go upstairs to the bathroom and get me more toilet paper.  so he speeds away, all proud of himself for being so necessary.

as i'm sitting there awaiting his return, i'm priding myself on the fact that, after four years of nothing but input-input-input, i am now at a parenting stage where i can expect to start reaping some benefits from this whole 'house fulla people' thing.  my kids will soon start contributing and TODAY IS THE DAY THEY WILL START!

atticus returns, knocks on the door, and brings me a single square of two-ply carefully clutched in his tiny hand.  that's not helpful.  i give up.

in which i prove i'm a moron.

photographic proof from the last couple of months:

i look like a stepford wife.  who is wearing a ratty old sweatshirt. 

i look like a stoned stepford wife who thinks penelope's present looks like a pan of delectable brownies.

i have no words.

my less flattering side.

i look very happy to be asleep.

while this one is not of my face, i will mention that this photo was taken at 5:30 pm and you can conclude what you will from that.

and because misery loves company, i'm also throwing lauren under the bus:

and just because this one really is a classic that i love to laugh at:

and this is to prove i don't always look like a moron, even though my kids apparently couldn't care less about the fact that i actually showered before this photo taken:

if you have a blog, consider this your official challenge to post some dorky pictures of yourself.  then link back so that i can laugh and laugh at you.

merry christmas!!!!

um, yes.  i'm talking about christmas today.  but like i mentioned last week, a bunch of stuff has gotten lost in the shuffle, and today is the day i bring it to light.  at least it's not february yet.

okay, christmas eve.  we spent it with my dad's side of the family and got to hang out with my amazing grandparents.  i love this photo because the kids are all, "bored. bored. MANIACAL HIGH FIVE!"

christmas morning, we opened gifts at my mom's.  the kids got new jammies and wiggled too much to get a single great photo in front of the tree, so here are a couple runners-up.

i gave penelope the used-to-look-like-a-call-girl doll, and she really liked it...

...but finneas ultimately staked his claim on her.  must be the now-understated makeup she's sporting; he likes girls that look more natural.

penelope also got a toy kitchen, and this photo sums up how she now spends 98% of her waking hours.

she also got down and dirty clean with her new sis-sized broom.

todd opened this gift, which was inexplicably covered with cigarette ashes.  still not sure what was up with that.

atticus is now fully equipped to fulfill his dream as a member of a road crew...

...although, penelope did hijack the safety goggles for her own insane purposes.

and that was our christmas!

whoa. yes, i am just now getting around to telling you about this.

todd told me the other day that i hadn't posted any pictures lately, so i opened our photo program to see what all had backlogged in there...and i realized i have not yet posted anything about christmas or our trip to south carolina.  wow.  i blame pregger brain and the fact that lately i've been running on lemon water and breath mints alone.

so, today we'll take a quick photo tour of our roadtrip to south carolina. 

it all started with atticus staring down the barrel of the puke bucket:

(luckily the bucket ultimately stayed high and dry.)

oh yeah, and then this was our experience of northeastern missouri and i was all, yeah that's about right:

then about two hours into the trip, the kids were all, 'this forty hours in a car over five days might not be all you cracked it up to be.'

and then we were tempted to go to the bat cave, but we refrained.

and then we finally got to my aunt's house, which looks like a picture out of southern living:

on the way home, the kids conked out.  notice that sisterfriend is sans shirt.  that took about .02 seconds once we got into the car.

and that's our roadtrip.

moving at a snail's pace.

this whole  'getting the house ready to sell thing' is hard.  who knew?!

first off, it's been a slowwwwww process, as it's hard to know from one day to the next how i'll be feeling and if i have any energy to do much other than lie on the couch like a turd.  second off, since i hadn't been planning on moving, i wasn't living/organizing/cleaning as though anything other than our occupational health depended on it.  and third off, have you ever tried to do anything of significance while attempting to also be responsible for kids?!  my word.  it's like they have some kind of radar for adult productivity and as soon as it starts beeping they're all like, 'thwart it! thwart it!'

so i'm feeling the need to celebrate a few small victories, just to keep myself from curling up into a ball and crying myself to sleep over my complete uselessness.  so here's what we've accomplished so far:

- cleaned out the storage room
- started to purge the basement
- took a few bed frames to goodwill (and had them rejected.  you know your stuff is in bad shape when goodwill doesn't want it.)
- bought a bed for our front bedroom that will eventually become penelope's big girl bed

short list.  but it's something.

roast a chicken like a boss.

