Thursday, December 31, 2015

Balance of being a "good" mom.

This topic has been on my mind lately, and apparently others as well because I have seen other people write about it too recently. It's important to talk about!

Sometimes I feel guilty at the end of the day, like I wasn't a "good" mom to Norah, for various reasons...I didn't play with her enough, I forgot to pray with her over lunch, I was too preoccupied with other things, she cried too much so I must not have met her needs well, etc. There are so many reasons why I could feel that way, and I don't think it's necessarily good.

Yes, it's good to reflect and contemplate how you are doing and make changes to your behaviors/attitudes as needed. For instance, this last week I have found myself inwardly complaining about my days. We recently read about traps that the SAHM can fall into in our devotional, and it hit home. One of the traps was self-pity. Recently, I have felt very confined to our house, mainly because all three of us got the flu over christmas and we had to miss a planned trip. It's also been very cold and we have gotten lots of snow, so I've felt stuck inside when I just want to go for a stroller walk and swing at the park. I was definitely feeling a lack of adult interaction.

I don't want to be like that, and it saddens me that I was. Even if I don't say what I'm thinking out loud, I think Norah picks up on it. She is so curious and intuitive, and she is bound to realize if Mama isn't happy. To type that almost brings tears to my eyes, because I want Norah to be confident in that she has a happy mom, who trusts in the Lord for her contentment, who chooses to see the positive instead of the negative. 

I talked to Kley about it yesterday, and it was good to get it out in the air. I always feel better just talking about it. It's like a weight was lifted, I realized my negative thought patterns over the last week or so, and I prayed about it and thanked God for my circumstances instead of complained to myself.

It's amazing how many times you realize there is a problem in your life, and once the realization hits, you remember how little, or even at all, you have brought the problem to God. I wish I could say that I have mastered that, but I have not. I still fail and will continue to, for I am a sinner, but the biggest gift/lesson I ever want to give Norah is JESUS. I want her to see that she has a mom (and dad) who prays, reads their Bible, and talks about what God is doing in their life in front of her and to her. I want Norah to see that when I make mistakes, I will admit them to her and ask for forgiveness. I want Norah to see that when she is sad or in trouble, we pray about it. I want Norah to see that when a friend is in trouble, we help them and encourage however we can.

Norah is a sponge and is absorbing so much. From me. From Kley. I want her to be absorbing the right things.

So, I don't want to end my days feeling guilty that I wasn't a "good" mom sometimes, because being a good mom means so many things. While I fail daily, I am a good mom because God made me a mom and He gave me Norah, and I will try my best to teach her in His ways. Yes, it's good to think about what I did wrong or would like to do differently tomorrow, but I don't want to think that I am not a good mom. I am a good mom who can sometimes do better. Would I ever tell Norah that she wasn't a good daughter? Absolutely not. She is my daughter and that means so much. I will never stop loving her or think less of her, because she is so valued, beautiful, and priceless to me. There will be times, though, when she needs to fix something or do better at something, but that doesn't mean that she is not a good daughter.

While it's so important to spend quality time with Norah each day- to get on the floor, look her in the eyes, hug her, play with her toys, tell her how much I love her- I can't give her my undivided attention all day. While I may want to give her the world because of my relentless love for her, that's not even healthy because she can't have the world and the world is not about her. We were created to love God and love people. It's important to love yourself too, but I don't want Norah to think that she is the center or that it revolves around her. I want her to learn from a very young age how important it is to honor others and treat them with kindness above yourself.

Everyday, I want to play with Norah with my full attention, to invest in her and tell her how loved she is, but I also want Norah to learn other things as well. It's important for Norah to know that sometimes she goes to Grandpa and Gramie's house because dad and mom need to spend time together. Sometimes I call my friends because having encouraging, Godly friendships is life-giving and brings community. Sometimes I can't pick her up immediately because I'm stirring hot food on the stove, and I want Norah to learn patience. Sometimes I clean the house and Norah has to watch/trail behind me because taking care of our material blessings shows responsibility and good stewardship. Sometimes I exercise and Norah has to play alone because taking care of your body is healthy. Sometimes daddy plays with Norah while mom has alone time because it's important to refuel. Sometimes we have to run errands all afternoon because there are things that have to get done. I want Norah to learn patience, kindness, responsibility, good stewardship, love, time management, and balance, among many other things. Most importantly, I want Norah to see me spend time with Jesus and to spend time with Him together and as a family.

