Thursday, September 29, 2016

Norah- Twenty Three Months.

Norah, you are almost two! Thinking about you turning two doesn't make me as sad as thinking about you turning one. It's sad to see your baby days go, but it is so much fun to watch you grow up. You are turning in to such a big girl! Watching your communication and understanding grow is amazing. You are the sweetest girl and we are so glad you are ours! The other night, I had to go to a church meeting, and you gave me a big hug, kiss, and told me you loved me!

Schedule/Eating- Basically the same. Norah still sleeps great, though sometimes wakes up earlier, so is only sleeping about 10.5 hours a night instead of 11. We added a pillow to her crib to try to slowly get her ready for moving to a big bed; she likes it! She occasionally throws it out onto the floor, but usually keeps it in. She sometimes falls asleep on it, but never stays on it the whole night. I guess she likes sleeping flat. She still naps well (goes down about 1:15-1:30 still), which I love! Usually she naps for 2-2.5 hours, but could be 1.5 on a short day or 3 on a long day.

Norah has gotten so much better with feeding herself! She even ate yogurt all by herself the other night and only spilled a couple drips on her belly. She still doesn't eat a ton, but eats enough I guess! We try not to do snacks often to try to help her eat better meals. She still doesn't like to eat much for breakfast. It's funny how back and forth kids go sometimes, like she used to love fruit snacks, but now doesn't anymore. Or she used to love bananas and grapes, then didn't like them for a couple months, and now likes them again. Funny girl! Her current favorite foods are chicken nuggets, macaroni and cheese, cheese, and oreos.

Words- Many people say that Norah speaks quite well for her age, and we agree! Norah is shy in new/some public settings, but talks a lot to people she knows. She sometimes mixes words up, and it's pretty adorable. She says “morning” for mowing, and for some reason she says “purple” when she wants to sit up on the counter. I have no idea where she got that from, and she knows how to say counter and says it in different contexts. She often mixes up you and me, like saying, “carry you” when she means, “carry me.” Mostly, though, she uses words accurately, but it's just fun to remember what they mix up because it's cute and won't last forever! Norah likes to say, “Mmm, like it!” when she likes something she's eating.

Developments- Norah's memory is amazing. She remembers many things and will tell stories or bring up things that happened awhile ago. She can remember and answer questions about things that happened awhile ago too, not just about immediate things like before. She is just so smart! Grandparents say that nothing gets past you! You are in tune with what's happening around you and love to take the world in.

Norah has started singing so much more this month and it's one of my favorites! She loves to sing Praise Ye the Lord, Itsy Bitsy Spider, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, and Jesus Loves Me most. She likes to do Ring Around the Rosie too, but when she sings it, all she sings is, “ashes, ashes” in the most nasal sound. It's funny! Babygarten and her Kindermusik class have started again in the fall and she is enjoying them! She loves to talk about going to “class” and gets excited to go. We went to story time at the library, which we don't usually go to, and they sat on their own carpet squares, and Norah just walked up and sat down, and turned around and smiled at me and said, “class” like she was so happy to be there. She still doesn't like being away from us (the nursery still is a no go!), but she will venture farther away from me during these classes than she used to.

Norah loves to help with things. She is so sweet and will almost help with anything. She loves to help get the vacuum out and plug it in, put things in the recycling, take the garbage or recycling to the curb, wipe counters, sweep, and put clothes in the laundry. I really think physical touch is her love language. She loves to give people hugs, and wants to give her friends kisses. When she's upset, she's started to ask for hugs to help her calm down. She'll also ask for a Kleenex when she's crying. I don't think time outs will be an effective discipline for her later, which is okay with me. I love her sweet heart and it's neat to figure out what works best for her own personality. She has also started patting people's backs when hugging them and saying, “Pals.” It's adorable!

Norah is doing great on the potty! She poops consistently, which is awesome! Sometimes we still have to watch her for signs if we are out, because she doesn't like to say she needs to go when we aren't at home, but I think she pooped in the potty every time this last month. She's also started peeing in the potty a few more times too. She has started realizing the difference between the two, and will sometimes ask to go potty vs. poopy. Sometimes she says she has to go potty and she sits down and never goes, but at least something is starting to click.