i love roast chicken.  it's cheap, it's easy, and it feels fancy.  it's the pretty hooker of mealtime.

getting roast chicken right has been a long learning process for me.  either the skin gets all rubbery or the meat gets dried out and even though the entire meal only cost four bucks, it tastes like it cost 3.50 and was cooked by an inmate.  and that's never what you want.  so i went in search of the ultimate tutorial on the ultimate roast chicken.

enter: thomas keller, big-shot chef at some big-shot restaurant, who is also loved by martha stewart.  and if you're loved by martha stewart, you're loved by me.  (except if you're kevin sharkey; what is up with her obsession with that guy?!)  so i took him at his word and chicken has been delectable ever since.

and here's what i learned: start by making sure your chicken is REALLY dry on the surface.  blast it with a blow dryer if you must. (actually, i'm not recommending you try that; i'm just trying to get you to realize how important it is to make that chicken look and feel like a tanning bed addict's face before you cook it.)  then, if you have the time, let that thing sit out on the counter for an hour or two to dry out even further and get the juices going in the meat.  yeah, it sounds gross and the health department will probably suggest you don't do this, but screw the health department - you're about to blast any bacteria into oblivion anyway, so do this if you have the time.

salt and pepper it.  don't put any butter or oil on the skin.  believe me.  it just creates moisture while it cooks, and your skin will turn out rubbery. 

now, crazy old yokels will tell you to roast a chicken low and slow.  they are wrong.  don't  do that.  blast that sucker at 450*.  yes, i said 450*.  what that does is make the skin super crispy super quickly, and it not only makes for better-tasting skin, but the juices get sealed into the chicken.  for a standard-sized chicken (i'm thinking like four pounds, give or take), stick it in there for about fifty or sixty minutes.  take it out when a meat thermometer reads 160*-165*  in the breast.

baste it with the juices and let it sit on a cutting board for fifteen minutes.  then slice and dice that sucker and gorge yourself.

if you're still pissed about the 'no butter' rule i mentioned above, now is the time to put the butter on.  yep.  just like that.  i'm pretty sure rihanna's nonsensical lyrics to that 'shine bright like a diamond' song are about this chicken.

you're welcome.

and that's how the van voorsts do chicken.

quick prupdate.

you know, pregnancy update.  or i guess it could also mean prison update, but in this case it doesn't.  pregnancy it is.

this part of pregnancy is always a bit rough for me, so i'm taking it one day at a time.  it's been challenging trying to get stuff done on the house while simultaneously refusing to leave the couch.  the house is a disaster and it's driving me crazy.

no specific cravings yet; things will sound good for a while, but nothing stands out as being an overarching craving.  no aversions either, unless you count smells.  anything that smells like people grosses me out - skin, diapers, breath.  yuck.  my sense of smell is really heightened right now, so it's difficult sometimes to even cuddle finneas close enough to feed him since he just smells like finneas.  on the up side, the kids have been getting more baths and tooth-brushings as a result.  silver lining.

messy house, useless mom and wife, stinky kids: that about sums it up.  so nothing out of the ordinary over here.

a serious note on sarcasm.

being the queen of sarcasm (sarcasm), i have noticed that lots of people use it poorly (not sarcasm), especially in blogs.  well, maybe not especially blogs, perhaps just as much in real life, but considering that 90% of my exposure to the outside world includes blogs (not sarcasm), we'll just start there.  because i'm an expert (sarcasm).

anyway.  please take these simple rules to heart if ever you should decide to be sarcastic.  pass them along to your wanting-to-be-sarcastic-but-really-just-coming-off-looking-like-a-jerk friends.

1. the best sarcasm is passive-aggressive. 

1a. do not point your sarcasm at anyone directly.  saying things like, 'just window-shopped at christopher and banks.  moms really do know best'  is general, vague, golden.  saying things like, 'my mom is the awesomest dresser ever, believe me, so i will raid her closet and sport her jumpers like a boss' is mean.  don't drag specific people into your sarcasm.  everyone knows you're trying to use your funny to cover up your mean.

1b.  unless you know someone really well, and know they're cool with it, don't ever make your audience your punchline.  being all, 'your hair looks the. best. today,' or, 'you're soooo cool' is douchey.  if you can't be funny without throwing someone else under the bus, you can't be funny.

1c. you can break this rule when it comes to celebrities.  be as direct as you want.  maybe it's not ethical, but it's true.

