'what was up this week'ly.

whew, lots of photos this week, which means this blog post has basically already been written for me and i'll need to use fewer words.  so i'll just sit back and let you browse.

tiny Zorro-lai battled the towering Biggest Brother.

she was victorious.  (i love this - he actually pretended to die of his own accord, to make her happy.)

atticus got a haircut, and just like penelope gets when she goes for a haircut at the salon, he got his very own soda.

he looked just like fuller.

this is the sight todd sees most days as he leaves for work.

penelope has a thing for leaves.  like, a thing. 

the kids enjoyed lots of sidewalk time while i finished up the front flower beds that i started overhauling last year.  it feels good to check that project off the list.

we took the kids to target and let the spring chickens spend their birthday money.  penelope bought a bike helmet (thank the good lord i was able to talk her out of the full-coverage unicorn one she was considering, which came complete with 3D ears and horn... isn't this curly head too cute to cover up with an eyesore?  i'm loving the pink one she ended up choosing.)

finneas bought a magna-doodle and this batman belt:

we had a memorial day feast, which i'll talk more about next week.

and the girls played Littlest Beauty Shoppe:

it was a great week!  now, off to clean the basement - it took a major hit when i was frantically pulling stuff out and pricing it for the garage sale last weekend, and also our toilet is leaking every time it's flushed, so there's toilet water errrwherrrr.  so, i guess our weeks aren't entirely picturesque...

paige van voorst, patron saint of birds and birdkind.

i mentioned last week that i chose not to mow over an injured bird, which then turned into an entire afternoon of babysitting this bird, and eventually taking it to a 'bird doctor,' and then almost dying in the woods as a result.  or maybe i didn't mention all of that...

as i was getting ready to mow, atticus came busting in the house, all in a panic because they'd found a bird in the grass and they didn't want me to mow over it.  'and it doesn't even seem scared of us at all, mom!'  sure enough, there was a very stationary bird laying in the middle of my yard, but it seemed coherent enough and, once we got it settled in a shoe box lined with an old baby towel, it was alert and would occasionally flap its wings, but couldn't fly.  my highly developed bird-health instincts told me it had a broken leg.

because it seemed like a nature study freebie for homeschool purposes, we used our audubon field guide to help identify the species (difficult to do since the field guide only seems to contain photos of the males of each species, and this bird seemed to be of the browner, plainer, female variety, so we settled on the vaguely descriptive classification of 'sparrow').  then i looked up how to care for an injured 'sparrow, unspecified,' and as it turns out, no one on the internet will divulge that information since it's illegal to possess a wild native bird for longer than overnight.  seriously?  i'm quite confident that, at any given moment, i'm only thirty seconds and few clicks away from knowing how to build a bomb, or make meth, or overthrow the government, but information regarding the saving of birds in dire straights is not public domain because it's illegal to do so.  what the heck is wrong with the internet?! - and humanity, too, while i'm asking stuff.

so anyway, it appeared we had two options: to keep the bird in a box until it died of starvation or internal injuries (cheery! humane! kid-friendly!), and if it survived overnight and waited until the morning to kick the bucket (as it would probably do, as it only had one useful leg for kicking stuff, so it would likely take longer) i could be arrested on grounds of violating the anti-possession-of-birds-overnight law, or two:  find a 'certified wildlife rehabilitation specialist.'  and lo and behold, there is a certified wildlife rehabilitation specialist living right here in town!  so i called her, and she told me to bring it over to her house once the kids got up from nap.

but by the time the kids got up, it was pretty late in the day, and she lived on the edge of town, so we had a ways to drive.  and then, once i got there, i realized she wasn't even home.  my idiot imagination decided to kick it into high gear at that very moment, and i became increasingly in fear for my life, as the house was set back in this grove of trees, and guarded by about a bajillion barking dogs, and completely overgrown, and (as it really seems when you're alone at a stranger's decrepit house in the veritable woods, and pregnant with four kids in tow, and being barked at by dogs) downright haunted.  and here i was, by myself, clutching this dumb bird-in-a-box, and darting my eyes nervously around the yard as i bolted up to the porch to leave the bird, as i had been instructed to do on the "off-chance" that she wasn't home. 

