video vednesday: hunting dog (wounded).

happy birthday, penelope-girl!

oh, what can i say about this precious girl i've been given?

she is funny and animated.  she has a rich imagination.  she loves to wear princess gowns and wield swords.  when she grows up, she wants to marry her daddy.  she does not have a sweet tooth, and therefore dessert is never a worthwhile motivation to eat dinner (which she never does).  she is obsessed with the potential opportunity to plant flowers.  she wears two or three different pairs of socks over the course of a day.  she's an 'indoors kid.'  she loves the last chapter of 'dangerous journey,' because it chronicles the wife's journey, and she automatically aligns herself with anything about girls.  she is usually dressed up as 'little david' to some degree.  she and atticus are still total besties, but i've seen her develop this really sweet, playful relationship with finneas lately as well.  she's always looking for ways to help and serve.

she is our 'sissy.'  she makes our days joyful.  she is our wonderful, precious, irreplaceable girlie, and we are so much better because she's with us.

happy birthday, penelope!

rant much?

i saw this funny little video the other day that someone had posted on their facebook wall.  it reiterated a lot of the sentiment i've seen floating around blogs and facebook for a while.  basically, it's about these two guys who go away on a golf trip and leave their wives in charge of their respective businesses for a couple of days.  naturally, the women are totally bamboozled.  one looks at the computer in total fear.  i'm guessing she never took typing classes in middle school.   and the other lady just breaks down in tears because her husband is like an accountant or something and she doesn't even know what numbers are or something, so she's completely incapable of doing his job.  both ladies are clearly morons.

lucky for them, their husbands left them 'work brains,' these crazy hat-things that the women can put on that make them think exactly like a workin' man.  the scared-to-type one is clearly doing some kind of binary or something at this point, and the can't-even-count one is working a fancy calculator so fast her fingers are smoking and the printer next to her catches on fire.  thank god for the 'work brains.'  so then one of the wives actually called her husband while he was taking a steam at the club and was all, 'you have the.hardest.job in the whole wide world, bar none!  i have a whole new perspective on my sorry excuse for 'contribution' to this family.  you're so much better at this than i am, and i'm such an idiot, and i'm so glad i have you to add stuff up for me because i would just outright die if i had to rely on my own peabrain!'


that movie's not real.

the real one is about mom goggles and the dumb-as-a-doornail dads who can't control their sugared-up, climbing-the-curtains kids for two days while the moms spa it up.

so, here's where i get a little real with you folks:  it bums me out to see all these women on the internet demanding empathy and respect and admiration for their superhuman selflessness.  i'm obviously not bashing the whole stay-at-home mom gig.  i love that gig.  i 100% endorse that gig.

but we are not owed anything.  that's what selflessness means: doing something worth doing, purely for the sake of someone else and not ourselves.  is it okay if people don't understand 'what i do all day,' and that i do, indeed, work hard?  is it okay if i'm not fully appreciated, and my work may not seem all that important or necessary to other people?  is it even okay if i'm condescended for doing what i do?  it sucks sometimes, but the answer can be - should be - 'yes.'  god sees me, and i know i'm serving his purposes where i am.  it may not come with CEO-level adoration from the masses.  but that's okay.  i don't have anything to prove, and i'm not a CEO for a reason.

the question really is, 'can i accept being respectable even if i'm not respected?  is that good enough for me?'  whining and complaining and asserting why we're the awesomest at keeping the human race in existence without the help of those freaking unappreciative idiots we call husbands is counterproductive.  that's not respectable.  if you want respect, let someone else demand it on your behalf.  let your husband and kids tell people how awesome you are, instead of allowing yourself to strap on a sandwich board and scream about why your kids or sister-in-law or husband or mom don't appreciate you enough.