2.  use your sarcasm to make yourself look stupider, not better.  being all, 'my neighbor watches me over the fence because i'm a major babe' only works if you pair it with a picture of you in your pit-stained gardening outfit.  if you actually believe you're a hottie, on any level whatsoever, don't talk about it, even sarcastically.  don't worry; it's not like people won't find out if you don't tell them yourself.  your neighbor will probably let them know.  so rest easy and shut your beautiful pie hole.

exception to this:  if you actually believe you're a loser, sarcasm is not for you either.  people get uncomfortable entering in to your own actual self-degradation.  make yourself look silly, not pathetic.

3. if you blog, be especially careful with sarcasm.  blogging is inherently 'my life is so awesome i'm positive you'll want to read about it.  listen to meeeeeeeeee.'  anything that gets you remotely close to sounding like you actually believe that is grating and an almost-instant moodkiller.  play all the barry white you want after that, but i'm not getting into heart-shaped blog bed with you.  wait...what just happened with that metaphor?  yucky.  what i meant to say is, the quickest way to turn people off is to use humor to act like you think you're a big deal.

4. sarcasm is a good tool to make fun of:

4a. yourself. 
4b. generalizations that everyone can relate to:  holidays, cultural customs, ho-bags.
4c. celebrities.

um, that's really about it.  simple, right?  to sum up, if you're trying to prove anything to anyone about how great you are, or how dumb someone else is, sarcasm is not for you.  it's not that there's no humor in the world for people like you...maybe just start small and neutral, perhaps with a good knock-knock joke or racial jab.  nope, just the knock-knock joke.  rock that knock like a boss.

*i do apologize if i've broken any of these rules.

one room down, fifty seven million to go.

i cleaned out the storage room on saturday, which is big stuff since i now frequently feel like a bag of barf and can barely rouse myself to pee.  but saturday morning found me somewhat chipper, and somewhat motivated, and somewhat normal-feeling, as though the cosmic bodies aligned simply because they thought i needed to clean (half of) my basement.  so clean it i did.

i'm not going to even attempt to describe the post-apocalyptic state in which i found the storage room.  what kind of dirtball let it get like that?!  whoever it was deserves a day at the spa; she seems a bit out of control. 

anyway, i pulled everything out, sorted it, put it back in label-maker-labeled boxes.  i knocked down cobwebs.  i scrubbed some horrifically dirty windows.  i even disposed of a couple of previously undiscovered, and very crispy, mouse carcasses from the 2012 mousaccre.  i swept.  i used seven entire magic erasers on the nasty stairs alone. (pretty sure i just destroyed 100-years of perfectly preserved foot-traffick dust.  sentimental historian i am not.)  and to top it off, i emptied four buckets of what started out as mop water and ended up looking like plaster of paris.

so i'm considering the storage room ready-to-sell.  which is only somewhat comforting since it's one room of...(let me count)...sixteen in our house.  and it's the smallest.  and i'm wanting to put our house on the market in the next 2-4 weeks.  seems daunting, but nothing a little arson can't fix.

the weekly what's up.

what was up with us this week?  i have no idea; i had my head in a toilet for most of it.  the kids apparently stayed alive, which is noteworthy.

with everything going on right now - getting the house ready to sell, cooking a person in my uterus - i'm giving myself permission to be a little spottier than usual in my blog posting.  i'm still going to try my darndest to post something most weekdays, but it might not be quite as frequent or regular as usual.  sorry about that, but we all know it's better this way.  otherwise i might end up posting stupid updates on how buffalo wild wings is significantly less tasty in reverse.  (true story.)  or how i minorly dislocated my jaw whilst barfing.  (another true story.)  and too many of those posts gets me dangerously close to being this guy.  so i'll just lay off for the next couple of weeks or so and come back my regular perky, 'the sun shines out of my butt' self.

until then, remember this time when i was pregnant with finneas and i puked into my own eye?


conquered reading in 2012.

ahh, time to read.  i feel like my life goes in seasons where i have more or less time/motivation to read, and last year i definitely spent a good deal of time reading.  here's what i got through:

1. When You Rise Up: A Covenantal Approach to Homeschooling by R.C. Sproul Jr.  (1/09)

 2. The American Way of Birth by Jessica Mitford (1/14)

3. Deliver This!  Make the Childbirth Choice That’s Right For You…No Matter What Everyone Else Thinks by Marisa Cohen (1/18) (i'll have to tell you about how this was the dumbest book but then how i dropped it in the bathtub and had to pay the library an exorbitant amount to replace a book i don't think deserves to be replaced.  growl.)

