you're about to vicariously experience pure, unadulterated joy.


this week has been weird, i'm not going to lie.  todd spent friday and saturday at an elders' retreat, so i was flying solo with the kids.  we all ended up living through it, but not without much gnashing of teeth.

saturday night, finneas came down with some kind of barf-and-fever virus, though he ended up in relatively high spirits throughout the day, all things considered.

(he spent plenty of time sucking on his fingers and cuddling his blankie)

this one is still wonderful (and four weeks old as of yesterday!), and this week included multiple six-hour sleeping stretches at night!  as a result, i'm feeling as fresh as morning dew.

the thing that's taking the most adjusting to: all the kids needing to be in a constant four-foot-radius of yours truly.  considering i spend a significant amount of time on the couch nursing, rocking, reading board books, etc, our life has come to look like this most of the time:

(you will notice the couch holds nearly the whole family, a change of clothes for me, wipes, a dirty diaper that hasn't gotten trashed yet, books, and extra sleeping accoutrements, as well as children in various stages of undress.  we should be set for pretty much anything that befalls us.)

and that is (literally) what our week looked like.  how was yours?

video vednesday: hey, s'me. trale. lewous. skittles is...hrrrrrr...checka this out.

i wish my life included this dance every. day.

(for the original hilarious trale lewous commercials, check out this past video vednesday post.  you won't be sorry you did.)

what you don't need for a newborn. i'm telling you, don't register for it.

hey, new moms. just to save you the money and the regret that comes from buying all the stuff those stupid registry lists say you need but that you really don't.  (repost from here.)

i thought i'd put together a list of things the registries act like you can't live without but you really can (and arguably should).

1. specialized diaper pail or system. your house will smell like baby crap no matter what you do or how much money you spend on something gimmicky. keep your outside dumpster close to the door and toss dirty diapers there, or just get a normal cheapie lidded trash can and empty it regularly.

2. cutie patootie slings. get the mammoth, ergonomically-designed kind. anything flimsy or one-shouldered will only get used occasionally and for short spurts at a time. migraines will abound. my personal recommendation is the moby wrap, although it is a bit awkward to put on and take off but boy howdie is it comfy. (when you put your baby in it, it's like you've got a 10-pound cloud strapped to you. it's still 10 pounds, but something ought to be said for the fact that it's a cloud.)

3. full-on outfits for really new babies. they sleep like 20 hours a day at first, so the closer an outfit resembles pajamas, the more likely you are to use it. and covet it for yourself.

4. expensive baby detergents and stain removers. this one might be a bit more controversial, since i know some babies have really sensitive skin and some detergents are especially harsh (anything with live enzymes in it, like tide, might cause more problems). but i would say more than anything it's fabric softeners and dryer sheets that are irritating to sensitive skin, and just avoiding these and using your normal detergent is way more economical. plus then you don't have to wash baby clothes separately from the rest of the family's, saving on water usage. basic baby hygeine on a budget? boom, roasted.

5. baby toys. maybe a couple to hang from the carseat. but i swear they'll ignore it for the first six months and after that they'll only want to chew on your tupperware instead, so why bother?

6. a special bathtub. while convenient, it's unnecessary if you keep your kitchen sink clean. i'm thinking about getting rid of our baby tub, but i'll make that call after i see whether or not the convenience factor is worth keeping it around.  (update: haven't missed it for the newborn stage, but haven't made the call for the bigger-infant stages yet.)

7. tons of noisy and/or bulky 'holding' devices. yes, you definitely need a couple. probably a swing or bouncy seat, an exersaucery-thing and a bumbo. but i promise you will not need an exersaucer, a johnny jump-up, a jumparoo and a walker. pick one and pocket the cash and the extra storage space that the other ones would suck up. i would recommend getting something that's easily moved from place to place and not too bulky to be centrally located in your most-used rooms. my kids have all LOVED the bouncy seat that my friend jamie picked up for me on the side of the road by someone's trash can. babies aren't real housewives. they're happy to use whatever works even if you found it in a dumpster. (or on craigslist, which is another great option as long as you don't get yourself raped, pillaged or murdered when you go to pick it up. craigslist is getting scary.)

