what's up (every) weekly.

i feel like, lately, all i ever say is stuff like, 'nothing to report.  it's been a pretty typical week.'  and guess what?  this week is really no different.  so i figured i could at least tell you what a typical week entails for us.

mondays, i get the kids up around 9:00, like i do most days, at which point finneas always says, 'good morning! where is my daddy?' like he does most days.  9:00-10:30 is a mad dash of making breakfast, serving breakfast, cleaning up breakfast, changing diapers, taking finneas potty, making the big kids pick up their stuff and get dressed, and (on unusually good days) brushing everyone's teeth and dressing the little kids.  then from 11-12:30, we do some homeschool stuff while laurelai naps - folk songs and hymns, reading, math, handwriting.  then another mad dash begins at lunchtime.  then, in the afternoon while the little kids nap again, the big kids and i cuddle on the couch for about 45 minutes and do our read-aloud stories, bible reading, character discussion, and memory work.  then the big kids head to the basement, their room, or outside to play while i do something entirely self-interested for an hour and a half, like read a book or watch netflix.  then it's time to get dinner, serve dinner, eat dinner, clean up dinner, clean up the house, etc etc etc, and monday is over.

tuesdays look almost identical to mondays, except that we have connection group in the evening, so i have to make sure to have found time to shower and put on makeup in there, and make dinner for our babysitters, and be out the door on time.

wednesdays are kind of a wild card.  todd is usually home in the morning, so sometimes i go grocery shopping after breakfast.  sometimes i go to the gym.  it's supposed to be cleaning day, but often that gets shuffled around.  the kids all get baths.  in the afternoon, i make the big kids nap, since they're usually up late for connection group reasons on tuesday nights.  we don't do school on wednesdays.

thursdays are also a bit of a wild card, since todd is usually home these mornings as well.  yesterday we took the kids to the library, but oh my word, i HATE doing that for various reasons, so it's by far a less-often-than-weekly occurrence.  (i usually put a bunch of stuff on hold so that i don't have to search the shelves myself for what i want. i dart in to check out my stuff, let the kids play with the trains for like .02, and book it out of there before someone starts to have a meltdown.  also, i usually check out enough stuff to last us nine weeks or so, since that's the maximum amount of time one can check out and renew library books, so i space our trips waaaay out.)  in the afternoon, the big kids do art activities while the littles are napping.

fridays are repeats of mondays and tuesdays.

it's a decent rhythm we have going, although not without its frustrations, and there are usually at least two days a week that plans get totally changed, which i really hate but que sera sera, no?  this week's quirks included taking laurelai's pacifier away for good (she kept figuring out how to detach it from herself and then losing it, causing endless fits), so we had quite a few sleepless nights.

anyway, there's a look at our weeks!

the whole9 yards.


well, folks.  yesterday was day thirty of the whole30, and i have to brag:  we did it.  we got through it with grace and dignity and at least less-than-daily meltdowns.  

the kids and i had the easiest go of it at the beginning, i'd say.  the kids were more temperamental, slept a ton, and fought all the time, so it wasn't rainbows and daisies those first couple of weeks, but they rarely asked about pizza, or why we couldn't eat noodles.  after the novelty of the whole thing wore off, they genuinely seemed to feel better, but they were mentally pretty over it.  and, honestly, so was i, once i started PMSing and wanting to eat everything sugary and chocolaty and salty and fatty.  those were a rough couple of days.

but we all made it through.  and i successfully never gave into the urge to cheat.  there were a couple of days in which i discovered that the banana chips or the mustard that i'd been serving had added sugar or something, which was frustrating, but i never knowingly fudged.  (ooh, fudgggggge.)  i'm proud of my accomplishment, since i'm not an overly self-disciplined person, generally speaking.

apart from the iron will it required, it also necessitated a bunch of planning.  here are some things that i think made it easier for me.

i took a week or so before we began to sit down and plan out every. single. thing. we were going to eat over the next thirty days.  i usually meal plan for dinner entrees and that's it, but this month i kept a menu for every single thing served at every single meal.  toward the end i got a bit more lackadaisical about side dishes and stuff (throw a bunch of roasted veggies, a salad, some baby carrots, some sauerkraut, and a couple of olives on the plate next to whatever your entree is and you've got yourself a meal).

also, because there was SO MUCH PRODUCE involved, we grocery shopped weekly, so i planned each week's grocery trips at the beginning of the month as well.