as i got ready to get back in the van, a car pulled into the driveway, and i was like, 'this is it.  we're all about to die.  and all for this stupid bird that's probably on its literal last leg anyway.  after my death, someone better write a riveting book about this at the very least.'

the driver got out and just stared at me, and i was like, 'i left a bird on your porch... i called earlier about an injured bird... so i left it on the porch... so it's on the porch right now...'  and he didn't even say anything, just stood there looking at me, so i just kept rambling, 'i called earlier... and i was told to leave it on the porch... i talked to linda?  i called earlier about an injured bird and i left it on the porch for linda?  so it's on the porch right now?'  and then he was like, 'oh, okay.'  and then he walked to the house.  (phew, death averted, but slow and painful conversational death not-so-much-averted.)

as he left, i got in the van, and we were finally making our escape from the scene of our almost-certain death! but then penelope started melting down about how i was being so mean, just leaving the bird there, since the bird wouldn't know how to get back to her nest once she was healed.  seriously, you try to be act all 'patron saint of birds' and you almost get yourself killed by wild dogs and silent-type strangers in the woods, all in the name of saving one member of birdkind, and you're still the bad guy...

and that, friends, is parenting in a nutshell.  

happy memorial day! here's some unrelated content.

just because i can, here are some pictures of our littlest van voorst being her cutie patootie self.

happy memorial day from the van voorsts!


i am loving our full weeks now that the weather is turning itself around.  this week had a bit of a damper put on it when i came down with a horrible cold monday night.  by tuesday i was running a fever and deep-coughing and managing a was really bad.  as of the writing of this post, it still hasn't cleared up completely, but i'm pretty sure i'm on the mend.  thank goodness - it stopped raining, and who wants to be sick on the couch when they can be out in the 72-degree sunshine?!

plus, i had to play caretaker to an injured bird yesterday, which i had much more patience for than i would have had it been raining or i'd been battling the heavy crud.  long story short, there was an injured bird in my yard.  instead of mowing over it or leaving it to die, we took it to a 'bird doctor.'  yeah.   it's its own story, i'll get into it later.

what else...

finneas moved out of his crib and out of the nursery entirely, onto a crib mattress on the floor of the big kids' room.  he's officially a big kid now.  also, none of them has gotten ANY sleep as a result.  preschooler + newfound freedom + unsupervised time behind closed doors = disaster.  hopefully it will get easier soon as it becomes more commonplace and he gets a little less amped by it.

welp, laurelai has initiated potty training.  the last two nights in a row, she has asked to go potty, i have acquiesced, and she has gone pee immediately after sitting down.  well.  i've never had this happen before.  but she must realize that, by being fourth-born, if you want something to happen, you're going to have to be the one to make it happen.

 like i said, the crud.  sometimes i feel like i can't catch a break.  and i also suspect that the couch feels like it can't catch a break, either.

the kids spent a lot of time coloring.  atticus sure is taking off in the reading/spelling department.  he can now write down his own stories and deep thoughts.

penelope drew a thumbs-up, which is hilarious and wonderful.

the kids now each have a foam sword to call their very own.  life is about to contain a lot more shards of stuff that used to be decorative household items.

and, just because outtakes are really funny.

yeah, girl.

and now i'm headed into a weekend filled with a garage sale (i'm selling, not buying), family movie night, mowing the yard, working on the front flower bed, and enjoying these crazy awesome people i've been given.  it really is a great life.

video vednesday: [i've nicknamed my favorite kid Noodle Legs.]

all in the family.

as you already know, van voorsts come with glasses.  it's just a given, except in the strange case of laurelai, whose beautiful, color-changing eyes seem to be fully functional at this point.  the rest of us, though, have pitiful vision.  and considering our kids act like, well, kids who act like monkeys, their glasses are always sitting wonkadonk on their faces.  lucky for us, we also come with a built-in solution to the problem.