4. Hypnobirthing: The Mongan Method by Marie Mongan (1/20)
5. Natural Hospital Birth: The Best of Both Worlds by Cynthia Gabriel (1/26)

6. The Birth Partner: A Complete Guide to Childbirth for Dads, Doulas, and All Other Labor Companions by Penny Simkin (2/04)
7. Husband-Coached Childbirth: The Bradley Method of Natural Childbirth by Robert A. Bradley (2/12)

8. On Becoming Baby-Wise by Gary Ezzo and Robert Bucknam (2/23)

9. Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery (3/14)

10. The Rodale Book of Composting:  Easy Methods for Every Gardener (3/24)

11. The Help by Kathryn Stockett (3/31)

12. Death by Love: Letters from the Cross by Mark Driscoll (4/06)

13. Simple Country Wisdom: 501 Ways to Simplify Your Life by Susan Waggoner (4/10)

14. Searching for God Knows What by Donald Miller (4/10)

15. Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp (5/5)

16. The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynn Reid Banks (6/14)

17. Sidetracked Home Executives by Pam Young and Peggy Jones (6/22)

18. A Good Day’s Work: An Iowa Farm in the Great Depression by Dwight W. Hoover (7/5)

19. The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home by Jessie Wise and Susan Wise-Bauer (7/14)

20. Little Heathens: Hard Times and High Spirits on an Iowa Farm During the Great Depression by Mildred Armstrong Kalish (7/21)

21. How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents by Julia Alvarez (7/25)

22. Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder (7/29)

23. Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder (8/1)

24. Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder (8/3)

25. Real Marriage: The Truth About Sex, Intimacy, Friendship, and Life Together* by Mark and Grace Driscoll (8/6) (read this out loud with todd.)

26. On the Banks of Plum Creek by Laura Ingalls Wilder (8/8)

27. By the Shores of Silver Lake by Laura Ingalls Wilder (8/12)

28. The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder (8/13)

29. Little Town on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder (8/14)

30. These Happy Golden Years by Laura Ingalls Wilder (8/15)

31. The First Four Years by Laura Ingalls Wilder (8/15)

32. Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells

33. A Charlotte Mason Companion:  Personal Reflections on the Gentle Art of Learning by Karen Andreola (8/27)

34. The Odyssey by Homer, translated by Robert Fagles (9/14)

35. A Charlotte Mason Preschool Handbook by Karen Smith and Sonya Shafer (9/14)

36. Antigone by Sophocles, translated by David Grene (9/22)

37. Stuff Christians Like by Jonathan Acuff

38. Blog, Inc. by Joy Deangdeelert Cho (11/10)

39. Practicing Hospitality: The Joy of Serving Others by Pat Ennis and Lisa Tatlock (11/22)

40. Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God by Francis Chan (11/24)

you may remember me saying a while ago that i was working on plato's 'the republic.'  you may also notice that it is not on this list.  turns out, i am no match for it.  i spent a little time being sad, but then i was all, who was i kidding?  so read 'stuff christians like' instead and called it a day.

have you ever read any of these?  what were your thoughts?  i love talking books, so it's always fun to find people with some reads in common.

video vednesday: after the third kid, people stop congratulating you. then they just treat you like you're amish.

four! well, that's one way to live your life.

if you're not bouncing over here from facebook, here's some news you may not have yet heard: we're pregnant again! WHAT?!  pretty soon i'm going to have to look into what causes this.

we were genuinely surprised a couple of days before christmas when we took the test and it came back positive, as this is the first time we didn't pencil a kid into the agenda before it happened.  and with everything else that's going on for us right now, i do feel a little overwhelmed from time to time at the prospect of another baby coming so soon, but honestly, it's almost comical at this point how little control we apparently have over our own lives.  so it's (currently) more funny than overwhelming.

while i haven't had a doctor's appointment yet, the internet tells me that my due date is august 17 - our anniversary! - and that i'm a little over eight weeks along.  considering that we have no idea when we'll move, i'm a little unsure of how to go about getting into the routine of prenatal visits - should i start them here and then switch doctors halfway through (and how does that work with global insurance charges)?  right now, i'm thinking i'll just wait a month or two and see where we're at, and if we're still in the area, go ahead and start here.  especially since i'm not overly anxious to be hauling three kids plus my tired, grouchy, bloated preggo self to town at least once a month just so they can check my pee, ask me if i'm still taking prenatals, and send me home.  so we'll see how that all plays out.

anyway.  so there's that crazy bit of news.  is your mind blown?  mine is.