i printed out every single recipe i'd need over the course of the month, and kept them all in a binder with my menu plan and my grocery lists, so i had it all right on hand whenever i needed it.  (i personally hate getting to meal prep time and having to squirrel my way through my pinterest boards or whatever, looking for some recipe i buried, and then clicking the link, and then scrolling past the WAY TOO MANY PHOTOS that are always on food blogs.  it takes FORRRRRRRR. EVVVVVVVVV. ERRRRRRRR.  i'd rather just have it immediately in tangible black and white and times new roman, thankyouverymuch.)  i'd show you a photo of my binder, but i realize this post has already crossed the border into WhoCaresVille and is not coming back anytime soon, so i'll spare you.

and, just because i'm going to use whole30 as an excuse to act like an incessant dirtbag for another week yet, i'm planning on doing a recipe roundup next week of some of the genuinely yummy stuff we ate this month.  hold your breath for it, it'll be worth it.

now.  please excuse me while i go eat those chocolate covered caramels i've been lucid-dreaming about for the last three weeks.  ahem.

video vednesday: zebras: they're not your friend.

welcome to homie school science class.  lesson one:  Let's Just Clear Something Up, Shall We?

this is how we do.

parkour, playas.  parkour.

what's up - and who's down - weekly.

this has just been a blah week, guys.  i just feel... blah.  the weather is nicer, i'm supposed to be in 'tiger blood' mode at this point in the whole30, and yet... blah blah blah. 

well, let's just jump right in, shall we?  my house currently smells like a head shop, so there's that.  a friend gifted me an oil diffuser recently, and 'stress relief blend' has been the oil of choice now that the sickness seems to have left the building and more medicinal oils aren't as necessary.  as it turns out, patchouli seems to be a major ingredient in 'stress relief,' and while it does seem to be helping with the mood issues, it also makes me feel like my house constantly smells slightly illegal.  my eyes have gotten shiftier as a result.  so if you see me, i'll probably look more relaxed than usual, but somehow simultaneously more jittery because i feel like everyone thinks i smell like a criminal.  

and now i appear to be paranoid.  excellent.  i'm really building a pretty good case for laying off the oils for a while.

in other news, it has been beautiful here.  i'm talking everyday in the thirties and forties.  i feel like i should start putting sunblock on the kids when they head outside.  the sun has been shining, the snow has been melting, and the yard has been looking, well, pretty tragic, if i'm being honest.  the kids went outside to 'play in the snow,' which was pretty limited in its scope, as it turns out.

hahahaha, i literally belly laughed when i first discovered that second picture on the camera card.  the fact that he's full-on scooping a pile of snow that's roughly the size of a pie just kills me.

annnnnd last but not least, the whole30 report.  i wish i had happier news on this front.  we're all staying strong, although the kids are getting totally and completely disillusioned with the whole thing and ask every day how many days we have left before we can 'stop eating healthy food.'  and, you know what?  i kind of agree with them.  (today is day twenty-five, as though i'm counting or something.)

i bought a package of salted chocolate-covered caramels at trader joe's a couple of weeks ago, to save as a treat for after this whole thing (ha. ha.) is over, and knowing those things are lurking around in my basement makes me feel about as desperate as, um, a desperado?  are those guys desperate?  it sounds like they might be based on the name alone, and they're probably at least desperately thirsty for love.  and also literally thirsty for water, from what i can tell, since they're always depicted as being covered in sand and running away from the law, which both seem like dehydrating activities.  well, anyway, i'm thirsty for chocolate.  any and all kinds.  and i'm getting a little bitter at the fact that raisins are expected to scratch that itch for me, because hello, i'm not new: it's pretty obvious a raisin is just a grape that got left out overnight.  

i'm pretty sure this chocolate withdrawal is half my blahdom explained.  it also probably indicates that, twenty-five days in, my sugar addiction is still not under control, and that i should keep going beyond thirty days.  but guys, i'm just not sure that i'm strong enough.  i think those caramels from trader jose's have got my goat and really it's a modern day miracle that i haven't caved and eaten them before now.  i'm starting to talk to myself in the third person like a hippie therapist, being all, 'you're stronger than this, paige,'  and 'independent, confident women don't have to binge eat in their basements to feel satisfied with their lives, paige,' and 'it's just food, it's not love, tiny flower.'

that's probably just a result of the patchouli as well, though.  i think it's becoming clear that i really should lay off it for a while.

video vednesday: (YES RICE)

aaaaaaaagh, i forgot!

i love you. i like you. your hair looks pretty.

happy monday from one mister finneas van voorst.