(sidenote: also, maybe you should spend more time mothering than airing all your grievances on the internet.)

secondly, is the respectability of motherhood based on the fact that we work hard?  that our vocation, when compared to careers and the job market, trumps because it's hard?  i'm sorry, but there are a lot of people out there who work a crap ton harder than i do.  who get less sleep and less time to themselves and less respect for it.  i would assert it's not even the same thing, and that's totally okay.  it's not a career.  it's a calling.  motherhood is fun.  it's sometimes super easy.  and that's okay.

third, can we please take a second to realize that our husbands are not just glorified monkeys when left alone with our kids?  if the kids are climbing the walls while he's with them and i'm not home, maybe i'm not doing enough to uphold his authority and respect his intelligence while i am home.  maybe i'm too busy demanding respect and appreciation from him, that i don't take time to respect and appreciate him in front of the kids.  of course someone who feels unsure of themselves and robbed of their authority is going to let the house catch on fire.  if your husband is fathering his children and loving his wife by letting you get out of the house for a while, PLEASE do not act like he's a huge screw-up.

all i'm suggesting is that we stop acting like everyone owes us respect and appreciation, if we're not willing to dole it out ourselves.  and i have this nagging feeling that if we start by doling it out, it will come back to us without us having to write a million blog posts about it.

my two cents.

what's up?

a numbering of things that happened this week.

1.  they brushed their teeth while they watched a movie, which is too cute not to share:

the girl's winter hat that atticus is sporting is his soldier helmet, to clarify.

2.  todd got a shard of pottery glued to his finger and took about a million years trying to pry it off.

3.  we got dressed up for easter, and captured the ever-elusive shot of all of us, though we're varying degrees of happy about it, as you can see.

4.  my mom set up an egg hunt for the kids, and now anytime we go outside, finneas yells, "EGG?!"

5.  my parents also brought a slide for the kids, which they now call their 'very own park!'

6.  i finished tilling and fencing my garden, and planted peas, lettuce, mesclun mix, broccoli, spinach, and cilantro.  it looks podunk because it is.

7.  my friend lisagrace surprised me by coming to visit yesterday.  i wasn't even wearing a bra when there suddenly came a knock on the door.  that's how surprised i was.

8.  todd and i went down to iowa city to visit my dad, who is not feeling well and in the hospital.

9.  i was in this photo with my sistercakes.  it's probably my biggest accomplishment in life:

the endzo!

video vednesday: [so. many. male. tank tops.]

my best friend jeska sent this to me, and it made me really proud of my choice in friends.  i'm a good friend-picker.

why? i don't know.

i can't think of what to write about, so i figured i'd tell you some outright lies:

*I GOT A NEW TATTOO!  don't ask me where.

*episodes of roseann on syndication make me feel like dying.

*if i could go anywhere in the world, i'd pick the des moines zoo, because it's where todd proposed.

*the most disgusting thing i've ever eaten was strawberry shortcake from the bowling alley diner.

*in the eighth grade, i begged and begged and begged for one of those gold grills that people wear over their front teeth, and i guess i was annoying enough about it that my mom finally gave in and got me one for my birthday or christmas or something.  but then it chafed my gums and interfered with my orthodontia, so i never wore it.  my mom was super mad.

*i've actually seen the soundstage where they filmed that episode of 'i love lucy' where she stuffs all those chocolates in her mouth.

*i'd love to go on some kind of vacation where i got to tour the homes of all the kids on 'laguna beach.'  (remember that show?!)

*i think it would be awesome for todd to grow his neckbeard out into the shape of a check mark and enter the international beard and moustache competition.

*i once ate seven consecutive hot dogs on a dare, but then the kid who said he'd pay me to do it never followed through.

*i can wear high heels without walking like a zombie bride because i attended a series of ettiquette lessons the summer after my sophomore year of high school.

*i actually really like doing burpees, but i rarely tell anyone that, because they always think i'm being cocky or something.

*the smell of cinnabon makes me queasy.  don't hate.

*i have a scar on my pinky toe from this one time i got my shoe caught in some wire fencing as i was running away from my crazy old neighbor.  no seriously, though.  this chick was crazy.

hey atticus: tell me how you really feel about easter.

i can't blame atticus for being the only one ruining the above photo.  the sun was burning my retinas and i had an excuse for looking ridiculous.

luckily, he did finally come around.

so, how was your easter? i hope it was better overall than atticus' was.

what's up? (weekly.)

previously this week, on 'the minivan voorsts':

1.  finneas fell and busted his lip open, and was bleeding everywhere.  and if you remember anything about penelope at all, you might remember she passes out at the sight of blood.  so finn was crying and bleeding, and then penelope started screaming and grabbing at her head before going fully unconscious.  it was pure chaos for about five minutes in the van voorst house.  (this is the fourth time she's done this, so it seems to be a pretty established pattern.)

