atticus gottacut. (HORRIBLE TITLE.)

(alternative horrible title:  'no need for a hat-ticus.  his haircut turned out well.')

surprise post, yall.  atticus got a haircut.  and is practicing his 'tough tina' faces.

and just for kicks, here's a photo of some impromtu praise happening at lunch after church last sunday:

why i sometimes want to punch the proverbs 31 woman in the neck until i remember jesus.

we've all heard it.  we've probably all said it ourselves at some point: some variation on, 'i want to be like the proverbs 31 woman.'

and rightly so.  she's awesome.  she's fun.  she's resourceful.  she's ripped.  she's killing it at real estate.

but, without fail, the proverbs 31 woman, in her loftiness and perfection and all around got-it-togetherness, makes us (or me, at least, but probably, us) feel like failures.  who on earth could ever say, 'that proverbs 31 thing?  nailed it.  done-zo.  what's next?'  because she's way better than i am, and if i'm being honest, better than i ever will be.  and because i'm law-bound, and want to be perfect all the time, and successful, and GOOD, it's depressing.

but i don't look at her the way i should.  i am looking at proverbs 31 through a lens of law.  'act good enough.  look good enough.  be good enough.'

but the law is not a weight the christian is meant to carry.  if jesus paid it all, if it was actually finished on the cross like he said, if he came to fulfill the law in his own personhood and death and resurrection, if his power is made perfect in my weakness, then the proverbs 31 woman should make me rejoice - in the midst of, and even because of, my own shortcomings.

jesus opened his arms to the poor - perfectly.
jesus spoke with wisdom and instruction - perfectly.
jesus set about his work vigorously - and perfectly.
jesus got up early and stayed up late to accomplish the task set before him - perfectly.
jesus shepherded his family - perfectly.
jesus feared the lord - perfectly.

even moreso than the proverbs 31 woman, jesus was perfectly strong, perfectly brave, perfectly confident, perfectly provisory, perfectly respectful, perfectly hardworking.  and that record is mine - yours if you are in christ.  it has already been done, in christ.

he takes my record (failure) and gives me his record (perfection) and i DO NOT HAVE TO STRIVE FOR WHAT HAS ALREADY BEEN EARNED FOR ME.  do i understand that?  do you understand that?

jesus was the perfect proverbs 31 woman so that i don't have to be.  i am free to fail and flounder and get it wrong, and then, with the help of the holy spirit, try try again to do it better next time because nothing is riding on my success anymore. 

and you're not required to be the proverbs 31 woman.  if you've been hidden in christ, you already have her record in the eyes of the father.  now you are free to respond to the free gift and grace of god in love and joyfulness - which will result in your sanctification, which, unsurprisingly, will probably make you start to resemble the proverbs 31 woman in her christlikeness.

funny how grace works.

video vednesday: #seewhatwedidthere

get it?  the flames of hell!  aww, we're just joking.

calling all mothers of little kids!

i'm about to tell you something revolutionary.

something you've probably already heard before, but don't totally believe.

get this...your kids can be USEFUL to you in your house cleaning routine!  and not in a, 'oh, look how cute he is, with his kid-sized and useless broom and that rag that he's flinging around at stuff!  that'll come in handy someday' kind of way.  but in a real, live, 'my three year old vacuumed under the table so i don't have to now' kind of way.

i admit, i'm new to the revolution.  i was only driven here because i was desperate.  i had too much to do, and not enough time in which to do it, and i considered hiring a cleaning lady until i thought about actually having to pay her, so then i was like, 'who do i know who would do this for free?'


and though i was driven to the point of 'employing' my two oldest (ages three and five) out of desperation, i'm all aboard the free-labor train now. (well... i guess when you put it that way, i'm probably not all aboard.  but that's neither here nor there.)  and here's why:

1. it actually helps.

selfishly, this is my first priority.  i need the dishwasher unloaded, and i need the rugs vacuumed, and i need the living room dusted and the bathroom wiped down and the kids' toy bins organized and the floor mopped.  so you know what i've done? delegated.  three jobs are happening at once when we're all working, instead of just one.  and after just a month of teaching the kids to whistle while they work, they are passingly proficient at the following:

..vacuuming the kitchen and dining room rugs with a lightweight stick vac. (i keep the heavy-duty vac jobs for myself.)  i just tell them to aim for the chunks of old food that are inevitably laying around.