to quote finneas' highest and most frequently-given compliment:  "i love you.  i like you.  your hair looks pretty."

now, if you don't think that's a great way to start off a monday, then you have unreasonable expectations for this life.

what's been up? (weekly.)

as i've mentioned, and as you may have seen on my instagram or facebook, we've had a nasty bug bouncing around this past week.  three of the kids each had a 24-hour stint with a really high fever, followed on subsequent days with lots of tiredness, meltdowns, and massive naps, as well as deep coughs and congestion.  it has not been pleasant for them.  we're past the one-week mark, and they're still trying to kick this thing for good.  so it's been a low-key week.  other than having some friends stay with us last weekend, we haven't really seen anyone, as we had to miss church as well.  yesterday seemed to be better, with most kids feeling on the up-and-up, and with warm enough weather for the older two to play outside for a while.  whew.  this virus ain't no joke.

penelope's been hit the hardest, with multiple non-consecutive days on the couch.  it just keeps coming back to bite her.

lucky for us, this one held out for quite a while before being defeated by the crud, and at least attempted to charm the kids back to relative health with her cutie patootie face.

here's to hoping for a healthy upcoming week!

coming to you in 2D!

for a christmas gift to todd, i asked a friend of ours to do a fun drawing of our family.  isn't it so great?!  i love how even the kids' glasses are exactly right.

the only difficulty i'm having is finding a good spot for it.  we don't have a ton of wall space in our house, and what we do have is mostly all taken with ginormo pieces of art, etc.  there's one larger empty space to the left of the piano, but as per usual, i feel the need to fill it with something larger-scale than this.  (it's hard to tell in the picture, but the drawing is 8x10 in an 11x16 frame).  i'm finding in this tiny house that bigger art makes the house itself feel bigger, which seems counter-intuitive, but also seems to work out okay in the end.  additionally, i submit with conviction that some larger art tends to make a house look more pulled together than lots of smaller art.  worth the investment in my book, but that is clearly a really substantial tangent.

anyway, i'd put this sweet drawing in our bedroom, but our bedroom is a whole sack of sad-looking, and would then only be a sad sack with a single pretty picture on the wall.  (one of these days we're going to live somewhere long enough for me to finally get around to decorating our bedroom, as it is invariably the last space i ever get to.  or, so i assume, since i've never actually lived anywhere that long to have gotten that far.)  plus, as is my reasoning for never decorating our bedroom with anything in the first place:  no one but us will ever see it, and that's a bummer.

oh, the dilemma.  where should i hang it, guys?!

video vednesday: salt. salt. salt.

turns out we're good-looking people.

or, actually, austin is a really good photographer.

i mentioned a couple of weeks ago that my sister's boyfriend took some family photos for us right after christmas.  (wow, it seems like a lifetime ago that it was reasonable to expect the kids to sit outside without coats on.  at least, without having DHS sicced on us, and rightfully so.)  also?  i love the photos.  i want to marry the photos.  i want to hug them and dress them in warm scarves and cute mittens.  because i'm a weirdo, but also, because they're so good and i'm so grateful.

like, he totally captured the kids' personalities.


and he got some great ones of each kiddo individually:

and some good ones of me and todd together (we have very few photos of the two of us since myspace selfies stopped being a thing.)

and - gasp, shock, amazement! - some of all six of us!

and some of our relatively normal, day-to-day lives:

austin let atticus try his hand at shooting a photo, and this is what he took.  not too bad for his first try!

oh man, i'm just so happy with these i could smooch my screen and then order entirely too many prints and then have to wallpaper my house in them.  but it really wouldn't be so bad, would it?  a house wallpapered in these faces?  nope, it wouldn't, i agree.

the van voorsts battle the crud.

well, i got cocky.  i was all, 'we've made it all the way to january without getting sick!'  and then, bammo.  we were struck by the great equalizer: the dastardly Upper Respiratory Virus.

so far, atticus and penelope have been hit the hardest, though finneas' immune system seems to be waffling about whether to stand and fight or crumble under the pressure.  it's really a day-to-day drama.  who needs tv when finneas has own immunological soap opera going on?  will it stand strong?  will it not?  WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN?!

i feel bad even saying it, since the big kids have been hit so hard, but it really hasn't been all that bad, caretakingly speaking.  there is no barf, which is always a major determinant of how difficult an illness will be for me to deal with, and the kids are basically just really sleepy, really cuddly, really sweaty lumps that hang out on the couch on their respective sick days (the fever seems to be on-again, off-again, and they've basically alternated days on the couch).

a lot of families at church seem to have been struck with something similar, and say it tends to last up to two weeks, so i may be scarce around these parts for a bit.  it really just depends on if barf ends up rearing its ugly head, which would be a total game changer for yours truly, or if the laptop's waking hours are primarily allocated to kids' shows on netflix.  we shall see.

weekly 'what's up.'

here's what went down this week:

.. we went to a wedding in des moines, and actually made it on time!  not being late to just one out of the last four is a terrible record, but i guess the silver lining is that we seem to be on the upswing?

