Sunday, January 30, 2011

not-so-old school sunday

I certainly would've posted these sooner, but you know...moving to Texas and all. These are photos taken by the amazing photographer Jenn Lewis of Cohen's baby shower. If you're wondering if looking through these photos makes me miss people, you don't know the half of it.

Angie and Paige, listening to my apparently fascinating story telling:

Erica, one of my "Girls' Night" girls:

Patrice. Who may or may not have cried. Of course, I wouldn't embarrass her by publicly outing that fact.

Patrice and Lindsey. If I could reach through a computer and give a huge hug, I would.

...and ditto:
Sweet Beth and Jill:

Opening presents!

Little did we know this simple sock money would soon be Jude's best Mee-Hee:

Have you ever seen sweeter or more beautiful people? That night was such a fun evening for me. Beyond the fact that I got presents (always a bonus to any gathering), I felt like I was being blessed to just hang out with some of my closest friends. It was incredible to watch my friends rejoicing in that pregnancy right alongside with me, and to know that they loved Cohen before he was even born. That's quite the baby shower, isn't it?

Friday, January 28, 2011

we'll never be

We'll never be well. Ever again. Or at least that's what it feels like. The boys and I have been sick with very little break since New Year's Day. A bad cold that turned into a sinus infection for me, a light stomach bug, and then another cold/sinus infection. And to top everything off, it looks like we're all riddled with the flu (despite the fact that the three eldest Maurers got the flu shot and my love affair with hand sanitizer). Being sick is getting old. It means we can't go hang out with people. It means I'm worried about my milk supply. It means our boys are whining pretty much all the time. I can't blame them, though. With how we're all feeling, I'd be whining all the time if I could.

So that would be why my posting has been pretty sparse, it's been all I can do to take care of my sickies, keep the household running, and not get behind at Serwa Chic.

I do want to share with you though, that despite the inevitable chronic illness of the season, we're all doing great. Jude is doing great at school! My favorite part is when we drive home afterwards and he tells me all about his day. It's funny the things that stand out to him when I ask him what he did at school. A few of his favorite things about which he tells me: "I sit!" "Bubbles!" "Nap mat." "Choo-Choo!" "A ball?" "Outside!" Once we get home I unpack his backpack, which always has a craft that he did that day. I like to make a big production out of pulling it out of his folder and saying, "You did this? Did you do this at school today?" I can literally see Jude's little heart filling up as he realizes that I'm proud of him. He scoots next to me on the floor and tells me all about his project. I always tell him how proud I am of him, and yesterday he said, "You pwoud? Mommy, you pwoud?" He doesn't even know the half of it. Then he and I make a big production of showing the project to Cohen and putting it on the refrigerator.

Jude was already making some huge strides in counting (he can count to ten with consistency), letters (he knows them all, and we're working on the sound that each makes), colors (he knows four or five), and shapes (he knows the basic ones), so I feel like preschool is doing a great job of reinforcing those things. The biggest difference I've noticed is in how much Jude is talking. Or I should say how many new words and phrases he's willing to try. He's now very often repeating things we say or things he hears others say. Sometimes as I'm changing Jude's diaper in the mornings, I sing "Oh Happy Day," to him - The Sister Act version of course. He's started "singing" the repeated parts to me, which sounds something like this:

Me: "Oh happy day..."
Jude: "Oh hap dayyyyy!"

Me: "Oh happy day..."

Me: "When Jesus washed..."
Jude: "Jeeeessss vaaaashh"

Me: "When Jesus washed..."

Me: "Washed my sins away..."
Jude: "vash waaaaaaay"

One of my favorite things is when he's feeling particularly cantankerous and I begin to sing. He answers, "No hap day, Mommy! NO HAP DAY!"

And on that note, I certainly hope your day is a hap one!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Upcoming Giveaway!

I had the honor of being interviewed recently for a super fun podcast. The Playdate Crashers are doing a series on Moms and working, and I was so glad to share my experiences as a WAHM (work at home mom). In conjunction with the podcast, I'll have a guest blog up in a week, AND I'll be giving away this sage Ooga Booga Long Sleeve Bib!