8. most things labeled 'baby einstein' or 'genius infant' or 'teach your baby to sign in binary.' i really believe that the things babies need to know and are capable of learning, they're equipped to receive without fancy or expensive stuff. they like faces. they like being talked to and held. they like looking at random stuff. mostly, babies are equipped to like stuff that is FREE. which means New Baby and i have a lot in common.

9. those weird, puffy crib quilts. they're really cute, but no one ever puts them to use because they don't seem warm and they are quite likely to suffocate a child to death. both valid reasons to not invest tons of money in one, in my opinion.

10. specialty dishwasher attachments for bottley things. i never put my bottles/accessories in the dishwasher because i was always afraid that the water spots on them were old, dried milk. yuck. plus, if you only have a couple of bottles or if you don't run your dishwasher every day (both true at our house) you're probably going to need to reuse a bottle before the dishwasher could get it clean anyway. buy a two-dollar bottle brush and rinse everything well and you should be set.

11. those weird head-to-toe snowsuit things. newsflash: babies do not play in the snow. and in the 3.2 seconds it takes to get them from the door to the car, most can be effectively bundled with a hat and a warm blanket or two over the top of the carseat. or gimmickier, but quite effective, a bundle me.

12. specialty bath toys. a cup, some tupperware, a spoon. maybe some dish soap bubbles when they're older. and done.

13. baby powder. i do not know anyone who uses this. i don't even know what it's for. i would also lump in large jars of petroleum jelly in here. not sure what it's used for other than lubing up rectal thermometers and about a week's worth of circumcision care, and in either case it's very concerning if you need such a large jar of it.

14. half the weird stuff that comes in a baby grooming kit. you will get a cheapo but very effective baby hairbrush at the hospital. ditto for a nose sucker thing. and any time your baby needs a medicine dropper, it will come with the medication. and what anyone uses tweezers or tiny scissors for on a baby, i don't know. why spend the extra money on this stuff? the major exception is baby nail clippers - NECESSARY. and how. get the kind that are normal-hand-sized with a tiny clipper on the end (ours have big bulbous handle things), not the kind where the whole clipper is tiny and you can't see what the crap you're doing. you will bloody your kid's hands faster than something really fast.

15. wipes warmer. your kid will just be thankful (or should be) that you're not making them crawl around in their own crap all day. cold wipes teach character and gratitude, that's what i say. (plus wipes warmers just remind me of whatever adam sandler movie it is where they give him a hot towel on the plane and he doesn't know what to do with it so he just wipes his face and puts it back in the bowl.)

16. baby bath robe. i can't even imagine when a baby would wear one of these if you have a hooded towel and, you know, clothing for him. except for in the evening when he's also wearing a fedora and smoking a cigar while reading an antique, leather-bound copy of milton. so maybe consider investing in one if your baby prefers to spend his leisure time thusly. otherwise, un.necessary.

17. specialty make-your-own-baby-food-at-home gear. do you have a blender or food processor and some ice cube trays? you're set. or do what i do and skip the baby food phase altogether and just mush some normal-people dinner up after a while.

anything else that should make the list? anything on here that you've actually gotten a lot of use out of?

yes, i'm just now showing you photos of this.

i realize laurelai's first bath happened like three weeks ago (wow, has it really been that long?!), but the process is still the same now as it was then, though she's less fresh-and-swollen looking at this point.  and who doesn't love looking at photos of newborns?  thus, i bring you: Laurelai's First Bath.

i bathe her in the sink, in an enamelware bowl that my 75-year-old father-in-law nostalgically calls 'the piss pot.'  i'll probably bathe her in the sink for a good long while, since our single bathroom is ITSY BITSY and there's no room to keep a baby tub in there.  hence, piss-pot-bath-time.  i can't complain; it's way easier to lean over the sink than the tub, so i actually bathe her as regularly as i should (as opposed to the other smelly monsters running around these parts).

(check out that paint swatch on the wall.  talk about hot stuff.  i'm SO EXCITED to paint the kitchen!)

the other up-side of bathing her in the sink is that i just use that little sprayer to rinse out her hair. 

