Friday, October 29, 2010

Monday, October 25, 2010

pumpkin patch

While Shawn's parents were visiting a couple of weeks ago, we took the boys to our local pumpkin patch and let Jude help us pick out pumpkins. We had fun remembering how at last year's visit, Jude and I had the swine flu...but we didn't realize it yet. Thankfully this year we were flu free and ready to enjoy our pumpkin patchin' experience!

Jude was just as interested in the flowers and patches of dirt as he was in the pumpkins:

Trying to be helpful:

Cohen spent most of the time asleep, but we did get proof that we took him too:

Jude was not too happy about the scratchy hay on his legs:

Jude wants to introduce his friend Mee Hee to you. We were given this sock money and a matching sock elephant at my baby shower several months ago. I held both up to Jude and let him pick which one he wanted. After he very decidedly picked the monkey, I asked him what he wanted to name him. "Mee Hee," Jude responded quickly. "Mee Hee?" I asked, "Are you sure?" "Des. Mee Hee." Jude said.

And a true friendship was born. Mee Hee is the only thing Jude has ever formed an attachment to. Mee Hee sleeps with Jude in his bed and often cuddles with Jude while he sits on the couch. This particular event was Mee Hee's first outing, and Jude wanted to make sure we documented it:

Since we took away the pacifier during the day, Jude's replaced it with this fun and drool-filled move:

Jude and Mee Hee picking out a Jude sized pumpkin:

Jude kept giving Casper a high five. Casper the friendly ghost, indeed.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

really, i can't complain

An actual conversation between Shawn and I last night:

Shawn: "I didn't know you washed dishes at a restaurant. I thought you were a waitress."

Jen: "Yep, I wasn't old enough to be a waitress at first, so I washed dishes for a couple of years and worked my way up."

Shawn: "Was this before or after your summer job shucking corn?"

Jen: "After. But before I earned money washing school buses."

[long pause]

Jen: "Huh... Being a stay at home Mom is kind of the sweetest gig I've ever had."

Friday, October 22, 2010

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

a letter to cohen

Dear Cohen,

I meant to write this letter to you a week ago, on your two month birthday. I'm sorry to say that I didn't get that letter written, but I figured writing it when you're ten weeks old is better than nothing, right? I know, I know - chalk it up to therapist fodder about being the second child. Truthfully though, I happen to think you got the better end of the deal. Daddy and I are much more chill, relaxed, and prepared parents to you. But then, this letter isn't about Daddy and I, it's about you.

Cohen, you are ten weeks old and I already can't imagine how our family ever could've been complete without you. You already have such a distinct personality and are definitely a people person. Most of the time when you start fussing in your bouncy seat, it's because you want to have eye contact with someone. As soon as Daddy, Jude, or I are near enough for you to have eye contact with, your little face lights up in a grin. And that's another thing, sweet Cohen. You have the world's most charming smile. You start off with a little side smirk, but the smile soon overtakes your face. Your eyes crinkle and shine and your whole little body scrunches up with your grin. It's the most charming thing I've ever seen, and amazingly the world around me disappears when I see that smile.

You had your two month check up this past Friday, and you were 11 lbs. even and in the 16th percentile. Great job, bud! You got a few shots and screamed like I've never heard you scream before, but you calmed down once I could pick you up and give you some lovin'. After experimenting with my diet and talking to your doctor, it looks like you definitely have a sensitivity to dairy. It's not entirely surprising - your brother does and I did as a baby, too. I can tell that your little belly is getting better about digesting as you get older, but I'm staying away from milk, cheese, yogurt, whipped cream, etc. so that your tummy isn't in pain all the time. I told your Daddy last week that once you get to a year old and I'm not nursing you any longer, I'm going to have one heck of a cheese party. Although now that I see that in writing, it sounds a little gross, so maybe I'll forego the cheese party and just enjoy some ice cream and pizza one night.

Cohen, you rolled over once from your tummy to your back, but don't seem terribly interested in doing it again. You hate tummy time with an intense passion right now, but you love to work on holding up your head when I'm holding you over my shoulder. As I walk through crowded places, I hear people behind me exclaiming, "Oh, what a cute baby!" as you look over my shoulder with your bright and alert eyes. Speaking of your eyes, Daddy says he thinks you have my eyes, but as you get older I see more and more of your Daddy in you! You're starting to get interested in bright colors and things dangling above you, and you spend most of your day kicking your legs all around.

You've been pretty consistent about sleeping at least six hours a night, and we've learned that you love to be swaddled. You more than love it, you insist on it. Even though you cry the entire time I'm swaddling you, as soon as I pick you up, your little eyes close and your body relaxes. You simply don't sleep well when you're not swaddled - I think those little arms and legs keep you awake and you like the secure feeling of being swaddled.

