Life is suddenly hard and I'm annoyed.

So, ugh. Things have been on the fritz over here - our mower is in the shop, the electrical system in the van is  mounting a coup and neither of the sliding doors currently work, and the laptop has decided to stop turning on.  I'm currently typing this on an old iPhone, and it's monstrously slow-going.  Life is... a bit rocky.  (The other day I found myself crying and pounding on the rebel van door and screaming, 'I just can't deal with this right now!!' I should have also mentioned that pregnancy hormones are in the red zone lately as well.)  

So I may be scarce around here for a bit, to avoid hulking out and throwing the phone across the room when it autocorrects something dumb for the billionth time.  Once I get a reliable keyboard back (and once the van has been duly punished for subversion - I mean, repaired) I'll be back more regularly. But until then, I'll still try to pop in here and there for as long as my patience will allow on the iPhone. Which seems to last about two paragraphs, so I'll probably head out now.

Pray for my sanity and the phone's well-being. 

Lemon out.

swim lessons

the little kids are ready for swim lessons.

the big kids are ready for swim lessons.

mama is ready for swim lessons.

atticus' class is up first.

now it's time for penelope's class.

home again, home again, jiggity jog.

the weekly 'what's up.'

last friday, we headed down to my mom's for the weekend.  we left after todd got off work, which meant we arrived late in the evening, and all four of the kids shared a room, which meant they ended up staying up until all hours of the night, giggling and playing.  we finally had to separate them at 11:30 so that they would finally go to sleep.  then the next morning, they all were up for the day around 5:00.  uff da.  which led to this little lady doing the unprecedented:  falling asleep in someone's arms.  seriously, not a single one of our kids has ever done this past the age of six months or so.

sunday night, atticus came down with some kind of stomach bug and puked all over the van literally less than five minutes from home.  we spent the night changing bedding and keeping an ear out for telltale barf sounds, since he was even throwing up in his sleep and we didn't want him to, you know, suffocate on his own vomit.  because that would be horrific.  so we set up a makeshift bed on the floor in our room so he could be closer to both us and the bathroom, and we made it through the night getting up about once or twice per hour until 4 a.m.  on monday, i schlepped all the kids to the chiropractor for an immune system servicing, and none of the other kids has ended up catching it - thank goodness.  when you have a somewhat large family and one kid gets sick, you immediately start to do the math on how long it might take to run its course through everyone, and at two days per person, if we all caught it and there was no overlap, we're looking at nearly two weeks.  so i have been incredibly thankful that no one else seems to be sick.

the big kids finished up swimming lessons on wednesday, and both of them passed their levels.  i was so proud of them this year - they're really getting comfortable in the water and learning quickly.

i went grocery shopping, which was broken into three separate trips, and i took all the kids with me on two of those trips.  it is really becoming difficult to find an efficient, non-stroke-inducing approach to grocery shopping... but i survived, and i ate a bunch of chocolate to reward myself for not losing my crap.

the fence is still handling itself with dignity and grace.

and lastly, we're 22 weeks along in the pregnancy. 

i could write about eyebrowz for dayz. i'll prove it.

i've mentioned before that i get weird about eyebrows.  first of all, i used to have a lot of brow to deal with.  second, i've seen a lot of terrible eyebrows in my day (including my own, which we'll get to in a bit).  and now, a third complicating factor is that big ol' thicky brows are currently a thing, which is to be commended but has proven difficult to execute.

but let's back up, shall we, and start with some extremely flattering photos of my eyebrows when they were in eighth grade and going au naturale:

ah, yes.  what this photo doesn't fully communicate is that i, paige van voorst nee chorpening, did not actually make the color guard - my voluptuous eyebrows made the cut themselves, and twirled that flag like there was no tomorrow (although, due to their lack of opposable thumbs, they were also known to drop the flag quite a bit and didn't make the high school color guard the following year.  but that is no reflection on their true heftiness).  let's see how well they could play the clarinet at that size:

pretty well.  eyebrows of that force have considerable lung capacity.  i lent them my thumbs this time around.  they were grateful.

and then i discovered tweezers and offered them a bit of guidance.  not too much, to avoid smothering their free spirit, but enough to make them reliable enough to hold a job. 

see?  they're perfectly capable of structured fun.