It's all about balance, and I pray that God would help me balance my life in a way that honors Him, blesses others, and teaches Norah about the most important, eternal things.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Recent reads 12/28/15.

1. Where'd You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple. I hadn't heard of her before, but she has written another book and written for several TV shows. This book was so great! It was one of my favorites that I have read in awhile. It was so entertaining. I found myself thinking about what would happen next when I wasn't reading it, and that says a lot because that doesn't happen often!

It's about a girl, Bee, who is in 8th grade, and has an unusual set of parents. Her mom is a big homebody and doesn't like to venture out, and the book is written differently than normal because it's compiled of all different emails, notes, phone calls, correspondences, with some parts from Bee's perspective, so you see the mom's online world come out in the book. The mom ends up disappearing, and it's about the happenings surrounding that. It's definitely worth your time if you are looking for an enjoyable, captivating fiction read!

2. Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar by Cheryl Strayed. I read this book because I saw it recommended on a blog (which is basically where I get all the books I read- from blog recommendations). It's compiled of articles from Dear Sugar's advice column. It was definitely interesting, and different than a usual book since there really wasn't a plot flow and each article is about something different. I liked it from the perspective that she is an absolutely beautiful writer and is able to convey her feelings and relate to others so intimately in a short amount of time. I did not like it from the perspective that she is not a Christian, so I definitely did not agree with what she was saying at times. I think that most people who write to an advice columnist are searching for love, acceptance, solutions, and to have someone tell them that everything will be okay, and the only One who can truly provide that is Jesus. 

3. For the Love: Fighting for Grace in a World of Impossible Standards by Jen Hatmaker. This was a wonderful book. She has a way of weaving beautiful, Biblical truths with humor, simplicity, and straightforwardness that made it an easy, enjoyable, quick read. I love how honest and funny she is. 

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Norah- Fourteen Months.

Norah is 14 months! She seems older this month because she walking almost all the time and she is starting to understand so much more. It’s so fun to watch and be a part of each day. Watching her experience the world is a joy! She does things like open my make-up drawer in the bathroom and put on my chapstick or brush her/my hair, try to put her own shoes on, and wrap up her bitty baby in her sleep sack. It’s all so adorable, even when she put a bunch of toilet paper in the toilet when I wasn’t looking. (It was only adorable because it means she is watching us so closely, and mainly because it didn’t clog!)

Schedule/Eating: Norah is sleeping awesome at night (about 10-9 or 10:30-9:30 consistently and never wakes up!), and is taking two solid naps, about noon for 2 hours and about 5:15 for 1.5 hours. We wondered about a month ago if she was transitioning to one nap because she didn’t nap well for a few days, but now she is back to sleeping really well. We have even had to wake her up a couple times because she was sleeping so long! Norah enjoys almost all foods, and has 3 meals and an afternoon snack. She is starting to get hungrier we think, and will get a little grumpy if she’s hungry or try to dig food out of her diaper bag. Hungry, growing girl from all that walking! She still also loves her bath every night. Having Norah on a consistent schedule is so nice for all of us! She loves it too and knows what comes next!

Teeth: Top right front molar came through on 11/29, the top left front molar on 12/1, and the bottom left front molar on 12/22. Thankfully she has handled it quite well- can’t even really tell it’s happening! (She has 12 teeth now.)

Developments: Norah’s understanding has grown so much more. I asked her where her sock was (she was missing one), and she pointed to her foot, so we can see she’s connecting things together. Little things like that are happening all the time! She likes to find people’s belly buttons. She knows basic sequence of events in her schedule, like bath means go to the bathroom, or getting coats on means it’s time to leave, etc. Norah had her first weekend with Grandpa and Gramie De Jong while mom and dad went to Minneapolis and she did great! She has also been better at going to the nursery. She still doesn’t like it and cries off and on, but isn’t screaming like before and they aren’t calling us to come get her! Norah is walking so much more and is getting steadier everyday. She is walking about 85-90% of the time!

