Monday, December 27, 2010

i'm dreaming of a...

Merry Christmas from the Maurer family! Our Christmas this year was...great...and strange. It was weird being in an unfamiliar house, an unfamiliar area, and around unfamiliar people on such a huge holiday. It was weird walking outside in jeans and a t-shirt in the week before Christmas while hearing reports of snow for our northern friends. And it was weird that we felt so comfortable here after only having lived in a new state for a mere month.

Compass had a total of five Christmas Eve services this year. Shawn helped with four, and our family attended one together on the 24th. It turns out that Winston-Salem got its first White Christmas since 1960-something. We had a lot of people texting, emailing, and Facebooking us about the snow - presumably since it was well known how much we missed the snow storms of our youth. Most of the communication we got had a tone of, "Ha Ha! Now that you left, we got snow! Aren't you sad you left now?" as if there were any doubt that we were sad about leaving. What people didn't realize was that each comment broke our already sad hearts and made us ache even more.

I attended Compass' Christmas Eve service with a heavy heart - missing all that was familiar to us about the season. As the pastor began to speak though, my perspective began subtly shifting. He spoke from Isaiah 1:18 and described (much more eloquently than I can relay) the process used to dye garments scarlet and its permanence. He continued to describe the blinding whiteness of snow and encouraged the congregation to think of a white Christmas a little differently.

“Come now, let us settle the matter,”
says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red as crimson,they shall be like wool.

I realized then that in all my longing for a white Christmas, I forgot that I already had the most amazing white Christmas I could ask for. I had told Shawn that the songs, "White Christmas" and "Let It Snow" should be banned from Texas because all they did was give people false hopes. On the way home Christmas Eve, I found myself singing both of those songs with a renewed sense of meaning and with more earnestness than ever. We didn't get a single flake of snow in Dallas this year. But thanks to a tiny, helpless baby, our Christmas was white as the beautiful, pure snow.

I took an insane amount of photos this year because it was Cohen's first Christmas and I wanted our friends and family to be a part of our family's holiday. For the first year, we hid the presents and brought them out after the boys went down on Christmas Eve. We still haven't really addressed the Santa topic with Jude (but plan on telling him that it's so much fun to pretend that there's a Santa), so this strategy was more to stop little hands from ripping up the paper before Christmas morning. You know me and my self control issues.

Late Christmas Eve with our presents under the tree and our stockings stuffed:

This photo is actually for our friends Mike and Jill. Jude lined up his cars and trains in a very carefully placed single file line...very Loganesque.

Cohen didn't do a whole lot this year except look ridiculously adorable (Shawn says, "emphasis on the ridiculous"). We got him a sound machine and a Bible, his Aunts and Uncles bought him a set of Praise Baby DVDs, and his Great Aunt Jackie got him an adorable stuffed animal.

This was a cool little car holder from my Aunt Jackie that is a genius idea. It has little pockets for each car, and the entire thing rolls up to be easily transported:

Thomas the Tank Engine toothpaste! Someone in our house is very excited about brushing his teeth...especially the spitting part. "Pit?" he asks at the end of his brushing time.

There continued to be an awesome Thomas and train theme, which thrilled Jude's little heart to no end. Jude was very insistent that Daddy get out the little trains of this Thomas set from Grammy and Grampy:

One of Jude's favorite parts of Christmas this year was handing the presents to their intended. He loved running excitedly to the tree to pick out a gift, and then hand it to Mommy, Daddy, Cohen, or himself:
Thanks to an awesome Flip cam from Mama and Papa Maurer, I can show you some of Jude's excitement on Christmas (we didn't open up the Flip cam until our second round of present opening though, so this is a little later in the morning):
We definitely have more Christmas pictures, but the rest will need to wait. Shawn has the week off from work, so we're spending lots of time doing family activities, trying to get naps, cleaning, grocery shopping, getting our licenses transferred, and just enjoying a little bit of rest after a crazy couple of months. I'll be back soon with more photos of those adorable Maurer kids, though!

cohen eats

We decided to go ahead and see if giving Cohen some cereal in the evenings would help with his reflux, and boy are we glad we did! Not only has it helped him spit up considerably less (and he seems to be less fussy), but he acted like he'd been waiting for us to feed him solid food for months now. He gobbled up the one tablespoon of rice cereal we'd made him, so we've been slowly increasing the amount we give him. He finally got full last night at three tablespoons!