..mopping the kitchen and bathroom.  is it perfect? no. but mopping gets done once a week, instead of once every couple of months (gross, i know, but true), so even a poor job is a step up.

..wiping down the bathroom counter and scrubbing the toilet.  (under the guise of 'showing them how,' i always clean everything first, then respray everything and let them have a go at it.  so it's not actually saving me any work right now, but it will eventually.  i hope.  and btdubs, i have them use a homemade, nontoxic vinegar cleaning solution.)

..unloading the plates, bowls and silverware from the dishwasher.  one kid stands on a stool by the cupboard while the other hands him/her dishes to put away.  they take turns.  nothing has broken yet, but even if it does, it's all replaceable.

..dusting.  i have a feather duster, and they love this job.  i show them how to use long, sweeping motions with it, instead of piddly little flips, and let them have at it.  they usually pretend they're painting. their own room.  every week they pull out all the toy bins out from under their bed and out of their closet, and make sure everything is in its proper box.  it keeps me from having to do a deep-clean/organize later on (which took me two and a half uninterrupted hours last time.)  we have limited toys, but even still, this takes them around an hour.  better them than me, especially since they are the ones causing the catastrophe in the first place.

(these are in addition to their daily/regular chores, like helping to set and clear the table, putting their dirty laundry down the laundry chute, and putting their clean laundry away.)

2. it teaches them responsibility.

they like knowing they're contributing members of the family, and it teaches them skills they're going to have to learn eventually anyway.  they don't get allowance or anything; that might come when they're older and they can have the option of doing more specialized or unusual jobs, but i'm not into the idea of paying them to do what a productive, considerate, contributing member of any family could be expected to do.  plus, what's a three year old going to do with allowance?

3. it keeps them occupied while i'm cleaning so that they're not off destroying the place in the meantime.

anything that keeps kids from making a mess while you're off cleaning a different mess is key to actually getting anything clean.

4. they like it.

so far, they still have fun.  they know that when monday rolls around, they get to help, and pretend to paint, and follow up their hard work with a movie (frequently with popcorn for lunch!).  what's not to love about that?

anyway.  i'm just throwing this out there, because i know it's easy to think that it's just easier for you to do it yourself, or that they're not old enough to do some of this stuff, but neither of those are the case.  (i keep hearing that 'yo gabba gabba' song, 'try it!  you'll like it!  try it!  you're gonna like it!')

faves by paige.

hey all! i figured i'd start this week off on a bright note, and share some of my favorite stuff/crap/junk with you.  in no particular order, these things are near and dear to my heart at the moment.  (thirteen of them, just to show you i scorn superstition and the dark arts.)

1. need i even say it?  harry potter.  i'm seriously turning into a twelve-year-old boy with a mustache, or dwight schrute, considering the extent to which i love these books.

2. nut thins.  because, hey.  that tuna salad isn't going to get itself into my mouth all by its lonesome.

3. errrrrangs.  these from world market are really similar to my current go-tos.

4. salad.

5. these deep-dish, thunder-thighs-in-a-pan brownies.

6. beef jerky, because we all need a little redneck.

7. (i'm starting to notice many of these items are food-related, so...) rhett and link.  and (bonus round!) miranda sings.  and (double jeopardy bonus round!) hashtags with jimmy fallon.

8. rend collective experiment and mumford and sons.  (also, i heard dave matthews on the speakers at walmart the other day, and i have a feeling that once spring rolls around, both he and counting crows are going to make the faves list.  don't hate, haters.  and kristy.)

9. E.L.F. studio makeup brushes.  these are just the bee's knees.  and cheaper than ramen, per serving!

10.  the book of philippians, which is where i've been focusing my bible time lately.  really taking hope in verse 1:6, and praying verses 1:9-11.