Words: Norah can say dada, Daisy (my parent's dog), Ainsley (a baby friend we watch), bye-bye, bath, baby, ball, hi, wow, and hot. New words this month were baby, ball, and bye-bye, and she just said mama for the first time on 12/22. Her favorite words are dada, ball, Daisy, and bye-bye.

Favorites: Climbing stairs, opening/going through all cupboards and drawers, bitty baby doll, balls, bath time, walking, daddy’s computer cords, stroller rides (the few we can take in the winter!), and being with mom/dad.

We love you Norah! You are such a wonderful baby- a true joy!

This is my new favorite picture of Norah!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

You need to watch this.

Both of these videos are tear-jerkers!

A gift for themselves or parent?- This is a video of low-income children from Atlanta choosing a gift for themselves or their parent. They were asked what they really wanted for Christmas, and also what their parent really wanted, then they were presented with both gifts and said they could only choose one. All of them chose (at least all that they showed on the video), chose their parent. (And then, for choosing their parent, they got to keep both gifts!). It was beautiful.

Foster kids get adopted for Christmas- These parents surprised their foster children with adoption papers for Christmas.

Monday, December 21, 2015

For all the Full House fans.

Fuller House Teaser

I have no idea how many Full House fans are out there, and I'm guessing there aren't that many, but I am one of them. Did you know that they are coming out with Fuller House? I am so excited. It premiers February 26 on Netflix. I don't know how many episodes there are, but I think they are releasing them all at the same time and it's just a one time thing? I don't know for sure, but I do know that something is coming out February 26.

It's basically the same premise as before, but with DJ as the main character. DJ's husband passed away, and she is coming back to the house to live with her children, Kimmy, and Stephanie. I think the other characters are making guest appearances.

I'm pumped!

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Home Management- Cleaning.

I really like my house to be clean. Sometimes I feel like I am Danny Tanner from Full House. For homecoming week in 7th grade on superhero day, I went as "Kelsey's Kleaning Krew" and was made fun of. Oops- terrible costume idea.

That said, I realize that not everyone, granted most people, are like that. Sometimes it can be a fault, and I know that as we have more kids I am really going to have to work on letting those things slide a little and surrendering to God. Yes, I believe it's important to have a clean house and to take good care of the material things God has given us, but that doesn't mean that my house has to appear spotless or that I need to sacrifice time with Norah or Kley in order to clean.

I like to split things up and do something everyday, so I don't feel like I have to do everything at once. For instance, here is my general schedule:

Monday- Grocery store and laundry.
Tuesday- Clean/switch out Norah's toys. (Why do that, you ask? Some people think I am nuts. It's what I am used to because I used to teach preschool. I think it keeps her healthier, because frequently other babies/kids come over and touch her toys, and also switching out her toys each week keeps her interested. Norah doesn't need a giant tub of toys, because then things get lost at the bottom and she gets bored with the same things always appearing, even if there are a lot. By putting a few things out and switching them often, Norah is usually really content playing!)
Wednesday- Wash/change sheets and clean basement. (I don't clean the basement as thoroughly as our upstairs, because that's not our main living area.)
Thursday- Clean the main floor. This is my biggest day. I clean everything pretty well and it takes me about 3 hours.
Friday- Laundry.

Now, this schedule doesn't happen exactly like that every week, but I generally keep it that way. If you don't have any sort of cleaning schedule or don't even clean regularly, that's fine (I'm not trying to make you feel bad at all), I am just sharing what works for me. I do little clean ups, especially in the kitchen, when needed, which is almost daily!

I like dividing tasks up into specific days because then it ensures me that it gets done and I know what's coming. I encourage you to try it! If cleaning seems like a daunting task, you could try to divide up those tasks too (like vacuum one day, dust the next, bathrooms the next, etc.) I personally don't like to clean like that because then the house never feels completely clean, but I know others that clean like that and it works great for them!

