Thursday, December 31, 2009

new year's craziness!

We're wild here at the Maurer house. W-I-L-D. Come New Year's, we live it up big time. Big. Time.

Once Shawn gets home from work tonight, and I get home from hanging out with one of my small group girls, we'll have dinner. But not just any dinner. New Year's Dinner.

Then we'll bathe Jude and put him to sleep. Not just any bath or sleepin'. New Year's Bath and Sleepin'.

Then, my friends, the fun starts. We'll put on our pajamas, pop in a movie, and maybe have some ice cream cake. If we're lucky, I'll make it to 10:30 before falling asleep. Shawn will wake me up to see the ball drop, we'll say "Happy New Year's!" to each other, kiss, and head straight to bed.

Seriously, we're the most boring people on the face of the earth. Why do you keep reading our blog?!

Actually, since my birthday is the day before New Year's, we've kind of stumbled into a tradition of going out for dinner/shopping/coffee on the 30th (when traffic is minimal, lines are short, and people are sober), and having a low key night at home for New Year's. Just the way we like it.

Whether you're painting the town red, or like me will be checking out the inside of your eyelids, I pray that your New Year's Eve is fun and filled with things that not only make you happy - but remind you of the blessings you experienced in the last year and to which you look forward in the next. I'll see you guys in 2010!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

of birthdays and husbands

So today is my birthday (28 years old, if you must know), and it's been incredible. Shawn's learned that my love language is quality time, so he made a point to spend the entire day with me. Possibly the best gift in the world! Our dear friend Katie watched Jude all day for us, and we spent the day just enjoying one another's company (i.e. Shawn telling me I was being sassy, and me telling him that it's my birthday and I can be as sassy as I want).

We started off the morning getting some sweets and coffee at Ollie's Bakery in downtown Winston. The building is one of those triangle shaped buildings built on a corner. Food tastes so much better when you're eating it inside a triangle building. Then we walked around Old Salem for awhile, holding hands and talking. Afterwards, we headed to our mall where I searched relentlessly for a pair of Ugg-like boots. After trying a few on, I decided that they are, in fact Ugg-ly. At least on me. After walking the entire mall, trying on three hundred pairs of boots and discovering I didn't actually want boots, we went back downtown for a late lunch. We had intended on dining at Downtown Thai, but since they weren't open, we headed to Noma instead. Three words. Sweet. Potato. Fries.

Words can't describe how delicious they are. I think that's a southern thing - at least I've never seen them in restaurants up north, and oh my - thank you, south. Thank you.

We walked around downtown for a little while longer, and then headed home so Shawn could prepare for a Youth Leader's meeting. We're now at home, chilling out and preparing to eat a fatty slice of ice cream cake.

Thanks to my sweet and incredibly thoughtful husband, this has been an amazing birthday. My 27th year of life was a good one, a challenging one, and a life-altering one. I know that my 28th year will hold its own challenges, and that my life will be drastically different at the end of it. Still, it's exciting. Welcome 28th year, I think we'll get along just fine.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

let me feed myself, please

At long last, Jude's mastering the skill of putting applesauce on his spoon, putting the spoon in his mouth, and actually eating what is on the spoon! He did it for the first time a couple of days before Christmas, and has continued doing really well with it.

I'm sorry for the poor quality of the pictures, our camera was being a butt.

Thankfully, this was only an hour before bathtime. Looks like I learned how to make a long sleeved bib just in time!

Monday, December 28, 2009

christmas pictures

Since Shawn takes Mondays off as his sabbath day, and I had some vacation time to burn, we are spending the day hanging out as a family with nothing to do but (a little) work for Shawn, and (a little) sewing for me. So I'm going to keep this post short and chock full of pictures because frankly - I have an extremely handsome husband whom I like to kiss. There. I said it.

Enjoy the pictures.

