what's up weekly: 'totally gorg kitchen update' edition, at which you will cry great tears of joy.

This week involved a lot, as I've already mentioned - on Monday, once our house is officially under contract, I will share more of the crazy details with you of how our house sold.  But for now, I'll just have to show you what's been happening in our kitchen.

A couple of 'before' shots, with the humiliating paint swatches that have been on the walls since Laurelai was a newborn, and the crazy sloppy paint job around the benches.  We have been needing to do a facelift for quite some time.

And then our friend Stan came over with a saw, and stuff started looking up pretty quickly.

Stan and Todd got the counters installed, and I sanded and sealed them.

Then Todd got the sink and faucet installed with the help of our friend Travis.  AND OH MY WORD, IS IT NOT SO GORGEOUS YOU COULD CRAP?!

The counters have been curing all week, which is why they're still bare of useful kitchen items.  I can officially put stuff back (i.e., get them out of the entryway) today.  We still have subway tiles to install on the backsplash, floor tiles to install, and paint to slap on the walls.  I'm also needing to figure out what I want to do for the table in the breakfast nook.  But seriously - this kitchen already looks so fancy I could die.

Other than kitchen stuff, I spent much of the early part of the week cleaning like a madwoman.  Our whole basement got reorganized, which means nothing to anyone but me, but I'm pretty proud of my efforts.  I can show you photos next week. 

I'm so stoked to shout from the mountaintops the story of our house selling, so wait with bated breath for that fairy tale.

Annnnd, last but not least, this was documented and every time I look at this photo I get a little drunk on the thought of the smell of his head.  The end.

just popping in with some run-of-the-mill news.

I can't stay long.  I'm exhausted from the cleaning spree over the last few days.  BUT, the effort seems to have paid off, as we are now in the process of drawing up the sale contract with a couple from our connection group.  HOW CRAZY IS GOD, Y'ALL?!?!

So, just to reiterate: one week to the day after we finally submitted to his plan for us, our house sold.  Before listing it.  While the kitchen is an absolute pit.  Who can do what God can do?!  NO ONE, PLAYA.  NO ONE.

i'm a maniac, maniac on the floor. and i'm cleaning like i've never cleaned before.

Our house currently looks like a war-zone.  When we decided last week that we will be moving, I started inventorying the house, making to-do lists and to-clean lists and to-purge piles.  Then on Saturday, we ripped out our old counters and sink, and dropped in our new ones.

(Sorry; the "After" photos with the sink installed were all taken after dark - I'll get some decent ones taken soon and get them up - you're gonna plotz.  In a good way.)

To say I am in love is an understatement.  The counters are oil-sealed, so they're a really, really pretty natural color and texture.  The sink is HUGE and deep and stainless.  The faucet is perfecto.  It's going to be harrrrrrd to leave this level of gorgeousness.  But I guess I'll take one for the team... and then recreate this exact same kitchen wherever we end up, because I'm pretty sure that's going to happen.  Granted, we still have backsplash tiles and floor tiles to install, benches to paint and a table to build for the breakfast nook, and walls to paint.  But seriously, it's going really well and looking really good.

But did you know construction makes a lot of mess?  Well, if you didn't know: construction makes a lot of mess.  All my dishes are filled with sawdust.  I can't set anything on the counters because the finish is still curing, so all our dirty dishes are sitting on the stove.  I haven't been able to use the sink or run the dishwasher while the plumbing has been detached, so I did dishes in the bathtub yesterday.  It's kind of a wreck, and we're still only halfway through.

And here's the really crazy thing: somehow, somehow, we have a showing lined up for Wednesday.  Uhhhm, what?  So I'm running around like a crazed lunatic, trying to get the house at least a bit presentable.  The couple that's coming understands we're still in-progress, but still... 

So my to-do list is crazy long this week:  I went to Lowe's and the consignment store yesterday, followed by two visits from the plumber, plus we had dinner guests last night.  Today is going to involve a trip to drop stuff off at Goodwill, crazy amounts of basement organization and dealing with all the garbage that weirdly accumulated in our driveway all winter under the snow.  Tomorrow will entail a top-to-bottom cleaning sesh.  And that will mark Day Seven since simply deciding to move.

