By day, he designs high flying spy planes. Late afternoons, he flies around on squeaky courts, dunking basketballs. By night, he’s right there with me catering to screaming requests for milk, and loving on sleepless babies. On weekends, he shares his musical creativity on a stage with me. For my birthday, he’s gifting me with a blog entry! Thank you love.
Meet Joey Williams…
Yes, to everything there is a season. Thank you, The Byrds, for framing that passage from the Book of Ecclesiastes as a catchy tune, a plea for world peace, and as a poetic reminder of the depth and breadth of the human experience. Birth, death, mourning, dancing, loving, hating—that’s some serious stuff. You ever notice how the literal four seasons are always just long enough? Summer, fall, winter, spring—our moods are inexplicably tied to the weather, and pessimism thaws with the melting snow. Of course, who am I kidding? This is San Diego, where we measure the month by how far down the car window is rolled. Let’s get back, then, to The Byrds and the Bible and the seasons of life, where the highs are higher and the lows are lower.Right now I’m digesting the Ecclesiastical prose of The Byrds as both “prophesy” and “permission”. Let’s give credit where credit is due though: King Solomon is believed to have written Ecclesiastes and, as such, can be considered the oldest lyricist with a number one hit. (Also giving credit: I got that fun fact from Wikipedia.)
So about that “prophesy”, I don’t intend to imply that Ecclesiastes Chapter 3 contains some cryptic revelation about the end of the world and that I can offer a scholarly and spiritual interpretation. No, no, no, much simpler than that. I just think that King Solomon was on to something when he made a simple observation about life: it’s a roller coaster. Ain’t that the truth for all of us and for all of time? Oh yeah, addendum to that, if life in general is a roller coaster, then life with kids is a smack-the-back-of-your-head-against-the-seat ride on a fighter jet, turbulence and barrel rolls included in the price of admission, thank you very much. Another exceptional thing about the seasons in San Diego (or lack thereof) is that sometimes it feels like summer right in the middle of winter. At some point I started to realize that the seasons of life can be just as contrasting and simultaneous. Tragedy doesn’t necessarily disappear before we find a triumph to celebrate. What are the ups and downs that you’re dancing and mourning your way through right now? You are an emotional being; me, not so much. I rarely cry and I sure don’t dance very well, but either way we all need time and space to express ourselves. King Solomon was granting us “permission” to feel. Now that may sound obvious and come naturally for the heart people out there; I’m a head guy, though, so I can say “oh, how exciting”, but I need more practice dropping my jaw and jumping up and down. Wanida’s the best at lighting up and letting her face do the talking, so smile Noodle, it’s your birthday. Allow me to take a short trip down memory lane and provide my own expressive context to some of our seasons of life together.
Remember, Noodle, when our honeymoon seemed to last much longer than the ten days of that Tahitian cruise? Those first few months of marriage were the days of part time jobs and full time fun. That first season felt like hitting the highway on a perpetual road trip full of sunny days, open roads, and fresh scenery.
What about our next phase of moving into a grown up home and getting grown up jobs? In light of the number of free moments currently available to us, Noodle (next to none), I can’t imagine how we squandered our time when we weren’t playing church music on Sundays, going to weddings, or embarking on excursions to visit family or Thailand or Egypt. Those were the days that felt like running on a treadmill, where you’re always moving but never really going anywhere, and where there’s something out in front of you but you’re just not closing the distance to it.
Of course there was the perennial season of cancer. Learning how to pray without ceasing in the face of almost five years of physical ailment. My mom, the afflicted, navigated that battle with more fight and fortitude than any of us could muster. I remember how I allowed the tone of my day to be dictated by the tone of my mom’s voice when she answered the phone. I remember that you were a constant, Noodle, in that if I looked to the right or to the left, there you were by my side. That was the season of sailing on a ship in a soupy grey fog, always in search of a lighthouse and land on which to gain solid footing.