Our snowwoman on Christmas morning. On the one hand, I was thrilled to see that we still had snow on the ground for Christmas. On the other hand, she kind of looked like she was giving us the finger.
Jude playing with his Where the Wild Things Are puzzle from Mommy and Daddy.
Jude's cool new refrigerator toy from Mama and Papa
His new tool set from Grammy and Grampy that he LOVES!
A swirly train set from Uncle Jesse and Aunt Sandy - this is one of the few toys that he can play and understand completely by himself. He could spend twenty minutes putting the train on the top, pressing the choo-choo button, and watching it go down the slide!
A cool rockstar musical set from Uncle Gary and Aunt Rachael. I've been trying to teach him to beatbox in the microphone, but so far he just likes to laugh at me.

Shawn showing Jude the train set under our Christmas tree. The train is a 1941 Lionel that was passed on from Shawn's Dad. It was cute to see how excited Shawn was to show Jude and explain to him that he would one day get the set.
Handmade wooden cars from Mama and Papa! He was carrying the cars like that through the whole house, just yelling. Aye aye aye - the testosterone!
I'm not sure what this toy is called, but Jude loves it!
A board book from Aunt Jackie, Uncle Paul, and Jacob! Since Jude loves turning page, board books are VERY popular in our home right now.
Jude's stocking was filled with car shades, a car mirror, pacifiers, socks, and hats. I know what you're thinking, "How does Jude handle having such fun parents?"

A cool digital ornament from Aunt Rachael!

Opening his doggy from Nan - he especially loves pressing the heart!

Merry three days after Christmas!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

old school sunday

This picture isn't necessarily a picture from our lives pre-Jude, but he was an itty bitty little thing nestled in my womb, so his impact on our lives was pretty minimal.

It's intriguing for me to think about the vast differences in where I am emotionally compared to where I was when this picture was taken. We'd been trying for awhile to conceive Jude, and I was so excited to tell Shawn that I just about peed my pants (little did I know that pregnancy will do that to a girl).

This pregnancy has been a much different experience. Up until the day I had the first inkling of some funny business in my uterus, I was spouting off about wanting to wait until Jude was four or five years old to try again, and even considering adoption of an older child in a few years. While getting pregnant with Jude consumed my efforts, getting pregnant this time around was the very last thing on my mind. Until one Monday in early December, that is.

I was at work and had made a bag on popcorn to have for lunch before a meeting. You know how the smell of popcorn can permeate an entire building and linger for hours? Well after I finished the popcorn, I went outside for a minute. When I came back inside, I got one whiff of the popcorn and thought, "Shew. Our office smells like poop." When I realized a few seconds later that I was confusing the scent of popcorn, my heart dropped like lead.

You see, the very first sign of pregnancy for me with Jude was confusing scents - except it was coffee then. When we made coffee, I sniffed throughout the house, sure our dog had pooped somewhere. And as gross as it is, when our dog did poop in the house, I thought, "Mmmm....who made coffee?!" Pregnancy seems to be the only time my nose goes all wonky, so I took note at the popcorn incident.

The clincher of it all happened the next morning when I woke up. Having a slight cold, I blew my nose...(sorry this is gross) and I ended up with a small nosebleed. For some reason, your membranes can swell in pregnancy - so nosebleeds and even small amounts of your gums bleeding aren't uncommon. "No," I thought. "That's not blood. And my nose isn't wonky. And I'm not pregnant."

That afternoon, I took a pregnancy test. I was still about a week away from expecting my period, so I knew taking a test wouldn't be conclusive. After about ten minutes though, the test turned a faint positive. The same thing happened in my pregnancy with Jude. When I saw that faint pink line almost two years ago, I scrutinized it under every light, thinking, "please let that be a line, please let that be a line!" I did the same scrutinizing this time, only I was thinking, "No way is that a line. No. Way. Can that be a line." Throughout the course of the day, I took another two tests (because I'm a freak like that), and each time that line got slightly more dark.

I waited until after we'd put Jude down for the night to tell Shawn - only because I knew this was a conversation that shouldn't be interrupted. After I rocked Jude to sleep, I came out to the living room to find Shawn working at the kitchen table. I sat down across from him, and fidgeted nervously.