I have a feeling this process is going to be a bit of a whirlwind.

We're praying our house will sell without needing to list it, for full asking price.  Too crazy?  Nothing's too crazy for God - please join us in praying!

just to change things up a bit...

"I prayed specifically over the passage of Scripture where Jesus says, 'Come to me, you who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.'  And I railed against God, asking, 'Where is my rest?  How will you take my burden, God?  And I don't want some kind of hokey spiritual rest, I want actual, physical rest.  Will you give that to me?"

I'm a contributing writer on One Word Life today - click over to read the rest of my story of perseverance in parenting!  (And poke around a bit while you're over there - it's a really cool project that I'm so excited to be a part of!)

we interrupt your regularly scheduled programming...

Well, folks.  This week was a normal week with some notable news - Penelope lost her first tooth, we're getting a little more serious about sleep-training Rocco, and we had the week off school so I cleaned out some closets and got rid of a bunch of stuff.  But this week also came with bigger fish to fry:  we decided we're moving again.  To church plant again.  This time, in Columbia, Missouri.

If you're feeling a bit blindsided, so are we.  We have known about this opportunity to church plant for months, and have repeatedly said, 'no, absolutely not.'  The 'con' list seemed to far outweigh the 'pro's.  But still, it never felt like we were able to put the idea to rest.

Recently, we spent more and more time praying and asking God for clarity, and we really feel like he delivered and is calling us to Columbia.  One morning, before doing my Bible read-through, I asked God to show me what he would have for us.  As I was reading in that day's passage from Genesis, I came across the story of God calling Abram out of Ur, saying, "Go from your country, your people, and your father's household, and go to the land I will show you."  I felt very strongly like the Spirit was addressing my biggest argument for staying here:  I didn't want to move farther away from my family.  But I felt God asking me if I would trust him with leaving 'my' country and 'my' people to go where he would lead us.

I didn't say any of this to Todd right away, though - I had heard God, and I'd go if he was calling us, but I didn't want to say out loud that I thought that's what he was calling us to.  Pride, or fear, or stubbornness would all be reasonable guesses why.  So I stayed quiet - until Todd said that a friend had challenged him with this very same passage from Genesis, encouraging us to go.  At that point, we had a pretty serious discussion about how we felt God was moving us.

Todd then sought counsel by asking our church elders what they thought he should do.  The chorus was a resounding "Go!  You're needed more there than here."  So Sunday afternoon, Todd prayed that God would give him a dream telling him what to do.  That afternoon during a nap, he dreamt we moved to Columbia.  And we were pretty hard pressed to find a single moment where we felt like our prayers were answered with anything other than the urge to go.  So nothing was left to do but finally get the gumption to submit to what we were being told.  And that took a few days, because the 'con' list is still really long, but at a certain point it had become moot and we had to admit that.

So we're going.  And I have mixed feelings about it.  I mean, first of all, we've never even been to Columbia.  Like, ever.  So that's kind of a big deal.  Plus, we already did this not that long ago, and while it was super great, it was also super difficult.  We have to sell our house (so if you know of anyone who's looking...!).  We have to find Todd a  job.  We have to pack (worst thing ever).  We'll be farther away from all of our family, and we'll have to leave the friends we've made... again.  And none of that is to even mention the stress and loneliness of church planting itself.  It could get rough here for a while.

But I'm confident now that God is calling us there, and I know that our best interests lie in following where he would have us.  There is no good thing apart from him, so I'm sure the single 'pro' outweighs all those 'cons.'  I'm excited to see God show us what he has planned for us, and I'm choosing (sometimes more intentionally than others) to see this as an adventure.  This time around, I will actively try to refuse self-pity and find joy in knowing that following God is the only true source of peace and happiness, even when (and perhaps especially when) he's calling us to do difficult things.  Please be praying for us!

STOP. it's no longer duggar time.

