weekly 'what's up': in which i use way too many gross descriptive words for the state of my eye.

This week.  Ohhh, this week.

Rocco was adorable (as usual), but sick for most of the week, causing him to regress to newborn sleeping and eating habits.  Instead of sleeping for 2.5-3.5 hour stretches during the day, and starting the night off with a good solid 7-hour stretch like normal, he has been getting up every 1.5-2.5 hours, barely eating and barely sleeping, around the clock.  Poor him, and who am I kidding, poor me.  Moment of silence while I pity us.

Also, as it turns out, that eye 'irritation,' as my eye doctor called it when I got it checked out, was actually a violent case of pink eye.  How do I know this?  Because after a full week of battling with the awful pain and disgustingness in that eye, it moved to my other eye, meaning it was contagious.  So now I knew what I was dealing with, but it was also a freak-out moment because a) I hadn't been as diligent about disinfecting everything I touched to prevent it spreading to everyone else as I should have been, b) it meant that I could spend another full week battling infection and possible contamination.

When the doctor had diagnosed it as simply a reaction to my face wash, he said there was nothing I could do but ride it out.  So that's what I did with the first eye.  But once it moved to my other eye, I started fighting that sucker like there was no tomorrow.  Homeopathic drops.  Folk remedies.  Essential oils.  Hot compresses.  Potato poultices.  Supplements.  Preventive remedies for the kids.  Disinfecting the entire house with hydrogen peroxide, and disinfecting myself with copious amounts of hand soap and sanitizer.  And you know what?  IT WORKED.  Eye One took seven full days to begin healing, and still remained itchy for a few days beyond that.  And meanwhile it was swollen, weeping, bright red, gritty, and it got stuck shut every night.  Eye Two was mildly irritated, but barely pink, only moderately itchy, and not at all weepy, sticky or swollen.  And it was fully healed by the end of day three.  AND no one else seems to have caught it as far as I can tell.  PRAISE THE LORD!

Okay, but enough about my eye.  I guess.

Rocco is still not feeling 100%, but he upgraded to a bigger bed this week, so at least he has room to move about the cabin now.  The little bassinet was no match for him anymore, so we moved the pack and play into our room instead.  And it barrrrrrrely fits.  But I wasn't ready to put him in his own room yet, so this is where we're at for now.

And as for other news this week, it has all been great: the weather was beautiful, so the big kids got to play outside a few times, school went well, January is almost over, and we're gearing up to start re-doing our kitchen!!!  I'm going to start sealing the bottom of our new butcher block counters tomorrow to get them ready for imminent install... oh. my. stinkin. word.  My cup runneth over more than my eye does, so I really can't complain.  Looking forward to moving forward!

large family love.

Yesterday morning after school, the kids all disappeared upstairs for a while and remained pretty well occupied.  They finally came downstairs to say they had set up a 'birthday' party for Rocco turning two months old.  They had made decorations, presents and a cake.

This really does say "Happy Birthday," but some letters were a bit side-heavy and needed some propping up; hence it looking like "Harrk Birthday."

This is the cake, built by Penelope.  If you look, you can see it has two candles and a number "2" on top.

This is Rocco, showing off some of his many gifts.

And this right here is a perfect illustration of one of the beauties of having a large family: there is so much love.  When Atticus was born, he came home to two people who loved him and adored him and missed hiim while he was asleep.  When Rocco was born, he came home to six people who loved and adored him and missed him (and threw him parties) while he was asleep.  They all have so many people to love, and so many people who love them.

What great kids, and what a wonderful, spontaneous surprise!  My life is G-O-O-D.

'harry potter happy fun time yeah' is over now. everyone return to your seats.

Happy Monday, everyone!  Back to the grindstone.  We took a break from school last week, so I'm anticipating today will be a bit rocky, but it was worth it - with everyone being sick and my eye being all disgusting, all I really felt like doing last week was drinking coffee in my sweatpants while I read the Order of the Phoenix.  So that's what I did.  Priorities, amiright?

