Juliet, my fair lady…
“Are you sitting down?” I knew what was coming next. “Stand up,” mommy urged, “and meet me at home. It’s time. My water broke.” And just like that in the middle of a Monday I walked out of the office and into a fairytale. I say fairytale because the water-breaking thing doesn’t usually happen in real life, and because there was a happy ending in which we met whimsical you. The rest of the story involved a quirky nurse (who helped us choose your name) and a lot of hurrying up and waiting. Mommy’s water did break, but the passage of time and a healthy dose of pitocin didn’t do much to move labor along. Apparently, after three years, my memory disagrees with mommy’s as to whether she ever pushed or not, but one thing we agree upon about your birth story is that we had to make believe you were ours. I don’t know what God and genetics did with mommy’s Thai heritage or my equally dark hair and eyes, because you, Juliet, are the fairest of them all.
Let the record show that you are in fact ours. Actually, the biggest pretender of all is you. Your imagination needs nothing more than a little plastic figurine or an empty sack or a rotted piece of bark; you will fill said toy with your personality or fill said bag with a treasure trove of ideas or–wait, why are you entertained by everything, including splintery chunks of wood? You wander and wonder so independently. Until you don’t. “Daddy, will you play with me?” Oh, Juliet, this question of yours. It’s a precious yet intimidating invitation to enter your world and stay in character with laser sharp focus. You monitor all pretend play for creative compliance, policing even the slightest stray back to reality: “DADDY, PLAY WITH ME!”
As much as you can get lost in your imagination, you will certainly not be lost in the dynamic of our family, despite your position as a “middle” child. You’re pretty dynamic yourself with your high highs and low lows. You have a knack for veering wildly from soul-crushed tears to heart-lifted giggles, and I appreciate how quickly your toddler tragedy-of-the-moment can be redeemed. All that to say, you have a strong voice, and are sure to communicate your trials and triumphs. Maybe “strong” isn’t quite the right word, though, for your voice these days. Maybe more like squeaky. Shortly after celebrating your third birthday, I got to escort you for a tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy to clear out what the doctor referred to as your “mouth full of golf balls”. You were a fan of the blanket with the warm air blown underneath and I was fond of being by your side through surgery. I’ll never forget holding that mask to your face as your muscles relaxed and you let go of consciousness, then bouncing up from the waiting room to greet you with a popsicle. Goodbye snoring and sleep apnea, hello soprano.
Even though you’re the only sister to undergo surgery so far, I think you’ve been sick the least. You’re built like a tank. Besides your apparent immunodefenses, your physicality shows up to settle disagreements, from subtle jabs and kicks to outright sitting on a sister. I don’t know yet how this translates to being athletic and coordinated. On the one hand, you can pedal to the metal your little tricycle, but on the other hand you are not to be trusted with an open cup of liquid. Absolutely not. Without fail, before you even manage a sip, a milk waterfall is certain to cascade from counter to lap to floor. And although you are likely to cry over spilled milk, you are just as likely to express emotion with your whole self. Sometimes you stand hunched over, arms swinging like clock pendulums, and you melt. Sometimes you put one hand on your hip, gesturing with your other hand and furling your eyebrows, and you melt me. Always pour out your heart–to me, to mommy, to Jesus. Let God and his Word fill you so that the overflow is a blessing to many.
You’re not quite a daddy’s girl, Juliet, but you probably are the “daddiest” of the daughters. I’ll take it. I’ll take it when I get home and you come running to hug my leg. I’ll take it when you lean in on the couch and wrap your arm around mine. I’ll take it when I come down to kiss you goodnight and your arms are a necklace around me, pulling my face close to yours: “I love you, Daddy.” I love you and I’m so thankful that you’re mine…
Aria Ellen (5 years): Look who’s swimming all by herself! From a 4th of July pool party to swimming in Arizona, this summer belonged to you! Your brave self took over, and you quickly became a little show off. “Mommy! Look at me!” The joy it gave us to see you shine! Your physical coordination continues to awe us— see you holding yourself up in the kitchen? You do this so easily. You taped a bell up to the top of a door frame. You climb the frame (like a monkey) and ring the bell. It’s pretty amazing. Your love for Eleanor is pretty amazing too. You are stuck on her like glue. And I just adore your huge love for her. Do you see that black and white picture? This little girl looks just like me when I was little. We look so similar, Auntie Anjuli calls you “my mirror image”.
Naomi Mariam (6 1/2 years): That smile! Finally after over a year of those teeth growing slowly into place, a kind boy at the pool in Arizona helped them along with an accidental swift elbow to your face! You were in shock and I was elated. Now, look at that darling smile! You lost a tooth at Camp Fairfield too. Grampbill didn’t know the going rate of the tooth fairy and gave you $10. This month you have been captivated by an art class on YouTube. Drawing after drawing, day after day, our wall is full of art! You love drawing!
Eleanor Jo (3 months): You know, your full name is Eleanor Josephine. But up until the moment we filled out your birth certificate, it was Eleanor Jo. And your nickname was going to be “Ella Jo.” Well, as we were filling out the form, your Daddy didn’t like the sound of his short name in your full name: Eleanor “Jo Maertz.” I like Josephine. Secretly hoping “Josie” would be another nickname option for you. As it’s turned out, no one calls you Ella Jo. You get every name but that. Mostly it’s Ele, Eles, Elsie, Elsie Belsie, Elle Belle. This month, you rolled over! On top of all that, you are interested in a pacifier! You are the only Maertz girl to like a pacifier. So far seems to work, and you sleep beautifully! And so far, you are such a sweet and easy baby. With your sisters doting over you constantly, and very little personal space, you remain content and happy! Eleanor, you are a dream baby.
Maertz Family Memories: *Maertzs, Paschalls and Ama/Papa took four days and four nights to enjoy the hot Arizona summer! It included a ton of swimming, water slides, lazy rivers, overflowing bubble baths, a Finding Nemo movie night, snow cones, outdoor spaghetti dinner by the pool, late night games with adults and Manoah, and tons of family fun. *After 20 years, our high school reunions finally came! Daddy skipped out on attending Vacaville High School’s reunion and joined the drama at mommy’s Orange Glen High School. *July 4th: with the Jungs, Tankersleys and Swifts at the Hamiltons’ resort. One of mommy’s favorite moments was sitting on top of the Broadway hill with Naomi and Aria. As dusk settled in, the three of us talked about nothing and everything. The fireworks that lit up the night sky did not come close to the giggles and cuddling that exploded inside my chest. *Girls had so much fun going ice skating with the ICF crew! *GrampBill, GG and Uncle Jim came down to celebrate our big girl’s birthday! The highlight reel was actually the special effects movies we learned how to make on iMovie.