11. HGTV magazine.  cuz, y'all.  vern yip.

12.  the wallpaper i'm eyeballin' for my entryway.  (UMMMM. just went to link to it and it says sold out?!?!?! i'm dying inside.  this has become the opposite of a favorite thing.  google 'urban outfitters peony wallpaper' if you want to mourn with me.)

13.  and, as always, swamp people, which i don't watch because we don't have tv, but the memory of which i still hold close to my heart.

thoughts?  any of these you hate and, regarding which, are brave enough to question my judgment, thereby risking a punch to the throat?

again, what's up?

last week after the concert, we drove down to my mom's to meet up with the biggest kids and spend a few days hanging out with the fam.

my mom inherited a clock.  finneas was enthralled.

we got back saturday evening, and our friend andy drove up from ames to spend saturday night and sunday with us.  the haps?  games.

like this here game of 'pile the pillows on andy' (who is 6'4", by the way, so this game is more challenging than it may sound).

or this here game of 'raptor face.'

or this here single-player game of 'pretty pretty princess.'

or this here game of dominion.  which i am horrible at, but actually had a decent amount of fun playing anyway.  (and also pictured, 'digestive roulette,' in which i eat popcorn and cross my fingers.)

and just for kicks, my two littlest loves, sitting in their matching green seats and generally just being besties.  (this is finn's 'cheese!' face.  this is laurelai's 'i'm only pretty sure everything is going okay...' face.)

the end.  how was your week?

in which you realize i'm insane and worry that i'll start LARPing and stuff.

i finished the harry potter books.

we watched through the harry potter movies together.

and i know i'm being a real git (see?!), but i'm in serious mourning.  i feel like i've suffered some real loss.  not because the books were bad, but because they were so incredibly, indescribably amazing, that i don't know what to do with myself now that they're over.  i keep wanting to find a down moment so i can go read, and then i remember i don't have anything to read anymore, and i get all sad and confused and i have no idea what to do with myself.  so then i take a bath.  that's how i deal with grief.

so in a surge of love and helpfulness, todd was all, 'maybe you should get engrossed in another compelling story.'  he even dug out our lord of the rings trilogy (which i've also never read - don't hate) from the basement.  and i admit that i was tempted.

but i just can't do that to harry.  i can't just get over him and move on to something else.  i could never be that fickle to someone so selfless and brave.

and i wish he was my kid and also my bestie and also, kind of, my dad. 

and then i'm all like, i'm pretty sure i need some serious help.

crafter schmafter, ever after.

you may or may not know this about me already, but i figured i'd come clean today.  authenticity and all that.  ready?

i don't like to craft.

and get this:

i don't even really do a whole lot of craftivities with the kids: i let them color (and with markers, no less!) and they have some scissors and glue sticks they got for christmas that i (infrequently) allow them to use.  they've finger painted a couple of times.  but that's basically the extent of it.  we don't even own construction paper.

and in this age of crafty blogs and pinterest, it almost feels like an issue of morality that i don't particularly enjoy making stuff myself, and i don't let my kids have their own craft table.  (does the very idea of a table full of full-time-kid-access glue and glitter and paint give anyone else a heart attack?)  so i spend some of my time feeling, not really guilty but rather, afraid that someone will find out about this.

and actually, i don't even have a point.  just to say that i don't love crafting, i guess, and that sometimes i want to tell pinterest to stick it where the sun don't shine.  martha stewart, too, while we're tossing around 'stick it!' rants. 

and you know what, martha stewart and pinterest? I DON'T LIKE TO COOK, EITHER. 

who's with me? (i don't really even know exactly what we're rallying around.  i just know that i don't like to be alone in these things, and that there has to be an excuse for a party in here somewhere.  an obviously really ugly party with bad food, but a party.  so...WHO'S WITH ME?!)

no, seriously, though.  who else isn't crafty and any tips on how you sleep at night?

family(-of-six) photos.