And before you go calling me entirely selfish in my decision-making, the kids were seeming to need a break as well.  Not only were they not feeling well, but we didn't really even take a full week off over the holidays, so the last break they got was when they were down at my mom's right after Rocco was born.  And with it being the end of January, when everyone feels like killing each other, it was a perfect time for them to just relax a little bit and shake things up.

And that right there is one of the things I love best about homeschooling: it's so flexible.  I knew where I was at, I knew where the kids were at, and I was able to adjust things accordingly.  We're all feeling (mostly) better now, and we're rested, so we're a bit more eager to start school this morning than we would be otherwise.

That being said, though, break is over.  I think the kids will be fine, I'm sure I will be fine, although I'm sure one of us will cry (but only one, so those are pretty good stats, right? RIGHT?!).  Plus, we're in the middle of The Wind in the Willows and Heidi, both books I never read as a child and that I'm loving, so I'm excited to get back into the swing.  But today is Monday, and I no longer have discretionary Harry Potter time to claim.  So, if you get a sec today, raise a cup of coffee and at least search out a HP quote on Pinterest in my honor.  Because, as of today, it's back to real life for the Van Voorsts.



The birds are singing (the ones who are basking in South America right now, that is), the sun is probably shining somewhere behind all these stupid clouds, and we took an impromptu break from school this week, so it's been pretty good around here, other than the fact that we've been battling some bugs.

On Friday, I woke up and just felt really behind on stuff from the last few weeks, so I spontaneously declared a Snow Day and we cancelled school and I let the kids chill in their jammies and watch movies.  This one, however, decided to take advantage of vacation by getting sick.  Poor lady.  She spent most of the morning laying on the floor and battling a fever.  She refused to eat and I laid her down for nap early.

When I got her up from nap, she felt like a change of scenery was in order.

She felt a little better by Saturday, but was still running a fever Saturday night, so Rocco, Laur and I all stayed home from church on Sunday.

Atticus spent some time over the weekend cuddling his littlest brother and having a blast.  "Brotherly love" is a phrase for a reason - it's so genuine and sweet.

On Monday, Todd got the day off for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, which was good, since he started coming down with a cold.  I took advantage of having the extra help (sick though he was) by making a haircut appointment for Penelope and myself.  Unfortunately, no "After" photos exist for either of us yet, but I will remedy that soon.  Her haircut is adorable.  Mine is decent, too.

Monday night, I got a small shard of apricot pit in my eye, thanks to my exfoliating face wash.  It was a bit irritating, but not painful or anything.  I went to bed feeling fine.  But when I woke up and looked in the mirror, it was a whole different story.  (Look away now if you're easily grossed out - you won't be able to un-see the state of my eye later.)

Yeah, and this is the best it has looked since Tuesday morning.  Yikes.  It's been swollen, painful, and weepy all week.  It was so bad for a while that I couldn't open my eye.  I went in to the eye doctor on Wednesday morning, who said it isn't infected, isn't scratched, and doesn't still have anything foreign in there, so it's just a waiting game and it will probably take around a week to heal up.  Awesome.  In the meantime, I clearly can't show my face in public, so I've been hiding out.

Because I've been Quasimodo-ing, Todd had to be the one to take Atticus to his yearly physical yesterday.  Atticus is in the 90th percentile for height, and the 49th percentile for weight - long and lean, just as you'd predict, seeing as how that is how all Van Voorst kids seem to be made.

We're all currently coming down with what seems to be the same cold Todd had, and Atticus' ears have been bothering him this week.  So I put some garlic oil in his ears Wednesday night, and candled them last night, and he seems to be feeling better.  All the kids fell to sleep right away last night (which never happens, since they all talk and keep each other awake for at least an hour most nights), so I'm hoping their bodies will use the extra rest to rally themselves and battle the germs, and that the kids will wake up feeling better tomorrow.