So, remember how I got my hair cut because I'd been looking like a Duggar, but couldn't show you because my eye got really nasty and kind of took over my face?  And I had been lamenting the fact that I couldn't dance to show off my crazy hair, because Duggars Don't Dance. 

But now my eye is normal-sized and normal-colored again, and now that five inches of my hair has gone to that great salon floor in the sky, I can dance (and look mildly insane) all I want.  So I shall.

My hair is actually still really long... so maybe I shouldn't have been dancing after all.

a very van voorst valentine's day.

For Valentine's Day this year, I wanted to do something to involve the kids in a meaningful way.  So I picked up a few roses, and encouraged the boys to each give one to each of their sisters.  The boys got to practice being gentlemen, and the girls loved it.

Then Todd gave each of the girls a little 'love bug' plant.

Then Laurelai broke, not one, but both of her roses less than five minutes after receiving them.  Shocker, I know.

She was, um, pretty bummed.

And don't worry about the boys - not only did I pick up enough chocolate truffles for everyone to share, but Papa Tony and Grandma Jacqi sent a huge box of goodies for the kids.  The boys really didn't care about flowers, but you can bet they cared about candy, so everyone was happy at the end of the day.  Except Laurelai, when reliving the terrible moments her roses bit the dust.

chore clipboard for our pre-reader.

Finneas has been asking for a while if he can have a 'jobs' clipboard of his own, like the big kids have.  (For more about our clipboard system, check out past blog posts here and here.)  I've procrastinated for a couple of reasons, one being that he can't actually read the jobs on the clothespins, so a clipboard would end up being useless.  Nor does he have the motor skills necessary to allow me to trust him to keep track of moving a bunch of clothespins around.  Plus, I keep telling Todd it reminds me of when Israel kept badgering Samuel to give them a king and he kept trying to tell them they didn't really know what they were asking for - it's all a great idea until it becomes burdensome (which will happen sooner rather than later), then people rebel against the very thing they thought they wanted.

But, badger me he did, so I finally gave in.  Sometimes preschoolers, like Israelites, just do not listen to reason.  Go figure.  I had to figure out a way around the reading and motor skills thing, though.  

Back when I worked in Special Ed, we used a program called Boardmaker to walk students through their schedules and responsibilities.  The pictures are perfect for stuff like this.  Unfortunately, I don't have the Boardmaker program on our computer, nor did I feel like investing in it for a simple clipboard project.  So I just googled Boardmaker images for the kinds of things I was looking for.  Some pictures were easier to find than others.

I'm just starting him off with some very, very basic things he can start taking some independent responsibility for: he has pictures for 'get dressed,' 'make bed,' 'clean up,' 'brush teeth,' 'clear dishes,' 'wash hands,' and 'help mommy.'

Assigned jobs start on the left, then can be moved to the right as they're finished.  Each picture is laminated, and has Velcro on the back to make it easy to move back and forth.

See:  my stubby thumb will demonstrate.

I had Finneas test it out yesterday to make sure he was able to understand how to use his board, and what each picture meant.  He moved a couple of his pictures to the right side of his board to show you that he's not only capable, but he's also (currently) enthusiastic.

This whole project cost around $10 - I got the mini clipboard at back to school time for under a buck, and the laminating kit and box of Velcro were each $4 - $5 at Wal-Mart.  So as long as we get $10 of use out of it, I'm not really out anything.  

So, everyone wish Finneas luck as he ventures into the land and life of being a Big Kid.  

the whutupdate. (you won't believe how pretty this week looks!)

Happy Friday, y'all.  I think you can tell what the Most Exciting News of the Week Award goes to: the blog got a massive and long-overdue facelift!  This has been in the works for about three years... I'm nothing if not the tortoise in the fable.  But, finish line reached.  Doesn't it look grand??

AND THERE IS MORE GOOD NEWS!  After we push our way through today, we're done with this six-week stretch of school, and ready for a break.  Whew.  I'm trying to decide whether we'll take one or two weeks off.  It's mid-February, and it seems like it might do our souls good to wait until March to start back up again, plus I'm getting the Spring Cleaning Fever.  