2. a good friend came and visited from the ames area on tuesday and we talked about gardening, and episodes of 'friends,' and books, and those awkward/horrible moments when your kid fibs to strangers that you're the cause of their various injuries.  also, she gets major bonus points for also having a son named atticus.  (we refer to them as 'my atticus' and 'your atticus,'  as well as 'our atticus' and 'the other atticus.'  i have to say, i never anticipated this being an issue when we named him.)  it was indescribably refreshing.

3. i came downstairs yesterday morning to find that penelope had gotten finneas dressed for the day:

luckily, that partially-healed black eye and the fat lip really toughen up the look.

happy weekend!

just a PSA from your friendly van voorsts.

stop dead in your tracks, y'all.  i found the fountain of youth.  for carpets.  the fountain of youth for carpets.  and they said it couldn't be done. 

you know that constant back-of-the-mind fear that someone will come into your home-full-of-little-kids with a blacklight and be all, WHAT THE WHAT HAPPENED IN HERE?!?  and then you'll naturally be held for questioning because, good gracious, something criminal must have happened.  it's insane the number and amount and variety and coverage of what-have-yous that end up everywhere.  which is why this folex stuff makes me want to knit it a sweater and fry it some chicken and speak soothingly to it.  (out of love, get it?  those are the kinds of things you do for the ones you love and i'm not a weirdo.)

in the last month alone, it has gotten milk, blood, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, jolly rancher-dyed saliva, and week-old coffee stains out of my rugs, including the white-colored part of my living room rug.  i'm not kidding.  this stuff appears to be made of the tears of joyful angels and the bottled voice of josh groban.  (seems like a simple enough recipe, considering all the drama that's gone down over the years in trying to find the fountain of youth.  people of yore should have taken a chill pill and just waited for josh groban to be born.)

and it's not like, in order to obtain it, you have to order it online or pray for it to rain down from the heavens.  it's at lowe's.  in the cleaning aisle, next to all the normal, run-of-the-mill, B-average cleaners.  it's hidden in there super well, wearing a super boring bottle, and you don't even realize what a gem you're staring at.  it's like if you were at the park and you saw that guy from walmart across the way, and then you were like, what's up guy?  and then you were all, wait! that's not that guy from walmart, that's mila kunis wearing normal-people jeans!  and then you'd be all like, i really respect her for showing up at the mt. pleasant park in normal-people jeans, and then you'd try to be her best friend.

what i'm trying to say is that it may look like a deadbeat, but folex is the best thing that happened to me after proving itself during the Bleeding-From-the-Mouth Fiasco of April 2014.  and that alone makes me want to be besties with it and read it bedtime stories.

(i will also tell you it's entirely nontoxic, it doesn't require rinsing, and it works immediately.  see?  must be the stain-repellant properties of angel tears.  i will also say with sadness, though, that it doesn't clean the Dry-Clean-Only Couch of Sorrows.  because that level of sorrow is impenetrable to even the best-intentioned among us.)

**whoa.  in reading through this, i realize it sounds like i'm getting paid to endorse this or something.  i most certainly am not.  in fact, i'm sure the people at Folex, after reading this blog post, would pay me handsomely to DISassociate my freaky self from their company in any and all ways.  so, consider that some kind of disclaimer if you need to.  if being an ordinary girl who wants to adopt this stuff as one of my own children is wrong, i don't want to be right, but at least consider this post disclaimed.

video vednesday: planked out? we planked out?

my friend anastasia sent me a video of a baby doing a 'workout' with her daddy, saying it reminded her of our kids.  and i can't possibly think of why:

more planks.

working it on the exercise ball.

okay, so maybe i can.

here's some more baby aerobics, if you're interested in getting ripped like the van voorsts.

fast times at van voorst high.

'what's up' weekly.

on saturday, i was headed to the wedding of a friend, and decided five minutes before i left that penelope would make an awesome date.  so i got her up from nap, quickly dug out last year's easter dress, and made her do a superhero-speed costume change.  she looked downright dashing in the vintage wool coat and hat my mom passed down from her own childhood.

on sunday, todd got another opportunity to preach at that church in shellsburg; and at candeo that night, he got affirmed as one of our five elders.  you can start calling him Elder Van Voorst.  he has requested the gift of the elder wand.  so, if anyone wants to obtain that for him somehow, that would be awesome.  kaythankssss.

monday wasn't no big thang.  just cleaning day, as usual.