enter: Grandpa Jim, Optician to the Stars.  what did we do before he moved to iowa?  well, i can tell you: we took a trip every couple of weeks to sit in the contains-tons-of-breakables section of the eye doctor's office while the frazzled optician there tried to file all the kids through before something really expensive was compromised.  then, once we started buying our glasses at walmart, we would stop in there whenever we could, but the folks there wouldn't even look at the kids' faces while adjusting their frames, which is the most ridiculous thing ever.  so needless to say those trips were hardly ever productive.

but my grandpa knows his stuff, after having done it for decades.  i mean, look at his tools: intimidating, yes?  also, some of them are older than he is - those are some well-made, long-haul kind of tools.

the kids' glasses stay put for a long time after he works with them, and that makes this mama very happy.  you know what else makes me happy?  photos like this:

he heats them up with a hair dryer to make them more pliable.

then, of course, i take advantage of the opportunity as well.

but this is my favorite part of the whole exchange:

and finneas has become obsessed with grandpa jim as a result.  at least once a day, he asks, 'grandpa jim fixes my glasses because he loves me?!'  yes, babe.  that's exactly why.

that's some personalized service right there.  so i can guarantee that whoever fixes your glasses is not as good as the guy we've got.

how we've been rolling. and it's not in dough.

long time, no write, huh?  a lot has been going on over here, so i'll sum it up with a list.

1.  after all my seedlings died, i decided to head to the farmer's market to buy tomato and pepper plants grown under someone else's care.  i felt like a failure, but it also ended up being okay in the end, since i bought all heirloom plants and can at least try my hand at perpetuating the species myself next year. though i don't really have the best track record, now that i think about it, so maybe i could have bought some good, old-fashioned genetically modified, spliced-with-fish-dna tomato plants and not really ended up anywhere different.  but i like to dream that one day i will become a full-fledged, actual gardener.  one that saves seeds.  one that gets their winter-sown seeds out in winter.  one that actually harvests - and eats and preserves - the bounty, instead of just being tired of looking at it all by august and pretending it doesn't exist.  maybe someday.  but for now, i planted one of each: san marzano (red), gold medal (orange), yellow pear (yellow, obvs), and pruden's purple (again, obvious: purple).  (also maybe a normal-person red one?  my neighbor gave me some starts of his, but they're unlabeled except that he noted they're organic, and they're all looking pretty disease-y now that they've been transplanted.)

2.  i got a compost bin, so we're no longer the neighbors with the open pile of garbage in our yard.  more to come on that.

3.  laurelai seems to be getting ready to potty train.  she has been requesting to sit on the potty, and while she doesn't ever go, she usually ends up pooping in her diaper like five minutes after she's done.  she's still pretty young for it, and i'm too lazy to start giving it a gung-ho before it'll realistically 'take.'  so sometimes i'm like, 'no, no potty right now,' the way an award-winning mom does when she's got bigger fish to fry, but maybe we'll be undertaking it soon.  it would be totally surreal to bring a newborn home to a house with no other diaper-bounds.  that hasn't happened since atticus was born.  maybe i'll have a few-month-long period, before the baby comes, with ONLY POTTY TRAINED KIDS.  this is a whole new ball game.

4.  i am sixteen weeks pregnant and still sick, y'all.  ugh.  not drop-dead sick anymore, but still it's-pretty-unpleasant sick.  tired of it, and grouchy about it, whatever.

5.  i felt the baby move for the first time a couple nights ago.  we're getting into the sweet spot of pregnancy, the time after you half-suspect the baby isn't real and you've just had the flu for the last ten weeks, but before the baby figures out how to wedge all ten of their tiny toes in the even tinier space between your ribs and then try to mermaid swim.

