what's up weekly...SATURDAY EDITION!

yes, kids.  yes, i did.  thank you for noticing, my tiny and diligent blog readers.

i have a valid excuse: my grandma was here from south carolina for much of the week and i had better things to do with my time than sit here in front of my computer screen all day.  ignoring your grandma for your blog is something only teenagers with moustaches try to pull.

on sunday, we celebrated atticus' birthday with my grandma, my sister and my parents.  atticus was especially happy to have his G.G. (my grandma) here.

also?  this happened:

also?  finneas was super excited to hold his baby sister, but things quickly turned south, as tends to be the inevitable case in many sibling interactions around these parts.

my grandma watched the kids a few times to allow me to go on a dinner date with todd, and on a grocery date with myself.  so much independent time in such a short time stirred a few of the hibernating bits of myself back to life. 

grandma and i spent much of tuesday evening baking pumpkin cheesecake, caramel-apple pie, and butterhorn rolls for thanksgiving.  yeah, my grandma is tiny and awesome and she bakes.  i bet she could also beat up your grandma.  (but she wouldn't.  she's too nice.)

wednesday morning, i took the girls to the salon so that penelope and i could get our hair cut.  it was my first cut since april of 2012.  yikes.  it was penelope's first haircut.  (please ignore the wonky photos; i was one-handing laurelai while i took them.  thinking on it now, there were so many more interesting shots i could have taken.  but, oh well.)

(looking back, i really wish i had asked the stylist to take a photo of me with the girls on our first 'girls' day out.'  bummer.)

we spent thursday and friday down at my mom's, gorging ourselves and hanging out with family.  my other grandparents got to meet laurelai for the first time as well!

this pretty little darling turned three months old:

also?  if i zoom out, you can see her kicky UNI team gear and her sassy snow-leopard-print leggings.  that's right.

lastly, finneas basically started talking this week.  he can suddenly say 'milk,' 'more,' 'GG,' 'meow,' and he combined his first phrase, 'sleep baby' (which he said in response to me telling him that his baby was sleeping.)

also, he now sings 'ringdingding' and 'chachachow' in response to the question, 'what does the fox say?'  he's pretty well on the path to a successful and fulfilling life.

video vednesday: (so, i have nothing to quote from this, i just want to say...)

(...that i think my mom could do it better than his mom.) (no offense to his mom.)

guess who will be turning...

yesterday we threw an early birthday party for atticus (his birthday isn't until early december).  my grandma is visiting from south carolina, and since my parents and my sister were also going to be in town yesterday, we thought it would be a good time to celebrate.

i made googly-eyed, moustachioed cupcakes. the kids were fans.

then todd stuck staches on finn and penelope (atticus would not allow for such shenanigans on his face).  finneas hated it, but i love this photo! he looks like he's snobby and british and passing judgment on something subpar.

penelope, on the other hand, thought her candy moustache was hilarious and yelled, 'I AM A CUPCAKE!'

then atticus (meaning both atticus and penelope) opened his presents.

i love this last photo because penelope looks genuinely thrilled with that front loader, and atticus is rocking his new 'photo smile.'  not familiar with the 'photo smile?'  here; i'll provide another example:

creeped out much?  he's all like, 'happy birthday to me! i'm eating cheese and am also considering eating your face!'

but the best birthday present he got?  birthday kisses from his thick-as-thieves bestie:

weekly 'what's up.'

good friday, everyone! (well, not Good Friday, but, you know...happy friday.  good friday.)

last week i told you a raccoon or something had been trying to burgle our trash.  not only has he remained unsuccessful, he was also caught in the neighbors' live trap.  and also, that raccoon was an oppossum.  siccckkkk.  no soup for you, oppossum.  and by soup, i mean garbage.  obvs.

what else?  we had some chicago friends come stay with us over the weekend, which was super duper.

laurelai has started moving her bedtime back to a more reasonable time, which todd and i are grateful for.  she had been waiting to fall asleep for the night until 11:00 or 12:00, or even later.  this week she has adjusted back to falling asleep somewhere between 9:00 and 10:00.  the downside?  not only does she wake up two hours earlier in the morning now, but she's up more frequently through the night.  so we're (i'm) dealing (grumpily) with that.