but then i did a dastardly thing, a thing i swore i'd never do:  i overplucked.  i don't know why i did it.  maybe for attention, maybe for love, but probably because i wasn't really paying attention to how things were actually looking up there.  you know that thing where you look at yourself in the mirror and think you look one way, but then you see a photo of yourself and you look a whole different way and you're all, IS THAT HOW I LOOK?!  i had a moment like that when i saw this picture of my eyebrows, taken on easter a few years ago:

gah.  just, no.  they look like two pipe cleaners that got shaved and then glued to my face.  so, so sad.

but the worst part is that, now that i'm pushing thirty and have had a few kids and all the hair from my head and eyebrows seems to have immigrated to my chin and upper lip, correcting the error has been a long and arduous process.  i'd even given up for a while, assuming that i'd just have to be thin-browed for the rest of my days.  but then i discovered cher lloyd's eyebrow transformation and had renewed vigor:


to this:

right?!  right.  if she can do it, i can do it.  if her eyebrows forgave her enough to bounce back, surely mine will.  right?! right. 

unfortunately right now, i'm still in the middle of a pretty dedicated plucking embargo.  which is the three-month-long storm before the hoped-for calm.  i always look half-surprised and full-unkempt; it's pretty hilarious-slash-mortifying.  my eyebrows don't match each other, much less do they resemble camilla belle's.  sad sigh.  but we're getting there?  question mark?  and in the meantime, i'm bestie-ing it up with my brow pencil.  any tips you may have for me would be greatly appreciated.

and that, my friends, is how you talk about eyebrows for nearly 600 words.  

video vednesday: that sounds...really hard.

halfway to two chainz.

my dentist wears a gold necklace, and i don't feel awesome about that.

maybe i should take it as a sign of his professional success - blingy outward proof that plenty of patients think this guy is reliable for a job well done.  or maybe he's one of those financial gurus who is all about investing in gold, and he keeps his investments on his own person at all times for added security.  he's just being stewardly. 

but really, it just makes me uneasy - why would a guy with a doctorate get a spray tan (oh, right, there's that too) and wear a gold chain if it's not to secretly harvest my teeth for use in bartering with the mob?  that seems like the most founded conclusion to draw at this point in time.

so, here's my question: do i start hunting for a new dentist simply because our current guy is a little more jersey than i prefer my licensed professionals to be?  on the one hand, i realize it's shallow, because he does a good job as far as i can tell (i mean, i'm no dental professional, as is indicated by my utter lack of gold chains, so i have no idea if my teeth are as absolutely clean as they could be, but they feel smooth when i walk out of there, which is all i'm really looking for anyway since my teeth are pretty self-maintaining.)  but on the other hand, the fact that he chooses to wear a gold necklace legitimately gives me the creeps.  

what do you think?

the weekly 'what's up': laurelai edition, plus some preggo photos.

here's just a few things that have happened the last couple of weeks:

atticus celebrated his half-birthday.

he also drew a picture of the baby in my belly (on the right) and the baby after he's grown into a kid (on the left, cutting a rug).

laurelai was particularly adorable.

gahhhh, look at that wonderful baby belly!  i'm dying.

and lastly, we've started taking pregnancy photos.  i'm currently 21 weeks along.

happy weekend!

*ore *oney, *ore proble*s (except that $ can buy a new laptop, so it'd fix at least one proble*)

we have had the worst string of luck lately.  our internet router died last week, this week there is an issue with the power supply to our laptop, so it frequently won't even turn on, and now the keyboard is on the fritz - i have totally lost use of the button for the letter that follows 'L' in the alphabet.  working around that just to type this paragraph has been challenging (but kind of fun, like sudoku or quilt piecing).  starting now, that letter will be replaced with an asterisk (*). 

and this all is happening at the worst ti*e - i have so *uch to tell you!  like how *y eyebrows are looking as i work on growing the* out (not great), and how we traded bedroo*s with the kids, so now todd and i sleep in bunkbeds (a* i kidding?! stay tuned), and how *y dentist wears a gold chain and how i feel about that (again, not great).  

that whole paragraph looks like a long string of bad words.

anyway, i will see what i can do to re*edy this situation, but for now i will just have to call it quits on typing, because this stupid (*) situation is driving *e batty. 

video vednesday: WHERE'S MY ARM?!

i probably find the title of this video way more hilarious than it actually is, but seriously, such a funny title.

a not-so-nip-slip. also, a pun.

one would think, at first glance, that todd's nipple is peering through his ample armhole in this photo.  but it's knot.

hence, the fence.

so, we have a fence now.  also, i'm working on growing out my eyebrows, but let's talk about the fence today.

