Monday, December 31, 2018

Lucy and Ellory- Twenty-Two Months.

Lucy and Ellory are 22 months! They will be two before we know it! They grow and change so fast. We were watching videos of them at last Christmas, and they seemed so small then and it's only been a year. It's so much fun to listen to the girls play together and to call out each other's names! On 12/21 both girls got a haircut, and they look so different/old! It was just a trim to even things out, and it was Ellory's first cut!

Stats/Doctor visits: We took Ellory in right after Thanksgiving, just to check her ears and lungs because she wasn't sleeping the best and had a cold, but they said she was fine, and thankfully it was the tail end of it because she quickly got better. Other than that we've had a really healthy month!

Teeth: No new teeth.

Feeding: They are pretty consistent with breakfast, lunch, supper, and bedtime snack. If they have other snacks, they don't eat their meals as well. Of course there are occasional times we do give snacks, like during church when we are trying to keep them quiet! We eat supper about 5:30 because everyone is hungry then, which is very different than before. When it was just Norah, it wasn't uncommon to eat supper at 7, but during this season, an early supper is best. Both girls are in love with pears, and a favorite bedtime snack is eating a gogurt in the bath. They sometimes still want to sit on our laps during meals, but are doing a lot better at that than last month. Overall they are both really good eaters and sometimes still surprise us with how much they eat!

Diapers/Clothes: Wearing 24 month/2T clothes and 4 diapers during the day and 5 diapers at night.

Sleeping: Sleeping took a bit of a turn this month, as both girls have learned to climb out of the crib. Say it isn't so! Nighttime is still fine because they are tired enough and usually fall asleep pretty quickly and sleep through the night. Yay! Naps have been tougher than before as that's when they try to get out. So far, putting their sleep sacks on backwards so they can't take them off has helped, as then they can't lift their leg up to get over the rail. Lucy needs more sleep- she plays hard and sleeps hard- which helps because she falls asleep quickly so then Ellory doesn't have a playmate. Big girl beds are coming sooner than we thought!

Words: Hearing them learn to communicate is so fun! Both are saying more and more. Ellory says many two word sentences now and Lucy is starting to say a few as well. Hearing them say each other's names is so sweet. Lucy saying Ellory sounds a bit like hi, but there is a difference if you listen closely. Ellory saying Lucy sounds a bit like sissy. They both say Norah with a highly accentuated O. It's the cutest. Two favorite/funny words Ellory learned this month were hallelujah and stud muffin, and she also says come when she wants you to pick her up, like she wants to come with you.

Developments: Lucy loves to hold hands when you walk, play with my hair, and turn off and on every light switch she can get her hands on. Ellory has always been the dancer (she shakes her butt almost every time music comes on), but Lucy started dancing a bit with one arm raised in the air. Lucy is still our active monkey, and her newest adventure is tackling/wrestling, much to Ellory's dismay. She hates it as much as Lucy loves it, ha. Both are getting more and more independent, but Lucy especially. She loves to zip her sleep sack and pajamas off, and tries to dress herself too. We have to force her into her car seat almost every time now because she wants to do it herself but takes so long. Ellory has started singing, which is my favorite. She'll hum some things, but is starting to learn ABCs, Jesus Loves Me, Silent Night, and Wheels on the Bus. Ellory also learned to jump with both feet and loves to do that. Lucy tries but doesn't leave the ground yet. Norah loves to try to get both of them to chase her, and they usually comply! Ellory loves to shut the garage door, and Lucy shuts the van door. Both girls have done really well with leaving the Christmas tree and stockings alone. They love to pull their jingle bell ornaments off that they made at Kindermusik, but they usually leave the rest alone. Both are pretty consistent at pooping on the toilet (almost all the time!), and both have peed a few times too. Ellory struggles more with constipation, so she sometimes sits a few times before actually going. Lucy doesn't always make it time, but usually gets some in the toilet.

Favorites: Ellory loves stuffed animals, Minnie Mouse, snowmen, the moon, and books (always books!). Lucy loves tackling, light switches, helping empty the dishwasher, bringing Ellory and Norah their drinks, and saying hi to people. Both girls loved building lego towers this month and seeing Christmas lights.

We were in Des Moines for Christmas, and they found my mom's infant swing and thought it was so funny to sit in it!

And how great that we could see Stephanie! What a treat to have a "guest star" in the month photos!

Here's an example of Lucy tackling and loving her life and Ellory wanting her off.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Norah's first Christmas program 2018.

Norah had her first Christmas program at church! She did so well. We weren't sure how she would react or if she would get scared, but she did great! She didn't do many actions and stood very still, but no tears. I call that a win. It was so sweet to watch. Kley and I commented that we really felt like parents, entering a new stage and watching your kids participate in things!

If you look really closely, you can see Norah on the left side in the second row- red dress and red bow. 

They did a large group song, and then just the preschoolers sang Jesus Loves Me and Away in a Manger. 

Norah and her friend Ainsley- they are in preschool and Sunday school together!

My sweet girl, growing up so. 

Friday, December 21, 2018

Foster care update.