Keep an eye on their website for information on how to enter!

Friday, January 21, 2011

friday cuteness

Happy Friday! To kick off your weekend, I thought you might enjoy a particularly adorable video of my boys watching some trains at Christmastime.

Untitled from J Maurer on Vimeo.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

my girls

The night before the boys and I left Winston-Salem, I invited my small group girls over to hang out in our home one final time. Shawn had already left with all of our belongings save a suitcase, and beyond not looking forward to spending the night by myself in an empty house, I also wanted a chance to let "my girls" know how much I love and appreciate them. From the moment we told the students that we would moving, I kept telling my girls that we weren't going to dwell on the sad because it wasn't time to say goodbye yet.

Even though it was a Tuesday (i.e. a school) night, I was beyond grateful that the girls' parents allowed them to come over and even spend the night. We ordered pizza, talked, laughed, remembered, and tried to pop popcorn with our cell phones. What? You've never tried it?

I've been putting off blogging about missing my girls because that's truthfully been the hardest part of us leaving. The moment Shawn and I started to realize that God might seriously be calling us to Dallas, I pleaded (to God and to Shawn), "But what about my girls?"

I wish I had taken more photos and videos of that night, but I'm so grateful for the memory of it. I remember that Kayla brought a bean bag because she knew we didn't have any furniture, but that nobody used it because we were all just comfortable spreading out on the floor. I remember talking to Hannah and Caity about what on earth they were going to get their boyfriends for Christmas. I remember Alex doing the cookie trick for us and each of us trying the same. Of course, I remember Sara telling us that she read you can pop popcorn with a circle of cell phones. I remember talking to Alex about Jeremy and watching clips online with her. I remember the girls fighting over who got to hold Cohen, joking about giving him their food, and watching him light up at their smiles.

I remember talking about what their futures were going to look like - who was going to get married first and what their weddings would look like. I remember watching Kayla leave on Tuesday night and fighting back tears. She had walked down that sidewalk into that driveway a hundred times, and my heart broke as I realized it'd be her last. I remember Hannah waking me up at 6:00 in the morning before she headed to school. I hugged her tightly, and my 6:00am brain just couldn't put words to how much I was going to miss her. I peeked out the blinds as she left to make sure she was safe and I prayed for her protection, for God to guide her steps, and for His wisdom. I remember hugging Alex as she left and fighting back tears. I remember Brittany and Sara being the last two to leave because they didn't have to be to school until later. I remember that they lingered awhile - not wanting to say goodbye. And even though I'd held it together as I said goodbye to each girl in turn, I couldn't stop myself from sobbing. The three of us hugged, and Brittany told me that it would be okay. She told me that Texas was going to be awesome, and that Shawn would be waiting for me at the airport. She told me that he was going to kiss me, and that it'd be gross.

I want so badly to pack those girls up in a suitcase and bring them with me. We've texted, called, and Skyped, but it's not the same as a wordless hug. I know they're each going through so much right now, and it literally hurts me to not be there.

I miss them.

Friday, January 14, 2011

jude goes to preschool

Preschool has been an unequivocal success for Jude! He absolutely loves it, and the teachers continue to tell me that he obeys well and gets along with the other kiddos great. Jude was very excited about this choo-choo back pack! When I told him I wanted to take a photo of him on his first day of school, he immediately turned around so that I could get a picture of his back pack:

But what I wanted of course, was a photo of those sweet cheeks:

This is Jude's nap mat. I had some anxiety about his nap mat. I wanted to make sure it was big enough because he moves a lot during his sleep. I wanted to make sure it wasn't going to be super thin compared to the other kids', and that Jude would be comfortable on it. I wanted to get one with a little built in pillow because it made me sad to think of him not taking a nap with a pillow, and I wanted to custom make the cover myself because,'s my way of showing Jude that I love him even when he's away from me.