(it's so crazy how different she looks already! you don't realize when they're fresh out of the oven how swollen they are for the first few days.)

i can't describe how much i love the photo above.  not even sure why.  i just do.


what's update.

i survived my first week at home with all the kids by myself.  not going to lie, it wasn't entirely pleasant.  but we did have a few decent days and, as long as i didn't expect to get anything done or do anything well that did get done, things went smoothly, all things considered.

our major milestones this week:

this kid has conquered the first three weeks of life, which she clearly feels pretty good about.

the big kids figured out how to make todd into a living bunk bed.  i think it's some kind of modern art.

and this one has run full-force into his terrible twos...a full six months early.  fantastic timing.  we've had plenty of all-out tantrums this week and, if i'm entirely honest with you, i'm over it.  he could knock it off any time now and i'd be fine with it.



and just to prove he's not always a major grump (and less afraid of being up in that tree without a spotter than he was afraid of standing on the chair)...


video vednesday: you can trust me.

and here you thought you were being all enigmatic, but they're onto you.

thwr: it's time to supersize your tuesday.

wow, it's been a long time since i've written a 'that's how we roll' post, but lo, today is the day to break that sad cycle.  this post brought to you courtesy of mcdonald's.

todd: you should make chicken stock out of 'mighty wings' bones.  i bet people would pinterest that.


penelope (rubbing barbecue sauce all over her mouth): i'm putting on lipstick!

atticus (copying, by rubbing sweet and sour sauce all over his mouth): me too!

todd: no, atticus, sweet and sour sauce is lip gloss.  only barbecue sauce is lipstick.


penelope: how do they get the chicken in the chicken nuggets?


todd: you guys sure are affectionate on mcdonald's night.

me: it's probably all those crazy endorphins your brain releases when you eat mcdonald's.

todd:  you mean McDorphins.


and that's how we roll.

repost: why i deserve to have my ideas within the walls of a museum someday.

(repost from my newborn days with finneas.  still seems entirely fitting.)

everybody says davinci was a genius because he invented the scissors. and also because of a lot of the other genuis-y stuff he managed to do. but i read somewhere legitimate that he only slept like two hours at a time.

and it really makes me think that, as a mother of a newborn, i'm probably just as brilliant as davinci simply because 'brilliant' is often interchangeable with 'crazy,' and if this is how much sleep davinci got on a regular basis, i'm pretty sure he was just crazy sometimes. at my current level of sleep, i could totally see myself saying things like, 'next time we go to war, let's build a giant spoon on wheels and hurl stuff at the infidels with it. plan of attack: owned,' and 'okay, so see these two knives? let's tie them together so we get the cutting power of two knives with the physical exertion of one knife. what should we call it? sizzers. no, wait. scissors. but it will be pronounced the same. i just really like the look of the letter c but the 'kk'-sound can kiss my butt.'

also, i'm pretty sure i could paint the mona lisa. but maybe that's just because i have an unfoundedly high level of self assurance.

weekly harrumph.

before you even ask, i can tell you what we didn't do this week: sleep much.

like i said yesterday, the big kids are gone.  the littlest kid is definitely here and proud to make her presence known.  especially in the wee hours of the darktime.  especially for hours on end in the wee hours of the darktime.  blehhhh.  complaints, complaints.

oh well.  here's what we (meaning i) DID do:

. watch 10 Things I Hate About You and Empire Records.  both classic 90's teen movies, and both of which are incredible.  i feel like i may have been born 5-10 years too late - the teenage me belonged in the nineties.  too bad i was barely 13 when the nineties went kaput (a mere nine years old when Empire came out).  so i'm reliving them now that i'm old enough to appreciate them.  up next on the list: Clueless.  or Empire again.  that movie and i were MFEO.

. get pooped on.  multiple times.  (girlfriend likes to let it go al fresco, if you know what i mean.  her timing is impeccable.)

. snuggled my smells-like-delectable-baby-wash kiddo, uninterrupted, for what seems ages and ages.  it was wonderful.  mostly.

.  primed the window frames in the kids' room.  i was delusional enough to think that, if we had a smooth week, i could get the kids' room painted while they're gone.  after two coats of primer on the trim, i gave up.  not worth the failed effort and resulting stress and shame.  their room is still ramshackle and torn apart.

