Monday, November 30, 2015

Thanksgiving 2015 (part one).

Happy Thanksgiving 2015! Hope it was a great one for all of you! We were fortunate to spend time with both of our families, and it was great! We spent the first few days in Des Moines seeing my family. All of my siblings were there along with their spouses/fiances, so it was great! I love pulling up to my parent's house and seeing the driveway full of cars, because it means everyone is here!

Uncle Keaton really loves Norah! (So does everyone else, obviously, but Keaton has special silly voices/sounds!)


Norah loves her Bitty Baby! She hugs and rocks her and it's the cutest thing.

While Norah does super cute things like rock her baby, she can also whine/yell now when she doesn't get something she wants. Oh to be one! (We're going to have to work on tantrum throwing in the months/years to come! You naively hope your baby won't do that like you somehow magically birthed a perfectly obedient child, but alas, the sinful nature is present in everyone.)

But she's still the cutest baby in all the land. 

She sucks her thumb when she gets tired. So adorable.

Grandma love.

Thanksgiving feast!

I really love having the whole family around the table.

For those who know my family, if you want to tell the difference between these two seemingly identical photos, just look at my brother Keaton- always throwing something weird in the picture. This was mild for him!

Happy Thanksgiving from the De Jong's! We have much to be thankful for.

Saturday, November 28, 2015


Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Norah- Thirteen Months.

Norah's birthday has come and gone, and it was so much fun to plan and celebrate our favorite girl! We had such a great time with friends and family. It was purely joyful, and that’s what Norah is! Norah is 13 months, and I know I say this every month, but she is sure growing up!

Stats: Norah had her 12-month check-up, and had to get 4 shots and a finger prick and was definitely not happy about it! She handled it really well though and wasn’t upset for long. She was 31” (95%), 22 lbs. 15 oz. (87%), and 18.25” head circumference (84%). We are so thankful for a healthy girl developing well!

Schedule/Eating: This month I started weaning off breastfeeding. I was sad about it at first, but it is what’s best for both of us. I can tell that I am not making as much, and Norah has been completely fine. She loves whole milk and drinking from a sippy cup! I am down to just nursing once before bed, but sometimes Norah will even stop nursing and point to the cup, so she is ready to be done I think. I am so glad that breastfeeding went well for us and that we were able to do it for a whole year!

Norah schedule is the same as it has been for a few months. She eats 3 meals a day with a few snacks. She is a pretty good eater. She used to just inhale food, and now needs a little more coaxing/distractions to eat sometimes, but still eats most anything. She still takes two naps. She sleeps from about 10:30-9 and naps at 12 and 5. She will occasionally wake up early from her naps, and we have begun to wonder if she is starting to get ready for one nap, but we aren’t in any rush and will keep the two for as long as we can.

Developments: Norah learned that she can open whatever cupboard she wants this month and has enjoyed emptying the contents onto the floor. She also recently learned to climb up and down the stairs. She was scared to before, and would only climb one step and then back down, but one day she just did the whole thing! Norah still prefers crawling, but is getting a little better at walking. She loves to stand up by herself, and just yesterday (11/22) took five steps! Also, Norah did great one Sunday in the nursery this month- progress!

Teeth: Her gums felt hard for a few weeks this month, and felt her bottom right front molar coming in on 11/10. She has been a little grumpy and sucking on her fingers, but not too bad.

Words: Norah started saying more words this month, and it’s so fun to hear them and to hear her try to copy us. She can say dada, hi, wow, bath, Daisy (grandpa and grandma’s dog), Ainsley (a friend we babysit), baby, and hot. Norah learned hot through her trying to touch the fireplace and her space heater, and it’s funny because now she has said that the Christmas tree and snow were both hot too!

Favorites: It’s fun to see Norah’s favorites develop. She really liked her Bitty Baby that she got for her birthday. She also has particular favorites, like with her shape sorting cube she always grabs the blue oval, with her foam letters she always grabs the green 0, and with her farm bath toys she always grabs the pig. Funny girl! Norah loves emptying things and putting the objects back in, looking out the window, opening cupboards and seeing what’s inside, playing the piano, playing with the dirty laundry, and being with mom and dad/family. Norah is such a happy girl and we are so grateful to be her parents!