a couple of weeks ago, a friend came over after church so we could take a picture or two for a slideshow for another sunday service.  we figured, 'hey. everyone will be bathed and dressed for church.  the camera will be out.  we'll have an extra set of hands to help photograph/corral everyone.  let's take a few snapshots of the family.'

believe it or not, these are the first photos with all of us in them.

also, believe it or not, but taking photos while trying to get four babies/preschoolers to cooperate is not the walk in the park one might think.  

finneas was set on making a break for it.

he did not care about possible casualties.

this here is atticus' sock.  just to clarify.

finneas was still not into the idea of sitting and smiling for the camera.

aahh, the finger-in-the-nose bit.  classic.  

the ridiculousness of this photo can not be blamed on the kids.  even though finneas is, indeed, still trying to make a run for it.

thankfully, thankfully, THANKFULLY, we got a few good (or at least, mostly decent) ones:

so there we all are, for once!  it's a monday miracle!

'what's up' weekly: concert edition.

the biggest news this week is that we went down to des moines last night for a concert.  for christmas, i got todd and my sister tickets to see rend collective experiment, and i would like to think that the band knew it was lauren's birthday and scheduled thusly.  for our benefit.

the big kids went down to my mom's, but laurelai came with us.

we started the trip off on a good foot: frozen coke! from story city!  it was nice to be back in town, even if just for a quick stop, though we didn't drive past the old house.  probably for the best: i've heard the new owners are big fans of yard inflatables.  cruel, cruel twist of fate.

we met lauren at work and got a tour of the offices.  she works as a stylist at life:beautiful and they had racks and racks and racks of pretty anthro dishes and vintage linens, and their studio kitchen had marble counters... i had a hard time swallowing all the saliva being generated.  but i powered through.

we went out to dinner at this little grocery/cafe and i got an organic, microbrewed cream soda with my meal.  yes.  i'm uppity.

then, on to the concert!  we borrowed these funny little sound-muffling headphones from a (much cooler) friend who takes her kids to concerts often enough that they own two pairs of these.  laurelai should have charged her own $10-per-person admission just to ogle her cutie patootie face in these headphones; she would have banked up some sweet tuition money.

also, she crapped out of her diaper while we were there.  without a change of clothes for her.  so there was that.

laurelai totally conked out in the middle of the concert, during the loudest and craziest song. she was a total champ.

and, since this was clearly the theme of the week, i'll leave you with this rend collective music video.  have a good weekend!

video vednesday: remember, we do everything in reps.

i'm howahd kleinah.  i'm heah to help you.

thanks for the video, jes!

things are about to get kind of healthy and also kind of weird.

well, friends, i have discovered it: my Reason For Getting Up in the Morning.

and it is Salad.

not just any old sad pile of soggy-log lettuce, but Salad with a capital S.  first of all, it has bacon on it.  so there you have it; it's hardly salad at all, but just a way to meet my 'PVV food pyramid'-recommended daily servings of salted pork.  (shame on you for thinking turkey bacon-stuff would suffice! SHAME!)

okay, so let's just back up a bit.  want to whip up your own reason for getting out of bed?  here's how:

1. get yourself a bowl.  like, not a cereal bowl, but like a small mixing bowl.  not the smallest you have; the next size up.

2. pull your pre-prepped ingredients out of the fridge:

**pre-chopped lettuce and/or spinach (and/or kale if you're riding the cultural-relevancy train).  no iceberg lettuce here, people.  make this salad worth it.  i love those boxes of artisan lettuce you can get that have romaine, something purple, and also another green one in them. 

**crumbled bacon (i cook and crumble it by the pound and leave it in the fridge for times such as these.) 

**maybe some shredded chicken if you've got it.  pack in the protein.

**hard boiled eggs. (you may have seen that dastardly and deceptive pin on pinterest telling you to bake your eggs.  do not succumb to the thought that it might be okay since your house won't stink as badly while they're cooking.  THEY ARE GROSS AND ALTON BROWN IS A TRAITOR.  boil away, ladies.  boil. away.)