6.  i got all my seeds planted.  i'm trying sweet corn this year.  hopefully it grows, and hopefully eating it doesn't give me diarrhea, but one can't control all the variables in this life.  sometimes you roll the dice.  i also planted 200 pea seeds.  yeah, i counted, and yeah, i'm probably an idiot for planting so many, but peas are the one vegetable i never seem to get sick of, and they don't really get pests or require extra work, and they freeze well, so i'm all like, 200 pea seeds it is, and haters can drive it or milk it as far as i'm concerned.

7.  i've been desperately trying to get the kids caught back up on school, but it's so nice out, and stuff has been so hectic lately, that i really have succumbed to the reality that we'll just be casually schooling from now through the summer.  one weird silver lining of this is that being a bit lackadaisical about it now will give us something with which to fill a bit of time later, when it's oppressively hot and we're stuck in the air conditioning.  why waste the good weather being inside when we'll be inside later anyway?  also, it'll make the transition to a new grade easier in the fall, since we won't have had three months to get really used to living large and fancy free.  so, i'm seeing the positives here.  

HOMESCHOOLING AIN'T GOT NO RULES, FOOLS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

(no, seriously, we live in iowa and homeschooling literally ain't got no rules.  sort of.  iowans for educational freedom for the winnnnnnnnnnnn!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

and on that exclamatory note, VAN VOORSTS OUT.

g-l-a-m-o-r-o-u-s (oh the flossy, flossy).

before i had kids, i thought pregnant ladies were the adorb-est.  i even used to have this artsy photo of a pregnant lady tucked in my bible, and i would get so melty just looking at it, until my bestie was like, stop being weird about that stranger, and i was like, yeah, you're right.  even now sometimes, when i'm not pregnant myself and i see preggos out on the town in their kicky fedoras and maxi dresses (because all other pregnant women dress so stylishly), i'm like, GAHHHH HOW U B SO CUTE?!  but then i get pregnant again myself, and i'm harshly reminded that there is nothing in this life like pregnancy to make me feel less womanly than animalian.  maybe i need to invest in a fedora.  and a jean jacket, if i'm wishing for stuff.  and i should definitely at least get a haircut at some point.

i mean, sure, there are really great things about pregnancy.  other people, bless their hearts, are always fooled into thinking you're the adorb-est, and you always get the best seat in any living room.  random strangers smile at you in walmart (that is, before counting the herd of children you already have in your cart and then giving you the stank eye for single-handedly overpopulating the earth and somehow stealing food right out the mouths of starving african babies by simply reproducing).  plus, you know, you're pregnant, which means new life and all that, so that's a definite 'pro.'

but really, guys, how is it that i always forget how truly barbaric i become when i'm pregnant?  i sweat profusely, i make too much spit, my nose runs, my gums bleed, and i sneeze all. the. time.  it's like all my orifices are staging a disaffected coup.  my legs get restless, my body temperature is all over the place, and i smell terrible, all things that result in approximately seventy baths taken every day.  if i get tired, i barf.  if i get hungry, i barf.  if i get full, or eat the wrong thing, or eat too fast, or accidentally hear NKOTB playing on the radio, i barf.  my attention span is nil, my emotional fuse is short, and i'm only feeding that beast by trying to act like life can be sustained on gummy worms and waffles alone.  also, for no apparent reason, my breath always smells like jalapenos and cheese. (mmmm, jalapenos and cheese.  no, wait, ew, jalapenos and cheese.  but, maybe jalapenos and cheese...)  and, while it hasn't shown up yet this time around, i frequently get a weird pregnancy mustache.

but i will say this:  being pregnant with lots of kids around is, in a way, weirdly better.  they don't care that i'm smelly and unkempt and facial-haired; they still feel like cuddling.  when i'm sick as a dog, sprawled out on the couch, they share their most precious blankies with me.  penelope always tells me i should eat something to feed the baby in my tummy.  they try their darndest to give me some space when i need to take one of my many (many) baths.  i feel a little more human having them with me all day. isn't it crazy (and a little counter-intuitive) how that works?