Despite my silliest voices, Norah decided this photo shoot was entitled "somber." 

Sunday, November 22, 2015

How to make friends in a new town.

I posted an article about making friends after moving a few days ago, but I wanted to talk about it again from my own perspective because it's something that's challenging when you move, and we recently did so it's a topic close to my heart. Everyone goes through a move sometime in their life, and even if you physically live in the same place your whole life you will still have life transitions/stages, so it's applicable to everyone!

Not having friends is lonely. Making friends is scary. 

It's hard, but worth it. It will be uncomfortable and awkward for awhile, but it's important to push yourself and put yourself out there. Here are a few tips I have learned over the past year of living in a new town:

1. Try. In most cases, people are really friendly and welcoming to new people, but you have to try to put yourself out there to be noticed and available. This is hard, especially if you are really introverted or shy, but it gets easier with time and it's better than being lonely!

2. Find a church. To me, this is the most important part of trying. As a Christian, I believe that fellowshipping with other believers and having a body of believers to encourage and support you is so important. 

3. Find events in the community you can attend that fit your life stage. For me, I am a stay-at-home-mom with a one-year-old. That meant that I started going to MOPS and Babygarten class at the library. We also got involved with a small group at our church right away. Finding opportunities like these give you chances to meet new people who are in similar life stages as you. (It's always good to have friends from all walks of life, but it's easiest to start with people in similar walks as you.)

4. Set goals. When I first started going to Babygarten (a song/rhyme/finger play/story time open to the public at the library), I made it a goal to introduce myself to two people each class. Was it easy? No, it wasn't, but I am glad I made myself do it. It's important to set a goal, because it's easy to slip into the back and blend in. To make friends you have to assert yourself!

5. Set up some "friend dates." After you have met some people, think about a few that you think you would like to connect with further. Ask them to do something! If having them over to your house seems too intimidating at first, find something to do in the community, like go for a walk, go to the park, meet at a coffee shop, etc. 

This can be tricky, because they don't always "work." Sometimes you don't connect like you hoped you would or the friendship you hoped would grow just doesn't. That's okay! Try not to be discouraged by this. You tried and that's the most important part. This happened to me a few times when we first moved here too, where I was sure this particular person could be my new best friend, but it just didn't pan out. 

The beauty on the horizon is that it WILL work eventually. Keep trying!

I did these things when we moved here, and still am doing them in a sense, and I'm really glad I did. It definitely wasn't easy- it's really scary to not have that "at home" feeling or to have friends that live close to you- but it's worth it. We have lived here almost exactly a year now, and it's been a year of growth, but good growth. I'm so happy with where we are at now!

We have lived here for one year, and I have just recently felt that this is my home and I belong here, and it's such a good feeling. We have made some great friends, and I am excited to continue those relationships!

So, to the people who just moved, hang in there! It gets easier and the friends will come!

Friday, November 20, 2015

Practical tips for baby's first year.

I love writing baby posts! Since Norah recently turned one, here is a list of very practical tips for new parents. Some may be common sense, but this what I learned/wish I would have learned sooner.

1. Kley's family does really big bridal showers, but they don't do baby showers (because his mom's side is so large). Instead, they all give diapers, which is great! Diapers are expensive, so it's a very practical, cost-saving gift. However, we got a lot of Huggies and Pampers. Now, we use the Target Up & Up diapers, which are cheaper, and I really like them. I wish I would have exchanged the Huggies and Pampers diapers for the Target brand, because then I could have gotten more for the money. So, if you get diapers, don't be afraid to exchange them for the brand you want. Same goes for wipes.

2. You also get more diapers for your money the smaller the size. So, don't go up a size until you have to (unless they keep leaking out, having blowouts, or it's noticeably too small). If it still fits/keeps it all in, keep going on that size for as long as you can!

3. Don't feel like you have to keep something just because you don't have a receipt. Most stores are very good at giving you store credit to exchange for something else, even without a receipt. I was very surprised at how many people gave us gifts with no receipt, even gifts that were not from our registry. (Not that I'm not appreciative, I am so grateful for all the gifts that Norah was blessed with her first year!)