To be honest, I'm a little shocked that my little baby is old enough to eat solid food. Wasn't he just born yesterday?! And to be even more honest, I'm excited that his first forays into solid food also mean the beginning of the end for nursing. This might perhaps shatter your illusions that I'm the perfect Mom (ha!), but I'm kind of counting down the months until we're finished with nursing. I still plan on nursing Cohen until he's a year old, but I'm looking forward to slowly getting my body and time back.

Cohen sitting in the high chair for the first time. He is still the smiliest little boy I've ever seen!

Jude had so much fun standing by and watching. He got momentarily possessive of "his" highchair (in which he refuses to actually sit, of course), but was just fine when we told him that brothers share their highchairs. Beyond that, he laughed and giggled the entire time Cohen was eating, as if he knew this was a big milestone for his little brother!

It took Cohen a bite or two to realize that it was a different taste and texture than he was used to, but he eventually started gobbling.

And just in case photos aren't doing it for ya, here's a video of Cohen's first bites!

Untitled from J Maurer on Vimeo.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

jude's birthday::six weeks later

You know how weird I can be about posting photos in chronological order, so I want to make sure I blog about Jude's 2nd birthday before I write anything further about moving. When was Jude's second birthday, you ask? Why, only six weeks ago. I know, I'm a blogging slacker. I had forgotten these photos were on the camera until I was looking through some Serwa Chic product photos and was surprised. I have to admit that I got a little teary eyed as I remembered what a bittersweet birthday that was. We knew that we'd be moving soon, so we wanted to invite friends over who have played a part in raising and loving Jude as our way of saying, "thank you." You know...if it's fair to say "thank you" by asking friends to come over and bring your son presents. My heart felt heavy the entire night, and I so wanted to squeeze each person there and earnestly tell them how much they've meant to our family. It was neither the time nor the place for that though, so I settled for watching Jude be ecstatic that the house was filled with his favorite people.

Judeabug opening gifts. You'll see a definite unintentional Thomas the Tank Engine theme in his party. That boy loves him some trains!

Cohen, Tim, Katie, Jude, Ryan, and Gray:

November 11th is also Jude's friend Anderson's 3rd birthday, and she was so sweet to come to Jude's birthday party on her birthday. We surprised her with a cupcake and "Happy Birthday."

Jude was very excited about the choo-choos on his cake:

Caleb and Rhonda Smith, holding Cohen:

Sometimes the boy looks like he's sixteen years old:

Our good friend Rhonda made Jude's birthday cake. I told her that she knows him as well as most anyone does, so she was welcome to come up with whatever kind of theme she'd like. She did an INCREDIBLE job on this Thomas cake, and Jude was so ridiculously excited about it! The trains on the cake are actually Thomas birthday trains, and are Jude's favorites still.

Sweet Brittany got Jude a pair of perfect Mee-Hee slippers:

I know the photos are all jumbled up, and I apologize for that. Jude had a fantastic 2nd birthday and was surrounded by people who love him and whom he loves. For him to have an entire extended family of friends in North Carolina makes him one blessed little boy, indeed.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

hello, world!

After over two weeks of feeling like I had no connection to the outside world (which is really a sad commentary on how much media is a part of my life), the Maurers finally have internet and cable! Why hello there, world. It's nice to see how you're doing again. I have so much to update ya'll on and so much to share, but I'll just have to do it a little bit at a time. So for now, here is how things are going on the homefront:

Shawn: Like anyone who begins a new job, Shawn's definitely had a period of adjustment. It's not easy to learn a new system of doing things, a new culture of ministry, a new office atmosphere, and even to figure out where to find the paperclips. If you've ever begun a new job, then you know it takes about a month to fall into a rhythm and feel like you've caught up and can start being productive. Nonetheless, he's excited about the things ahead and is really enjoying getting to know the rest of the Family Life Team. We've spent a lot of time being social with the other ministers and their families and feel blessed to have made fast friends.

Jen: After two weeks I pretty much feel like I have everything unpacked and relatively organized. I've done a fair amount of nesting in the new house and am ready to call it "home." I'm doing pretty well at finding my way around, although exploring new areas is always fun to me. Shawn got a new work issued iPhone, so I was blessed with his new-to-me iPhone 3G. It's possible that I love that phone a little more than is appropriate, but having the maps app has been a lifesaver more than once. I'm looking forward to exploring new restaurants, libraries, and stores with Shawn and the boys!

