happy birthday to my five-year-old!

penelope turned five yesterday.  sheesh.  how does that happen?!  she is just simply amazing.  she's whimsical and funny and free-spirited and probably smarter than me.  and lately we've really noticed her growing in compassion and cooperation, which is really sweet to see.

she spends her days in dress up, offering to help me in the kitchen and garden, looking out for laurelai, pretending to be a princess, and squelching any misguided behaviors (or dreams) of finneas'.  she and atticus are still thick as thieves.  (luckily, atticus feels more convinced about the desirability of her presence than he was the day she was born:


she got to pick out the menu for the day, and she chose pancakes for breakfast, grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch, and hot dogs and mac and cheese for dinner.  apparently, turning five requires great amounts of energy and she was carbo-loading in preparation.  she spent her day coloring and cutting stuff out with scissors (two favorite activities), watching wordgirl, yelling at the other kids to 'stop ruining my birthday,' napping until 5:30 pm, riding her bike, and getting an encore bath.  because you can't properly usher in a new year of life with dirty feet and mangy hair.

i asked her if she had a good birthday, and she responded, 'yes! i'm so glad i like my family!'  well, that is advantageous.  and she's looking forward to her birthday party on saturday, for which she's requested a pink cake with sprinkles.  just like she requests every year.  she is, in todd's words, 'relentlessly penelope.'

happy birthday, big girl!

video vednesday: as you can see, tinder found a couple of men in my neighborhood.

you say 'tomato,' i say 'four score and seven years ago, i was very disappointed.'

my preliminary seed starting has been an abysmal failure this year.  first of all, i started them way too late.  second of all, i left my seed flats outside (as per last year's successful winter sowing endeavor), except that we had a really windy day and the flimsy pots blew all over my yard.  so then i tried to recover them as best as possible, and i actually had a few sprouts come up after a week or two.  but then i moved the flats inside, and made the dastardly mistake of leaving them within arms' reach of the kids, and all the popsicle stick markers were moved around.  it was seriously like one of those 'which cup is the bean under' scams, only i wasn't around to see the cups moved, and i really have no idea where to begin guessing.

so now i have like four pathetic-looking seedlings (out of around 40 planted) that have sprouted, but i have no idea what they are.  (seedlings are literally the newborns of the plant world, and just like human newborns, they're all kind of the-same-looking, all scrawny and fuzzy and sour-faced.  you could try to be nice and act like you can tell Yellow Grape Tomato's baby from Bonny Best's baby, but without its proper nametag to go off of, everyone knows you're just being pretentious.)  i could take my chances and plant them and be surprised come august, but i'm not a surprises-are-awesome kind of gal.  i don't like playing it fast and loose with limited garden space.  plus, i'm weirdly particular about tomato plants.  i need at least one salad tomato plant, one paste tomato, one beefsteak-style plant and one new-to-me breed.  they need to be heirloom varieties.  i don't know, don't ask.  i'm just a freak.

but most of all, i was crazy excited to grow 'abraham lincoln' tomatoes this year, for two reasons.  first, i am ob.sessed. with abraham lincoln.  i'm not going to get into it here, but it's true.  slap that bearded face on whatever novelty item you want, charge an exhorbitant amount for it, and i will definitely be like, 'that is a tasteful item, and reasonably priced, and also i'll die if i don't have it.'  so the moment i discovered that my library's seed exchange had a packet of ten - count them, ten - 'abraham lincoln' tomato seeds could best be summed up as beatific.

second, i am also ob.sessed. with first-hand farm accounts.  (i muttered this sentence to a friend the other day, and her response was to laugh and say, 'yes, you really are.  not that there's anything wrong with that.')  and there's one autobiography in particular that i read most years, and the author has only glowing things to say about the 'abraham lincoln' tomato.  i mean, i'm not at all surprised - if the tomato plant itself possesses any of the qualities of its namesake (stalwart, deeply-rooted, stately but relatable, firm but lovable, towering, etc etc etc) then there is no reason to doubt it would be anything but wonderful.

but anyway, all that to say, i have no way to tell if my 'abraham lincolns' survived the Wintery Blast, and that just kills me.  i can't guarantee i'll find replacement seedlings at the farmer's market.  so i'll just have to plant some stupid 'early girl' or 'black krim' or whatever other tomato starts Joe Blow CF Farmer's Market Guy decides to hoc.  and things will be fine, and my garden will be fine, and i'll probably live, but by golly, i won't be happy about it.

what was up this week.