finneas at ten months.

unfortunately for us all, blogger is not allowing me to upload photos today, so i'll try to be brief.  (lengthy posts are only made more tolerable by the presence of photos.)

ten month stats:

weight: 17.0 lbs (first percentile)
height: 28.5 inches (32nd percentile)
fave wrasslin move: the lightning bolt

kid is fast and kid is hungry.  his main activity at this point involves busting over to the dining room table and filling his hamster cheeks with anything his little hands can grab in the .2 seconds before i snatch him up and mouth-sweep him.

this month, he learned to clap and say 'dada.'  i'm also somewhat confident he says 'hi,' but since it just sounds like, 'aaaaah,' i'm not positive.  he's pulling himself up on the furniture, which he seems to think makes him a man now.

we're working (again) on getting him to sleep through the night.  he was back into his old habit of waking every two hours or so and wanting to eat.  needless to say, i was done entertaining that and for about the last week or so, we have been letting him cry it out.  before now, i've been hesitant to be too strict about it, but since he's taking all his feedings from a bottle now, and i know exactly how much he's getting, i'm much less worried that he's legitimately hungry and am sure it's just habit at this point.  so i've been somewhat heartless.  but it's been a good week, and he's only waking up about once a night at this point, and once he gets himself back to sleep, he sleeps until 8:00 or 8:30.  bliss.

he finally moved into 6-9 month clothing, and although he's still only in the first percentile, he gained an entire pound last month, so i'm feeling really good about that.

he had an eye doctor appointment, and will need glasses come march when he turns a year old.  bummer, but i'm glad to catch it early, i guess.

... i think that's it.  we're still loving having him part of our family, and even though life is a bit chaotic right now, he's still just as chill and fun as ever.

PSA: neck beards = yuck.

okay, people.  now that it's january, i think it's high time to address neck beards.  and all i have to say about them is: don't.

don't get me wrong, i generally don't mind beards.  even long, mountain-manny beards are okay on motorcyclists and wrestlers.  and people in hollywood grow beards all the time in order to look like joe everymanbigbucks.  but there is one rule of beardedness that must never be broken:  SHAVE YOUR NECK.  nonnegotiable.

you don't have to do it up all metrosexual-like, where it looks like zorro sliced off the bottom of it.  but anything growing below where your gobbler would attach (if you were a turkey, obviously) needs to go.  or don't grow a beard at all.

i know i toe a hard line.  but i am an authority in this field (meaning, i have eyes).  and if that's not enough to persuade you, i'm pretty sure ryan gosling would agree with me, beardy though he may be.  if anyone wants to be contentious about this, take it up with ryan gosling.

my new year's resolution: make no new year's resolutions.

everyone and their moms are making new years resolutions and posting them on their blogs right about now.  i bet a bunch of people started blogging just so they could tell the world their resolutions.  i bet other people made resolutions about blogging their resolutions.

i, however, am not one of those people.  no; this year i'm all, 'screw resolutions.  let's let 2013 run willy-nilly through the streets.'

it is a shocker, even to me, seeing as how i am a hardcore list-keeper and goal-setter and task-accomplisher.  but you know what?  last year i set nineteen goals (yes, nineteen, but if you saw the list they really weren't that unreasonable, nor were they so vague as to be unaccomplishable.  and yes, i just made that word up).  and of those, i met the following:

1. Design family photo albums and be ready to strike like a cobra when a sweet deal on printing comes up.  (done.  in february.  i have spent the rest of my year dinking around.)

2.  Read 30 books.  (done.  and then some.  40 books, to be exact, which i'm pretty proud of.  and because i completed most of my reading while i was sitting on the couch nursing finneas, i can say that most of it did not fit in the 'dinking around' category mentioned above.)

and while i'm pretty proud of those two accomplishments, meeting two out of nineteen goals is a sorry, sorry record.  so to help myself feel better about myself come january 1, 2014, i will not be setting goals this year.  i'm just going to throw personal resolve to the wind and see where the year takes me.

i'll probably end up a listless, directionless, pathetic excuse for a human being.  with nothing to work toward, i'll most likely even end up backsliding.  but at least i won't feel guilty about it come the countdown next year.  so in the end, it'll probably feel like a win.


so, the crazy thing is that we spent the last five days traveling down to south carolina and back for my grandpa's funeral.  we just got home last night around 11:00.  the kids are exhausted, todd and i are exhausted, and other than the fact that i am very grateful our house wasn't robbed or something while we were gone, that's all i have to say today.