That being said, I continue to have moments of sadness that sneak up on me.

Shawn was invited to a Mavs game the other night, which left me alone with the boys after a particularly long couple of days. With everything in me, I wanted to invite my small group girls over after the boys went down to hang out. It broke my heart to know that they were far away and that I wasn't going to see them walk through my front door. We have this fantastic porch swing in our back yard on which I can sit and swing while Jude has the run of the yard and can play his little heart away. While our friend Katie was here, she and I swung and chatted while Jude ran around, and it's been where I sit to call friends and family to catch up. Something about sitting there and swinging makes me long for my good friends to sit and swing with me. I want to make them a cup of tea and have long conversations while we swing away and watch Jude dig in the dirt.

Jude: Jude is actually recovering from what I'm guessing was a bad cold. He ran a fever for about a day and a half and was lethargic (and extra cuddly). He seems to be feeling better, but he's still waking up around 6:00 am and climbing into bed with us. Normally Shawn and I have a strict "no child in our bed after 8:00pm" policy, but we do make exceptions for sweet, cuddly, sickies. This morning Jude climbed in, and I wrapped my arms around him with our faces nearly touching. I held the back of his head with my hand, and he put his sweet, chubby hand on the side of my face and played with my ear until he fell asleep. Though I was exhausted, I stayed awake and gazed at his trusting and peaceful face. I love that he feels safe enough to come to us to be held and loved on when he's not feeling well, and I want to remember that moment forever.

Despite being sick, Jude seems to have adjusted to the move pretty well. He'll be starting preschool on January 4th, and I'm praying that's a transition about which he gets excited and does well.

Cohen: We've moved Cohen up to Prevacaid (I have no idea if that's spelled correctly) after trying a couple of less strong medicines. It'll take a couple of days to see if it works, but I'm hopeful that it'll help. I'm debating whether to start cereal with him, as it's been proven to help babies with reflux not painfully spit up so much. I had wanted to wait until he was five or six months old to start, but I also want to try anything that will help him feel better. He's waking up pretty consistently around 4:00 and then again at 5:30 every day (and occasionally at midnight and 2:00). We're exhausted, but I feel like God's giving me enough energy to get through each day.

Cohen had his 4 month well check up yesterday and weighed in at 12 lbs 8 oz and 24 inches tall (10th % for both). I'm looking forward to him being 13lbs., since that's often the point at which babies start sleeping for 12 hours at night. Like we expected, Cohen's hair is starting to get lighter, so it looks like we'll have two blonde haired, blue eyed boys on our hands! Shawn thinks Cohen is starting to look more and more like Jude, but I happen to think Cohen is looking more and more like Shawn.

I promise that photos and hopefully even videos will be coming, but we're trying to just enjoy our time as a family. It was frustrating to not have cable or Internet for two weeks, but I have a feeling that was God's hand in our lives. It allowed us a chance to really invest in people here and spend time with one another and our boys in a way we wouldn't have if we'd had more distractions. I'm focusing on not letting this holiday season pass me by in a flurry of moving and unpacking. Besides, considering the fact that it's about 60 degrees out right now, we need some extra carmel corn-making, cookie eating, hot chocolate drinking, holiday movie watching to make sure we really feel like it's Christmas this year!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

letter to cohen

Dear Cohen,

Today, sweet boy you turned four months old. It's kind of crazy to think about how different our lives were just four months ago when we first saw you face to face. Your sweetness is growing with every passing day, and we're constantly getting remarks about how smiley you are.

In the past month it appears that you've developed reflux. You started getting more and more fussy with each passing day until the day we left for Texas, when you were just a hot mess. You had such a difficult time on the plane and were up every hour at night for our first couple of nights here. Certain that you had an ear infection, I insisted we take a trip to the pediatrician (thank goodness your Super Mom had already set up a pediatrician in Texas and had your files already transferred). It turns out that you were ear infection free. However, as soon as the doctor saw you spit up (it was curdled. and disgusting. and you get it on me at least three times a day. but i love you), and saw your ensuing fussiness, he determined reflux to be the cause. We tried Mylanta for a couple of days, but the real relief came when we asked for a prescription. You're now back to being my mellow, sweet Cohen who is happy as long as he has eye contact.

Because of that reflux you still hate tummy time, but you love to practice standing on your legs. You're also starting to get good at wanting to move your hands towards something and then actually doing it! You've rolled over a couple of times, but you're really more interested in developing those legs and arm/leg movements right now.