4. Some baby items are worth investing money in for the top brand. Personally, I think it's worth investing money into getting a really nice stroller. We have the Baby Jogger City Mini GT, and I love it and use it almost everyday. There's nothing I would change about it, except to make the storage basket underneath bigger with easier access. A tiny part of me wishes we would have gotten the Baby Jogger City Select, because you can easily add the second seat to turn it into a double stroller, but oh well. Also, I think it's worth investing in a video monitor. I am so glad that I can see Norah on the screen as well as hear. I've heard people say that the video monitor isn't worth it, but I really love it.

5. A vaporizer is a good thing to have on hand in case your baby gets sick (or at least know someone who has one you can borrow). I remember rushing to get one when Norah got sick. I definitely don't use it often, but it's nice to have close for those unexpected times when you could use it quickly.

6. Start a bedtime routine right away. The first two months (the first month especially) were rough at night, and once we started doing a consistent bedtime routine, it really helped her.

7. Keep all the storage things your baby's items come in, so when you don't use them anymore, you already have a nice way to store them. I'm not saying keep all the cardboard boxes and things like that, but a lot of Norah's things came in really nice plastic containers with a zipper (like her sheets, crib skirt, car seat cover, boppy pillow, etc.) They are really nice to have to store things in again once your baby outgrows them.

8. For baby's first few months, carry a few extra outfits for sure. It's amazing how much they blow out or pee while changing, etc.

9. If you stay in a hotel, take a push pin so you can attach the baby monitor to the wall (if you will need it). I remember spending a long time trying to set it on top of the lamp, TV, etc. and could not find a good position without a push pin.

10. Prepare early for the next stage, especially when you live in a small town like me and can't get to Target very quickly. This was especially true when Norah was able to pull herself up in the crib. Once she could do that, it happened quickly, and she started biting the crib railing. By the time I could order crib protectors, she had bitten so much off and we had to sand it down/refinish one side of the crib. Oops. So, buy crib protectors early to save that beautiful crib you just spent tons of money on!

11. Baby gas drops can be a miracle worker for a fussy/gassy baby. I don't like giving Norah medicine unless she really needs it, but these were such a low dosage and I think they really helped her when she was having trouble falling asleep when she was younger.

I could probably think of more, but there are a few tips I wish I would have known!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The lovliness of Saturdays.

Saturdays with nothing planned are sometimes the best Saturdays. It's so nice to spend time together as a family and be laid-back about our activities! Having time together just the three of us is so great.

We put up Christmas lights! Honestly, it wasn't as hard as I thought it would be and it didn't take as long. Nice! It's so fun to think about our first Christmas in our house! (I know it's early, but I don't really care. Yay Christmas!)

Then we went for a walk and enjoyed the swings!

I love our little family.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Norah's one year/family photos!

We recently had our pictures taken for Norah's first birthday and to get a few family pictures, and I love them! Here are a few favorites:

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Friendships and moving.

Making Space for New Friends

Another blog I read posted this, and I wanted to share it because we moved last Christmas, and I understand what she's talking about. It's a hard balance to try to keep old friendships and make new all at the same time, and try to live fully where you are at.

So, if you've recently moved or are planning to move soon, I think you will find this helpful!

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Halloween 2015.

Norah and I had a few open days this last week, so we went to Des Moines! Unfortunately Kley had to stay to work, so he couldn't come. We had a lot of fun seeing family and friends! My best friend Stephanie was also home from DC, so we got to see her, and we were also able to get together with a friend from our old small group and a friend who I used to work with. It was a great few days!

Norah opened her birthday present from Stephanie, and it was the cutest little pink chair with her name on it!

Norah would not crack a smile. She also learned how to unzip her clothes last week, so she is perpetually playing with zippers. 

Norah also got to meet her new friend Carter!

Love getting to see Steph!

For Halloween Norah was the cutest giraffe in all the land. We got the costume at a friend's garage sale, and giraffes are my favorite animal, so it worked out perfectly! We even got a smiling picture!

Norah doesn't love to wear hats, but surprisingly she wore this costume so well and wasn't trying to pull it off!

Norah and Daisy.

Aunt Rose, Uncle Keaton, and Aunt Kayla/

Grandma and Grandpa.

(I forgot to get a family picture of Norah in her costume on Saturday when we got home. Oops. We took Norah to see friends and family in OC in her costume too!)