W.U.W: 'Our First Week As A Family of Eight!' edition.

Well, I think you can probably guess what this week's highlight reel looked like.  But there were a few things that happened that weren't solely related to the arrival of Callista.

Last Friday was our last official day of school for the year (YAY!), and I spent most of the day finalizing school paperwork and working on the kids' portfolios.  While I'm still a little ways off from being totally done with them, I made some really productive headway, and they're looking adorable. 

(I mislabeled his grade and that should say 'Grade 2.'  I am clearly not on top of things to the extent that I'd like to be.)

I'll have to tell you more about the kids' year and their portfolios soon.  Maybe in July I'll do a few posts on our homeschool year, curriculum and routine as we gear up to start the new school year.  We'll see.

Friday night, we did something a little impulsive and weird - we met with our realtor to check out a house we were feeling kind of interested in.  Todd had found the listing online, and it looked really promising.  And we loved it in person!  But, long story short, seeing it and talking things through, it kind of solidified in our minds that we will probably be staying in our current house for the next couple of years, as far as we're able to foresee.  (Church planting life offers no sense of absolutes, so that's subject to change, but that's what we're envisioning right now.)  So it was kind of a bittersweet decision to come to, but it has my wheels turning for some inexpensive ideas to deal with our janky landscaping and the lack of light in our house as it is.

On Saturday, as I hadn't gone into labor yet, I was actually able to attend the composting workshop at the library that I had registered for.  (And my buddy Penelope went with me, too, so we got some quality girl-time in while we sat there listening about how to rot dirt properly.)  It was great, and they even gave out free compost bins to the attendees.  I'm not complaining. 

It's great timing to get started with a compost pile, too, as my raised beds seem to be in need of some help.  Because my beds were installed so late in the gardening season, we were pretty limited on the soil that was available for sale.  And though we amended it with compost and blood meal and bio-char and beneficial microfungus and all kinds of other weird stuff CCUA brought, it seems like we're going to have to work to build it up over the long haul.  Half of my tomato plants, all of my sweet potato slips, most of my squash and all of my okra are dead as a doornail.  Bummer.

Moving on to other news, you know how Sunday went for us - the kids and I were sick, then I went into labor Sunday night.  Since then, most of our news has revolved solely around Callista.  Whom I keep accidentally calling Lolo.  Or Rocco.

We all spent lots of time trying to sleep whenever we could...



...and just staring at her.

I also spent a bunch of time reading, reading, reading.  Have you guys read this book?  Fascinating.  (I like starting an engrossing book when I'm in the hospital with a newborn - that way, when I'm losing sleep at weird times of the night, I at least have some little silver lining to look forward to doing while I'm up.  Survivalism.)

Both Callista and I have already been to the chiropractor for adjustments, and yesterday, Callista had her two-day checkup, so we've been out and about more than I'd like to be able to report by now.  The pediatrician is wanting me to bring her back in for a weight check next week.  The obsession with the baby scale is already starting.  Ugh.

And that was our very abundant, full, wonderful, hectic, overwhelming, perfect week!

welcome to the world, miss callista!

(Or, as I like to sing in my head to the theme song of 'Sister, Sister": 'Callista SISTA!')

Sorry for the radio silence around here this week.  As you may have seen on Facebook (or otherwise suspected from the fact that I have been very pregnant for a while now), I pushed a whole person into this world recently and have been otherwise occupied.

For the first time ever in the history of producing new Van Voorsts, I did not wake up in labor.  I have always wondered what it would be like to have labor just kind of... start... on a day that was, in all other ways, normal.  Well, now I know.

The kids and I had all been battling head colds, so we stayed home from church Sunday morning and laid low the rest of the day.  I DID do my hair and makeup, though, since it was a 'pregnancy photo' day, which ended up paying off when I actually still had visible, non-janky eyebrows in my labor photos.  (My makeup-less eyebrows look like unevenly-cut-and-accidentally-bent pipe cleaners.  Or like two very differently sized caterpillars having a dance-off a respectful distance from one another.  Or...)

