Friday, January 29, 2016

My sister is awesome!

Check out this video about my sister who was chosen as academic all-american for the year for college division volleyball!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The best years of your life.

I was told last weekend by someone who is about 70 that these are the best years of my life. I do think that is true. I am so thankful that God gave me a great family, husband, easy to get along with in-laws, home to live in, health, daughter, husband's good job, the ability to be at home, etc. My thankfulness list can and should be quite long when I think about it. (Or not even when I think about it- I want thankfulness to naturally be what I think of!)

When I list out what I have, it seems silly and ridiculous to think that I would ever complain. I have so much and I am so grateful. But have you heard the saying, "the days are long but the years are short?" I've heard that numerous times recently in reference to being a parent, and mainly in reference to being a parent of young children.

I also think that is true. While I don't have an excuse to complain ever (Philippians 2:14 says to do everything without grumbling or complaining. How convicting is that?), I sometimes find myself doing just that, especially in January when it's really cold and we can't go outside most of the time. The days can feel super long when it's bitter cold outside and I feel trapped in. I long for warmer weather where we can go for stroller walks again and go to the park.

Norah also has a cold right now. That means I am wiping her nose a lot, which she hates. It also means that every time she sneezes, there is a snot bomb explosion and I literally have to sprint for a kleenex to try to wipe the snot rivers coming out of both nostrils before she smears it everywhere with her hands. (Doesn't that sound fun? There's an advertisement for the world to have children. Ha. But it's worth it. So so worth it.)

But I don't want to be discontent where I am. I fail at that, but I really want to be filled with contentment and gratefulness, even when I'm inside on this cold day wiping snot rivers.

On days like this I need to speak truth/think about thankfulness to fight off the negativity:

I am so thankful to be here. I always wanted to be a SAHM and now I am.
We have a warm house and don't have to be stuck in the cold.
We have warm clothes to wear and enough food to eat.
No matter what I am doing, I can praise and honor Jesus through my thoughts and actions.
It's a privilege to be so needed.
I'm glad I get to meet Norah's needs.
Her eyelashes looked to beautiful as she was closing her eyes when I rocked her before her nap.
Being so needed reminds me of how very much I need Him.

I don't feel like I am writing very eloquently, but I am just writing to remind myself today to keep perspective. Sometimes the days do feel really long, but at the same time I do love it. I know that I will look back on this time of my life with great fondness when I get older and I will wish I could rock Norah in her chair again. (Thinking of that springs almost instant tears to my eyes. Even if the day feels long or hard, I want it and I wouldn't trade it for anything. I want to embrace it because it won't last forever.)

Motherhood is such a roller coaster. One minute I can feel drained and the next I could weep at my love for her.

Ever since I became a mom, the song "Lord, I Need You" rings even truer to me than before. One hour I will be so patient and the next I'll feel at my wits end. I really and truly need Jesus every hour. I need grace and love every hour, so I can be the best mom I can be and show those qualities to Norah too. Motherhood humbles me so, but there is such beauty in that.

Lord, I come, I confess
Bowing here I find my rest
Without You I fall apart
You're the One that guides my heart

Lord, I need You, oh, I need You
Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You

Where sin runs deep Your grace is more
Where grace is found is where You are
And where You are, Lord, I am free
Holiness is Christ in me

Lord, I need You, oh, I need You
Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You

Teach my song to rise to You
When temptation comes my way
And when I cannot stand I'll fall on You
Jesus, You're my hope and stay

Lord, I need You, oh, I need You
Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You

You're my one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You

Monday, January 25, 2016

Norah- Fifteen Months.

Norah is 15 months and time keeps flying! I looked through her her first year book today and watched some of her tiny infant videos. Can't believe we have a curious walker on our hands now! Norah started wearing 24 month clothes at the beginning of the month and is still wearing size 4 diapers. Norah currently has her third cold (I think it's her third), but she is handling is pretty well. Her poor nose! It's making her more fussy than usual and not happy going to bed, but hopefully she'll be on the mend soon! She also decided this month that she really doesn't like having her diaper changed.