tuesday morning, penelope came down with the flu.  poor lady was out for the count.  for a while, i had thought finneas may have come down with it as well, since i got out of the shower to discover he smelled like barf and his nose was bleeding.  i figured out the nosebleed was from a fall off the piano bench, but i'm still not sure where the smell came from.  but as 90% of my time as a mother has been spent trying to identify the origin of various offensive odors, i'm not going to spend too much time trying to figure it out.  he's fine, which is what counts, right?

wednesday, the kids and i trucked ourselves down to lowe's, since the weather was nice and penelope was feeling better and the planets aligned and i had exactly three bananas on hand to use as bribes in the store if things got dire. man, i love spring, where there's all this promise of an awesome garden, before the japanese beetles and the squash borers and the defunct soil make me realize that i am not cut out to be a gardener.  but i sure do love april and may, when i can still pretend.  (i would really, really, really love to one day be a gardener.  like, one that grows stuff successfully.  #aimforthemoonevenifyoumissyoulllandamongthestars #pithygardener)

thursday involved hand-turning the poop into the garden.  (i just realized that i deleted a previous paragraph talking about the manure i bought at lowe's.  probably would have been helpful for context's sake.)  also, finneas woke up with a black eye.  i really have no idea where that came from.

in laurelai news, she's coming around to baby food, as long as she's being cuddled while she eats.  what a funny lady.  and she's getting closer to mobility: she's figuring out how to lift her arm while up on all fours.  (to get anywhere at this point, she basically inchworms it - up on all fours, scooch the legs really far forward, drop down on the belly, repeat.  the problem with this method is that i've started putting her in 3-6 month clothes occasionally, which are still way giant on her, so she pulls her legs up inside her jammies and gets all legbound and cries like a baby.)

you can kind of see here how her knees are in the tummy part of her jammies and the pantlegs are just kind of trailing along behind, all sad and empty, like the wicked witch of the east's tights after her legs shrivel up.

anyway.  there's our week for you, involving tons of bodily fluids and bad smells and also animal poop.  you're welcome.

I'M ALIIIIIIIIIIIIIVE. and stuff's about to get weird.

okay, wowzers.  it's thursday.  and i swear i'm not dead.

what can i say?  it's been like 70 degrees outside, and penelope had the flu, and once she was over it, i hauled all the kids to lowes.  so i haven't had much time to blog because, you know, life.

but as i've been going about my days, i've been noodling.  mulling.  i get lost in my own head sometimes, because i'm the only adult that i have to talk to most of the time.  i suppose it's good that i still have a grown-up friend even when my only company is the kids, but i also suppose that it's bad that i'm my only grown-up friend sometimes.  that just sounds about the pathetic-est.

anyway, i (we) thought i'd (we'd) let you in on my (our) thoughts:

* yall, i'm still so not okay with how i look.  why is it so hard to just buck up and believe that my worth isn't found in that?  why am i constantly comparing and belittling and accusing myself?  i have no answers for you. 

* garden and springtime and a shiny new spade!  bags of manure on my driveway! finneas eating whole packets of nasturtium seeds!  let's do a 'die-winter-die' dance!  with some tap shoes on!

* i have the best friends.  i am blown away by the care you people show me.  i am so loved and cared for and undeserving since i never call anyone on the phone since i'm a hermit. 

* i really am getting dangerously hermit-like.  as in like, hoodie-hood-up, chewing-my-own-hair, moss-growing-on-my-teeth hermity.  i leave the house for church on sunday...and then i leave the house for church the next sunday.  and even when i get the opportunity in the middle of the week, i don't feel like leaving.  what's wrong with me?

* john adams was the rockin'est, except for when he got all depressed and stopped writing to abigail for a while even though he was in europe and getting malaria, and she was home all by herself and running the farm and having a stillbirth and everything.  gotta say, that was kind of a d-bag thing to do.  but other than that, he really was the rockin' colossus of rockin' independence. 

* i think i need to update my slang.  i'm starting to remind myself of Mr. Batty, Balding History Teacher to the Stars.

so.  that's what we think about that.