You and Jude continue to get along amazingly well. Your big brother does a great job of being gentle with you (except for that time he threw a die cast train several feet away and it hit you right on the head. That was an accident, though), and sometimes he just touches your feet and giggles. You love when Jude crouches down next to your boppy and talks to you. You and he make eye contact and really look like you're talking to each other.

So Cohen, at ten weeks old, you're pretty much amazing. You have my heart, and I love you so much more than I thought possible. I'm honored that God chose us to steward and care for your precious life. We love you, sweet Cohen.

Monday, October 11, 2010

a lil' business

I just wanted my friends and family to know that if you "like" Serwa Chic on Facebook by October 22nd, you'll receive an exclusive discount code to use in the Serwa Chic shop! If you're not a fan of Serwa Chic on Facebook yet....what are you waiting for?!

happy monday

I hope yours is a little less sleepy than ours...

Saturday, October 9, 2010

for the life of me

...I can't pick which is my favorite feature of Jude's. Somedays I think it's his eyes, some days his kissable cheeks, some days his chubby little fingers, and some doesn't matter.

I just melt.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

on the homefront

I feel like our friends and family are long overdue for a quick update on the goings-on of the Maurer family. Before I do that though, I want to let you know that I have a couple of really cute videos that I've been trying to upload for days to no avail. I promise you that I try to upload both videos and photos almost every day, and almost every day I get frustrated and give up. I'll keep trying, but until it actually works I'm afraid you're stuck with just words.

And on that delightfully exciting note -

Shawn is madly in love with fall. He and I are both just more fun to be around when the leaves are changing colors and we have a cup of coffee in our hands. Shawn's also really excited about football season commencing and is - as usual - quite busy. He's continuing to amaze me by his selflessness and ability to juggle so much in this season of our life.

Jen is tired, but I seem to be turning a corner from chronically exhausted to tired most of the time. It may not seem like a big difference, but if you've ever been chronically exhausted then you know....oh, you know. I'm starting to begin a couple of Serwa Chic custom projects and would love to figure out a way to fit running into my weekly schedule. I feel like getting back into a somewhat normal schedule has been a little easier this time around, and I'm grateful. I still have bad days and occasionally feel like I can't shake the fog of being overwhelmed, but those days are getting fewer and further between.

Jude is well...he's Jude. He's spunky, sweet, smart, feisty, and adorable. He's actually sleeping in his own toddler bed now and only gets his paci when he's sleeping. We've been working on recognizing letters lately, and I'm really impressed by how quickly he's picking them up. He now knows (most of the time) A, E, I, L, M, N, O, Q, R, S, U, X, and Y. We're also working on numbers, but he doesn't seem to be picking those up as quickly. This is such a fun age for learning - it seems like every day he's saying a new word, learning a new letter, or conveying a new thought. Conversely, this is not such a fun age for temper tantrums and overuse of the word, "no." Nonetheless, being that boy's Mom is one of the greatest joys of my life.

Cohen is much more chill than we're used to in an infant. He's already smiling and cooing and loves to hear Shawn and I laugh. Nursing him is going really well, despite my many thoughts of giving up at 3:00 in the morning. I know that putting this on the blog will most likely jinx it, but Cohen slept from 11:45pm - 6:30am last night and from 11:15pm - 5:00am the night before. Everything in life is easier to handle with six hours of sleep - including breast feeding! Cohen's next appointment is a week from tomorrow, and I'm interested to hear how much he weighs.

I wish I could update more thoroughly, but since Jude is driving his trains across my monitor at the moment, I should probably do some Jude-lovin'. Just wanted to let you know that we're here and we're well!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

things i don't do

It sure has taken me long enough, but I've finally had a chance to think through the things in my life I'm willing to just let go in order to prioritize my list of things I do. After all, those things won't just magically get done - it takes intentionality, self-awareness, and to some extent organization.

Since I wrote my list, I've been evaluating my daily activities in light of it and asking myself if what I'm doing contributes to one of those items (in a nutshell: God, Shawn, kids, myself, my home, ministry, my friends). If it doesn't feed into one of those things, then it's just a waste of my time and will not help make me and my life healthier. For example: Spending time on Facebook commenting on my Small Group girls' statuses? Worth it - It hopefully lets them know that I'm thinking about them in my day and it's a way that I can check in on what's going on with them. Spending time on Facebook looking at profiles of people I knew from high school, but barely remember? Not worth it - It's basically taking my time, wadding it up in a big old ball, and throwing it in the trash can. It's not helping my family or my relationship with God, it's not particularly edifying to me, it's not doing ministry, not investing in friendships, and is just helping me procrastinate from doing the dishes or laundry. And these days, I just don't have time to throw away. It's actually pretty incredible how much time I waste, not necessarily on sinful things, but just on things that in the long run don't matter and aren't ultimately one of my large stones.