We have been practicing letters, numbers, colors, and shapes. She is getting better about remembering! She still says most things are red, but just yesterday she pointed to a dog and said it was white. She doesn't have long term recall of them yet, but is starting to remember more at the end of the week, because we practice one of each per week, so by the end of the week she usually knows most. She spells her name ORH and likes to practice “writing” it. She is getting better at counting- we've heard her count 123, 567, and 9, 10, 11, 12 before, so she's learning the order.

Favorites- Norah loves to watch a video on our phones whenever she gets the chance, especially ones about farms. We try to limit it, but she loves to watch a few minutes when daddy gets home from work. We went apple picking at a friends farm earlier this month, and Norah loved it and has brought it up numerous times since then. Norah loves to play outside, and specifically go to the park. She loves to play the piano, sing, read books, and play with her baby. She is so sweet with her baby! One of her new favorite toys is legos and she loves to build towers. She usually picks a favorite book and wants to read that one a lot for awhile. She loves animals- books, songs, saying their sounds, pointing out animals, etc. But she doesn't love to get to close to them in person! Norah has also gotten really into coloring this month, which I am so happy about. I always dreamed of coloring with my daughter!

(She was eating a candy corn!)

Monday, September 26, 2016

Some favorite toddler items.

Here are some of my favorite things to make having a toddler easier!

-Munchkin 360 Miracle Cup- Norah has had the more traditional sippy cup (Munchkin Click Lock Bite Proof Sippy Cup) for a long time, but as she got older she started to bite on the tip more (like she would turn it sideways between her molars and bite on it when she wasn't actually drinking), and that made the slits bigger, so it wasn't leakproof anymore. These cups are a great solution! I (mostly) love them. There are three parts (the cup, white part that screws on that has tiny holes across the rim, and the plastic insert that snaps onto the white lid.) The liquid comes out anywhere around the rim, hence the 360 name, and it senses the pressure from your mouth/teeth on it to release. It's a great transition in between a sippy cup and real cup, and Norah can't bite on the tip anymore. It's easy to clean. Though I do love it, it's not absolutely perfect and there are ways to make it leak, like if she drops it some splatters out, or sometimes little milk bubbles pop out around the rim and drip down, but that doesn't happen too often. Overall it's great!

-Petunia Pickle Bottom Altogether Tote in Quartz- This is a pricey item, but Kley got it for me for Mother's Day and I love it! I was wanting a bag that was still a diaper bag but didn't look like one. I looked into other cheaper options that were just big purses, but couldn't find one I liked or that would do the job. (Like I ordered one that I thought looked good online but then it had fuzzy felt lining on the inside that would not be able to be cleaned well, which doesn't work with kids!) I love this because it has the two different straps (so I can still put the big one over the stroller), it's easy to wipe down and keep clean, and it has lots of pockets on the inside to keep things organized, which is something non-diaper bags don't have. And I love that it doesn't look like a diaper bag! My only slight fault with it is that it's a little large, so it's good for traveling or for whenever we have more kids. They do have a mini tote version that I'd like to get too!

-Crystal Light Plastic Storage Container and BCP 4-pack Mesh Travel Bags- The crystal light containers are pretty silly, but they are amazing for storage! They are perfect for throwing in the diaper bag. My favorite things to put in them are crayons and hot wheels cars, but there's probably tons of things that would fit in there. I also ordered these mesh travel bags to try to keep more floating toys more organized when traveling and in the diaper bag. They are really nice and I like them, I only wish they were smaller, which was my own fault for not measuring out how big they would be first. They are good quality.

-Bumpkins Bibs- Norah got these as a baby present, and they are now my favorite bibs ever. They are waterproof, which is nice because so many of her "younger" bibs were just fabric, yet they are nice and thin and so easy to just throw in the wash. They are bigger than the infant bibs too, so they are perfect for a toddler. And the pocket on the bottom catches a surprising amount of food! I want to get more. 