"You okay?" Shawn asked. In the five seconds it took me to answer, I went through about twenty different ways to phrase what I was thinking. "I need to tell you something," I answered, and before I had a chance to chicken out, I blurted, "I think I might be pregnant. I'm not 100% positive, but I've taken several tests, and they've all been faint positives, exactly like the tests I took early on with Jude."

I had NO idea how Shawn would react, so I watched his face closely and will never forget what I saw. He raised his eyebrows and blew out his cheeks. "Well..." he sighed, and nodded his head slowly as the information sunk in. Seeing that he wasn't going to freak out, and perhaps taking a step outside of myself to realize the absurdity of the situation, I chuckled and said, "Surpriiiise!"

Shawn laughed one of those hearty laughs that's born from almost disbelief, opened up his arms, and said, "Come here." In that moment, Shawn was exactly what I needed. I had spent the day beyond freaked out - paralyzed to do anything but cry. The financial and emotional fears were overwhelming me, and my controlling, planning, budgeting self melted down in a pit of helplessness. In that moment, I knew that it was okay for me to be weak because Shawn would be strong.

After letting me blubber through everything I was thinking and feeling, Shawn very calmly said, "I'm kind of excited, honey." He told me that just that day, he'd been listening to a sermon about what a blessing children are. He reassured me that we'd be okay, that God had never failed to provide for us, and this was a cause for celebration. It took almost two weeks for my heart to celebrate, but I'm genuinely excited about this baby. I'm so grateful for Shawn's consistent faith in God's provision, for his strength in my weakness, for his humble joy at the life I'm carrying.

This sweet child is coming to us in completely different circumstances than we'd planned, but there's no denying this pregnancy has God's handwriting all over it. And really - how can you not be excited by that?

Saturday, December 26, 2009

twas the night before christmas

Holidays are so much fun with kiddos, and Shawn and I concur that this was our favorite Christmas yet. It's a blast to be able to have traditions and to figure out what Christmas will look like for our family. Christmas for us started on Christmas Eve with some hot cocoa, some cookie making, and Pinedale's Christmas Eve service. Last year, Jude slept through the whole thing in his carseat. This year, Jude peered eagerly at the stage, clapped his hands, and had to be taken out a few times because he just had to run.

I thought it'd be fun to take a look at how much Jude's grown in a year:

Mommy and Jude getting all snazzed up before heading out to church.

This was the best picture we could get of Jude on the loveseat next to the tree, since he wouldn't sit still.

Daddy and Jude reading "The Polar Express" right before bed. Once we put him down, Shawn and I watch the movie with a little bit of egg nog and a lot of cuddling. We're looking forward to our kids being older and staying up to watch the movie (complete with nog and cuddles) with us.

And just because I think it's funny:

I'll soon be putting up our Christmas Day pictures, and giving ya'll more details on how things are going with the pregnancy, I promise! I have to admit that I've really enjoyed just chilling out and spending time with my family these past couple of days. Although as Shawn was singing this morning, it's "Back to life....back to reality."

Friday, December 25, 2009

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

just in case weren't sure just exactly how strange we are.

(Be advised this post contains some information about Santa Claus that may not be appropriate for younger readers. Not in a "rated R, gonna scar them forever" kind of way, but in a "let's not dash someone's hopes and dreams" kind of way. So take caution in allowing your child to read further)

I think the Santa Claus issue is probably tough for all parents to navigate. On the one hand - if you tell your kids that old Saint Nick is alive and well up in the North Pole, you kind of feel like you're lying to your children. But if you tell him it's just a fun make believe story, you kind of feel like they're missing out on a really fun part of childhood. It's not an easy one to make, and it's one that Shawn and I have actually been trying to figure out for years now. I don't think there's a right or wrong answer - I don't think parents who lead their children to believe in Sinter Klaas are going to forever ruin their children's trust, and I don't think parents who do the old, "It's just a story," thing are fuddy duddies whose children will grow up entirely too serious.

I do however, think it's a choice parents should consciously make, and they should enjoy and celebrate whichever decision that is.

So after consideration and debate, which decision have Shawn and I made?