Around 8:30 p.m., I started feeling some regular, strong contractions, but I'd been having prodromal contractions for the past few months (ahhh, sixth pregnancy), so I wasn't ready to think anything of it until about 10:00 or 10:30, by which time they'd been coming steadily for a couple of hours, and getting closer and more intense.  We left for the hospital around midnight, but at 1:00 when they checked me, I was only dilated to about a 3 or 4.

I could tell labor was starting to move along really quickly and steadily, and asked for an epidural.  However, they wanted to wait an hour before checking me again, so they kept brushing me off and kept me in the triage room while they waited to determine whether I was actually in active labor.  By 2:00 when they checked me again, I was at a 6 or 7.  I had dilated nearly 4 cm in about an hour.  At that point, they were finally convinced I wasn't just being a liar or something and wheeled me into a labor room.

By the time I got into the labor room, all the nurses were scrambling, and I was pleading for someone to please find the freaking epidural guy.  A few minutes later and I was at the point of pushing, and they were all yelling at me not to push and I was like, ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!  (Trying not to push when your body is dead set on it is like trying to not want to breathe when you've been under the water too long.  You look up through the water as you're desperately trying to paddle to the top, and watch the lifeguard mouth, "Just be reasonable and stop wanting to breathe for a sec, Drowning Guy.  I am not ready to save you yet. I have to put on my gloves first.")

The epidural guy finally got there after he finished eating his sandwich, or whatever he'd been doing, and in between huge, final contractions, he quickly administered a few big, "hail Mary" doses of spinal block, which kicked in just in time.  It was time to get this girl out.  After the pain meds took hold, I pushed once more, and she was here.

Callista Janelle shot into the world amidst a flurry of activity at 2:46 a.m.  She weighed in at a whopping 8 lb, 5 oz.  Her arrival was exhilarating and exhausting and completely her own story.  We are so very, very happy she's here!

what's up ON TIME THIS WEEK (ly).

This week was a lot slower paced than the past month or so has been, which I thought would be nice, but I'm finding that makes me stir-crazy.  I did allow Tuesday to be my official Couch Day, which was good and needed, but other than that I haven't really wanted to sit still much.

I got a handle on some of the house cleaning that has been neglected.  (The UPSTAIRS cleaning, because I'm still in a lot of pain and avoid the stairs like they're made of hellfire.  Really nicely carpeted hellfire.  And as our laundry room is in the basement, I'm super behind on laundry.  Oh well.) 

I also finally took a tour of the labor and delivery floor, which was... fine.  It will be fine.  It will all be fine.  As it is a teaching hospital, I was given the heads up that pretty much everyone and their mom will get to come in and ask me the same series of questions over and over, at whatever times of the day their rounds begin, and I have no say in the matter.  So I will need to bring a sign (from home - they don't provide this) that all """"""""""necessary"""""""""" medical staff should be wearing Jason masks upon entering my room, as they assume all risk and liability if I should choose to punch anybody.  Which I likely will.

The one 'win' in all of this is that I actually got to check "take hospital tour" off my list.  Which means I only have two items left - to arrange for a hospital grade pump, and to buy a van.  No small cookies, but there are only TWO THINGS LEFT!  They probably won't get done before I deliver (today is my due date, after all), but they're both manageable.  (And, on a side note, all three of my freezers are stuffed to bursting!  I had to sit on the lid of the chest freezer today just to get the oatmeal muffins to fit.  I feel so accomplished, like I've successfully gathered stores for the winter.)

Okay, anyway - on to photos! Because that's the best part of any blog; forget the blahblahblah, just show us the pictures of the adorable kids!


Rocco was adorable all week, as per usual.

This is his favorite thing to do: climb up on Penelope's bed and read.  Also, wear his tiny baseball cap.