atticus has discovered a new friend (and the friend's visiting friend) who hangs out in the yard that connects to ours diagonally.  she also has a sword and will therefore clearly be a lifelong pal.  

just a typical day in the life of a lost boy of neverland.

todd took the kids on a walk one evening while i stayed home feeling and acting first-trimester pregnant.  they discovered a park not too far from here, and i was really proud to see this picture of my normally heights-averse big girl.  notice she scaled the wall while holding a sword.

the two big kids attended our adult service this weekend to see the baptisms that were happening.  (40 baptisms and 1030 attenders across two services!  it is incredible to see god working through candeo, and it's also a bit dizzying to see how much has changed in the two years we've been here.)  it inspired atticus to draw the following picture of john the baptist, baptizing an anonymous nose-plugger.

atticus got a haircut and was beyond thrilled about it.

laurelai found our new box of gifted curriculum and got down to business.  she now knows spanish.

feliz viernes, todos!

still the same-old, same-old.

ugh, one of these days i'm going to get serious about getting back onto the blogging wagon, but today is not that day.  morning sickness/exhaustion is still pretty on-again-off-again, and when i am feeling okay, i have a lot of neglected stuff to catch up on around the house and in the yard.  plus, i made the mistake of starting to read 'the secret garden' for the first time, and you know how i get.  granted, it's a kids' book, so it shouldn't take long, but still, reading it in the spring is wonderful and absorbing and time-sucking.  so all that to say, continue to give me a bit of grace in the meantime!

miss you guys!

video vednesday: it's my body, i can grow who i want to.

apparently a number of you thought of me as this video made the facebook rounds.  i really cannot see why.  i am much less fun with the blowdryer than this mom, and i could learn a thing or two about lipstick from her.  but once you subtract that stuff... actually, yeah, you're right.  looks pretty much exactly like my life.

and preggo was her name-o.

so, the cat's out of the bag.  if you didn't see on facebook, we're expecting another van voorst in october!  so excited!  and dealing with a bit of trepidation.  and a lot of morning sickness.  (well, not as much anymore.  thank goodness.)

but first things first:  secret-keeping.  i hate it.  if you've read this blog for any length of time, you know i'm a really open book.  ask me anything, and i'll probably answer you with enough detail to make you wish you hadn't asked after all.  big stuff, small stuff, it's all fair game.  so the fact that i have been growing a whole new person inside my body, and have known about it for the last seven weeks has been killer.  not to mention, pretty much every photo taken of me over the last two months involves me laying on the couch and looking like death incarnate.

'how we managed 'family movie time,' or 'the only time in which my kids received adequate amounts of parental supervision.'

it's been difficult hiding this level of exhaustion and pure hobo-ness from the general public.

and there's so much i haven't gotten to tell you!  like how i've been eating cream cheese out of the container with a spoon, and spending tens and tens of hard-earned american dollars on frozen gluten-free burritos and panera clam chowder.  or how barf ricocheted back into my mouth, not once, but twice this time around.  and how i served a dinner of hot dogs and macaroni and cheese for the first time ever in my stint as a mother, and how my kids were OVER THE MOON.  apparently i've been trying too hard at this whole parenting gig.  as it turns out, kids can raise themselves, and are happy to do so when fueled on a solid diet of processed frozen meat products and tater tots.

and then there's the nervousness i feel: how is this going to work, really?  and just like having two kids is nothing like having three kids, and having three kids is nothing like having four kids, i'm guessing having four kids is nothing like having five.  some stuff gets easier as you go, because you've done this however many times before.  but some stuff gets a lot harder, because you're juggling another PERSON and their wants and needs and laundry and food and schedule and temperament and relational chemistry.  not to mention the physical space they (and their stuff) occupy.  our house is 1100 square feet.  our people are getting bigger and more numerous, but the house stays the same size... and there isn't an easy, quick or affordable fix.  and then the comments from strangers (and some from not-strangers)...ugh.  these days, the dread of facing people's unkind remarks is enough to make me want to mole-people it up for the rest of our childrearing years.  and then there's the thought of homeschooling with a newborn...

but what's always true is that god always provides for our needs.  maybe i'll figure out how to work the undetectable extension charm on our house.  maybe god will turn the tongues of ill-wishers into bubbletape before they can utter a word to me.  who knows?  all i know is that god is clear that children are a blessing, and i know i couldn't go a day without a single one of the kids we've already been given - i'm excited to have another child i can no longer live without.  what's better than four faces to smooch?  five faces to smooch.

so.  there it is.  all the stuff i've been saving up to tell you for the last couple of months.  so glad you're along for the ride with us!!