Schedule/Eating: Norah eats 3 meals a day with an afternoon snack. We usually eat dinner later at night, since she goes to bed later. She has become a little more selective, but I would still say she is a good eater. Her current favorite food is cheese. We are practicing not spitting food out or throwing it on the floor when we are done. Sometimes if we give her a bite of something she wants more than what she has at the time, she will spit out whatever is currently in her mouth to make immediate room for the new! Norah loves her whole milk!

Norah sleeps great at night and we are so thankful for that! She sleeps from about 10 (sometimes 10:30) to 9. Most days she still takes two naps, but she is starting to be ready for one. There have been a couple days where she only took one, either because she didn't fall asleep the second time or took a really long first nap, but most days she still takes two naps.

Teeth: 13th tooth- Upper right canine on 1/20

Developments: Norah is developing so fast it's almost like you can actually see her brain growing! She can follow simple commands and it makes her seem so old. She can do things like go get something, bring something to daddy/mommy, etc. She has an amazing memory of where things belong. She is a pretty good listener. She definitely loves to take things she isn't technically supposed to have and run away laughing and things like that, but when we say no in a firm voice she usually listens. I think she shows a lot of empathy for her age, which I love. She loves to give hugs to other babies, share her snacks, and she even went up to a friend crying last week and gave them a hug. Though, a few times recently we have seen a short tantrum when she wants something the same time as someone else, but she is easily redirected. She is 100% walking everywhere and getting quite fast! She started turning around and scooting backwards with her bottom when she wants to sit on your lap, or just plunking herself down right in the middle of where she wants to be. She can sign eat, more, and bath. We have been practicing identifying body parts, and she is getting pretty good! She can fairly regularly identify her nose, hair, mouth, ears, eyes, belly button, and toes. She usually always identifies toes, belly button, mouth, and hair correctly.

Words: Here are the words she can say or has said before: dada, mama, baby, bath, eat, ball, Daisy, Ainsley, bye-bye, wow, hot, and hi. This month she started to say grandpa/grandma, which sounds like “bapa,” and belly button, which sounds like “bay bay.” She regularly says Daisy, Ainsley, ball, baby, bye-bye, dada.

Favorites: Norah loves to get into all the drawers/cupboards and see what treasures she can find. She enjoys flipping through books, holding her bitty baby, and playing with Ainsley. She loves to sing wheels on the bus and do the wheels motion. She likes to lift up people's shirts to look for their belly button. Norah loves to find puppies in books and spot balls anywhere we go. She likes to play peek-a-boo, pretend put on mommy's make-up, and try to sneak a M+M (she discovered where my baking/chocolate section is in the kitchen and I really need to move it to a higher shelf now!).

She loves her new kitchen she got for christmas! Her favorite thing is to stir her imaginary food in the pots and blow on it!

Friday, January 22, 2016

Biblical Womanhood.

What I want my daughters to know about Biblical womanhood

I read this article this morning and thought it was very good. Teaching Norah about Jesus is an immense responsibility, opportunity, and privilege! Here is a general synopsis of what she says:

1. Being a Godly woman means surrendering your whole heart to Jesus. This means He defines who you are and that is your identity, no matter what happens or how you feel.

2. Surrendering your heart means obeying. It's tempting to be the boss of your own life, but in submitting to God, He will make you the woman He wants you to be.

3. The world wants you to think that outward beauty is the ultimate goal, but God wants you to have a gentle and quiet spirit (1 Peter 3:3-4). True beauty is listening to what Jesus thinks of you and having a peaceful heart as you rest in that.

4. Don't fall into the trap that a man is the ultimate goal of womanhood. If God calls you to be single, you are not less adequate than wives and moms. If God wants you to marry, your husband will not provide lasting fulfillment. Biblical womanhood is based on your relationship with Him, not a man. He alone will provide you with ultimate hope and security.

5. Don't define Biblical womanhood by what you do, or you will always be comparing yourself to others. It's about attitudes more than actions, about having a soft and submissive heart towards God and His commands. In becoming what He wants of you, you will find freedom and joy.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Christmas toys/books.