i have gotten hooked on imported aged gouda.  i shake my fist at the new specialty cheese case at aldi.  but after i shake my fist at it, i give it a big smooch in the name of pure love.

todd is in the christmas production at our church, and i'm helping with some of the behind-the-scenes stuff.  i can't reveal too much, but i will tell you that todd will have a (fake) bald pate, it will be hilarious, and also this happened in preparation:

intrigued yet?

we lived with our pastor and his family over the summer, during which time we all got to be great friends, and the kids have a special fondness in their hearts for paul.  when the following coloring sheets were leftover from our recent college ministry retreat, the kids lost no time in coloring paul's face in all its beatific glory, as seen in their minds' eye:

stunning.  just stunning.

and, randomly, just for anyone wondering how our kids get their fix of yo gabba gabba when we don't have a tv, here's a visual of our podunk solution:

and, as always, we've had our fair share of tantrums in the van voorst house.  also, the kids have gotten upset over some stuff.  when penelope was told she could not have ice cream, she, well...

...she laid on the floor in her saggy-crotch tights and covered her head with her blankie.  oh, the humanity!

and i have no idea what finn was ticked about here, but it was apparently pretty bad:

and, on that cheerful note, bring on the new week!

ain't no rest for the wicked. except for when there is.

yesterday was supposed to be my day off.  i have been trying lately to set aside a 'sabbath' every week where i intentionally rest in god and take a break from non-urgent work.  (obviously, i still have meals to cook and butts to wipe and legs to shave.  haha.  no, i don't shave my legs on the sabbath, sucka!) so anyway, yesterday was it.  i was looking forward to it in all its nasty-pajamas-all-day glory.

but then.  i got out of bed.  i went downstairs.  i heard atticus crying.  i found him laying in his bed in a puddle of his own barf.  yes, it was the most pathetic sight ever, and yes, i did selfishly take a second to mourn all my plans for down-time.

but you know what? god showed up in the barf.  (not like a jesus'-face-in-some-toast kind of way; i didn't see a literal vision of god in the chunks.  i'm talking spiritually.  circumstantially.) 

i've been kind of a brat lately, being all, 'i know you promise rest for those who trust you, god, but that's intangible.  what if what i need is actual, physical rest, and not just some fuzzy feelgoods while i drag my exhausted lump of a body through this life?  what good does that do me?'  and i think it's a valid question, but that's probably just because brats tend to find their dumb attitudes justifiable.

so, on tuesday, i was doing what brats do and airing my grievances to my connection group (it's like a bible study on steroids and also at disneyland).  and one girl was all, 'can you ever actually have physical rest if you don't have spiritual rest?  like, if you're not at peace with god, even if you get a bunch of down-time, can you really enjoy it?'  and i was all, 'touche, connection groupie.'  and i noodled on that the rest of the night.

so zip back to yesterday: here i was cleaning up barf sheets, and trying nurse laurelai while i sat on the bathroom floor rubbing atticus' heaving, clammy back.  and i wasn't anxious.   i wasn't annoyed.  i wasn't stressed or disappointed.  i wasn't even really thinking about the fact that i wasn't any of those things.  i just...was.  i just did what i needed to do, and prayed while i did it, and was at peace in the midst of the whole thing. 

god gave me spiritual rest on a day when my physical rest had been taken from me.

and that is one of the many, many things i love about god: he's sweet.  he's so sweet to me. to us.  he didn't treat me like the bawlbaby ingrate that i am.  he gave me what i needed when i didn't know it was what i needed, and when i wasn't prepared to be grateful for it.  he listened to me piss and moan about how his promises aren't enough for me, and he still followed through on his promise anyway.

and i was once again humbled - not guilty! - before this loving, sweet, protective god i desperately need. 

it was a very good, very restful sabbath.  also, my biggest fear (that someone will barf on my living room rug) wasn't realized, so that was awesome in a silver-medal-in-awesomeness kind of way.

dogs are people, too! (no. they're not.)

i've been thinking a lot lately about this phenomenon in which folks mistake dogs for people.  like, where they call them their kids and buy them clothes and display photos of them in their wallets/on their blogs.  and beyond issuing the gentle reminder that dogs are, well, dogs, i would just like to clarify a few things for those of you out there comparing owning dogs with raising children:

1. you shouldn't put a collar on your toddler. but if you do, it should be tasteful.