-Ikea LOCKIG children's potty- I read reviews on the best potty, and of course, there are tons out there with many opinions. I basically just ordered this one because it was cheap and I've liked the kids Ikea products I've had before. It was a good choice, because I love this potty! Norah loves sitting on it. The green part comes out to deposit right into the toilet, and it's easy to wipe down and clean. I would recommend. It's also pretty small/slim. We got the Summer infant potty for grandma's house, which is nice too and the same price, but I like the Ikea one better because it's slimmer. (Norah has been doing really well with pooping on the potty, and is getting better about going potty. Another post on potty training later!)

-I also just have to throw out colors and legos, because those are Norah's favorite things right now! I absolutely love that she is starting to enjoy coloring, and she loves building towers! It's so fun to watch her have an idea and actually try to create it. Norah has these Mega Bloks and this Lego set. She also has these Disney coloring books, but she probably actually prefers to just color on plain paper for now!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Our foster care/adoption update.

Hello! We thought we would give an update on our foster care/adoption journey, since we have received such encouragement when we shared the news and we appreciate our community!

Since starting our PS-MAPP class (the 10 week intensive training course you have to take to become licensed foster/adoptive parents in the state of Iowa), we not only found out we were pregnant, but also that we're having twins! That has definitely changed our thoughts on what foster care/adoption will look like for us in the near future.

We still have big hearts for this and feel like God has called us down this path, but for now, we are basically putting it on hold. We still finished the class and are waiting for the license now, and definitely still want to get licensed and maintain our license. (You have to take 6 credit hours per year to maintain your license, but you get to pick which trainings you want to attend and when. Otherwise, if you let it expire, you have to redo all the classes and paperwork again to get it back. There are lots to choose from, and many are about behavior management, which actually sounds interesting to me!)

For the near future- we've decided until the twins turn one, or at least generally in that timeline- we are only doing respite care. We don't want to be completely on hold (being on hold means that you still have your license but you aren't doing anything to participate and won't receive calls for placements), and we would love to do respite care for awhile, especially because we have several friends in our town who are doing foster care as well. It would be a blessing to be able to help them out and give them breaks, because foster care is an intense commitment. We feel that is a way that we can still serve, while also not having as big of a commitment. We feel that it wouldn't be fair for our family or for a foster child to take long term placements right now, as we don't know how the rest of the twin pregnancy will go, and we know it will be a big transition when they arrive.

In case you don't know, respite care is basically just providing help to current foster families who have active placements, like if they have a family emergency, are going on vacation, or just need a little break. There are times where, for different reasons, a child may not be able to travel out of state or a certain distance away, or the birth parents may deny the approval of a trip, so the foster child has to stay behind if the family leaves. This would be a situation where respite care would be very helpful for a family.

In the future, once the twins are a little older and we feel like we've got the basic swing of things down with three kids, we hope to pick back up. We are currently not actively seeking out adoption, but hope to do that later in life, and want to be licensed for adoption in case a foster child would ever become available for adoption that is in our care and we feel led to adopt them.

So, there's where our hearts are at right now. Thank you very much to those who have prayed for us and encouraged us on this journey. It means a lot!

Monday, September 19, 2016

Information about becoming foster/adoptive parents in Iowa.

Hello! Here is a little (maybe a lot) more information about the steps to becoming foster and/or adoptive parents and what it's like:

I talked about our decision to do foster care/adoption here, so you can read about it if you missed it. In this post, I wanted to share about the process, because we learned a lot along the way. To become foster/adoptive parents in Iowa, through the state (like not doing a private adoption through an agency), you first have to sign up for an informational meeting. At this meeting, you learn about some basics and get finger printed. This is a one night meeting.

After that, you have to sign up for the PS-MAPP classes (which stands for Partnering for Permanence and Safety: Model Approach to Partnerships in Parenting), which is a three hour per week class for ten consecutive weeks, with homework and three home visits on top of that. It's intensive.