We bought the nap mat from a local Christian Education store (which is one of my favorite stores I've found here. The place has tons of great learning tools. It almost made me want to homeschool. Almost.). We bought the thickest one because again I was concerned about him being comfortable, and then I picked up this fabric from Ikea. I deliberated for no less than twenty minutes about which fabric to get. My favorites were dubbed "too girly" by Shawn, but I wasn't a huge fan of their childish prints. Don't worry, I bought all of the "girly" prints I love to use for Serwa Chic nursing covers.

Then I set to work making the cover. It only took me a couple of hours and was actually fun. I sewed on ribbons onto the cover with D rings so the mat can be easily carried. When I pick up Jude from school I'm trying to carry Cohen (in his carseat), the nap mat, a blanket, Jude's back pack, and Jude. I can slide Jude's blanket into the nap mat and hook it onto my finger making it more manageable.

And naturally, after all that worrying, his nap mat is heeeuge compared to the other kids'. It actually doesn't even fit in his little cubby. The teachers put his back pack and papers in the cubby and have to set his nap mat in front of the cubbies. No matter, it's pretty sweet looking. Perhaps that's just an excuse for me to make him a new one in the fall!

Jude hanging out the morning before preschool. My favorite memory of Jude getting ready for preschool is when he runs around the house with his backpack bouncing away on his back. I thought you might enjoy that memory, too:

Untitled from J Maurer on Vimeo.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

a letter to cohen

Dear Cohen,

I'm certain I say this at least every other week, but I can't believe how quickly you're growing! Five months ago from today at 7:05 am, Daddy and I got to see your sweet, swollen face for the first time. Your presence in our family has been wonderful, amazing, and in a word - perfect. I love you so much more than I thought possible, sweet bear.

You've remained your smiley self and have begun perfecting your adorable little laugh. It sometimes sound like a loud gasp, and sometimes resembles your older brother's bike horn laugh. Either way, I adore it. You love to be tickled right at your rib cage, and were hilariously belly laughing at a particularly fun game of peek-a-boo with Mommy yesterday. I love watching your little shoulders scrunch up in glee when something tickles you, and I love nothing more than when that something is me.

You seem content with having perfected the art of rolling from your stomach to your back in three or four attempts, and have your heart set on crawling now. At the moment, it's a lot of grunting and digging your feet into the floor and not a whole lot of actual movement, but dang it - you're trying!

We've been giving you rice cereal for awhile now to help with the reflux, and you chow down! I'm planning on giving you your first taste of "real" food today - advacados! I'm excited to make your food for you and I'm looking forward to watching you experience different tastes and textures.

You're not really sleeping great lately, but that's been the theme for about two months now. You have spurts where you'll wake up once during the night to eat and go back to sleep well, but most of the time you're up every couple of hours. Daddy and I are taking turns taking soothing you, so we're both pretty tired right now. If you could work on that sleeping through the night thing, we'd both be super grateful.

You are officially a blonde, by the way. You still have some dark hair at the base of your neck, but everything else is purely blonde! And yes, you're still looking quite a bit like Daddy.

Some of my favorite memories of this past month are when you reach out to my face and pull it close to yours. My heart just overflows in a way I can't explain when you do that. I loved watching you take your first bite of food and the joy that comes when we feed you each night. And finally, I love bath time with you. It's my job to get you nekkid and I love your glee when I pick you up from the changing table. I hold you up by your armpits so that your face is even with mine, and you dangle and kick your legs in excitement. You smile and laugh so that the entire time I'm walking you to the bathroom, I can't take my eyes off of that sweet face.

I love you, Cohen. The more I know you, the more I love you. I cannot wait to see how you grow and what your personality looks like. Thank you, sweet boy, for being a part of our family.


Mommy & Daddy

Saturday, January 8, 2011

christmas part tres: the final chapter

I'm finally able to put up the rest of our Christmas photos and videos, I'm sorry it took so long. We had such a great Christmas, and I took an abundant amount of photos and videos because it was so important to me for you to be a part of our Christmas!