2. you shouldn't try to breastfeed your dog.  you know, because of their teeth and the universally recognized fact that they're notoriously bad latchers.  also, mostly just because of their teeth. 

3. generally speaking, you should only occasionally take your toddlers for walks on a leash.

4. you shouldn't allow your toddler to lick your open wounds.

5. kicky rainboots are for humans.  only humans.

6. tempting though it is, you probably shouldn't leave your kid in a kennel while you're at work.

7. don't diaper your dog.  usually.

8. if your kid craps in the yard or pees on your neighbor's hydrant, you might have a behavior issue on your hands.  if your dog pees in the toilet, that is a magic dog and should have its own youtube channel and some kind of trophy.

9.  you should not have a picture of only your dog as your facebook profile picture.  i would also say the same about your kids, harsh though it may sound.  (it's unnerving to search for a friend's profile and see some toddler staring back at you - if you're anything like me, you start to panic that some kind of benjamin button-style witchcraft is happening at your friend's house.  plus, it's just bad for your social standing to have a bunch of toddlers as your facebook friends.  it's like you're trying too hard.)

10. dogs are not kids.  dogs smell better and bite the neighbors less often. 

11. the end.

weekly what's up.

what is there to say this week?  a raccoon or something has been trying to get into our trash can. so far he's been unsuccessful.  does that count as a thing?

yesterday i posted my 1000th blog post! i had been planning to do some kind of giveaway - like a stand mixer or a really long link of smoked meats - but i didn't even realize it had happened until after the fact.  so no smoked meats for you guys.  sorry about that.  maybe i'll do something grand for post #2000.  or maybe i'll get a real blog header, with color and everything!, and start acting like i take this blog thing seriously.  then i can be all 'thanks for reading! i'll make it worth your while!' but i also don't have to figure out how to ship perishables.  or stand mixers.

whew.  what else happened this week?  i cleaned my basement.  i drank approximately six root beers and a glass of questionable milk.  i put a pair of tall boots in my virtual target shopping cart but have not actually purchased them yet.  it is a thrilling life i do lead.  but i don't say these things to make you jealous.

and here is the photo highlight of the week:

yep.  i have no idea what's up with that photo.  let's try again:
um...what? what is happening?  one more try...
um...again.  is this really what my life looks like?  wait, yes.  it is.
luckily for him, todd's life currently looks interesting and cuddly and covered in tulle:

the to the izz-end.

just a normal jaunt to the doctor's office.

a while ago, i mentioned in a group setting how difficult it is to take the kids in public without wanting to die.  (like literally.  there was one time in target that i prayed fervently for an immediate rapture.)  anyway, this newly married guy with no kids was all, 'i have heard people say stuff like that, but i don't really get why it's so hard.'  awww, sweet and innocent and untainted visions of parenting must dance in his uninterrupted dreams at night.

so to give a little glimpse of a public outing to anyone out there wondering, i'll run down tuesday's trip to the eye doctor.  with all the kids.  by myself.

i get up an hour and a half before we have to leave, and run my hair under running water in the tub.  shower accomplished-ish.  i get the big kids up.  i make pb&j sandwiches for breakfast, tell the kids from the get-go that we don't have time for seconds this morning, and run upstairs to get finneas up.  while getting him dressed, laurelai starts screaming, so i run finn downstairs and set him at the table for breakfast.  i feed laurelai, get myself dressed, get everyone cleaned up and in their hats and coats, and proactively smell finn's butt just to make sure we're good to walk out the door.  miraculously, he is still clean-diped, so we bolt.  how did that take an hour and a half?!

oh right.  it turns out the van is covered in ice and snow and i haven't replaced our piece-of-crap scraper.  so i have the big kids get in the van, i buckle finn, then i climb into the back of the van myself to load laurelai and buckle penelope's seat belt.  then i get out and do my best to scrape the windshield with my old library card.

then we get to the doctor's office and the receptionist passes a clipboard across the desk, but i'm all, "hands full of toddler and baby seat and purse and prematurely-removed hats. hang on." so i set laurelai down, try to concentrate on what the girl is asking me to sign, while constantly turning around to make sure no one has wandered away.