So I'm basically just realizing that living a life of intentionality takes work, as it's much easier to live a life of wasted time. I've lived that life, and it's awful. I may have been doing a lot, but it's all with mediocrity, as opposed to doing a few things with excellence. So allow me to share with you the things in my life that I've just had to let go - things that I intentionally do not do in order to intentionally do the things I want to do (convoluted sentence writing is apparently on my list of things I do):

- I don't aim to take an award in dinner making. We don't have three course dinners, and Shawn and I split the cooking about 50/50. I don't usually have dinner waiting for Shawn when he gets home (although to be fair, that's largely because his schedule varies highly from day to day), and some days I consider a bowl of cereal to be a legitimate dinner option.

- I don't knit. I'm not sure why, but I have a lot of people in my life telling me that I should knit. It looks complicated and I have almost no time right now to learn a new skill. I have no doubt that it's relaxing, but I'd just as soon take a bubble bath or go for a run to get the same effect.

-I don't invest in friends who aren't friends. I don't have time to invest in friendships that are filled with criticism, gossip, and complaining. That's not to say I don't love those people - I just love them from a distance. If I'm going to invest in a friendship, I need it to be friends who challenge me to be a better child of God, wife, mother, and individual.

- I don't fuss much about my hair. I get it cut once every couple of years and occasionally hack some layers into it myself. I put some curling gel into it at some point after I shower, and that's it. A date might night might be cause to break out the curling iron, but that's as complicated as I get. You know that trendy bump thing girls have going on right now? Never gonna happen.

- I don't work full time. I know this might seem obvious, but it was a big step for me in arranging my life so that I could focus on my priorities with excellence. Now obviously being a stay at home Mom is a LOT of work, and I do own a small business, but letting go of my full time job was one of the best decisions we've made.

- I don't edit my photos beyond the occasional cropping. It's hard enough for me to find the time the actually get them off my camera and onto this blog in a timely manner, so you'll just have to endure the occasional red eyes and less than impressive lighting.

- I don't answer my phone if I'm spending quality time with God, Shawn, or my boys. I know this might be frustrating to some people, but the truth is that those four individuals come before anyone else in my life, and the least I can do is choose to make my quality time with them time that is undivided and undistracted. I'm realizing that lengthy phone conversations are a thing of the past for me right now (as it seems like one of the boys decides to fuss as soon as I pick up my phone), so I only call people who understand when I abruptly say, "I need to go, Jude just took off his diaper and is running around naked," or I have most of my conversations via text since I can text in between diaper changes, nursing sessions, disciplining, cuddling, cleaning, and the myriad of other things on my list.

- I don't wear makeup unless I'm leaving the house, and even then it's a 50/50 shot. I'm just not thinking Jude and Cohen care how luscious my eyelashes are or how plump my lips appear.

- I try my best not to overload our schedules with events, which is especially challenging to balance with ministry. Events include (but are not limited to): birthday parties, graduation parties, wedding showers, baby showers, football games, volleyball games, holiday parties, award ceremonies, concert recitals, and competitions. That's not to say we don't do those things, because we actually enjoy them and want to attend them. Beyond that, attending those events is just a part of investing in students and people, a critical part of our lives. After five years of ministry though, I've learned that you just have to say, "no" sometimes for the sake of your family and sanity. And truthfully, the reason for saying no doesn't always have to be because you have a scheduling conflict. Sometimes it's okay to say no just because you need an evening or two at home. On the flip side, it's also okay to occasionally haul both boys to those events, even if they are a handful the entire time- because it's important for them to know that ministry and family quality time can go hand in hand.

- I don't scrapbook, host fancy dinner parties, know the difference between Iraq and Iran, wash my car, go to the beach, watch the Bachelorette, vacuum more than once a week, read the newspaper, care about Lindsey Lohan's court appearances, or paint my nails.

It's brutal, making the list of Things I Don't Do, especially for someone like me, who refuses most of the time to acknowledge that there is, in fact, a limit to her personal ability to get things done. But I've discovered that the list sets me free. I have it written in black and white, sitting on my desk, and when I'm tempted to go rogue and bake muffins because all the other moms do, I come back to both lists, and remind myself about the important things: that time is finite, as is energy. And that one day I'll stand before God and account for what I did with my life. There is work that is only mine to do: a child that is ours to raise; stories that are mine to tell, friends that are mine to walk with. The grandest seduction of all is the myth that DOING EVERYTHING BETTER gets us where we want to be. It gets us somewhere, certainly, but not anywhere worth being.

-Shauna Niequist