Neither of us had the time or energy to cook a fancy Christmas meal this year, so we picked our "home cooked" meal at Fresh Market. What did we eat, you ask? Something called TurDuckEn. Don't judge, it's delicious.

Welcome to Texas...
After the sun went down, the four of us drove around to look at lights. This is actually something we've done since Jude was born, but this was the first year he got really excited about it. "Moe Yites!" he kept exclaiming.

And more videos! Jude and Cohen Christmas afternoon:

Untitled from J Maurer on Vimeo.

Driving around the rich neck of the woods to look at Christmas lights:

There's a beautiful area called Southlake where Shawn took me for my birthday. If you have your volume on, you can tell that Cohen was...well...not happy.

Untitled from J Maurer on Vimeo.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

christmas: part deuce

You'll have to excuse me if you've been waiting on the edge of your seat for more Christmas photos. You may now scoot back to a more comfortable seat sitting position.

Shawn was really excited about the Flip cam from his parents. I can't believe how small and easy to use it is! It fits perfectly into my purse, and we've already taken several videos (coming soon)!

And behind Shawn, you can see our Christmas present to each other. A new fancy schmancy TV and "real people" cable.

Jude opening more train tracks:

Cohen's new sound machine:

Jude patiently and sweetly helped Cohen open his presents:

Jude enjoying daddy's stocking stuffers:

A present from Jude's new preschool. It says, "That's how I roll. Compass Christian Preschool." I can't lie, that t-shirt makes me giggle.

Also, in case you were waiting with baited breath to find out how Jude's first day of preschool went, you may now unbait your breath. His teachers said he did awesome! They told us that he lined right up when he was supposed to, took a nap on his nap mat, and was perfectly obedient. They made no mention of his pants falling down or not understanding what he wanted, so I was pleased with a great report. He asked me several times yesterday to go to school, and was excited when I told him that's where he was going this morning.

What's that you say? You want more Christmas photos? You sure you can handle it? Coming soon!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

hodge podge

1. Happy New Year! We spent some of our evening with a few new friends and the rest (after the boys' bedtimes) at home. I made it all the way until 11:00 this year, which is really quite the accomplishment considering I'm lucky to get two chunks of four hours of sleep a night. I happen to love New Year's resolutions and am almost always able to stick to them, and Shawn happens to eschew resolutions and make fun of me for making them. In case you're wondering, Jude's New Year resolutions were: 1. To work on potty training 2. To wean from the pacifier 3. To cuddle and kiss Mommy and Daddy more 4. To stop this nonsense of taking two hours to go to sleep. Cohen's resolutions were: 1. To sleep twelve hours a night. Every night. 2. To figure out this crawling business and eventually work on walking. 3. To learn how to say, "Mommy" and "Daddy." 4. To cuddle and kiss Mommy and Daddy more.

It's true, they told me.

2. Jude began his first day of preschool today. He'll be going Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9-2 through the school year. He was ridiculously adorable wearing his Thomas backpack and holding mine and Shawn's hands on the way into the church. I'm so excited for him to get to learn in a structured, Christian environment, to interact with other kids, and to get some of that boundless energy out. I'm also of course, sad that someone else will be teaching my child, that he'll be away from me for what feels like half a week, and that I'll no longer experience pretty much everything in his life with him. I expected those feelings of sadness and knew that it's just the natural part of a child growing and gaining independence. What I didn't expect, however - was the worry that crept in.

Will he make friends? Will he behave? Will he be bullied? Will the teacher know that he wants a graham cracker when he says, "crax?" Will the teacher freak out when he lets out a guttural scream in exasperation? Will the other kids know that he wants to play rough housing when he says, "I push?" Will he nap okay? Did I pack the right thing for his lunch? Will he eat enough? Will he be able to open his lunch box? Will his pants keep falling down because they're all sized for cloth diapers?

Will he miss me? Will he miss me so much that he thinks I'm leaving him and not understand what's going on?