And that was our week!  Whew.  Here's to hoping that we're healthier (and that I'm more attractive and less oozy) next week.

STOP. duggar time.

My hair has been out of control.  I mean, like, out. of. control.

Not to brag or anything, but the length of my hair surpassed that of Jaige's.   To commemorate this event, I wanted to take a video of me doing the Hammer Dance in a long denim skirt, only replacing the word 'Hammer' in the lyrics with 'Duggar.'  I was pretty tickled by this genius idea until Killjoy Todd reminded me that Duggars Don't Dance.

So it was back to the drawing board, where I decided to take a video of me doing the Dougie in a long denim skirt, only, again, replacing the word 'Dougie' in the lyrics with 'Duggar.'  ('Teach me how to Duggar, teach me, teach me how to Duggar').  But again with the whole Duggars Don't Dance thing.  Major bummer.

So, instead of getting to watch either of those kick-butt videos today, you get to see a couple of still shots of my outrageous hair before the haircut appointment I had on Monday.  You do not get to see "After" photos today because, as it was too dark when I got home from my appointment to take decent photos, I planned on taking them the next day in the daylight.  But then, the next day in the daylight, I discovered I had developed some kind of massive eye infection and half my face looked like Voldemort's, all red-eyed and slit-pupiled.  

So, while my haircut is actually decent, it can't make up for the fact that I look like the Dark Lord (plus, I've started dreaming about a black door at the end of a long stone corridor, so I'm extra sleep-deprived and I've got resultant bags under my eyes), I'm going to postpone taking "After" photos.  You're welcome.

All the shrugs!

("After" photos to come soon, once the horcrux residing in my eyeball has been destroyed.)

An afternoon in the life.

Adding to yesterday's post, this is a pretty average afternoon, photographed last Monday.  

It's 12:30 and I'm getting ready to plate lunch.  Then someone starts crying.  Someone is always crying.  I kiss the owie and get back to working on lunch.  Lunch is always the same: peppers or carrots with hummus, cheese, fruit, almonds, salad, and sauerkraut.  And it is always served on paper plates so that I only have to run the dishwasher once per day.  

Though these faces look innocent, they are easily distracted from their lunches by silliness, fighting, and independent reading.  To keep them focused, I read out loud and they (theoretically) listen quietly.  Today we're reading out of The Wind in the Willows.

By 1:30, everyone is done eating.  The big kids are given their clipboards for the last time today, so they get to work on their after-lunch jobs, which are pretty basic: they clear their dishes and wash their hands, and Atticus puts on his eye patch.  They both return to the table to read another Psalm together, and then I take the little kids upstairs for nap.

As I'm coming down the stairs, Rocco wakes up and is ready to eat again, so I grab all our school books and we get ready to start our afternoon read-alouds while I feed him.  He is not thrilled at the thought of being made to wait while I get comfortable.

On today's schedule: Trial and Triumph (today's chapter is about St. Francis of Assisi), readings from Genesis and Matthew, poetry by James Whitcomb Riley, a chapter in Heidi, a bit in Pilgrim's Progress, and our memory work (this week we're working on putting 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 to memory, and reviewing some of our past work).

While we read out loud, this is what Atticus the Architect does:

And this is what Penelope the Wiggler does:

At about 2:40, I feed Rocco again and lay him down for another nap, and the big kids are released from school to go play in the basement.  They decide they want to play Native Americans, so we find some feathers and barrette them into their hair.

And thus begins my chunk of alone time.  This is my lifeline.  I first check the Charlotte Mason group on Facebook, to see if there are any new tips or insights floating around to help me out with this crazy-town school I run. 

Then, I turn on an episode of Scrubs and listen to it while I edit some photos and work a little on the blog.

I check on the big kids in the basement and, well, this chaos is the cost of a little alone time.  I'm cool with it.  It's totally worth it.