we get to our seats, laurelai starts to cry, finn is rummaging through my purse, and atticus is wanting to look at a national geographic.  i browse the magazine quickly, to make sure that he's not going to stumble upon any aborigini breasts or something, hand it back to him, and rock laurelai while i try to remove finn's coat with my one free hand.  i carry laurelai over to the coat rack with me, and when i return to our seats, finneas is molesting some stranger.

then this friendly old lady starts chatting me up about raising kids and her two dogs and how she hails from tennessee, but i have to keep one eye on finn the whole time to make sure that, as he's rummaging through my purse, he doesn't end up emptying out my wallet. also, i'm trying to one-handedly fill out those forms i was given.  i think they call our names, but i'm not sure, so i keep looking back and forth between the front desk and the old lady.

they do finally call us back to the exam place, but we're supposed to stop at some crazy eye-measuring contraption and i'm supposed to seat the kids on my lap, but then how do i hold laurelai? and where did finn go?  oh, there he is: messing with the display of glasses.  excellent.

we all make it back to the exam room, where finneas insists on touching every. single. thing. in the room.  he makes the chair go up and down.  he pulls those fancy 'look at the light' sticks from their spots.  he opens every drawer. he rips up a few magazines.  all the while the assistant is asking questions about family cataract history and other stuff that i don't know, can't remember, or can't focus on.  i'm trying to tell finneas to knock it off, but i can't go get him because i'm rocking laurelai and trying to talk to the assistant.  then i make some comment to laurelai about how i caught a whiff of her poop-pants, but then the assistant turns all red and i realize that it wasn't laurelai's poop, but rather the assistant's fart, that i smelled and commented on.  okay.  sorry lady.

the doctor comes in and finneas immediately wants to climb in his lap, so he starts groping his leg and...elsewhere.  atticus gets in the chair first, but is feeling shy, so he tells the doctor that every single thing is fuzzy.  penelope refuses to say anything at all during her turn.  i have to pull her aside to speak sternly to her, but the room is so small and cramped that the doctor just watches as i do it, and it's super conspicuous and uncomfortable.

the doctor dilates their eyes and they cry.  finneas is starting to scream because i won't let him have my debit card.  laurelai is getting hungry because we've now been in that tiny room for an hour and a half.  so she's fussing and rooting around.  i'm starting to envy those national geographic aborigini ladies who can just do what needs to be done when it needs to be done.  plus all their earrings are pretty rockin'.

the doctor starts talking to me about purchasing glasses, but i tell him our insurance covers more at retail places like walmart.  he starts trying to tell me that it's really all the same, and i should buy them from him and blahblahblah and wholesale and retail prices and apple-to-apple comparisons and titanium and aluminum frames and warranties.  i have to get up to smack finneas' hand away from all the expensive tools and machines and the doctor gives up and tells me that he'll print me out a prescription form to take to walmart... once he measures the kids' eyes again.

somewhere around this time, i realize i have not eaten breakfast and i start getting all shaky and weak-kneed.

we go back out to the machine, and at this point i have to have one assistant hold finneas, one hold laurelai, and one work the actual machine while i hold the big kids on my lap.  once they measure the kids' eyes, we have to go back to the exam room so the doctor can double-check their prescriptions and print out the sheets.  then we have to go have their current frames adjusted because kids are HARD on glasses and their frames are all wonkadonk and crooked on their faces.

then we check out, find our coats, put our ripped-to-shreds magazines back on the tables, and start to leave.  but then the assistant comes running from the back to fit the kids with those stupid disposable sunglasses since their eyes were dilated.  then we traipse across the parking lot in a red rover-style line, get loaded in the van, and i breastfeed laurelai in our idling van in the parking lot.  everyone in the back is screaming about how they can't buckle their seatbelt and how they dropped their sunglasses and turn-the-music-up and turn-the-music-down.  i finish feeding laurelai (but not before accidentally flashing my boob at a woman pulling into the space in front of us), load her into her seat and we head out.

and although it is over, and it is 12:00 (our appointment was at 9:30!), i'm not all that relieved yet, since i still have to go home and make lunch and lay the kids down for nap.

and also, oh yeah, we get to come back on friday and do it all over again since they'll only do two members of the same family on the same day, so finneas has to have his own appointment later.  meaning tomorrow.  so that's awesome.

and though the details might vary, the same sense of panic and confusion and chaos is pretty typical of any public outing.  and that, friends, is why i frequently find myself wishing fervently for the apocalypse.

todd the baptist.

this weekend, at our church's baptism service, todd got to perform baptisms for the first time, including getting to baptize his good friend tim.  it was so awesome on a bunch of different levels!  i know he felt really privileged to get to be a part of such an important event in tim's life.