We reserve the right to change our minds, but we're thinking we're going to tell our children that Santa Claus is a really fun story based on a guy who liked to be generous. We'll have fun "pretending" that Father Christmas is going to come while they're sleeping, and maybe even sign their presents "From Santa." We'll read The Night Before Christmas, and Polar Express, and we'll talk about how fun it is to pretend.

I vaguely remember finding out that Santa wasn't real from a rather heavy red headed boy on the bus. At the time I was shocked, but I can't say the revelation made a lasting impact on me. I also remember my youngest sister being told that Papa Noel wasn't real. Her face went from shock to deep sadness, and then she said, "What about the Easter Bunny? And the Tooth Fairy? And Jesus?"I don't want our kids to have to question whether we're telling them the truth about God or not.

Let me be clear here - Shawn and I both grew up believing in Santa and are none the worse for it. We both understand that Santa is fun and make believe, and that Jesus is the Son of God and have seen evidence of Him in our lives. I don't think that kids who believe in Santa will inevitably not believe in Jesus - that's not my line of logic here.

I just want to make it clear from the beginning that Jesus is Jesus (Son of God, Messiah, Emmanuel), and that Santa is Santa (fun make believe character). Even beyond that though, I want our children to understand that Mommy and Daddy work very hard to buy them presents at Christmas. If we have a year of few (or no) presents, it's not because Santa doesn't care, or because he had a hard year, or's because Mommy and Daddy had to be very careful with money that year. I also want our kids to know that Shawn and I care very much about them, and love to get them good gifts because of that. Not so that we can get the "credit," but so that they can experience our love in another way. Besides - having your kids believe in Santa seems like so much work -especially as they get older and need to be convinced more creatively.

My one and only hesitation in all of this is how to stop our children from ruining it for others. I'd feel awful if Jude told some kid in his pre-school class that Santa is actually a make believe character that we have fun pretending exists at Christmastime. Sheesh - I'd feel terrible!

Beyond that one consideration though, I feel like we can give Jude the "fun" of Christmas and Santa without having to tell him that Santa Claus is real. I'd love to hear your genuine thoughts on this - whether you agree or disagree with us. And let me restate that I have NO judgment or issue with parents whose kids do believe in Santa - I think it's fun and whimsical. We're also not really even at a stage yet where we're having to put all of these thoughts into action, so I'm not even saying that we're 105% convinced that this is the way to go.

So let me hear it - what did you grow up believing, and how did it affect you? What have you chosen (or what do you plan on choosing) for your own children, and why? Are we crazy, hyper-sensitive Christian weirdos? I'm interested to hear your thoughts!

Monday, December 21, 2009

a ridiculous amount of pictures

The fact that it so rarely snows worth mentioning down here makes me a leeeetle bit camera happy. Don't worry - most of the pictures are of Judeabug in all his snow cuteness.

Shawn found out about a southern thing called "Snow Cream." You take fresh snow, milk, vanilla, and sugar - blend it all together in a chilled bowl for awhile - and get something pretty delicious!
We enjoyed a rather slow morning on Saturday - this is our family watching "Holiday Inn." I think Shawn was laughing at Bing's broken heart.
Our little snow baby was NOT digging the outfit.

It took him a little bit to get used to the snow, and the poor thing could barely move.

Shawn decided it would be the perfect time to build a snowman (or snowwoman, as he decided - because no man's waist went in that much).

Jude actually really liked watched Daddy and I working on the snowwoman. Well...Daddy worked on the snowwoman. Mommy hit Daddy with snowballs. Just doing my part.

If it weren't weird, I would totally give Jude an award for "most kissable cheeks and lips."
So we realized that after living in our home for over three years, we have never needed a snow shovel, and thus didn't own one. It turns out that our regular shovel does the snowwoman building job just as well, though.
I included this picture, not because it's such a fantastic picture of Cole, but because you can see the depth of the snow. Any real accumulation is very, very exciting to us!
Our completed snowwoman. Shawn says that's what I look like when it starts snowing. So...slightly evil apparently?
And there my friends, is my extremely attractive husband, my sweet as can be child, my slightly obnoxious dog, and our new friend the snowwoman.
Jude looks out our back door every morning to check and make sure she's still there, and surprisingly - she is!