I know it's January and no one is thinking about Christmas anymore, but here are a few Christmas related toys/books Norah received that are super fun to celebrate with!

1. Hallmark Keepsake Kids Tree- My mom gave us this as a stocking stuffer present, and I think it's adorable! Norah didn't get to play with it this year (because she didn't open it until New Years and then we put our decorations away), but I can't wait to get it out next year. There are ornaments you can get to go with it, and you attach them to the big buttons. So cute!

2. Fisher Price Little People Nativity Set- I love this and wish that every kid in the world could have one. What a neat way for them to learn the Christmas story (the real meaning of Christmas!), in a touchable, hands on way. So many nativity sets are fragile or keepsake items, so this is perfect that it's just for the kids! (They also have a deluxe version.) Norah didn't really understand anything we were telling her about it this year, but she enjoyed playing with it, and it's best to start young!

3. Nativity Fabric Advent Calendar- My parents had this for us growing up, and we bought the same for Norah- a fun countdown to Christmas by hanging a different piece of the nativity scene each day!

4. The Story of Christmas Story Book Set & Advent Calendar- We also bought this for Norah because my parents had it for us growing up. It's fun to have because you open the flaps and there is an individual mini book for each day to read. Norah liked holding her own book! I like it, but it's not my favorite because the stories weren't phrased in the most kid-friendly way and sometimes used big words. 

Norah also got a lot of Christmas books as gifts. When I buy her a Christmas book, I try to find ones about baby Jesus. She got some as gifts that mention santa, and I am not against reading that, but I do want to make a conscious effort to teach Norah about the true meaning of Christmas and that santa is just for fun. (These are also all board books.)

The Story of Christmas- One of my favorites!

Baby's First Nativity- Another favorite!

12 Dogs of Christmas touch and feel- Norah loved this because it was touch and feel, and because she loves to look at dogs! 

These books are more about winter, not necessarily Christmas.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Indoor swimming in the winter!

We went swimming with some friends on a cold winter day at the indoor pool and it was a blast! Norah enjoyed swimming last summer, but she's changed a lot since the last time she was in a pool (understanding more, walking, etc.), so I was anxious to see what she would do.

She LOVED it. She was like a fish. She splashed and had no fear of going deep. I forgot to bring her life vest (oops), and I wished I would have had it because she wanted me to let her go! Her head even went under a couple times when she made a dive for it and she didn't even mind. She went down the small water slide twice and enjoyed that too. 

We will definitely have to go again! It was so much fun. She threw a tantrum when it was time to leave because she wanted to go back in. When we got home and I picked her up to put her in her high chair for lunch, she just wrapped her arms around me and squeezed for a minute and laid her head on my shoulder as if to say "thanks mom, I really loved that." It was completely adorable.

I love getting to spend my days with you, Norah, and that we can go on adventures together!

Friday, January 15, 2016

Norah's 2015 Christmas gifts.

I hesitated to write this post at first, because I don't want to make it seem like gifts are what Christmas is about or that you need to get your child lots of stuff. Neither one of those things are true. We believe that Christmas is about God sending Jesus as a baby, knowing that His death/resurrection was to come to save us from our sins. We also believe that the best gifts you can give your child(ren) are encouraging words and quality time- not material things.

However, I share what Norah got for Christmas simply as a helpful tool in case you are looking for a gift for someone in the one-year-old range. (Also, Norah has wonderful extended family that was very generous to her, we certainly didn't buy all of this ourselves!) I'm also not putting any "verdicts" on these items like I have in my other baby items posts, partly because Norah just got them and hasn't used them a lot yet, and partly because most of these items we picked for her, so we knew we wanted them!

1. My First Legos Set- This was Kley's pick for Norah. He loved playing with legos when he was younger and wants Norah to also!

2. Magna-Tiles Clear Colors 100 piece set- This was my pick for Norah. These are expensive, but I think they are worth it. When I taught preschool, these were the most fought over toy by far. Everyone loved them! I also think it's worth it to buy the larger set. Boys and girls alike loved them, and we would put them out often and they were continually played with. They are like thin blocks with magnets along the edges, so you can create whatever you want! 

**Norah is still too young to actually understand the building aspect of the magna-tiles and legos, but we can't wait for her to grow into them in a few months! When she opened them, she didn't really care about them, which we were expecting, so we put them away for a few months and will bring them out again when she gets older. I am all for rotating toys and saving some for later! Kids get so much for their birthdays and Christmas, they don't really need to have it all out to play with at once!

3. Pacific Play Tents Ladybug Tent and Tunnel- Norah was a little hesitant to crawl in at first, but not she loves it! We went to a friends house once and they had a tent, which was the first time she had seen one and thought it was so funny because their cat went in it. I was thinking of putting balls inside and making it sort of a ball pit? (I'm glad we have a basement for this. I don't want a big tent upstairs! So, this is obviously only a good gift if you have space for it.)

4. KidKraft Uptown Espresso Kitchen- I am so excited for Norah to have this! I researched for a long time about which play kitchen to get, and this one looks great! It's an expensive item, but I know Norah will play with it for years, as will our future children. I like that it's durable (many of the plastic ones don't withstand a lot of wear and tear), the espresso stain matches our other furniture, and it's gender neutral. I can't wait to play with it with her!

If you get this, beware that it takes forever to assemble. Literally hours. (Thanks to grandpa and gramie who assembled it for her so it was ready when she opened it!)

Have you checked out any KidKraft items? I can't say a lot about it because Norah just got this kitchen and that's the only thing we have, but it looks amazing! They have so many kitchens, and their dollhouses looks incredible too!

5. Melissa and Doug 8 Piece Stainless Steel Pots and Pans Set- These pots and pans are great- so durable and realistic! I like the ones Ikea has too!

6. Melissa and Doug Food Groups- I've researched play food too, and I still can't find one that I'm over the moon about, but I do like this one. I like that it's wooden, because lots of the plastic ones aren't very durable (once they get squeezed in they are smashed forever basically), and Norah can practice food group sorting too! (They also have big plastic fruits and vegetables that I really like, but they only have them in fruits and vegetables, not other food groups.)

7. Melissa and Doug Beginning Pattern Blocks- I am excited for Norah to use these! (Can you tell I used to teach preschool? Pretty much all kid toys excite me. My old classroom had these too and they were great.) They are good for beginning matching, shape recognition, colors, etc.

Also, in searching for the pattern blocks link, I also found this beginning skills playset. Looks pretty cool- a great gift idea!

8. Green Toys Tea Set- I wanted Norah to have a tea set to go with her kitchen, and this one is perfect! I love that all of green toys products are made of 100% recycled materials. It's plastic but still so durable. I love that it's cute, but not frilly (so many tea sets were way over the top!). It can also function well as regular play dish ware, so she can use it a lot.

9. Green Toys Dump Truck- Pink- Again, so durable. Easy to roll and fun! Norah likes putting stuff in the back.

10. Little Tikes Easy Store Large Slide- We originally got the smaller one, but ended up returning it for the large one because it will last her a lot longer. It folds in half if you want to store it. Another perfect item for the basement!

11. Mr. Potato Head and Mrs. Potato Head- I feel like these are such classic toys, and they are so cheap! I like that they practice fine motor skills, imagination, and facial/body parts recognition. And they are just fun!


12. Mega Bloks Deluxe Building Bag- I know these are similar to regular Legos, but Norah got these too from great grandparents, and we decided to keep them just for variety. Also, the mega bloks might be better for younger, since they are larger, and the regular legos for older. I feel like these are another classic toy.

13. Alex Toys Baby Builder- I love these! I think they are reasonably priced compared to similar things too. I love that they can be used for a long time. Young infants can just grab and hold them/suck on them, while older kids can actually connect them together and build things. There are different types of things inside, so they connect in different ways too.