I'm getting ready to go pick him up here in a few minutes, so I guess I can't actually answer any of those questions yet. Since I haven't heard from the school though, I have a feeling he ran full force into the life of a preschooler and didn't look back. He probably already made little friends with his friendly, "hiiii!" and will hopefully just ignore any bullying. His teachers have worked with two year olds for a long, long time, so I'm certain they're great at deciphering, and if his pants fall down he'll pick them back up.

Still, this Mommy thing is tough. Just when you think you want to lock them outside for the day, you realize you actually never want to let them go.

3. I'm running again, and loving it. I know that's not really noteworthy, but I felt like updating you on two items just wasn't enough.

More Christmas photos coming soon. Can you handle the anticipation?

Sunday, January 2, 2011

years old

I used to relish the idea of growing older gracefully. I firmly believed there was no greater testimony to a life well lived than permanent marks on one's face displaying that she lived a life of laughter and smiles. To me, graying hair was evidence of wisdom gained from experience and was beautiful. I didn't particularly fear the aging process, and looked forward to the sense of self-confidence and maturity I was told would increase as my age increased.

I turned 29 years old a couple of days ago. For most of my 27th and 28th years of life, I completely forgot how old I was. When my age was discussed, I always had to ask Shawn, "Am I 27 or 28?" and usually had to count the years from 1981. So when I realized sometime in late November that I was quickly approaching my 29th birthday, I was surprised to feel some apprehension.


Sure, I could acknowledge and still say that I was in my 20's, but there's no denying that 30 is right around the corner. And while 30 is - by no means - old, it's no doubt an adult. Not only am I now 29, but I'm 29 with two children and no career to speak of. My day to day is spent doing a thousand things nobody notices until I spend one day not doing it. I do hundreds of things from which I will not see results until my children are teenagers or even adults, and I'm not entirely sure I'm doing any one of those hundreds of things right. When I chose counseling as my major in college and began work at a non profit after marriage, I expected to be making a difference in the world. Instead, I now count it a good day if both boys are alive, fed, and relatively dressed (pants are optional). I did not expect to close my 20s and begin my 30s without the sense of confidence and determination that comes from knowing your work is valuable, having a boss who gives feedback (somehow, "Mommy not nice!" isn't quite the same), and seeing progress in meeting defined goals.

And then there's the fact that I'm a big, fat hypocrite. Because while I thought the idea of aging was lovely in theory, it turns out that I'm scrambling to not look like I'm getting older. I feel like I've been reminded in the preceding months that youthfulness is alluring, attractive, and irresistible. A 29 year old Mom of two worries herself with diaper rash, bill paying, coupons, libraries, milk supply, and opportunities to teach numbers. I thought I'd be thrilled to be finished with my teenage years, but I'm finding myself jealous of a teenager's ability to be youthful, naive, and carefree. I did not expect to close my 20s and begin my 30s carrying extra baby weight, still wearing maternity clothes, and doing everything I can to conceal the bags under my eyes.

For the first time in my life, I really wanted to forget about and not celebrate this birthday. However, I've had some time to process my overwhelming self-pity, insipid vanity, and myopic moping. My life is definitely not what I thought it would be, but besides that baby weight- it's without doubt better.

A thousand fold better.

My day to day can certainly feel defeating and mundane, and while it's true that my house will never been clean enough, my children smart enough, and my budget balanced enough (thus the feeling that my job and tasks are never completed), I also get dozens of cuddles and kisses every day. I get to watch my children pick up new skills and teach them about the world around them. I can watch Jude share with a younger child and have compassion on someone who is hurt, and know that I taught him that. And while my body has certainly changed through the childbearing process, I also know that my body is holding onto weight in order to nourish my infant with milk that was perfectly created just for him.

I can't deny that I'm not as young, thin, carefree, naive, and even fun as I used to be, but I'm alive. The fact that I have a handsome husband (on whom age looks great, by the way) and two sweet and fascinating children beyond that is evidence that God loves to give good gifts to His children. Even if society and experience are telling me that my value is decreased as my age and pants size increase, I'm choosing to believe that age, wrinkles, wisdom, gray hair, and experience are beautifully lovely. I'm choosing to believe that the best is yet to be.