oh, how we've desperately needed one.  not that the kids couldn't play outside without one - atticus and penelope spend most afternoons kicking around back there and are trustworthy to stay put.  two of our three neighbors have fences themselves, and our remaining neighbor has a long border of perennials, so there are clear boundaries.  but sometimes during the winter, when everything's covered in snow and it's hard to see clear markings between the yards, the kids end up walking through the neighbor's flower beds and yard, which is a bummer.  not to mention our biggest (current) reason for needing a fence: finneas.

that kid is my go-all-out kid.  he runs hard, plays hard, loves hard, cries hard, sleeps hard.  he needs a LOT of physical input and opportunity for physical outlet.  but during the day (when he's not taking his four-hour-long afternoon nap - see?  goes all out) he can't be outside without constant supervision.  he's just that much littler than the other two, plus he's a bit more destructive and strong-willed, plus kids in a group of three seem to always split into a pair and a floater, and finn is usually the floater in that setup - the odds are just not in my favor that he'd be able to have any level of freedom without major repercussions.  but he needs the freedom to play outside more often than i'm able to let him now.  hence, the fence.

we had a pro come out and give us an estimate, but the only option we could afford to have installed was galvanized chain link.  which is obviously very effective fencing - low maintainance, cheap, solid.  but it's not the cutest option out there.  so i did some checking around, and cedar picket fencing from menards would cost us around the same amount if we installed it ourselves.  no-brainer.

except we had no idea how to install it ourselves.  so there was that.

my parents graciously agreed to lend us their time and know-how and tools and man-power over the weekend to help us install it.  

a gate got made.

this thing got rented (by me) and manned (by not-me).

some posts got set in concrete.

todd's incredible beard generated the extra power of two large biceps and magically hung some fence panels just by making eye contact with them.

also?  we ended up with a fence!

when finneas came outside to check it out, he went right up to a fence panel, peeked through, and said, 'look mom!  i'm in jail!'  and i was all, 'success.  my job here is done.'

and to think, it only took about 1400 hours and my will to live.  small price to pay, i say.

IT'S A...

...BOY!  you may have already seen it on facebook or instagram, but in case you haven't yet, here's the news again: the newest baby is a boy.  i repeat, the baby is a boy.  are you shocked?!  the kids were super excited... kind of.  (when the baby first appeared on the screen, todd said something to the effect of, 'look, guys, it's the new baby! do you see it?' and penelope responded with, 'i'm drawing a picture of a walnut.')

when we asked the kids what they thought we should name him, atticus voted for 'simon peter,' penelope voted for 'sam,' and finneas voted for, well, 'finneas.'  he makes a decent point - that name has been a crowd pleaser in the past.  i'm considering taking his suggestion - i would have to spend less time coming up with  new name, and strangers would have fewer unreasonably long names to remember when i'm introducing the kids.  if they can at least latch on to the name 'finneas,' they'd have 40% of the kids' names committed to memory.  it would really streamline things.

imagine this post has a rockin' backstreet boys soundtrack.

so, i'm going to sum up this blog post in advance, just for kicks.

1. i'm a party animal with a new compost bin.
2. we mulched some stuff.
3. parenthetical note: i have way too much rhubarb.
4. todd took some glamour shots of my compost bin.
5. atticus in a tree.

now that you know how this all plays out, back to the beginning of the story.

i got some birthday money this year, and decided to spend it on a compost bin, for two reasons: one, because i like to live every day of my life like it's a party, and two, because there was an open pile of garbage sitting in my yard all the time, and for some reason it was incredibly tempting for the kids to dig in it, so i needed to set some physical boundaries.  so i looked around at local places to get an idea of what a plastic bin might run me, and i kid you not, they're 50-100+ bucks.  for a glorified trash can.  um, no thanks.  i party hard, but not that hard.

pinterest is a veritable gold mine of ideas for DIY projects, but imma shoot you straight: van voorsts aren't handy folks.  when it comes to carpentry, we don't possess a) any knowledge, or b) any tools, or c) any gumption for managing a way around points a. and b.  but you know who DOES possess knowledge and equipment and gumption?  my parents.  so i asked nicely if they'd build one for me, they said nicely they would, i emailed nicely my pinterest finds, they (specifically, my stepdad) nicely constructed and hauled it.  and it cost me about $37.  and that, friends, is how you party in the van voorst house.

also, though, we don't own a pickup.  so since they 'just so happened' to be bringing up my compost bin, i asked if they could 'just so happen' to see if my grandpa would let them haul it up in his truck...and then help me haul some mulch from the city yard waste place while the truck was here.  (i'm realizing as i tell this story that it really does take a village to raise a twenty-nine-year-old child.)  they were all on board, so i also got a bunch of mulch and compost out of the deal.