At least once a year, I start getting the jibblies about how disorganized and dirty everything has gotten since the last time I scrubbed everything down within an inch of its life.  The kids have been stuck inside all winter, which means toy bins are crazy messed up and stuff is strewn into every nook of every cranny.  The kitchen cabinets and windows are all covered with a thin film of yuck.  Don't even get me started on the state of the basement.  Everything is just gross and messy and I'm getting antsy to do something about it.  So we might take two weeks off to give me as much time as possible to hopefully get a handle on everything.  We shall see.

And lastly, I haven't gotten around to sealing our countertops yet, but that is on the docket for this weekend so that NEXT WEEKEND we can get those installed, followed by our new sink and new backsplash tile.  Then after that we're ready for floor tiles and appliances and paint and art... This is getting real, people.  My kitchen is about to look awwwwwwwwwesome.  I'll have to show you a preview next week.

And with that, here are a couple of photos of some random stuff from the week.  I gave them artsy names because I can.

Brothers Coloring, 2016:

Brothers Coloring II, With an Audience

Penelope Looking Resigned to the Unknown; Brothers Looking Optimistic:

Until next week!

video vednesday: yeah, well, there's something i gotta tell you about her.

...just remind me later.

rocco's modern life: three months.

My littlest buddy is now three months old!  We survived the newborn stage crapstorm with aplomb!

Actually, until the last couple of weeks, it was almost like we never even had a newborn.  He was such a great eater and sleeper that the state of overwhelm that is generally inevitable was, well, evitable?  Granted, the last few weeks have seen a regression in sleeping and eating habits, but you know what?  I'll still take it, because look at this face:


I know this photo is blurry, but he just looks so cute!

Oh my word, he is such a doll.  He's got these huge ol' hands, just like Atticus did, and he loves sucking multiple fingers at a time, just like Finneas did (and does).  He's super strong and can hold his head up during tummy time for 15-20 minutes, no prob.  (Some of that is probably due to the fact that I let him sleep on his tummy, so I'll walk in the room and he's already up and just checking stuff out.)

To get to sleep, he turns his head from one side to the other for like ten minutes straight.  He smiles nonstop. He actually sleeps in his carseat when necessary, which is a first for a Van Voorst kidlet.  He isn't a baby who always smells like old milk, which is great, but he is super urpey.  Bummer.  He's growing super well, and is almost out of his 3-month clothing, right on schedule!

He is loved and adored by one and all!

I know this photo is blurry, too, but again, he just looks so cute!

And that's our boy, our tiny Rocky.


This week was full of the usual-of-late: school, snow, and sickness.

Rocco is still getting over his cold, though he's definitely on the upswing.  He's started sleeping for much longer stretches during the day (his feedings are almost always three hours apart) and for slightly longer stretches at night - three to four hours at a time, which is no seven to nine hours like he used to do, but it's also no 1.5 to two hours either, which is where we were at for a week or so.

My eyes are finally totally healed up, and no one else got any of that nastiness, which is great.  My throat has been hurting for the last three weeks, but that seems to be healing as well, so between that and getting more sleep this week, I'm feeling like a veritable spring morning.

Unfortunately, Todd is down for the count - again.  We started January off with him catching a horrible cold, then we transitioned into my eye thing, then Rocco's cold, which spread mildly between the kids, and now that we're all feeling better, Todd seems to have the flu.

Someone has been sick nearly every day since the beginning of the year, and I, for one, am ready to be done with it.  Luckily, even though WINTER STORM KAYLA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! dumped some snow over the last few days, it's stayed pretty warm, so I've been letting the big kids spend the afternoons outside where hopefully the sunshine and fresh air will keep them healthy, and the fact that they always forget to close the door behind them will help to air the bugs out of the house.  Fingers crossed.

Other than that, things have been trucking along pretty smoothly.  Rocco turned three months old, and is still the sweetest thing, even though he's been sick.  I'll post more about him next week.