You and Jude are continuing to get along surprisingly well, and you two genuinely love each other. You get such a kick out of watching him bound around the house, and your face lights up when he comes near to hug you. Likewise, he loves to see you smile and loves watching you discover your feet. Daddy and I like to make you laugh (which you do with glee), and Jude gets such a kick out of just watching and giggling right along with us.

You took a little bit to adjust to life having some stability again, but I think you're finally getting there. I have you on a somewhat predictable schedule, and you actually slept from 9:45pm-7:30am last night. I'm praying with every fiber of my being that this continues.

I know this topic will be gross to adolescent-Cohen, but I don't care, it's important to me to document it. Nursing you is still going great, and you're still putting on weight and growing great. You have the cutest cankles, and are filling out your 3-6 month clothes so well. The doctor told me to cut out eggs from my diet for a bit to see if that helps with the fussiness, so I'm currently not eating dairy, not eating eggs, and have severely limited my caffeine. All for you, my sweetness. I really didn't think I could be dairy free, but it turns out that I can. In so many ways Cohen, you're teaching me that I'm stronger than I thought and capable of more than I could imagine. Thank you for that.

I have so much fun imagining what you're going to be like when you're grown up, and Daddy and I say all the time that we can't wait to hear what thoughts you have going on in your little head. You are so excited about interacting with people and you spend a great deal of time studying faces and facial expressions. You love to mimic my faces and noises, and your favorite game right now is when I mimic your little gurgles and shouts of glee. At the same time, you're very insistent on when you're ready for a nap, and sleep best in the peace and quiet of your own room. Your personality is so different than your big brother's, and we've had just as much fun discovering who you are and how God made you as we do with Jude.

We're undecided as to whether your personality takes after Mommy or Daddy, but there's no doubt whose traits won in the gene pool war. Cohen, you are the spitting image of your Daddy. If I ever wonder what your Daddy would look like in a onesie... all I have to do is look at you. I happen to be ecstatic about this fact, and am looking forward to you growing up to be handsome like your Dad. I hope you know though, that we won't compare you to him or to Jude. You're definitely your own person with unique gifts, passions, and vices.

We love you so much, Cohen. Your life is such a blessing to our family and you add so much joy to our home. Thank you for being my sweet, sweet Cohen bear.

Heavenly Father, You gave us such a gift when You gave us Cohen. Thank you for knowing what we needed better than we did. Lord, please guard him and protect him. Give us wisdom to parent him well - to see him how You see him, to guide him, and to love him. Teach us how to foster a loving relationship between him and Jude, and help us meet each of their needs individually. God, I pray that Cohen would feel Your presence and know that You have a plan for him. Put people in his life to direct Cohen back to You, to challenge him to draw closer to You, and to allow him to land softly when he fails. God, thank You for his life, thank You for giving us the privilege and honor of caring for that precious life that you so carefully crafted. I can't say it enough, Father. Thank You. It's in Your Son's name that I pray, Amen.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

my heart hurts

Shawn left super early this morning to drive to Texas. He's driving a 26ft Uhaul with our car on a tow dolly hitched to the back. I'm so grateful that Shawn's Dad is following behind in his vehicle, Shawn's a great driver, but that's a long drive with a large truck.

Jude is spending the day with Rhonda (Jude's North Carolina Grandma), so it's just Cohen and me at the house today. The house is completely empty save for a couple of blow up mattresses, a pack and play, and our luggage. I've spent the morning cleaning up and getting the house ready to be seen by someone who thinks it's such a fantastic home they want to offer us $10,000 more than we're asking. But now Cohen's down for a nap. The house is clean. Most of my earthly possessions are packed on a truck that is somewhere in Alabama right now. And after about six weeks of nonstop preparations, plans, long nights, early mornings, and filling ever day with "doing," I finally have a chance to stop.

And I'm realizing something I hadn't noticed before. Something that all the busyness was covering.

My heart is hurting.

When I look around this house, when I see good friends interact with Jude, when I give a hug, when I watch someone pull out of our driveway one last time, when I try to remember details of people's faces, expressions, and hugs, I feel a subtly overwhelming tightness in my chest. A tightness that reminds me that this is hard. And I can't stop crying.