'what's up' weekly.

i'm getting really bad at this whole blogging shenanigan.  my apologies for the abysmal showing this week.

last saturday, my parents and grandpa came up for the day.  they were more on-the-ball with the easter stuff than i was this year (note to self: chicken nuggets from burger king do not an easter feast make), so they hid some eggs and let the kids do their thang.

after the egg hunt, we just hung out outside in the gorgeous weather.  penelope, in a spurt of neighborliness and civility, not only allowed finneas to ride her precious pink bicycle, but also pushed him around on it.  between getting to ride a big kid bike, and wearing his fire shoes (always whispered by finneas with an accompanying fist pump, 'fire shoessss'), he was in heaven.

then we took some time to run or skip or something, because what the heck is the point of being a four-year-old girl if you don't get to full-on sprint around the yard while wearing a tutu and spiderman snow boots?  nothing, that's what.  and we're not here to live pointless lives.

atticus took some time to contemplate the deeper things of life.

so, atticus has a hole now.  i was pretty annoyed by the crater in our yard when it was first discovered why atticus had been so occupied for so long by himself one afternoon.  but that 'THIS IS WHY WE CAN'T HAVE NICE THINGS' voice was quieted by the nicer-mommy voice that said, 'i really think atticus needs a hole.'  if anything, it might have saved a flowerbed from destruction.  so the hole has stayed, and gotten bigger.

penelope found an assistant to enslave for hours on end enlist to read 'the boxcar children' to her.

apparently, the hole was not enough for atticus.  he was very disappointed that he was not allowed to help me turn the compost.  in fact, to his eternal despair, the compost pile is entirely off-limits to him unless he is dumping something onto it with permission.

i got the chance to dig a bit in the dirt as well, which was glorious.  i think i know where atticus gets it.  you can see him in the background stealing sod clumps with which to fill his hole.

and lest you think laurelai wasn't real this week, due to her absence in the above pictures (which were taken during naptime), i am here to prove you wrong.  in fact, she was very real, and very much wrapped up and cuddling with me like a swaddled baby bunny.

and one more, for posterity's sake, and because i seriously cannot get enough of this kid:

fire shoesssss.

monday funday.

everybody loves a good berfore and after.  thanks, cedar falls utilities, for the pick-me-up in the newsletter this month.  so glad i get to call myself a mermber of this cormmunity - because if i lived somewhere else, i wouldn't have had the opportunity to laugh way too hard at this.

happy easter from the van voorsts!

seriously, how adorbs is this lady?!

we didn't have any grown ups on hand to take our photos, so we had the kids try their hands at photography.  penelope was the master behind this picture.

we didn't do easter baskets or anything, but we let the kids check out what they thought about peeps.  they were on board.

and instead of a big easter dinner like we normally do, since we've had sickies in the house for, like, ever and i had no energy for it, we topped off our morning with lunch from burger king.  yeah we did.  consider easter pwnd.

and just because i feel like it, here are a couple of our favorite easter songs:

'what's up' weekly.

i haven't done a 'what's up weekly' post in ages.  i'm a little rusty.

penelope is taking off in the reading department.  in this photo, SHE is reading 'dangerous journey' to ME. (it contains words like, 'therein,' and 'lamentable,' and 'destruction.')  she's such a boss.

oh, you know, just a little solitaire amongst the guard.

we have had the CRUD, and we just can't seem to kick it.  todd missed two days of work this week, which is absolutely unheard of for him.  laurelai was feeling very sympathetic.

the kids and i finally got some seeds started.  i know it seems late for this, but it turns out that cedar falls is in this horrible, anomalous section of iowa that is zone 4b, so our last frost date is JUNE 15.  yeah, and our first frost date is october 1.  kill me.  anyway, the weather was gorgeous, and i was clearly freshly showered, so all the planets were in just the right position to make me actually feel like doing something productive with my time.  and, worst case scenario, the seedlings are the size of paperclips by the time they're supposed to go in the garden, and i just order some back-up plants from azure standard.  no harm, no foul in pretending like this was a worthwhile effort this week.

and lastly, it's beginning.  it's only the first week of april, but the weather has been warm and it's rained some, so everything is growing.  including the kids:

SERIOUSLY, HOW DID THEY GET SO BIG?!?!  i mean, look at sister friend, she's a bona fide five-year-old, except for the fact that she's not five years old yet.

it's a good life we live.

video vednesday: don't say my name, you know who i am.

i usually hate low-budget parody material, but this is actually pretty good, so i hate it a little less than i normally would.  jk rowling herself said it was a work of genius, and who am i to argue with jk rowling?