You will most likely have to have some wait time in between your informational meeting and the PS-MAPP classes, especially depending on where you live. They have a lot of different informational meetings you can select from, but the PS-MAPP classes aren't offered as often. They also are only offered in select places in the state. Since we live in a small town, the closest city ours were offered in was 45 minutes away, so we also had to drive each week. It's a commitment! We did our informational meeting in April, I believe, and had to wait until July for our PS-MAPP classes to start. Your wait time could be shorter or longer, obviously.

We would say the PS-MAPP classes were beneficial and informative. It was long and there were times we got sick of it, but overall it was a good experience and we are glad we did it. We learned a lot and important topics were discussed. A big thing we learned about was forming partnerships with birth families, because there is huge emphasis on reunification with the birth family if at all possible and we, as foster parents, are supposed to support that and help do what we can to achieve that goal. Another big thing we learned about were different behaviors children from hurtful/abused backgrounds might display and how to handle those. (Obviously, we will have tons to learn about that, but it's helpful to talk about it!)

I will also say that if you are thinking about this, do the foster care and adoption paperwork at the same time, even if you aren't thinking about both. If you only do one and decide you want the other later, you will have to do all the work and take the classes again. So definitely do both right away!

For the homework, there were different articles to read each week, along with some worksheets, mainly about strengths and needs. Strengths and needs were talked about a lot, and you have to think/write about your strengths and needs related to the steps for mutual selection of foster/adoptive parents, which were talked about a lot in classes (here is an example of one of them). In the beginning, there are two huge packets of paperwork that you have to fill out also, and they are extensive.

You also have three home studies, where someone comes to your home. These meetings are several hours long, and they ask you lots of personal questions to get to know you/check you out. They also check out your house and recommend safety improvements that you have to fix before you can get licensed. Many of these safety things are common sense, like you obviously can't have saws or knives laying around, but here's mainly what we had to do- buy carbon monoxide detectors and a fire extinguisher (which we should have anyways regardless of foster care/adoption), buy more child safety locks and put more things behind locked doors (like put a lock on our medicine cabinet, even though it's up high, and make sure all potential hazards are locked away, and that list is longer than you would originally think yourself), and we had to buy a step ladder for our basement window because it was slightly too small/too high off the ground for their requirements. At your final home study, you have to have all the paperwork completed and everything off your "list" checked off, and then wait until all of that is processed until you are cleared to get your license, which is about two months.

Here are two websites that will give you a lot more information about foster care and/or adoption (for the state of Iowa), if you are interested.

Foster care/adoption is obviously not for everyone, but we felt God calling us in these steps, so we wanted to share the information in case it would help anyone else who was possibly thinking about it!

Thursday, September 15, 2016


It's amazing to watch Norah grow up into a little girl. I still call her my baby, but she really isn't a baby anymore. I know I'm her mom, but man do I really love her. I'm trying to embrace our moments together as just us before the twins arrive. 

Norah's second birthday is approaching (and what fun is party planning!), but along with toddlerhood also comes acting like a toddler, which isn't always roses. (I just typed that without thinking about the analogy of a roses and thorns, but how fitting.)

For the most part, Norah is a very good kid and a pretty good listener. Of course, she has her moments of throwing huge fits when she doesn't get what she wants, but that's every child because we are all sinners. No amount of patience and perfectly worded, developmentally appropriate discipline will erase the problem of sin, but what an opportunity we have as parents to teach them young. Proverbs 22:6 talks about training children in the way they should go, and when they are old they won't turn from it. 

I was a preschool teacher and had many child development classes in college- children are so impressionable in their young years. They are crucial. That doesn't mean you can't change later if you had a rough childhood, but I am very thankful for the opportunity and blessing to raise Norah, along with Kley. 

I don't remember a specific time where I decided I was going to talk about obeying more since she was getting older, but Norah definitely picked up on it quickly! She now says the word, "Obey" often, and frequently she remembers and says it when she is not obeying. We aren't perfect parents, but we are trying to instill teaching about Jesus into our daily interactions with Norah through reading Bible stories, praying together, saying short Bible verses together, and telling her how much Jesus loves her (even more than we do) and what He did for her.