I posted this on Instagram recently, but wanted to include it here as well. Here is a short and sweet foster care update.

We did respite again recently. Putting my thoughts about foster care into written words is difficult because my feelings change so much and the whole thing is so multifaceted. It's heartbreaking, challenging, and so stretching. Yet it's also beautiful and redemptive. Dance parties help everyone loosen up and having light hearted fun is so necessary to balance the big emotions. I feel a little bit experienced, yet still so naive and new to this journey. I pray that we can be light and love to whatever kids walk through our door, for those kids are going through the hardest of hard. So thankful His light overcomes the dark.

Watch here for the dance party. :)

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

De Jong Christmas Extravaganza 2018.

We had a weekend at home with not a lot of plans, which was great, so we got to do several fun family activities. Christmas is so fun with kids. Experiencing it through their eyes is a joy. We called the weekend our "Christmas extravaganza" just for fun, and it was sure fun. Friday night we went to this house that has the most amazing lights I've ever seen. It's one of my favorite traditions. 

They have walking paths all through their property, so it's really neat that you can walk up and see everything.

Anna, Olaf, and Elsa were a favorite!

Ellory really loved pointing out every Minnie Mouse and snowman. 

Lucy basically enjoyed everything. She is so independent these days with wanting to walk by herself, even through all the snow. She has a lot of might for her tiny body!

Love the lights! This was at the end, so Norah was ready to go because she was cold, but she really did have a great time. We walked around for 30 minutes and the whole outing went really well!

Saturday night we let the girls pick where we went for dinner. (We rarely eat out, so it's a treat.). Can you guess where they picked? Yes, you're right, they chose McDonald's. :) Then we headed to Christmas Wonderland in a neighboring town, where they had it set up like a pioneer village, with little lit up shops, carriage rides, tons of Christmas trees decorated by different companies, and lots of fun Christmas displays. 0 for 3 on the girls looking at the camera or smiling, but you take what you get, right?

The biggest hit for the girls was free cookies and popcorn!

Despite her face again, Norah had a good time. She's in the phase where she either takes a fantastic picture or looks like she's having the worst time. Ha.

Unfortunately, the area was pretty slushy/muddy (you can see Norah's shoes above!), which made it harder to get around with the girls. Both Lucy and Ellory came home with soaking wet pants, but we still had a good time. There were more things we could have done, but the lines were pretty long, so we could do even more in future years when they are older.

Celebrating Christmas with friends and extended family is so great, but there's something special about doing things with just your immediate family. Creating traditions and memories with our girls is the best! Merry Christmas everyone!

(Check out the girls looking at the lights last year. They change so fast!)

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Christmas fun in Des Moines.

We had lots of Christmas fun last week in Des Moines! We were there most of the week because Kley had tax school (continuing legal education credits to maintain his law license), so we tagged along and then stayed through the weekend. It was a great few days! Always fun to see family and friends. This time was special because, since we were there for longer than just a weekend, I set up some things to see different friends. I saw a few friends I used to work with when I taught there, two old friends from church, and one of my good friends from high school. Kley had a pretty boring time at tax school, but he was a good sport about it. One of those things you just have to do!

There is this house a couple blocks from my parents that has an awesome light display that we like to walk through every year. The girls loved it! (Norah didn't want to be in this picture, so I convinced her to be in it by telling her to poke her head through the hole in the middle. Ha.)

Sometimes she doesn't want to be in the picture at all, and other times she'll request a picture all on her own!

Oh, the child-like wonder!

A tax school highlight every year is going to the mall to say hello to Santa and ride the Christmas train! I feel like the topic of Santa has come up a lot this year amongst moms and asking each other how they handle it. Obviously, everyone can make their own decision for their family, but we personally focus on Jesus. Yes, we take our girls to say hello to him, but we tell them that Santa isn't real, that it's just for fun and it's a man wearing a costume. We don't to anything along the lines of leaving him cookies or the naughty/nice list, etc. We try to make Christmas about Jesus' birth as much as possible, because that's the true meaning of Christmas!

Love spending time with Grandpa and Grandma! And how cute are their snowman dresses?

The only way our girls will ever go up to Santa is if we go with, so we will probably have a family Santa photo forever! (Or until they decide they are too cool. We saw one family there and their oldest boy said he didn't want to ride the train, acting like he was way too cool for that, and Kley and I commented to each other that we will be a little sad when that happens!)

Christmas train! 

Decorating gingerbread houses!

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.

We had a pretty big snow storm here last weekend, and the girls were so excited to go out and play! It was Lucy and Ellory's first time playing in the snow! (Last year was their first winter, but they were too little to play in it, so this was their first experience.) I figured they would last a couple minutes and then want to be done, but they proved me wrong. It was actively snowing while we were outside, but that didn't phase them. They loved it! They just walked around in awe and kept touching it. It was fun!

How cute are they in their snow gear! I love how puffy their booties and legs look in their snow pants!

Norah was so good with shoveling! She went out with Kley twice and loved it! She asked to go the second time and stayed out the entire time helping! She loves her little shovel.

Happy Winter!