As for what I've been reading, Todd and I have been reading through Shepherding A Child's Heart together in the evenings, which has been great, as I've felt a little overwhelmed lately at the prospect of consistent, diligent discipline of so many kids.  It's been great to get some guidance and be able to refocus.  I'm also hoping to finish up L'Abri today - my word, it's an incredible story.  If you haven't read it, you really should!  AND, I've decided to try to do a six-month read-through of the Bible, and I'm asking for your prayers that I'd stay committed and find the time each day to stay on track.

And that's where we're at as we head into February!


Oh, no.  I've discovered something dangerous.  Our library has a used book store. 

I've only been in there three times, so I don't really know all the details, but it seems to me they don't do occasional book sales, they just put everything out as it comes, if that makes sense.  And admittedly, this softens my heart a little toward our library, which could use a few points in its favor.  After all, they allow patrons to look at internet porn out in plain sight in the middle of the afternoon.  Plus, there's always a waitlist for the Harry Potter books.  Spring for a couple more sets, ya old cheapskate library.  Or better yet, maybe I should just finally buy them for myself and stop expecting the library to be my everything.

Anyway, I got spoiled when we lived in Ames, where the library is EXCELLENT and I never saw anyone looking at porn.  So all that to say, I've half-hated our library the whole time we've been here.  It needed a little sumpn-sumpn going for it, and this used book store is at least a step in that direction.

Exhibit A:

All of the above books were 50 cents or less, except for Walden, which was a brand new, nicely bound hardback copy for $2, and weirdly, Journey to the Centre of the Earth, which was a paperback in okay condition that cost a whole dollar.  Still scratching my head on that one, but I'm the sucker who paid a dollar for it, so joke's on me.  But either way, I got this whole stacka stuff for well under ten bucks.

Exhibit B:

Now, these are just cool, and the language is excellent (not all choppy and short-sentenced the way they now make story compilations for kids).  These were each $3, but they're from the 1930's and the binding is still super tight, plus I thought Atticus especially would love them (which he really does), so I splurged.

And now, for the crowning jewel... Exhibit C:

Now these.  Just, these.  They're leather bound and stamped in 24-carat gold foil (they still had some of the original invoice paperwork tucked inside).  They contain all kinds of classic works, many of which are eventually on our school reading lists (I'll get to that in a sec).  Plus, they were only a buck each!  Plus, aren't they gorgeous?!?!  I mean, look:

Yeah, ya do.

As for how I decide what to get, I use my own nostalgia as well as the Ambleside Online reading lists and priorities to help me pick.  I also love looking for coffee-table books (so far I've found a couple great ones, unfortunately not pictured; one on birds, and one on the pencil drawings of Leonardo Da Vinci).

Our homeschool method is very, very literature-heavy, and it's nice to be able to build up our library a dollar or two at a time.  So I've just started familiarizing myself with our upcoming years' booklists, and checking in at the library every few weeks to see if they've gotten anything new.  

And the crazy thing is, I've only grazed the surface of what the book store holds.  I've only looked extensively through the children's chapter books and the classics.  There are still tons more to find, I'm sure!  This is seriously one of the best things about Cedar Falls.  Take that how you will.

bring on the blizzard.

In honor of today's projected snow storm, and to keep my mind off of the nagging anxiety that rises in my chest every time there is a possibility of the heat going out in the dead of winter, I thought I'd post photos of a milder snow day we had last month.

Penelope started the afternoon off on a victorious foot by being the first to nail someone in the face with a snowball.  She is clearly a very gracious winner.

But no harm, no foul.

And, true to form, she celebrated when she then nailed Todd in the face.

Atticus felt the need to take an impromptu rest/plank break.  You know; just cuz.

The kids spent time building the World's Tiniest Snowman (they're sitting down in this picture.)  Penelope named him SnowFellow.

When they got inside, I made them some hot chocolate to warm them up.  It turns out Finneas was the one who really went to town on his mug of cocoa.  Go figure.

So, I will be spending the day looking at these photos and reminding myself that there are, indeed, blessings that come with snow, and praying Todd makes it home safely from work tonight.  And promising myself that someday, someday, we will live in a place where, even if the power goes out, there is no possibility of dying of exposure.  So bring on the blizzard.