.. we went to trader joe's, which is always the very very best, but i was wearing four-inch heeled boots at the time and also dying of hunger, which kind of put a damper on things and also made the whole ordeal more expensive.  (because of the hunger, not the heels.  i'm pretty sure the heels didn't have anything to do with the cost.)

.. i got my ankle dry-needled, which is a thing.  i sprained my ankle (twice, actually) over the summer, and it is still giving me serious issues.  (probably not at all helped by the above mentioned boots.)  there's a girl in our connection group who is a physical therapist, and she was willing to help me out.  it was super crazy - it's kind of like acupuncture, but instead of being based on energy points, it's based on nerve locations (or so i think... i'm actually not really sure).  so there i was at church with all these crazy needles sticking out of my foot, and all of a sudden my whole foot got really hot and tingly, and it has felt a ton better for much of this week.  voodoo.

.. atticus spent all of yesterday totally flattened by some upper respiratory virus.  no fun.  but he's been a trooper and has spent his time sleeping or reading books quietly, like the magic miracle child that he is.

.. in whole30 news, we're still going.  it really hasn't been nearly as bad as i had anticipated, for me at least.  i've had a couple of grouchy days, and a couple of really crave-y days, but nothing unbearable.  the kids have been powering through, though i think they were really feeling it there for a while.  lots of meltdowns and fighting, and they've been heavier sleepers than normal.  but they're on the upswing, and finneas especially seems to be feeling really good.  and i've been proud of them:  they once turned down ice cream on the basis that 'it has sugar, and we're not eating sugar right now,' and atticus was so confused when he saw todd eating frozen pizza because 'there are grains in that.'  we've had a lot of good discussions about food groups, and the effects of food on our bodies and our feelings.

as for meals, breakfasts still consist of rando fruits, veggies, nuts, nut butters, bacon, etc.  (also? these prosciutto-wrapped fritatta muffins, which are pretty good but a bit too coconutty for my taste.)

lunches have consisted of this lime chicken soup, which makes a double batch and is not good.

dinners have included a sausage/onion/red pepper skillet meal i threw together, this scampi recipe using ghee instead of butter and served over broccoli and mushrooms, this paleo chicken curry stir fry, and burgers.  somewhat less exciting than last week's meals, but not horrible.

aaaaaaaand... that was our week. huzzah!

video vednesday: she calls it a mayonegg.

whole30 snack inspiration.

boooooooooooooooooooks. twenty-fourteen style, playa.

it's that time of year again, folks:  the day on which i post last year's list of reading accomplishments.  i had been beating myself up over the fact that i really hadn't gotten many books finished, but then i remembered two things:

1.  i finally read the harry potter books, and if that was the only reading i had accomplished all year, i would still come out ahead, as each one of those seven books is worth about a hundred lesser books.  also, some of them are about the length of a hundred lesser books, give or take. 

2.  in reality, i read more last year than i have most years since i've been keeping a record (2010).  i was trying to remember why i thought i typically read forty-ish books, instead of the actual twenty-five-ish, and i'm thinking it's because i was comparing myself to louis l'amour, whose bibliographic memoir was among this year's books.  according to his records, he typically read 80-120 books per year in the thirties and forties.  all while overseeing a mine, rounding up buffalo, working aboard various ships and in various asian and european countries, and fighting in a world war.  um, hello.  anyone would feel like a failure next to that guy.

anyway, without further ado, 2014's books of the year.  (my five favorites, obviously after the harry potter series, which of course take gold and five stars and two thumbs up and A+.)

1. As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner (1/20)

2. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J. K. Rowling (1/23)

3. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J. K. Rowling (1/25)

4. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J. K. Rowling (1/28)

5. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J. K. Rowling (2/4)

6. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J. K. Rowling (2/8)

7. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J. K. Rowling (2/12)

8. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling (2/16)

9. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling (2/27) (yeah, again.  Don’t hate.)

10. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J. K. Rowling (on audiobook with todd) (3/15)

11. Bossypants by Tina Fey (3/17)

12.  John Adams by David McCullough (5/7)

13. Escape from Warsaw by Ian Seraillier (5/9)

14. The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin (6/6)

15. Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen (6/10)

16. Anthem for Doomed Youth by Carola Dunn (6/23)

17.  Have Your Cake and Lose Weight Too by DaNelle Wolford (7/5)

18.  The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton (7/6)

19.  Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand (7/8)

20.  The Widower’s Tale by Julia Glass (7/13)

21.  The Aviator’s Wife by Melanie Benjamin (7/20)

22.  Little Heathens: Hard Times and High Spirits on an Iowa Farm During the Great Depression by Mildred Armstrong Kalish (7/26)

23.  The Supremes at Earl’s All-You-Can-Eat by Edward Kelsey Moore (7/27)
24.  The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd  (7/29)

25.  The Paris Wife by Paula McLain (8/4)

26.  The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom (10/17)

27.  I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou (10/27)

28.  Why Do I Still Have Thyroid Symptoms When My Lab Results Are Normal? by Dr. Datis Kharrazian (11/1)

29.  The Light Between Oceans by M. L. Stedman (11/1)

30.  A Girl Named Zippy by Haven Kimmel (11/4)

31.  All Over But the Shoutin’ by Rick Bragg (11/11)

32.  Education of a Wandering Man: A Memoir by Louis L’Amour (11/24)

33.  Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer (12/1)

34.  The White Queen by Philippa Gregory (12/14)

35.  Mudbound by Hillary Jordan (12/17)

36.  The Hormone Cure by Sara Gottfried (12/22)

37.  It Starts With Food by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig (12/23)

38.  The House at Riverton by Kate Morton (12/29)

if you're interested in what else i've read over the years, you can find my lists from 201020112012, and 2013.  in looking through my lists, i've discovered that this was the year of increased interest in current fiction.  i'm hoping to read more classic fiction in 2015.  wish me luck!  what's on your reading list this year?

what's up bi-weekly.

ahhh, christmas.  christmas is a given.  but other stuff happened over the last couple of weeks as well.

todd took atticus on a daddy date to pizza ranch, and then to the farm and fleet store to look at toy construction vehicles.

we stayed up late a couple of nights for movie nights with the big kids, and watched despicable me for the first time.  i know, i know.

the kids got personalized breastplates, made by the loving hands of todd himself.

my sister and her boyfriend, austin, stayed the weekend with us, and austin kindly offered to take some family photos for us.  it was so great- the last official family photo shoot we had was done when finneas was under a year.  i think that, prior to this weekend, we had a total of three photos that contained all six of us.  i'm basically going all rabies-foam just thinking about seeing the finished product.

laurelai got to wear her first official ponytail, and also moved on up in the world, out of the high chair and up to the table.  it is so funny - she's already holding hands to pray and saying 'amen' at the end.  she takes her table-sitting responsibilities very seriously.  and adorably. 

and in whole30 news (hey, i didn't say i wouldn't talk about it at all; i'll keep it brief and contained to friday posts only): todd has gracefully bowed out of the endeavor.  the kids and i are still going strong, and it really hasn't been too bad.  for breakfasts, we've mainly been doing bacon, nuts, fruits and veggies.  for lunches, we've been having this new hamburger soup from ree drummond, with some sweet potatoes thrown in - it's actually really delicious, although you wouldn't know it from talking to my obstinately soup-hating children.  for dinner, we've really enjoyed these go-to lemon chicken breasts from ina garten (white wine replaced with chicken broth) and these new crackling chicken thighs from nom nom paleo.  we even ate the chicken thighs after todd decided to decline all the whole30 restrictions, and he really really liked them, so i know they're not just 'good for whole30.'  

and... here's what i thought my counter would look like this month:

and here's what it actually looks like most of the time:

i'm making kombucha, perpetual chicken broth, homemade mayo, and all kinds of other hands-on, mess-intense concoctions.  not the most pleasant, but not as bad as i expected.  i tried to do most of the prep for the week on monday, so i didn't have to do much else throughout the rest of the week, and i think that has helped me keep my sanity.

except for when i look inside my disaster of a fridge.  then i kind of want to scream.

that opened-before-this-all-began bottle of moscato mocks me from the fridge door.

anyway.  there is our two weeks, and an intimate look into my utter failure to keep my whole30 antics to myself.  forgive me, and also have a great weekend!

video thursday: do you know what the word demeaning is?, ummmm...

happy new year, suckers!