Happy cleaning!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Minneapolis weekend of two.

This last weekend, Kley and I took a trip to Minneapolis, just the two of us! Kley's parents watched Norah and took completely wonderful care of her. We missed her so (I cried several times), but it was so nice/important to have time alone. 

Friday night we had dinner at The Old Spaghetti Factory with some of our friends from Bethel. It was great to see them again! We had a great time. Kley and I ate there a few times while we were dating, so it was fun to go back. (It's also nice because it's very reasonably priced, and they give you bread, salad, and ice cream with your meal!)

The view from our hotel room!

Saturday morning we had breakfast with one of my old roommates and her fiance, who we met for the first time. We hadn't seen each other in awhile, so it was nice to catch up again.

I always love seeing the Minneapolis skyline.

Saturday afternoon we took a nap, did a little shopping, and saw a movie (Love the Coopers). It was pretty perfect.

Saturday night was a bit of a disappointment, as the Holidazzle parade was cancelled and we didn't call ahead for a reservation at Fogo and they were completely booked. Oops. Thankfully, they still had other Holidazzle events that we went to instead, and we were able to get in for lunch on Sunday at Fogo.

(This picture was taken as we talked up to the restaurant with Kley claiming how excited he was, only to walk right back outside. Sad. But then we just went somewhere else and had bacon cheeseburgers that were delicious.)

We both thought it was funny that one of the booths was selling poffertjes! Poffertjes is a traditional Dutch treat that's basically like small pancakes with powdered sugar on top. They are a Tulip Festival big hit here.

They had a bunch of booths set up like a mini fair. It was fun to walk through, but I did miss the parade!

Walking through downtown is so great.

They had an ice rink there too!

Love seeing the decorated trees!

Then we headed to Macy's 8th floor display- A Day in the Life of an Elf. 

It was fun to walk through again!

He is and always will be my favorite.

Sunday we went to Ikea and Fogo for lunch. We had a great trip and are so thankful we were able to spend time together. Thanks to Brad and Jana for watching Norah! They took such great care of her! They even had the sheets washed, house cleaned, and dinner in the oven for us when we got home. I have the best in-laws!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Home Management- Food.

(I wrote this post a long time ago and it's been sitting in the dock waiting, staring at me every time I logged in. I have conflicting thoughts about publishing it, but I finally decided to do it. I didn't want to do it because people judge each other way too much, myself included, and I don't want to appear by posting "home management" posts that I have it all together, because I don't. But, I do take pride in how I "manage our house," especially now that I stay home and Norah and household stuff is my full time job, so I thought I would share what works for me.) So here goes:

One of my friends encouraged me to do some "home management" posts, so I will. I didn't ever think of doing it before because I didn't feel like I had amazing or blog-worthy tips to share, but my friend told me she thought I should, since she thought I was good at it. Encouraging words are always so nice to hear!

So, my first home management post is about food.

I usually make one bigger grocery run per week, with occasional quick trips if I need something else or forgot something, but usually only one trip. Since we live in a small town now, Norah and I walk a lot of our errands, and the grocery store is close to us, so it's nice to be able to quick pick something up if we need it. (When we lived in Des Moines and I taught, I made one grocery trip a week and that's it.)

Meal Planning
I don't meal plan for every day of the week, because there are times where something comes up or you don't know exactly what the plan will be. However, I do meal plan on a smaller scale. When I go to the grocery store, I usually get ingredients for 3-4 meals for the week, and then plan from there on when to eat those meals depending on what we have going on. I usually plan for 2 that take longer or more preparation, and maybe 2 more that require less.

Breakfast- I never make breakfast during the week, but will usually make something bigger on Saturdays or if we have company. Kley loves big breakfasts, so I should do it more often, but I don't because I consider breakfast my slide meal where we fend for ourselves. I usually have granola bars, cereal, toast, or frozen waffles on hand. My favorite breakfast is probably a frozen waffle with nutella and berries or a banana on top. Sometimes I will make muffins or scones or something during the week to eat for breakfast each day.