And suddenly, it's 4:00, Todd is home early, and the afternoon is over.  It's time to go upstairs and get the kids up from nap.  


And that is how a typical afternoon at our house goes!

A morning in the life.

I thought it would be fun to photograph and document a typical day in our lives.  This was done last Monday, and it illustrates a pretty standard morning.

Rocco slept well last night, although after he ate at 4:00 this morning, I had a really tough time getting back to sleep.  So I'm tired and since he fell back asleep after his 7:30 feeding, I did too.  We get up for the day at 8:45 - so I start the day off already forty-five minutes behind.  We get up, and I feed and change him.  Then we head to the kitchen to mix up a batch of oatmeal before the big kids get up.  By the time it gets in the oven, it's already 9:30.

I get the kids' clipboards set up for their morning jobs, then head upstairs to get them started for the day.  The big kids are put to work getting dressed, making their beds, and cleaning their room.  I take off Laurelai's diaper and she comes downstairs with me.  

By now, Rocco is ready to go down for his morning nap, so I lay him down and then sit down to pump while the oatmeal finishes.  It's now almost 10:15.  Yikes.

Once the oatmeal is done and my behavior has elicited the question, "Why are you taking a picture of your breastmilk?" I get the kids seated and serve breakfast.  I spend their breakfast time cleaning up the kitchen, setting up their next clips, serving 'seconds,' brushing my teeth, starting a load of laundry (Monday is wash day) and wrestling with our trash can.

After everyone is done with breakfast, we read a Psalm together and the big kids get started on their jobs.  While they're working, I get Finneas dressed and make my (very necessary by now) coffee.  I drink it out of the mug I use every day - it's on my short list of things to try to save if we ever have a house fire.

It's now 11:00, and Rocco wakes up and the kids get started on their morning schoolwork.  The little kids play upstairs while school is going on down here - Atticus does his work in the kitchen, and Penelope works in the dining room.

While they're working, I feed Rocco and then work on a little bit of school prep for tomorrow morning. 

Then I make my breakfast, which is always the same: two scrambled eggs and two slices of bacon.  Sometimes I do not get to eat lunch until 3:30 or 4:00, and this is the only thing that keeps me full for that whole stretch.

Once the big kids are done with their work, they head upstairs to join the little kids for a few minutes so I can have a very quick breather of alone time.

But it is now 11:45, and though I've cooked breakfast and grabbed a book to read for the next 15 minutes before starting to plate the kids' lunch, Rocco is acting like he's ready for another nap, so I leave my food and pray no one eats it while I go try to lay him down.

But it turns out he's just playing games with me, because as soon as I lay him down, he goes, "PSYCH!"  So I acquiesce and let him stay up for a while longer.

But it turns out it's for a good reason - he has some rolling over to do for the first time everrrr.  I'll let it slide.

While he's awake, I take advantage of the down moment to go make my bed - this has not happened often lately, since usually he's either sleeping in there, or he's awake but I'm too busy elsewhere in the house to get to it.  But score one for me this fine Monday morning.

I scarf down my food and lay Rocco down (as he's now sufficiently tired), and it's now 12:30 and time to get started on lunch....

I took pictures throughout the rest of the day, and will post an "Afternoon in the Life" post tomorrow, where I'll document lunchtime, our afternoon school activities, and what I do with my down-time.  Stay tuned!

what's to the up to the WEEEKLYYY.

Nothing out of the ordinary to report this week, really, other than the fact that this little booger slept NINE HOURS on Wednesday night (10:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m.), and laughed for the first time ever when I tickled him.  No big deal, except that I'm in love with him.  Hardcore.

Also?  Todd bought me a new pair of uber-warm sweatpants that I vow I will not change out of until spring.  So, since this is the Cedar Valley, look forward to seeing me in these sweatpants for the next seven months.

We actually took all the kids out to eat and a stranger offered to feed Rocco some ice cream.  Uh, no thanks, lady.

And that's all, folks!  Except, one more, for good measure: