Friday, April 29, 2016

Weekend in Des Moines.

We spent the weekend in Des Moines and it was so fun! It was my sister-in-law's birthday on Thursday, and Norah and I rode down with my sister and we got to have a family dinner to celebrate. We had some family time outside playing basketball and going for a walk!

Norah loved getting the ball.

Dunking with Uncle Keaton!

Norah walking Daisy. Is that not the cutest?

More Uncle Keaton fun.


Friday was my youngest sister Kayla's prom and we got to watch her get ready.

Make-up time.

While Kayla was taking pictures with her class, we got to visit my good friends Lauren and Stephen, and their daughter Reese. They recently moved back to Des Moines and we are so excited because we can see them more!

Aunt Kayla looked stunning!

So glad we got to be there to celebrate!

Friday night Kley came after work, and we got to hang out as a family on Saturday going for walks and hitting the mall! It was a gorgeous day!

Norah loves the swings.

Weekends with family are the best!

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Repost- Beginning formal Gospel instruction with toddlers.

Beginning formal Gospel instruction with toddlers.

I read this yesterday and it was so so good I had to share it. If you are a Christian parent of young children, this is a must read! I thought she had great ideas and really encouraged me to make more structured time with Norah in Gospel instruction. 

We currently read a Bible story each night before bed and pray before meals/bed, and try to talk about basic points throughout the day (like kindness, obedience, sharing, etc.), but I want to be more intentional and focused. This is just the thing to read for great tips on how to get started. It's so important!

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Norah- Eighteen Months.

Poor Norah has been way too sick! At the beginning of the month, she was still recovering from hand, foot, & mouth, and about a week after that she got influenza A and had a high fever (highest was 104), followed by a bad cold. Thankfully she is healthy now and will hopefully stay that way! Norah is the most grumpy with just a normal cold; when she has a fever she is just really lethargic/cuddly.

Schedule/Eating: The transition to one nap went smoothly, thankfully. Once she was officially only taking one we moved it back a bit, and now she sleeps from about 1:30-3:30. She still sleeps from about 10-9 at night, and she falls asleep quickly for both and sleeps well. We are very thankful for a good sleeper!

Norah is getting slightly more picky, but still eats pretty well. We are always working on not throwing food on the floor or spitting it out, ha! Norah's favorite foods are cheese, pretzels, oreos, and watermelon. She is getting a lot better at using silverware.

Teeth: 15th tooth- Bottom right canine on 4/5.

Developments: Norah is saying so many words it's hard to keep track! A lot are still hard to understand, but you can still tell what she's trying to say because she loves to copy you! She is starting to associate words together, like dogs say “woof woof” and cars go “vroom vroom.” She is able to do more things, like build taller towers, match simple puzzle shapes together, complete her 6 piece shape sorter by herself, etc. Norah is one smart cookie! She remembers where things go, where to find things, and can follow simple directions. She said her first sentence on 4/9, which was, “Baby walk” as she was putting her doll into her stroller and pushing her. Norah switched to 5 diapers this month. She still doesn't love strangers, but is getting much more comfortable with being around other people and going to them. She will go to great grandparents now, which they absolutely love! She still likes to make sure we are there, but will venture farther from us in settings with more people. She is just starting to line things up together and starting beginning counting/pointing.

Words: Probably too many to count! She is able to say: dada, grandpa (bapa), Karlie, Kayla, Keat, Brett, baby, bye-bye, hi, wow, hot (which she always whispers), bath, please, eat, water (wah-wah), car, dog, walk, up, down, Daisy (my parent's dog), Ainsley (her friend), ball, and probably more that I missed. She signs eat, more, up, please, and bath. She will copy a lot of words that you say to her, but doesn't use them regularly herself yet. Some newer words she says are cold, shoes, poop, off, toes, wet, two (when counting), and side (outside). She is getting really good at communicating what she wants, whether it's with words, hand gestures, pointing, etc. She throws an occasional tantrum, like any toddler, but it's really not too bad! She is a good communicator!

Favorites: Norah loves to go outside and would stay out all day if we would let her. (She cries almost every time we come inside, even if we were outside for a long time.) She loves to get snacks from the kitchen jars and to say/sign please ever so sweetly for a chocolate chip. She loves to find dogs and cars outside or out the window. She loves her baby doll, changing the doll's diaper, putting food in her play kitchen microwave and pushing the buttons, hot wheels cars, and getting her hands on anyone's phone she can find. 

It's hard to get pictures because she's always on the go, but these are pretty good compared to sometimes. Here she was even saying, "Cheese!"

We love you so much, Norah!

Friday, April 22, 2016

Getting used to you.

I was listening to Pandora the other day (Ben Rector is my current favorite Pandora station), and a love song came on with the lyric, "I will never get used to you." It got me thinking.

I understand what the artist was going for- he never wants to stop pursuing her, he doesn't want to take her for granted, etc. I am for those things too, and while I understand the sentiment behind the line, I disagree with it.

So many things in society (culture, movies, music, etc.) portray that the beginning of the relationship or "the chase" as the best part, and once "you've got her" or you've been together for awhile it starts to go downhill. For a healthy, Christ-centered marriage, the opposite is true, and I am so thankful for that. It gets better as it goes on, and there is a beautiful gift in being so intimately known and loved by someone.

While I don't want to take Kley for granted because I am so grateful to have him as my spouse and partner, I do want to get used to him because I want to know him. I want to know Kley better than any other person does, and I should, because I am his wife. While knowing someone so deeply lets you in on their quirks, insecurities, annoying habits, and sin struggles, I wouldn't have it any other way, because knowing that Kley loves me unconditionally and that he will never leave me brings me such joy, peace, and security. Because Kley knows me so well, he knows all my worst qualities and he chooses to forgive me and love me anyway. That's what everyone longs for!

I think people should get used to each other in marriage, because being known so intimately is my deepest source of love on earth and paints a beautiful imagery of Christ loving the church (Ephesians 5). I feel so loved by being so intimately known, both by Kley and by God.

So Kley, thanks for loving me. For however much life we have left on earth, I'm thankful to spend it with you. I love you.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

My current favorite "mom-wardrobe" essentials.

I feel like my style has changed a lot in the last year, primarily because I no longer have a "work outside of the home job" (and I say it like that because being a SAHM is definitely a job too!) and because I am always caring for Norah, and often other children too. 

I taught preschool before, so even though I had to wear real work clothes, I still tried hard to find comfortable items that were easy to wash and care for. That is still my goal, but even more so now because I am on the floor so often.

As I have gotten older, I have learned to spend more money on clothes that are quality. I've heard people say that, but I think it's something you don't learn until you get a little older. Yes, it costs you more money initially, but I do think it saves you in the long run because your clothes last longer when you are buying higher quality pieces. I am also much more selective in what I purchase, because I don't want to buy something unless I absolutely love it and will wear it often. (I usually just ask for clothes for my birthday or something, so I don't spend too much on clothing myself.)

My style is much more relaxed and comfortable now because of my stage of life. I don't want to wear baggy sweatpants everyday, but I am definitely looking for comfortable, easy to move in, and easy to wash (because you can't re-wear clothes when caring for kids- so much spit up, snot, food, etc.)! I am on the floor so much that even jeans aren't very appetizing to me these days. Though, I still want to look put together (most days) and not feel like I am always wearing pajamas, so here are a few of my current favorite pieces that are so comfortable without wearing sweatpants and t-shirts. (You can see that I really love them because I own multiple of several items!)

Old Navy Tie-Waist Jersey Cocoon Dress (I have in Gray Stripe and Black)- I have said several times since having Norah that "long and high" is what I am looking for in clothing, and this dress fits both! Holding babies really prevents you from wearing low-cut shirts or shorter dresses/skirts/shorts. I am super happy that the "midi" style dress is in season. You can guarantee that I will keep wearing them even when it's not in season anymore. 

Athleta Trekkie Jogger Pant (I have in Iron Blue and Jasper Green)- I love these pants so much. They are comfortable, easy to move in, and slightly fancier than sweatpants.

Athleta Pure Tee (I have in Black, Heather Gray, and Mint Green)- Some people are not a fan of ruching, but I don't mind it. I love these tees because they wash so well and they are plenty long. So many companies call their basic tees the "perfect tee," but it really is hard to find a perfect one!

North Face Women's Osito 2 Jacket (I have in black)- This is my go-to fleece and I wear it often. Great as a light coat outside or for when I feel cold inside- it's fuzzy and warm!

North Face Red Blaze Vest- I don't know if this is the exact same vest I have, since mine is a few years old, but I love it. I have it in eggplant purple, and I also have a black vest from Old Navy and I wear both often. 

Gap Sun Wash Active Stripe Sweatshirt- I recently ordered this sweatshirt with a gift card in a pink/red color and I love it. It's so comfortable, but looks slightly more put together than wearing a baggy sweatshirt with a hood.

Lou and Gray Signature Soft Poncho- This is not the exact cardigan I have, but it's similar. Everyone needs a good cardigan, right? The one I have is super soft and is easily worn with many different things. 

So there you have it- if you have any favorite must-haves, let me know!

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Baby chicks.

We took Norah to the local hardware store to see their baby chicks. (Doesn't that sound like a true glimpse into small town life?)

Norah would look, but was not a fan of taking them out and definitely did not want to touch. She actually cried when we asked her if she wanted to touch, so it wasn't a huge success, but we did it!

Here she is, walking away grumpily crying when we tried to get her to touch it. Oops!

Thursday, April 14, 2016


How often do you think about Heaven?

The answer, at least for me, is not near enough. We should be thinking about and preparing for Heaven all the time. Our time on earth is so temporary, and it's far too easy to forget that. It's hard to grasp what forever truly means. If we believe in Jesus, we can be assured of eternal life because He came to earth for us, died on the cross for us, and rose again for us. For me. For you.

James 4:14 says that we don't know what will happen tomorrow, and our life is but a mist that is here for awhile and then vanishes. I recently went to a funeral for my old coworker/friend's husband who suddenly passed away at 37, leaving her with three young children. While that is terribly sad from an earthly perspective, it was a beautiful funeral that clearly emphasized the glory of Heaven. He was a believer and now he is with Jesus forever.

Are you ready to meet Jesus? Are you really ready? I usually assume that I am not going to die until I am really old, but you never know when your time will come. Am I ready today to meet Him? Our life group at church is currently reading the book You and Me Forever by Francis and Lisa Chan. It's an excellent book, and the last chapter was talking about anticipating Heaven. Francis writes,

     "I don't have any statistics to prove this, but based on my experience, I'd bet that at least 95% of American "Christians" would choose not to leave their families today if they were given the choice to be with Jesus. You can justify that all you want, but something is off. Paul recognized the value of staying on earth to minister to the people around him, but his burning desire was to be with Jesus (Philippians 1:21-26). If you'd rather watch your kids grow up than see the face of your Savior today, you don't grasp the beauty of God. If you worry about what would happen to your children if you were gone, you don't understand the providence of God. Pray for a deeper understanding of His worth and sovereignty. Pray earnestly until you are infatuated with seeing His face."

Wow, those are convicting, piercing words. While I don't want to leave Kley without a spouse/parent partner and I don't want to leave Norah without a mother, I need to be ready. I should want to and be ready to meet Jesus today. I really do need to pray for more of an understanding of His worth and sovereignty. That paragraph is so convicting and thought-provoking that I almost can't formulate a response.

Revelation 21 talks a lot about Heaven. It says that God will dwell among them and be with them. There will be no more crying, death, mourning, or pain. I love the picture that God is light, and light so quickly makes darkness vanish, so I love verse 23 where is says, "The city does not need the sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp."

I don't have a great way to end this post, but I think that's how it should be because Heaven will be so wonderfully beautiful that we can't even truly comprehend how great it will be. Sometimes people's sufferings on earth seem so big and hard to understand, but it will be so worth it to enter into Heaven and live for all eternity with our Maker.

I really like Heaven Song by Phil Wickham. Part of the chorus says, "And my soul is getting restless for the place where I belong; I can't wait to join the angels and sing my heaven song." I want to be restless for Heaven.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Video links.

Dad talking about his son with Autism- A really neat video about a dad fighting for his son. He had many challenges with Autism and was told to be institutionalized, but his dad wouldn't do that. He homeschooled him and worked with him relentlessly.

Lip sync battles of Jimmy Fallon and Melissa McCarthy- This was pretty funny, especially the last song. (Warning- Melissa's first song has language.)

Adoption video- I'm pretty confident I have posted a link to this video before, but I have to again. It's just too cool. This is an amazing story of a couple who adopted a baby and the way they connect earthly adoption to God adopting us into His family is beautiful.

Friends bloopers- Not the best quality video, but still hilarious.

Baby sings, "I love you" to mom- So adorable.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Children's toy storage and rotation.

know this is pretty nerdy and many won't understand/think I'm crazy for doing this, but I love cleaning and rotating Norah's toys. I also love organization. So, if you are wondering how your kid's toys are always a mess and how to ever fix it, maybe you could gain some tips here!

I have had other people tell me that they have never rotated or cleaned their kid's toys, and that's okay. You don't have to do this, and you are not a bad parent for not doing so. But, I do think it's helpful and beneficial for my family.  I try to clean/rotate toys each week (granted, if we are gone for a weekend or something, it is sometimes every other week). Here is WHY I clean and rotate Norah's toys:

1. We regularly have other young kids in our home, so there are lots of little hands and mouths on our toys. Cleaning them regularly helps with germ-transferring and sickness.

2. It helps with the mess and clean up time- if there is less out, there is less to clean. Also, if toys have a specific place they belong, it's easier for your children to learn to clean and help too. (Which is what we all want- our kids to clean up after themselves! Got to start training for that young!)

3. Rotating toys helps children engage better and maintain interest longer. Too many choices can be overwhelming, so having a smaller presentation helps.

4. Rotating toys makes it fun to have "new" things to play with each week. Kids can't say they are bored (as much), if there are different things regularly offered.

Now, here is HOW I clean/rotate toys:

1. If you are starting this process from scratch, think about how you want to store the toys. I would recommend getting some sort of bins (I use 6 quart Sterilite bins and 12 quart Sterilite bins). You   don't have to purchase bins, but I think it's worth the investment. I use labels for each bin. You could even add pictures to the label for non-readers so they know where to put things!

How will you display the toys you are going to put out for play? Do you need bins? Do you need storage cubes? Do you need a small shelf? Maybe a bookcase or shoe rack? Think about what would work best for your home. Then you need to think about where you are going to store the toys that are not in current use. Do you have a storage area in your basement? Maybe extra room in a closet?

2. Choose a time that can be relatively the same for you each week to do it. (I have chosen late Wednesday afternoon, because that works in our schedule and it makes sense for us because we regularly have other kids in our house Monday-Wednesday, so I like to clean them after that.) Then, you know it's coming and it's scheduled/planned.

3. First, I start with cleaning the toys that are currently out. I wash all the smaller toys in our sink, simply by soaking in very hot water with soap and then rinsing.

4. For the bigger toys that can't fit into the sink (like a walker toy or activity table), I clean those with a wash cloth and a cleaning spray that says it's safe for children's toys. (I have used several different sprays, and I don't have a specific preference.) I also wipe down board books too.

5. While the toys are drying, I put out new toys. Norah has a few toys in her room, one shelf of toys in the office, and the majority are in the living room. I also rotate toys in the bathtub, basement (that is usually just bigger toys like her slide and tent), and diaper bag. I know that's a lot to think about, but once you are doing it, it's not that bad.

6. Put the clean toys away in storage for next time!

Here are a few pictures of what that looks like in our house:

I keep the toys not in current use in Norah's closet.

I keep some books in this bookcase, and some other singular toys (that don't really fit into a group or bin), in these cubes. The rest of the books that aren't in use are stored in her dresser drawers.

We have the bottom shelf of this bookcase in the office/den for toys, plus her baby doll items. (She's pretty obsessed with her doll- it's so cute.)

I also keep just a few books in the living room in our TV stand. 

We keep toys along one side of the couch in the living room. This is the main play area throughout the day. I have a cheap shoe rack to keep the singular items on top, and the bins of toys underneath. It works well for us, because then they are still easily accessible, but not scattered everywhere. (When Norah was younger, we used more of a small toy bin type bucket with a lid, because she had smaller toys like rattles and such, but as she got older that wasn't as functional anymore.)

So there you have it! Hope that was helpful. It may seem like a lot, but I personally think it's worth it. All in all, this takes me about one hour per week to do. Since I am a SAHM, we are at home playing a lot, so I think it's worth my time to create positive, clean play spaces for Norah! I would recommend doing it!

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

5k color run!

On Saturday, my sister and I ran in the END IT! for Autumn 5k Color Run to stop/prevent child abuse. (Autumn was a young girl here in NW Iowa who died a couple years ago due to abuse from her daycare provider. Horribly sad. Her family is starting Autumn's Center to be a support to those who have suffered in some way due to abuse and to prevent it from happening. Her family is doing a great job of turning something awful into the best situation they can.)

It was a cold/windy morning, but we did it and I'm glad we did! There was one road in the beginning that was running through straight country, so there was nothing blocking the wind, but once we got back into town it wasn't too bad. 

You can't see our color because we put coats on after, but we were colorful! The wind blew a lot off, but it got all over. I even had to clean my earbud cord because there was blue powder on it!

After the race they had inflatables for the kids, and Kley and Norah met us there after for some bounce house and slide fun! I thought Norah may be scared, but she loved it!

Loving the bounce house with Aunt Karlie!

Going down the slide!

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Easter 2016 (part two).

Norah in her Easter dress! She woke up early/grumpy, but she rallied well and took the cutest pictures. I'm so happy!

Opening her Easter basket.

Our family.

Norah opening a gift from Grandpa and Grandma.

Little People Farm- I think she likes it!

My girl!

We tried to take nice outdoor pictures, but they are pretty squinty. Oops.

Norah even said "Cheese!" to the camera today!

She loves Daddy!

So glad Keaton and Rose got to come!

And Grandpa!

We also got to see the De Jongs a few times this weekend too! We love Aunt Elizabeth and Uncle Brett!

The whole family!

Hope you all had a great Easter. We are so thankful for His death and resurrection!