Lunch- We usually have a sandwich or leftovers for lunch. Sometimes we have something quick and easy like canned soup, chicken strips, or microwaveable pot pie if we don't have a lot of time. (I know those things aren't the most healthy- I guess I'm not really trying to talk about health here, but it's the truth.)

Supper- As talked about above, I usually plan for 3-4 meals per week and go from there. I usually have some sort of skillet meal in the freezer for nights where we are really pressed for time. I do enjoy cooking, so I do like to make meals and usually don't find it stressful. I also like to have some ingredients regularly on hand to make go-to meals to make up for the other nights I didn't directly plan for. I like to have things on hand to be able to make regular dishes rather quickly, like spaghetti, tacos, or some sort of chicken/rice/beans/veggies dish.

Meals for others- I really enjoy cooking for others, whether that's inviting people into our home, or taking a meal to their house (for a big life event like a baby, surgery, etc.) When I plan for that, I always make double- one for us and one for them. It's so much easier to do it that way because why not tackle two birds with one stone? Then I have a meal for us and a meal for others. I have a few dishes that I regularly make/are easy to make that don't require a lot of work to make double portions.

So, I don't know how helpful that information is, but that's what works for us! I like to plan for 3-4 meals per week and also have ingredients on hand to make regular favorites to make up for the other nights, as well as something really quick for those nights we are busy. I like the flexibility of having planned meals ready, but not feeling like I HAVE to make this today because it's on my list or feeling like things were thrown off if I thawed meat and then wasn't able to go through with the plan if something came up.

Also, I wouldn't call myself a coupon queen or anything, but I do check the local paper and use coupon saving apps when I can to save money. (I like to stick to a fairly regular grocery budget, but I will buy things I didn't originally have on my list if they are on sale and I know I will use it eventually.) I would really like to get another freezer for our basement so I can make more freezer meals. I have read about people doing that and know there are lots of good recipes out there. Both in our apartments and our house now, we have had the small freezer on top of the fridge, so we haven't had space to make many freezer meals before. Hopefully someday!

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Pigtail martian.

The other day Norah had her first pigtails. I'm not sure what I think. Her hair is pretty fine still, and though it is growing, it's still not super long.

I think it was super cute, but I also think she looked like a martian.

We love our pigtailed martian!

Friday, December 11, 2015

Repost- How to Make Friends as a SAHM.

I have posted a few things lately about making friends in a new town, so you are probably getting sick of it, but I have to post this link that a blog I read posted: How to Make Friends as a SAHM. It's the stage I was just in, and it feels so good to feel like we are getting over the hump and are making real, deep friends.

I feel for people in that stage, because it can be a long, trying, challenging process. So, if this is you, read the article above! It was so good, I know I screamed "THIS IS ME!" in my head when I read it.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Tax school and Christmas celebrations.

We were in Des Moines for a lot of last week because Kley had tax school (a continuing education class), and Norah and I came with! Kley had to listen to a lot of lectures, which wasn't the most fun, but we got to do some Christmas celebrations too! We did some Christmas shopping and got together with a couple friends during the days, and at night we drove through Jolly Holiday Lights, had dinner with Keaton and Rose, went to Kayla's Christmas concert, rode the train at the mall, and saw some friends from our old small group. It was great!

Here are some views of the lights.

All proceeds go to the Make-A-Wish foundation, which grants "wishes" to kids with life threatening sicknesses.

(It was hard to take centered pictures in a moving car.)

We also stopped in to see Santa- Norah did well, much better than I thought she would!

Kayla's Christmas concert.

Norah has been WALKING more and more. (She still isn't walking consistently, but she's getting there. She can walk across a whole room now! She is 13 months.) This was her freedom escape after sitting on our laps the whole concert.

Norah loves her grandma so much! (And vice versa!)

Way to go, Kayla!

Aunt Kayla, Kley, and Norah riding the train at the mall!

We love time with Grandpa and Grandma!