. weakly tried to drum up a tiny bit of effort on the 'year of the womanly arts' front.  not really for any reason other than i saw a photo of myself and realized how yucky my pearly-yellows have started looking since i've been fueling myself with coffee as much as i have.  i started adding baking soda to my toothpaste as i brush, and rinsing with peroxide.  four days in, i'm not sure it has made much difference on the color front, but my teeth do consistently feel much cleaner.  less gritty-and-simultaneously-slimy.  and what's more feminine than getting rid of mouth slime?  very little, that's what.

it was really a week of much sitting, much blog reading, much cuddling, many attempts to suppress the anxiety that comes with being forced into what seems like nonproductivity.  it was a week of little sleep, less cooking, and no appointments/plans.  it was good for me.  it was needed.  it was really, really hard.  and it makes me nervous to start next week, during which i will have all the kids, all day, all by myself.  yikes.

weird week.

man, you guys. i would so love to write some kind of awesome blog post for you today, but i just don't have it in me.  all my big kids are at my mom's, so i'm missing them and feeling wonky.  and laurelai's going through that weird metamorphosis that all two-week-olds seem to go through, where they want to eat all the time, and they stop sleeping during the day and start wanting to be held all the time, and then they get bored of being awake so they want to nurse for no real reason, and then they get a tummy ache from eating too much when they're not hungry, and then they cry because their tummy hurts and they want to nurse for comfort...and on and on.  you know the drill.

why is it that no baby book ever mentions this?  it has happened with all four of my kids.  from week two through week six, it's like they mutate for a while.  am i the only one who has noticed this pattern?  they're awake all night, they're awake all day, and the whole stage makes you want to die a little. and cry a lot.

i remember back when atticus was a newborn, some (apparently sadistic) older mom of four told me that if he wasn't sleeping, it was because i hadn't done a good job of teaching him how to sleep.  so at her direction, i found myself sitting on the couch for HOURS during the day, with all the blinds closed and the lights off and the TV off, trying to teach my three-week-old to sleep and feeling like a failure.  what?!  i don't know which is more depressing: that whole phase of life, or facing the reality that newborns sleep how and when they want, which is rarely when you want them to and always out of your control, which is where i find myself now.

and all this newborn drama has ALWAYS made me wonder how humanity perpetuates itself. why the newborn days are like this i'll never know, other than, i suspect, to make us all stand a little more in awe that any of us survived babyhood. or will (hopefully) survive motherhood.

and as an aside, if one more baby advice column spouts this garbage about 'sleeping when the baby sleeps,' i will probably do something rash.  newsflash, BabyCenter: babies only sleep for like an hour at a time, and only newborns and serial killers end up being able to function like normal on a 24-hour cycle of hour-long naps.  the rest of us are just having to deal with suddenly living with the mental capacity of a newborn or a psychopath.

candeo's first official service.

yesterday was the first official service of candeo, the church we're helping to plant here in the cedar valley.  it was so surreal - everything we have been working for and looking forward to since december finally happened! not to say that we haven't had tons of awesome experiences in the meantime, with house church and connection group and church in the park, but we're here now.  we're a church with an official presence in the community. and that's so exciting.

we sold our house for this.  todd went through a job search and started all over at a new job for this.  we moved our family away from our friends and our awesome church back home.  we spent entirely too long hunting for a house, then we waited to close on it.  we lived in people's condos and basements while we waited, with a week's worth of underwear each and little more.  all to see this morning happen, and it has been entirely, completely worth it.  not a single regret. 

around 375 people came! it was amazing!

it was also laurelai's first ever church service, which made it all the more special.  and also meant that i didn't get to stay for any of it because she wanted to nurse basically the whole time.  oh well.

todd had to be at church really early, since he was teaching children's church, so it was my first morning with all the kids by myself (todd's been home this whole week), and it was my first attempt getting them all out the door and into the van.

we did pretty well, and other than the discovery that the big kids' car seats were all in todd's car and they would therefore have to ride to church illegally on the back seat, it wasn't super eventful.  i'm still working the kinks out of how to get them all loaded and unloaded, considering atticus is the only one who can buckle his own seatbelt, but we all arrived on time, which was an answer to prayer in and of itself.