14. Fisher Price Silly Sounds Puzzle- I originally wouldn't have picked this puzzle, because I have been getting Norah the thinner peg puzzles so they are all the same to fit in her puzzle storage holder, but Norah got this as a gift and it is pretty cute! It would be a great first puzzle because the pieces are big and easy to maneuver. Norah really likes the music button!

15. Animal Babies book by Eric Carle- Norah loves any sound book, and this is a fun book about animals and their babies/sounds. 

16. How Much Does God Love You? book- A fun book about different things God created and what He would do for you (swim the farthest sea, climb the highest hill, etc.), but He loves you most of all.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Home Management- Spirituality.

I, by no means, profess that I am perfect at having devotional time, but I do believe that it is of utmost importance and should be something that is a part of your daily life. Sometimes I really do want to do it and sometimes I really don't, but I believe God will meet with me and is anxiously awaiting for me to come to Him. Even if I don't "feel" like spending time in the Word or I don't "feel" like I got anything out of it, it's still important because I want spending time with Him to be a habit and a vital, real part of my life and my relationship with God isn't based on my feelings. He never changes.

I encourage you to find a time of day that works for you and that you are able to be mostly consistent at in spending time with God. Whether that's reading your Bible, reading a devotional, journaling, praying, listening to praise music- pick one and do it! Even if you don't feel like it or don't think you have time, choose to do it. Also, while I think all those things are good, I do think reading the actual Bible and prayer are the most important. Devotional books and other things are great, but shouldn't replace the actual Word and prayer. I love reading Christian books/devotional books, but I keep my devotional time alone in the morning to the straight Bible. For awhile, I tried to read devotionals on the youversion Bible app, but it just wasn't the same as holding the Bible in my hands or reading the actual Word. But, you have to find what works for you depending on your stage. Maybe you are just starting your devotions again after a time away and need something lighter. Maybe you are a new Christian and reading 2 Chronicles would be way confusing for you. That's okay!

For me, it works to have devotional time in the morning when I first get up. Back in high school/college, late nights worked for me, but that's not what's best for me anymore. That's okay if your time has to change as your life stages change. What's important is to just keep it up. If you've fallen away, just pick it back up. Kley and I read a devotional together at night before bed and pray, though prayer is something I want to get better at, myself individually and together with Kley. If you are married, I think it's important to worship individually as well as together. Both are important and necessary. (Also, Norah just turned one, so our spiritual habits with her will change as she grows older, but it's important to have devotional time with your children and to model to them what that looks like too. We started reading a short advent devotional to Norah during December, and now are reading a short story from her children's Bible before bed.)

So, I don't have amazing tips, other than to find a time of day that works for you to be consistent and to try your best to spend time with God, even if it's short, every day.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Favorite Posts of 2015.

Here are a few of my favorite posts from 2015! It was really fun to look back over our year, and it was also really hard to narrow down my favorites. (I originally had about 30, and managed to cut that down to 14, which is an arbitrary number and still a lot. Oops.) Enjoy!

New mom encouragement
A rocky start with a change of heart
Swinging up and down
Tulip Festival 2015
Norah's first trip to the pool
With influence comes responsibility
I was there
My dream is coming true
Five years
My best advice for new (first time) moms
Swearing in ceremony
How to make friends in a new town
Snow baby
Balance of being a "good" mom

Friday, January 8, 2016

A real life Miss Clara.

Have you seen the movie War Room? If not, you should. It's so good! Watch the trailer here. I saw this video the other day about the real person who inspired the character of Miss Clara from the movie. So neat! Watch below.

A Real Life Miss Clara

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Home management- Exercise.

This post is super lame, because I don't have a lot to say and because I'm definitely not an exercise queen.

I am not following any program or schedule, but I am pretty consistent at exercising 3-4 (mainly 3) times per week. It doesn't always happen, but I try. Sometimes my workout plan is thwarted by weather, baby schedule, or Kley working. When it's warm, I run outside often. (Oh, how I miss summer right now when I can just go outside anytime with a simple stroller.) It's harder, so much harder, in the winter, because then I either have to wait until Kley is home, wait for the perfect time in the baby schedule, or wait until Norah is sleeping. We also watch a friend's baby 20 hours a week, so I have to work her schedule into the mix too. Not that any of that is bad, but just saying that working out while caring for babies can be tricky and I definitely do not have a regular time of day to exercise, but I do try to get it in. I literally have exercised at any hour of the day, whenever I can squeeze it in. When I can't go outside and am pressed for time, I have recently been doing a lot of workouts from (they are free!). I've really enjoyed that!

If anyone has any tips on how to exercise with babies, let me know! I know I could wake up super early and exercise before the day starts, but that would require sacrificing sleep, and would also require a shower/blow-dry, which would add so much time. I am a night- shower person, and I rarely blow-dry my hair. Maybe twice a year. So, I know that makes it harder on myself during the day to find a time, but oh well. Also, how do you balance fashion in this arena as well? Do you get dressed for the day and then change when you work out? If I work out mid-day, or even in the morning, I still don't get a shower in until night, which is gross I know, but it's not possible to shower with Norah getting into everything!

So, basically, I'm saying that I'm trying but I have no answers. Nobody quote me on anything exercise related. Except for maybe a laugh.

**Also, we have a membership to the local gym, but personally for me it's not worth it. We received a pass as a gift from my in-laws for Christmas when we moved here, which was awesome. It expired in June, and we decided to renew it because Kley enjoys playing basketball there over the lunch hour a couple days a week, so we just got a family pass. However, next year we will totally just get a single pass for Kley. It is not worth the family pass for me because we don't get there often enough to make it worth the money. Sometimes, granted most times, it's so much easier to just exercise from home then to load up a baby, unload the baby, get to the gym, actually work out, load up baby again, unload baby again, and get home. It's a very nice facility, but my complaints are that you can't take babies into the workout area (which I understand), so that limits the time I can go by a lot, and the track (where you can take kids), is often full because the facility actually belongs to the local college so there are a lot of students there sometimes. Also, the great majority of the year I just run outside when it's nice, so the times where I actually need a gym are few. Maybe you love your membership and that's great, but not for me!

Monday, January 4, 2016

Christmas 2015.

Unfortunately, our Christmas turned out a little different than planned this year, because all three of us got the flu. At the same time. It was terrible and super gross. Thankfully, the in-the-bathroom part only lasted about 12 hours, and then it just took a few days for all of us to feel back to normal again. We ended up missing the big Ver Steeg gathering (Kley's mom's side) and our planned trip to South Dakota for all my mom's side. It was a bummer!

Even though we missed all the extended family gatherings, it still turned out to be a great Christmas. It was nice to have a few relaxing days at home together, and it was nice that we got to see Kley's family a lot. Brett and Elizabeth, his sister/husband, were here and we got to get together as a family several times!

Since we thought we were leaving, we had Norah open her presents early. She really enjoys ripping the paper off this year!

Her two big gifts were Magna-Tiles (mom's choice),

and Legos (dad's choice). She is still a bit young for them, but will hopefully love them later this year! We also got her a book, ornament, and tea set to go with her new kitchen (that she still hasn't received yet because we are celebrating with my family this weekend over New Year's, and with Kley's family the following weekend).

Family Christmas shot! Kley and I actually got dressed after days! Norah still wasn't feeling 100%, so she stayed in her penguin pajamas. 

We love Brett and Elizabeth!

Norah loves to play with her aunt!

They gave Norah a present early, and she got a dump truck. 

Norah and grandpa!

Here are a few pictures I tried to take of Norah in her Christmas dress in Des Moines. Emphasis on the tried- oh well!

Family Christmas dinner. Love this tradition!

Thankful for all three of us feeling back to normal and celebrating with family.

I think this picture is funny. Never know what you're going to get!

Then I tried to distract her with a plastic candy cane from the tree, and she just tried to eat it. Of course.

Dad reading the Christmas story from Luke 2.

Norah has awesome grandparents! On both sides!


Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas celebrating our Savior being born!