I began this post a few days ago and as I was writing I realized that I needed to take my tears (and by "tears," I mean hideous, heaving sobs) to God. We're currently in Texas, but we won't have internet access in our home for another two weeks. I just wanted to update and let everyone know that we got here safely. We love our house, we're mostly unpacked, the boys are happy, and Shawn and I are excited, but in my moments of heart still hurts.

Friday, November 26, 2010

do you remember that time?

Do you remember that time when we had a three month old and a two year old, and we packed up all our stuff, put our house on the market, and moved across the country? Remember how Cohen wasn't even sleeping through the night then? Remember how we'd wake up every morning and spend every single minute working on the house and packing? Do you remember how Jen, Cohen, and Jude all got bad colds in the middle of all of it, and do you remember how after the boys went down every night we'd spend our time spackling, painting, packing, and taping?

Do you remember that adventure? Remember how we went to bed every night more exhausted than the night before, but we woke up every morning with new energy (even though we were up a good portion of the night with Cohen)? Remember how loved and encouraged we felt when people just offered to come help us pack, paint, and love on our boys...even during the holidays? Remember how we'd set a deadline when we would both stop our projects - even if we still had a million things to do - we'd grab a snack or some hot apple cider, and we'd snuggle and watch Hulu together? Do you remember how we never really felt fearful or worried? We were either too naive to realize how huge a task we were undertaking, or we were resting in the confidence that God was leading and guiding us.

Remember that time? Yeah, that was crazy.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

cohen smiles

I realize that I've been posting quite a bit lately, but it seems like a productive use of my time when I'm pumping in the mornings. I took a video of Cohen a couple of weeks ago, trying to catch his sweet smile. He's becoming more smiley with every day and actually let out some for real giggles Thursday night! I had several people over to help me paint a few rooms, and once we finished up our friend Katie was holding Cohen. She would kind of woosh him towards her face, make a funny sound, and his face would light up in a smile. After a few minutes of that game, he started actually making noises when he laughed, and it was absolutely the sweetest sound I've ever heard. As Kayla said, it sounded like Jude's bike horn laugh! I've been trying to get him to laugh again, and while I haven't had much luck I'm sure we'll get to hear it again soon. I can't wait!

Untitled from J Maurer on Vimeo.

Friday, November 19, 2010

pumpkin carving

So the other day I took a notepad and wrote the day and date from now until December 1st on each page. Then I took all of the things I need to get done that are swirling around in my head and spread them out over the next week and a half, according to when each things needs to get done. Then each day, I prioritize which items I need to accomplish first, add any other things that particular day holds, and get to it. Most days I bust my behind but still have one or two items that need to be put on the following day's list because there just aren't enough hours in the day.

This morning, I have everything crossed off my list except for one thing, "box stuff up." To what can I owe this surprisingly productive morning? Well, my son who shall remain nameless (though his name does rhyme with Schmoen) thought that 4:30 this morning would be a great time to wake up for the day. I got bills paid, our budget balanced, our student loans taken off of automatic bill pay, dishes washed, and the bed made. Lest you think I'll be able to relax today, I've thought of three other things I need to do today in the time it took me to write this post. And of course, now that Jude is up it will take me three times as long as it should to do any of those things. Still, it's nice to be able to take a break and share some of our family's pumpkin carving photos with you!

Our three pumpkins in all their jack-o-lantern glory!

Our Cohen pumpkin

The pumpkin Shawn carved to look like me. Please don't be too critical of my baby fat and tired face.
Shawn and Jude working hard!

Jude giving his input on what Shawn should carve

The "Jude" pumpkin

I realize I'm pretty late in getting these pictures up...the pumpkins are now actually chilling in our compost bin. Life is pretty crazy right now, though. I also want to ask your grace in understanding if Shawn or I don't return your calls and/or texts in this season of our life. Words won't do justice in explaining how stressed and overwhelmed we are right now. We desperately need our friends and family to just know that we love you, even if you don't hear from us and even if you have to call us three times before we call you back. It doesn't mean we don't want to hear from you, don't want to talk to you, or don't love you - it just means we have a ridiculous amount of things to do and things to keep straight right now, and a few (and by "a few," I mean "tons of") things inevitably slip through the cracks. Please cut us some slack, don't hate us, and don't make us feel guilty. We're doing our best to keep up with life and come through this season with a sound marriage and boys who know they're loved. Some days it's all we can do to accomplish that much.

And on that note - those boxes and that to-do list are calling my name!