**chopped green or red onions.  or both.  depends on who and how immediately you will be snogging afterward.

**sliced peppers.

**portabella mushrooms, bought pre-sliced or cut with an egg slicer - my very own pinterest-free revelation!  and if you don't like mushrooms, i think you might be kind of a baby about things.

**grated cheese, like an aged cheddar or something.  or feta.  or both.

**salad dressing.  your choice.  i highly recommend something with plenty of fat, because all the veggies will cancel it out, right?

also, you're going to want to grab some dried cranberries and some nuts out of the pantry.

3.  mix it like your salary depends on it.  mix it like a club dj.  mix it like your name is Madam Mix-A-Lot.

4. put a little more bacon on it than you did at the beginning.

5. tell yourself that as long as you can hold out until 10:30 to make it, you're not a weirdo for being this excited about salad.  Weirdos eat salad for breakfast; Normally Balanced and Healthy folks eat it for lunch.  and 10:30 is lunchish enough.

if you really want to make this salad speisty, allow yourself to read harry potter the entire time you're eating.  i swear, you'll be out of bed in a heartbeat in anticipation of lunch.  you just might pee your pants from all the excitement, depending on how many kids you've had and how much bladder control you've retained.

consider this your formal introduction to Salad Van Voorst, the newest member of our tightknit family.

sharing your faith with your kids.

i'm considering singlehandedly adding the word 'knave' back into everyday english.  don't thank me, thank penelope, who has been doing so already.  she picked it up in the book, dangerous journey, an adaptation of 'the pilgrim's progress' for children.  it got me thinking about some of the resources we've found outstandingly helpful in trying to lead our kids in faith, so i figured i'd share.

the jesus storybook bible: both we and the kids love this!

first, it is biblically accurate (none of this 'jonah lived happily ever after!' garbage). 

second, it pulls the overarching theme of the entire bible together in such a beautiful way:  god has, from the beginning, intended to show us the full extent of his love by sending his son to save us.  it shows the reader how individual stories in the bible all pull together under this theme. 

third, the illustrations are not insipid, which is apparently a lot to ask from a children's bible.

dangerous journey: our friend paul used to read this to his kids, and started reading it to our kids when we lived with them this summer.  the story of pilgrim's progress (between this book and the following movie on this list) has given us more opportunities to share the gospel with our kids than any other resource.  atticus gave his life to jesus in november, as he came to understand the weight of his sin and the forgiveness of christ, as illustrated in this story.  so good.

pilgrim's progress:  free, semi-horrible-CGI youtube movie.  the kids love it.

the jesus movie:  same description as above.  super biblically accurate.  (which seems ridiculous to have to specify, but there you have it.)

give them grace: dazzling your kids with the love of jesus:  this book completely changed the way i parent on a day-to-day basis.  it even grew my own understanding of the gospel and how it applies to all areas of life.  if you look into only one of the resources on this list, make this it.  it's that good.

shepherding a child's heart:  extremely practical guide to getting past your kids' behavior to their  hearts and allowing god to help you correct sin and rebellion at the heart level.  we want kids who are motivated to live and love because of the gospel, not just kids who behave well.  there's a big difference.

my first book of questions (and the rest in this series): using a catechism with kids is a great way to teach kids WHAT we believe.  i think too many people assume that these things will get transmitted somewhere along the line, but often what we're left with are kids who have an inaccurate, misguided or incomplete understanding of the gospel, OR kids who walk away from the faith because they were given a warped or anemic picture of god.  start with this, and from there you can talk to your kids about why you believe what you believe.

in summary, i just think that intentionality is what counts.  thinking of ways to intentionally open up conversations about jesus and his work on the cross.  these conversations don't usually 'just happen,' or at least they don't happen as often as they could.  and it isn't a matter of just taking our kids to sunday school or church, or allowing them to see us reading our bible.  just like manners, or butt wiping, or folding laundry are all areas in which our kids need direct, intentional, and seemingly constant training, how much more seriously should we take the opportunity and privilege to share jesus with our littlest neighbors?

reality bytes.