Whatever age your child is, there is no better time to start than now. Kley is a huge part in this too, but since I stay home, a lot more falls onto me during the day when he isn't here. I want to be intentional in my discipline. I don't want to speak out of frustration. I want to remember that tantrums are normal and an opportunity to teach, not her personally rebelling against me to make me upset. I want to teach Norah that I will forgive her when she makes mistakes and that I will never stop loving her, just like Jesus will. 

One of the things that frustrated me most about being a preschool teacher was having to do/say everything over and over again, specifically with sharing and being kind to others. It was extremely convicting for me every time, because it reminded me of how many times Jesus has forgiven me for the same thing. While adults have managed to learn how to not outwardly slap people or grab their stuff every time they get mad, that doesn't mean our hearts have changed inwardly. 

I want to model Gospel centered discipline to Norah because the most important thing I want her to learn about is the love He has lavished on us, and that reality should definitely impact the way we live and treat others.

Norah, I love you and I'm glad we can learn about obeying together.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016


Norah was very excited to go see the animals at Pumpkinland this year. I made the mistake of going too early this year and hyped her up for it, only to find out it wasn't open yet. Now she's been talking about it for two weeks saying, "Animals. Later." since I told her we would go again later, and she also asks, "Open?" every time we talk about it, like she wants me to double check that it's for sure open this time. Ha. 

Today was a beautiful day for it! It was cool enough to wear sweatshirts, and the sun was shining perfectly. Norah loves to see animals from a distance and talk about them basically all the time, but she gets scared when she gets too close. 

That sweatshirt and hat. Too cute. (She really hates to wear sunglasses, so at least I can sometimes get her to wear a hat when it's really sunny. I should correct that- she loves to put sunglasses on, but only for 3 seconds before she rips them off.)

She spotted her favorite animal- a donkey! She has been obsessed with donkeys lately because she loves to find them in her children's Bible every night when we read a story. 

The cutest little pumpkin stand! They had these little wheelbarrows for kids and Norah pushed one around for a long time, putting little pumpkins in it.

And Saturdays are always the best days because Daddy can come along too!

We (and when I say we, I mean I), had to get a medium pumpkin for Norah and two tiny pumpkins for the twins. So cute! Our three little babies!

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Apple picking at the farm.

Two of my good friends here are sisters-in-laws, and their in-laws live on a farm. We got to go visit it and it was wonderful! It was an amazingly beautiful day, and we both loved it! We got to see their cows, dog (which Norah didn't like too much), and their kittens. We also got to pick apples, and Norah loved putting them in her bag!

Their property is beautiful and it was such a fun morning! I am so thankful to be a stay at home mom and I truly do love it, especially on days like today where we get to see friends, be outside, and do something out of the ordinary. It was a perfect morning and I am so grateful to be Norah's mom. 

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Washington DC trip 2016 (part two).

Here are some more pictures of our fun time in DC visiting Stephanie! On Saturday we went for brunch at Le Diplomate, which was delicious. I had this vanilla/strawberry/lime french toast and I wish I could have it again. It's one of Stephanie's favorite spots, so we wanted to show it to my mom.

We made the mistake of telling Norah we were going to the zoo that morning too early, so she was not happy about going to brunch. She wanted animals immediately. Oops.

After brunch we headed to the zoo! It was hot, but fun. Norah liked seeing the elephants and donkeys best. She is currently obsessed with donkeys because so many of her Bible stories have pictures of donkeys in them,

The monkeys were fun and we got to watch one walk across these ropes!

Norah liked riding the carousel!

Looking at the donkeys with Stephanie.

In the afternoon we went to the Museum of Natural History. I had never been there before- it was neat!

Of all the things to look at, Norah loved crawling through this tunnel that was part of a termite exhibit. 

Then we headed to the White House! We kept telling Norah that President Obama lives there, and now she says, "Ohh-bama!" and it's super cute.

We had a great trip and are thankful we were able to go. We love you, Stephanie! Thanks for showing us around DC. (You can see part one here, in case you missed it.)