then atticus volunteered to unload it.

i spread a large amount of the mulch under my rhubarb, mostly so i didn't have to look at the creeping charlie that is taking over that bed.  also?  i have NINE RHUBARB PLANTS growing in my yard.  NINE.  also, i don't even like rhubarb.

ahhh, here she is.  isn't she a beaut?!

atticus rested his work-weary body by climbing the cherry tree.

and that was our rockstar weekend in may, and also why we're no longer the eyesore of the adjoining neighborhood backyards.  PARRRRTAAYYYY.

one more reason why grocery shopping is a bummer.

all the best fun happens when i'm out grocery shopping and these people are left to their own devices.

video vednesday: STOP.

the kids' memory work, 2014-2015.

homeschool.  blah.  i'm not going to get into it now, but i have been and will continue to be brainstorming ways to tweak things next year, as i'm not thrilled with how this year played out.  but one thing i feel like the kids really accomplished was some great memory work!  little brains are so well-equipped for memorization, it seems like a shame to not encourage them to utilize it in a substantial way.  plus, they are really proud of the fruit of their hard work, and it really doesn't take much time at all (5-10 minutes a day, three days a week to both learn new material and review the old), so it's really a win in pretty much every single regard.

here's what all they've put to memory this year (not in any kind of order):

01.  Days of the week

02.  My phone number

03.  John Piper:
“If you live gladly to make others glad in God, your life will be hard, your risks will be high, and your joy will be full.”

04.  St. Ambrose of Milan:
“I do not fear to die, for we have a good Lord.”

05.  Skip count by 10’s

06.  Skip count by 5’s

07.  Skip count by 2’s

08.  Emily Dickenson: If I Can Stop One Heart From Breaking
If I can stop one heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain.
If I can ease one life the aching,
or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
unto his nest again,
I shall not live in vain.

09.  Our address

10.  Adeline Whitney: The Shortest Month
Will Winter never be over?
Will the dark days never go?
Must the buttercup and clover
be always hid under the snow?

Ah, lend me your little ear, love!
Hark, ‘tis a beautiful thing!
The weariest month of the year, love,
is shortest and nearest to Spring.

11.  Ephesians 2:8-10
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.  For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

12.  Ephesians 4:32
Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

13.  Micah 6:8
He has showed you, O man, what is good.  And what does the Lord require of you?  To act justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.

14.  Anne Bronte: Music on Christmas Morning (excerpt)
With [angels], I celebrate his birth;
Glory to God, in highest heaven,
Good will to men, and peace on earth,
To us a Savior King is given;

Our God has come to claim his own,
And Satan’s power is overthrown!

A sinless God for sinful men
Descends to suffer and to bleed;
Hell must renounce its empire then;
The price is paid, the world is freed;

And Satan’s self must now confess
That Christ has earned a right to bless.

15.  2 Peter 3:18
Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

16.  Matthew 6:19-21
Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.  But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

17.  Months of the year

i'm really proud of their hard work, but more importantly, they're really proud of it.  i'm excited to keep adding to their memory bank - right now we're working on 'song for a little house' by christopher morley, the vowels, and ephesians 4:29.  and an added side-bonus of all this memory work is that i'm learning as we go, too - one of the best parts of homeschooling, by far.

mes'morial day 2015.

every memorial day for the last few years (at least four, i think!), we've made s'mores with the kids.  it's really the only time during the summer that we do s'mores, since they're so stinking messy and we have way too many young kids to invite that kind of chaos into our lives on a more regular basis.  but once a year, it's worth it.

we started off the evening with a simple cookout meal (hot dogs on the grill and simple sides), and laurelai kept an eye on me while i was manning the grill.  backseat grillmaster.

photos don't usually communicate just how tiny she is, but here you can see, with a sippy cup for perspective, she's still an outright peanut.

then we stripped the kids down and let them roast their marshmallows....although, by this point, the grill was pretty cool, so at best they 'warmed' their marshmallows.  at worst, they held a marshmallow over a cold hole with a stick.

atticus' s'more was the closest resemblance to an actual s'more they got.  penelope and finneas ended up with cold marshmallow-and-chocolate sandwiches.  laurelai treated hers more like antipasto and only ate one ingredient at a time.

then, of course, everyone lined up for parkour.  because we're van voorsts.

and just one of the many, many, many (many, many, many) reasons i'm so glad they have a present, hands-on dad:  daredevil, high-flying stunts.