(the baptisms took place in the indoor pool at the middle school where our church meets. hence the lap markers and todd's rockin' hibiscus swim trunks.)  (also, he's growing out his beard for no-shave november, so he's looking a bit 'lead-singer-of-a-mars-hill-band.')  (also, no-shave november does not apply to the top of his head.)

congratulations, tim!

weekly whaty uppy.

last friday night, todd and i went on our first date since we moved here in may.  (it was obviously long overdue, considering we'd adamantly tell any other married couple that they need to prioritize a weekly date night, no excuses allowed.)  we went out for sushi and only had laurelai with us.  it was glorious.  it made me want a million more date nights in a row.  is that a good thing or a bad thing?
over the weekend, todd's parents came to visit, which the kids adored.  (who am i kidding? we all loved it.)  we don't get to see them super often, so it's always a treat when we do.

they took the kids to target to each pick out a toy.  finneas got a stuffed alligator wearing a polo and golf pants.  he named him wesley and hearts him with all himself.  atticus picked out a bobcat skid steer.  and penelope got her very first barbie doll, which she keeps mistakenly calling a 'sally' doll or, alternatingly, her 'bybie' that she got from 'tyget.'  (finneas ran off with it once - he absolutely LOVES it - and she ran after him screaming, 'give it back!! it's MY bybie! i got it from TYGET!')

monday night, we finally got around to carving/painting pumpkins.  life has been just absolutely nutso around here lately, so we hadn't had time to do it closer to todd's birthday like i would have liked, but better late than never, right?

every year, we roast the pumpkin seeds and gorge ourselves on them until we can't stand to even look at another one.  we're basically repulsed by them for about 364 days after that, but then we quickly forget our disgust and do it all over again.  it works for us. 
this beautiful thing had her two-month appointment, where i was told that she is 'a very proportionate baby.'  25th percentile across all categories.  that's what i call a win in the van voorst house.  i like to call her chunkalunk, which i'm sure she's going to love once she understands english.

on wednesday, the kids and i headed up to visit todd at work over the lunch hour.  we sat in the van and had a podunk, seatbelted picnic.  it was awesome.

we spent the rest of the week hanging out with friends, feeding and mentoring college students, and getting to know a few more church families.  our life is absolutely cray right now, but a good cray.  a full cray.

not looking our most glamorous.

the other night, we let the kids paint pumpkins as part of our annual tradition.  (todd and i have carved pumpkins together every year since even before we started dating.  this was our ninth year slicin' and dicin'.)

we bought each of the kids a pumpkin to paint.  the main point of this post is to explain why finneas' hardly has any paint on it:

yum-o.  he was more concerned with eating it than using it on his pumpkin.  so he was promptly fired from participation and banished to the far reaches of bedtime.

and unrelatedly, just because i like to keep it real, here's a lovely photo todd took of me, mid-yawn.  don't you wish we were besties?  i could embarrass you in all kinds of ways, especially if we took public transportation together.  what's better than riding the bus next to a freak show?  nothing.  absolutely nothing.

let's make a bus date, posthaste.

shave and a haircut, two bits.

like i told you last week, finneas got his first haircut recently.  his hair really wasn't that long overall, but it was doing that sick growing-in thing where it gets all long over their ears and the back is all the same length.  it was grossing me out, so i, ahem, strongly suggested todd cut it.  he was on board, so cut it he did.

we weren't sure how it would go, considering that atticus - even at the age of nearly-five - still flips out as soon as todd turns the buzzer on.  he starts shaking and sweating and's kind of disastrous.  he's like a puppy with stage fright, all shaky and foamy.  so you can see why we were a bit worried.

but finn was unfazed.  he just played with some bath toys the entire time and acted like it was the most normal thing in the world to have bits of himself cut off.

see? not even afraid to hold the thing while it was on.

marveling at the clump of hair that had ended up on the floor.

he currently looks basically bald, but in a 'distinguished toddler' kind of way.  i'm content with that.