'the year of the womanly arts' in review.

so, remember how i dedicated 'year twenty-seven' to becoming more feminine and doing girlier things on a regular basis?  well, now i'm twenty-eight and feel that i can speak on the subject with the wisdom that comes with age and experience and increased maturity.

it was kind of a big fat flop.

there were definitely certain 'wins': i'm learning to accessorize.  i shave my legs almost every time i shower (though, i only shower like three times a week, and i do it every time simply because i can't remember when the last time was otherwise).  i went clothes-shopping once, which is actually a spike in frequency.  i patronized sally beauty supply.  i developed a kardashian-sized badonk, which is at least matronly on me, if not girly.  and in terms of being utterly and inherently feminine, i did gestate and deliver an entire baby.  so i'd call that a 'win.'

but really, i was still the same-old-me.  my yoga pants got worn so often they became entirely and non-hyperbolically see-through.  that one time that i did purchase clothes, my main purchases were four t-shirts: two white ones, a grey one, and a (zingy! out-of-the-ordinary!) one with a grey-and-white pattern.  try as i may have to kick the habit of biting my nails, they are still as ragged and junky as those of my twenty-six-year-old self.

so i'm having to face reality that this whole life is probably a slow process of learning what it means to be feminine, both outwardly (which is what my vain and sinful self cares most about) and inwardly.  there are seasons, there are stages of growth, there are beloved yoga pants that thwart your efforts.  and that's cool.  all that 'journey' time will just give me more opportunity to watch youtube tutorials on how to blowdry curly hair and grow out my eyebrows.  as though i need the help.

what's up?

let's do a quick rundown of our week, which (i warn you) involved a lot of food and food-related incidents.

1. todd and i ordered a new mattress! finally!  and R.I.P. to our current stupid one.  or actually, DON'T R.I.P. (D.R.I.P.?), you stupid old mattress.  you never let us rest in peace, so i'm happy to wish the same fate on you.  in fact, i feel like i could sing the 'mr. grinch' song to you and the lyrics would more or less line up.  only, there would be a line in there about how there are more craters on your surface than on the surface of the moon.  and how todd has to even his side out by putting a pillow in the cavernous depths.  and how the integrity of the side is about as corrupt as...(oh, yes; i DID just about throw big pharma under the bus at the same time as our mattress.  i'm on a rampage!)

todd asked the mattress sales guy if they haul away the old mattress, and after he answered in the affirmative, he actually asked him if they could do something nasty and mean to it first.  just to spurn it as it rightfully deserves before it gets thrown onto the trash heap where it belongs.

2.  after ordering our mattress, we went to red lobster to eat, where todd polished off two lobster tails in a single sitting and then proceeded to worry the rest of the night about how gross it was going to be if he threw them up.  (answer: pretty gross.)

3.  while we were out on our mattress-and-seafood adventure, atticus was at a friend's, learning to do this:

weird angle on his arm in this one.  it looks like he has a stump, but i swear there's a full-fledged arm around there somewhere.)

4.  said kid-watching-friends obtained this bike trailer for exactly $free dollars and gave it to us!! there are so many bike trails in our city, and i'm excited to take the kids out and about this summer!  (although, these things are two-seaters, so i'm thinking we should get another one of these trailers and hook it behind the first trailer and basically just start up a kiddie train like you see at the fair.  seems safe enough.  plus i could start a kiddie-train-for-hire side gig and make some sweet cash.)  it also has a handlebar thing so it functions as a jogging stroller as well.  

5.  todd got new shoes, which means finneas got new shoes.

6.  we tried feeding laurelai some store-bought baby food, and while she didn't gag on it like she did with the homemade stuff, her feelings toward it can be accurately described as 'indifferent-bordering-on-resistant.'  oh well.

7.  as a backstory, we tend to make our kids eat one-bite-per-year-of-age of their dinner before being allowed to leave the table.  as another backstory, i refuse to cater our dinners to be at all 'child friendly.'  sometimes we have food they like, sometimes we don't.  we eat what todd and i want to eat, for the most part, with no alternative options.  i get that might seem harsh.  but that's life, and they'll live.  i refuse to raise children who can't go on missions to other countries or joyfully receive hospitality/generosity from friends because they're too used to having their limited tastes catered to.  (another rampage!)

so all that to preface Finneas Versus the Dastardly Beef Stew:

pouting after being told to take a bite.

drastic times (and tons of procrastinating) call for drastic measures.

i think he liked it okay in the end.

8.  lastly, i am becoming unhealthily obsessed with atticus' hair.  i think i'm giving him a complex, since i laugh 'at' (really, with, though he doesn't get it because he's not actually laughing) him every time i get to style it.

what is not to love about that?!?!?

happy weekend, guys!