Penelope's butterfly garden brought its A-game.  All five caterpillars had survived and made their cocoons, and spent about a week just chilling out.  Then this past Saturday, they all emerged in their resurrection bodies, and looked pretty smug about it all.  (All except one, whose cocoon never really fully attached to the 'chrysalis station,' so it laid on the floor of the enclosure for the whole week.  When it emerged, it had a really rough time.  It was more pitiful than smug, and maybe even a bit surprised that it made it that far.  Then it died.)

The directions said to wait 3-5 days before releasing them into 'the wild' (hilarious; as though I'm the kind of person who a) chauffeurs butterflies, and b) drives into the wild with such idiotic intentions).  But I was still so worried I wouldn't know when the 'right' time would be.  So we waited until Tuesday, which was still safely in the 3-5 day window.  But like, they started mating with each other by that point.  They did NOT wait around for some kind of apocalypse to motivate them to perpetuate the species.  They apparently did not even wait around for butterfly puberty.  They got their wings all dried off and then were all like, 'Okay, sexy new body: check.  Let's go hound-dog some chicas.'  So we knew for sure it was time to release them.

We released four, and three flew away right away.  This little fella seemed pretty weak and discombulated, so I lovingly named him Bird Fodder, and we just kind of left him out there to figure it out on his own.  At least we know he didn't die a virgin.

And in other random news, I went grocery shopping and stocked up on a few necessities for the following couple of weeks.  I met with a few friends.  I finished two books I'd been working on forrr. evvvvv. errrrr.  Todd arranged for a couple babysitters and we went on a final date night before I'm locked down again by a breastfeeding infant.  And Laurelai got a crazy nosebleed.  I have no idea what happened - it was like 10:30 at night, and she suddenly started shrieking hysterically in her bed, so Todd went in to check on her.  Not only had her nose been bleeding, but she had somehow managed to wipe it all over her face like full-coverage foundation before realizing it was blood.  It was everywhere - her hands, her feet, her legs, her blankets.  But by the time Todd got in there to see what was up, her nose wasn't actually bleeding anymore.  So very weird.

And that was our week!  No other news, except to tell you that today is my due date!  From here on out, we can start grappling with the reality that an actual baby is on the way.  Oh, you mean, you've realized that all along?  Well, aren't you a genius?

our weekend in des moines.

A couple of weeks ago, we went to Des Moines to hang out at my parents' new house for the weekend.  We got there late Friday night, and after everyone got up the next morning, all the kids thoroughly enjoyed playing on the bunk beds.

After breakfast, we headed to the zoo for the morning.

I just love it when the kids get to see animals nursing their babies - I feel like it lessens the feeling of awkwardness and the taboo around breastfeeding in general when they understand that this is just how mamas get their babies fed.  Usually we only see it on things like baby animal documentaries, so it was really neat to see this mama giraffe nursing her baby!

Laurelai found a shady spot to ride when she got hot and tired.

After we got home, almost all the kids said their favorite thing to see that morning was the underwater viewing of the seals and sea lions.

Three generations on one (sturdy) bench!

The kids were thrilled to try out the rope bridge...

I, on the other hand, was hesitant to test the weight limits.

It turns out, the rope bridge IS strong enough to withstand the weight of a small, pregnant bus.  Whew.  I look relieved-slash-annoyed at how hard it was to get up that slight incline.

Once we got home, the kids were pretty tuckered out, so they spent a while couch thumping, then headed outside to play in the massive tree in my mom's yard.

Then the kids played yard games for a bit before dinner.  I just love how stoked Finneas is in these photos.

How "summertime" is this?!

 Then, before bed, the kids got to play around with some sparklers.  Ever-cautious Atticus wasn't sure about them right at first.  Laurelai, on the other hand, almost caught everyone (including herself) on fire countless times because she was so reckless in her excitement.  It's so funny how kids can be so different.

(I will say that Atticus did come around eventually.)

After that, the kids all had baths and went to bed, and the next morning we visited my sister's church, which was amazing! We loved it.  Then we had lunch at my parents' and headed home.  Such a fun weekend!