video vednesday: [terrible beard, astounding skillz.]

so, i guess we're doing year-round school. news to me.

i've always wondered how homeschool moms keep up with school while early-pregnant.  turns out, i'm still wondering, since i just kind of...quit life for a while.  i'm not kidding, for six weeks, i was laying on the couch for 95% of all my waking hours, rising only to pee, or barf, or throw a handful of granola bars on the table and watch the kids descend on them like a pack of wild dogs.  we didn't do a single lick of school work for four straight weeks.  i still don't know how other moms do it.

and now, because we're out of the habit, and the weather is beautiful, and todd's work schedule is all over the place, we're doing like two days of school per week.  tops.  yeah!  i'm awesome at this homeschool-mom thing!  my kids most definitely aren't going to end up being thirty-year-old adults that still form their N's backwards!

lucky for me it's just kindergarten and the only things that really matter at this point are lots and lots of playtime (which, uh, believe me, they get), and early reading and early math, both of which they seem to have a decent handle on.  but still.  i have like twenty-one days of math to teach, and thirty days of reading, which doesn't sound like a lot until you start doing the math on how long that takes when you're only schooling two days a week...

so.  i have to decide if i'm just going to let it go and hope next year goes more smoothly (yeah, you know, next year, when we kick off the school year with the birth of a newborn), or if i'm going to just keep at it through the summer and try to get as far ahead as possible, knowing that things will turn upside down again six months from now.  neither option sounds all that enticing, but i'm thinking we're going to power on through the summer, doing a couple days a week.  and also counting things like 'swim lessons' as school.  because they're learning something, amiright?

not even year in and i'm already failing.  i have a feeling that the next twenty years of my homeschooling life are going to be humbling.  woo.  apparently it ain't for sissies.  and i'm kind of a sissy.  so wish me luck.

penelope's fifth birthday party.

i am not an imaginative party-thrower.  i have thrown together fifteen birthday parties in the last six years, and i've been pregnant at eight of them.  i resultingly don't usually have a ton of energy for it, though i have put a bit of effort into a few of those parties.  (and, now that i do the math, i realize most of the parties i actually worked at a little were ones that happened in a weird non-pregnant lull in life.  also not surprising.)  

there was that one year i was pregnant and we were moving and finneas turned one, and i really wanted to put a bit of effort in, but it was really only because i wanted to send out cards that said, 'finn-eas is one-eas, it's time to have some fun-eas' because when you say it out loud, it's pretty funny. but then it ended up reading more awkwardly than it was worth (and kind of looks like bad words for some reason), so i just made him a cake in a bread pan and called it good, and he LOVED it.

exhibit A:

so i realized that the age-old party formula, while not as photogenic as the circus of pinterest options, is still a hit with kids.  so i busted it out again for penelope's party, and - shocker - it was good enough for a five-year-old.  five-year-olds are much more forgiving (and honestly, more fun at the actual party) than pinteresty adults.  my two cents.

so here you have it:  balloons in at least two colors + streamers in at least two colors + letting the kid choose the kind of cake and ice cream + the right number of candles = BEST BIRTHDAY PARTY EVAR.

i also go the extra mile and make sure to provide a sandwich buffet, so i guess you could say i'm an over-achiever.  but if you were to say that, you would just be flattering me.

now, on to photos of the party!

high fives for the five-year-old.

and high-fives for the non-five-year-olds.

kisses, too, while we're at it.

a word about the cake:  both layers fell.  it was so dense, i could barely push the candles in.  we called it cookie-cake, the kids loved it, and i moved on with life.  pinterest can shove it where the sun don't shine.

and that was penelope's party!  it closely resembles many (most) other birthday parties we've had around here, but why mess with a good thing?

weekly 'what's up.'

not much happened this week.  i did some gardening and yard work, we did a (tiny) bit of school (don't even get me started... i'll have to tell you more next week about our sad state of school affairs), i took a bunch of naps.

so i'll leave you with the cutest photos ever taken.