it was only after church, when i was nursing laurelai, that i kept nearly blacking out, and i realized i hadn't eaten anything yet.  and considering a) i'm nursing and b) i've grown accustomed to eating an embarrassing amount of bacon for breakfast every morning since she was born, it would have been prudent of me to at least grab a fruit leather or something on my way out the door.  take-home lesson: if you don't want to pass out in an empty room while shirtless and holding a newborn baby your unconscious body could easily crush, eat breakfast.  that's not a scene you want anyone walking in on.  so always eat your breakfast.

what's up.

more like, 'what's down.'  we laid lowwww this week, just cuddling our laurelai and trying to get our babytime nights and days figured out.

a few highlights:

my mom and the kids made a birthday cake for lulu and brought it to the hospital so we could all celebrate together.

we got to add a sticker kid to the back of the van.  yeah, we're van-sticker people, which we realize some people find obnoxious, but whatever.  we may be obnoxious, but we could probably outnumber you, which is all that counts in plenty of life applications.  v.v.'s are six strong and don't take crap from anybody.


laurelai had her newborn assessment.  she officially has no jaundice and is gaining weight at a good rate, the news of which garnered this well-deserved fist pump.  way to grow, girl.

and in news unrelated to the baby (in case those of you who are soul-less and hard of heart are sick of hearing about her), atticus is ready to crush you during football season... just a second.

my rug sheds a ton.  my vacuum dies every time i attempt to vacuum it (which needs to be done every couple of days).  is anyone surprised that pinterest came to my rescue with a random pin about using a squeegee to get pet hair out of the carpet?  this is todd's haul of wool-bits after a single squeegee session (after having done it only two or three days ago).  this rug is like a newborn: totally worth it but completely high maintenance.

and for a change of pace, here's a song from the album i've been listening to all week. (we even played it in the car on the way to the hospital and in our room throughout our stay).  completely, indescribably awesome.  makes me yearn for jesus.


one thing i love about having a baby is the sheer volume of automatic blog content.  the content of the day: photos of laurelai's first day home.  prepare yourselves for some reality-defying cuteness. 

her going-home outfit.  she loves it, obvs.

look at that beautiful girl in that beautiful, mold-free car seat.

wearing a hat from my own newborn days.

the kids were totally smitten.


nursing days, with millions and millions of hours logged in the sitting position, are when i get most of my reading done.  that's why we have so many kids - so that i can find time to read.  otherwise, i would be completely and unendingly ignorant.  a functioning illiterate, if you will.  hence, millions of kids all the time.

a vision of what my life is going to look like for a while.

video vednesday: my name's miranda, you can call me miranda

i know i've already posted a 'miranda sings' video, but seriously. it's miranda singing. if you have a problem with it, you're wrong.

switched at birth.

a while ago, we posted a big old announcement on here that our baby's name was going to be 'lauren schaeffer.'  and then we were all, 'backsies,' and started reconsidering.  (what can i say?  i guess our daughter's tendency toward indecision comes honestly.)

it just never felt right.  we weren't super excited about it, specifically about calling her 'schaeffer' and calling her by her middle name rather than by her first name.  i didn't feel totally comfortable calling her by that name, and todd never felt totally excited sharing it with other people.  which kind of tipped us off that it wasn't right.

so i went into labor without having a definite name picked out, and no clear challenger to the current title.  we had her on thursday, went back to the drawing board through friday, and by saturday morning we still were undecided.

it was completely unlike us.

signing her name on the dotted line for her birth certificate

we signed her birth certificate paperwork around 1:30 p.m.  we were discharged from the hospital around 2:30 p.m.  we cut it that close to the wire, but we're excited about the name we finally came to:

laurelai rush van voorst.

my main priority was picking a name that honored my sister, lauren.  we also wanted a first name that she would actually go by.  hence, laurelai.  (i call her 'lulu.')  my first name was going to be 'rush' had i been a boy (a maternal family surname), so rush is kind of in reference to yours truly.  and my great-grandmother, who passed away while i was pregnant, was named laura elaine rush - i probably don't have to connect those dots for you.

so there you have it.  baby laurelai.  baby lulu.  sister poop-pants.

(for those wondering, the kids are still getting used to the name change.  when we introduced them to her, atticus asked, 'but where's schaeffer?'  they still frequently call her schaeffer, but it's totally understandable and they'll settle in soon, i'm sure.)

we had to write this in ourselves - the line for her name had been blank during our whole stay.