i would like to address the fact that this blog has been getting more serious on occasion as of late.  i can tell you point blank that it's because jesus is changing my life, he's changing my heart, and he's changing my mind in one crucial area: authenticity.

it's scary sometimes, yall.  there are mornings that i wake up, knowing a more honest blog post has gone up, and i actually feel physically sick.  what will people think when they know the truth about me?  is it really enough for me to rest in the fact that jesus sees me as righteous, if the whole world sees me as dirty and weak and grasping?  and even if i can rest in that, can i lead out in being authentic?  can i do it first or alone, if and when everyone else seems like they have it all together?  can i lead out in being honest about my failures and fears and insecurities? 

so, in consciously-mustered bravery, i'm trying to say yes.

because it's important, you guys.  it's so important that we understand that the Church and christian community is here for the purpose of bearing each other's burdens and encouraging each other and challenging each other and building each other up.  and how can we do that if we're so busy putting on our 'HappyChristianLaLaLa' face?  how can we do that if we're all like, 'I'M FINE NO REALLY IT'S ALL GOOD I'M FINE!'  how can we love each other if i'm too busy loving my pride and my self-sufficiency and my sense of control and my strength and my unwillingness to allow other people bear my burdens?  and how can we love each other if you're too busy loving those things for yourself, too?

and i get that authenticity is not easy.  sometimes it means having to face hard truths about yourself, or your kids, or your marriage, or the way you view god.  it means having your dirty laundry willingly spread on your front lawn for the neighbors to see.  it means being humble.  at the core of it, it means trusting god that you are loved even when you admit the worst about yourself to other people.

so, i guess this is my way of telling you that i'm going to strive to be more and more purposeful in this.  it might mean that there are heavier blog posts occasionally.  i hope that's okay with you.  and what's more, i want you to respond to those things with a heart that is emboldened to be a little more real in your sphere of influence yourself.  to tell someone what's up with you, even if it means being vulnerable.  because that's the only way we can allow others to show us the love of christ.  that's how we live out being the Church.

"god loves human beings.  god loves the world.  not an ideal human, but human beings as they are; not an ideal world, but the real world...god wills that we be human, real human beings. while we distinguish between pious and godless, good and evil, noble and base, god loves real people without distinction... god stands beside the real human being and the real world against all their accusers."  -bonhoeffer

you got this.  :)

video vednesday: [epic music]

sometimes we like to sit around with the kids, watching random videos on youtube.  some of our favorite things to watch with them are crazy dominos courses, and videos from the slow mo guys.  so today, i figured i'd invite you along on our youtube watching.

(they don't profess to be believers, and they don't set out to make videos for kids, so you kind of have to watch for language [though they bleep out any actual swear words], or the obvious inappropriate novelty tee.  just a heads-up.)

van voorsts meme young.

so, planking just reared its head at the van voorst house.  or, more literally, lowered its head.  since it's planking.

finneas caught the bug as well, but his was less 'planking' and more 'ignoring everyone and everything because he was ticked.'

laurelai at five months.

on the 29th, this little lady turned five months old!

what she's up to:

* she's wanting to stretch her feeding times out.  as much as i try to feed her more often in order to beef her up, she's dead set in her ways.

* she's pushing up on her arms and loves tummy time.  she kicks her little legs like a regular michael phelps, or that other swimmer that was also famous.  i want to say ryan?

* she grabs things and brings them to her mouth, and has gotten adept at finding her pacifier and, well, pacifying.

* she goes to bed for the night around 8:30 or 9:00, and wakes up for the day between 7:30 and 8:30.  she eats once or twice in between.

* she loves her brothers and sister, and gets the giggles when she watches them playing.

* she poops out of her diaper pretty much errrday.

* she's the reigning midwest bumbo champ.  she'd sit in that thing all day if she could stay awake that long.

*i'm not sure how much she weighs at this point, but she's due for a weight check soon.

*she's still in newborn/0-3 month clothing.

* while she's the special pet of her brother finneas, we're all absolutely smitten with her.


ermmm, she's not always thrilled with the attention.

less mauling attention, happier baby.


love you, laur!