Then, Noodle, how could we ever forget (or regret) quitting our grown up jobs, packing little more than our passports and a pair of plane tickets, and setting out on a six and a half month quest of discovery. That takeoff from LAX that pointed us first toward New Zealand was transcendent, and I remember how my sense of things also managed to manifest physically in my throat. I still can’t escape the daily random flashbacks that cause me to smile and shake my head in gratitude. It was as though I had spent much of my life staring at the detail of a brushstroke, then I took a step back to behold the entire canvas, and it was beautiful.
When it comes to the current season of parenting, I have to affirm you as a splendid wife and stellar mother, Noodle. With grace, you ushered in our little ladies via two unique deliveries (a mere 17 months apart, mind you), and you’ve since complemented sleeplessness with enough ear infections to rise to the top of the strawberry flavored antibiotic black market. That’s really a pitiful summary of the past 26 months, but just know this: I believe in your full time plus overtime job as a mommy, I trust that our children will be better because of your sacrifices, and I’m thankful to God that our circumstances provide the freedom for you to stay home. Now if only we could make a narrow escape from cold and flu season and emerge with immunity on the other side of these past three months.
We can’t control the seasons or the weather, but we can choose to sing in the rain. Happy birthday, my American Idol.
Aria Ellen Maertz (8 months), you are the best. *You have size and serious determination, which makes for a great deal of chasing and muscles! Putting you in your pajamas isn’t for sissies. *You’re the fastest army crawling baby I’ve ever loved. *You pull yourself up on everything, and you’re a show off with one handed stances. You’re coordinated as you pull up and coordinated as you drop back down to the floor. You scale along ledges with ease. You discovered how to stand before you learned how to sit. It’s fun to see you enjoy life upright. *You have the prettiest head of hair! *You’ll sometimes dig your face into mommy’s shoulder around new people, and peak out ever so sweetly with flirty eyes. You’re adorable! *When you’re really happy, your whole face goes scrunchy! *You love mimicking us. We growl, you growl, we make a loud noise, and you’re right there with us! You sometimes wave bye bye with us, it’s so stinkin cute! *You understand the games we play with you, peek a boo is your favorite! You love being scared and surprised, it’s so funny to you! *You love loud noises, pounding toys on the floor, the vacuum, clapping, slapping the couch. You love loud. *You love feeding yourself. In fact, if mommy and daddy try to feed you, you will purse your lips and turn your head, you want to feed yourself! You will eat anything, you lunge towards food, and you eat really fast. *After 9 months of sleeping in a pack n play, you finally got yourself a real crib! You went from three naps to two naps! Hallelujah! Lows: Your two naps bookend Naomi’s one nap, which means, Mommy is still stuck at home a lot. *You still struggle with sleeping at night, it’s just not your thing. *You’re terrified of our gardener! The sight of Rudy sent you hiding behind mommy’s leg screaming! *You just can’t get over your ear infection, you are on your 3rd batch of antibiotics. Ear infection hit at the same as your viral infection. *Your newly discovered pincher fingers are discovering they can pinch mommy and sister too! *Where are your top teeth Aria?! Teething is ruining our lives. *In the same week, you were called Ariel and Erica. Loves: Loud noises, walking behind your dinosaur walker toy, eating, being scared and surprised, climbing and crawling, swinging, splashing with your sister during bath time!
Naomi Mariam Maertz (2 years), or as you like to say “Nomi Maram Hertz.” When asked how old you are, you say “I two years old” and proudly hold up five fingers. You are tons of fun. You’re so expressive. You are joyful and enthusiastic. You prance through life like you’re in a sunny day, bird chirping musical. *Your sentences and comprehension blow our minds! We are having conversations together! *You’re remembering everything, and surprising us with repeating things we did weeks ago! *Your little personality is such a joy. You’re funny, you’re creative, you’re very sweet. *You’re also very empathetic. If Aria cries on the floor, you lay right beside her, put your arm over her, saying “It’s okay Ahya” and cry along with her. *You love your new glowing candle night light, spur of the moment genius by your daddy. *As daddy was kissing you goodnight, you sweetly asked him “Sit by fire?” He completely caved, and we lucked out in a cozy snuggle session with you! *You got your big girl molars! You love brushing your teeth with us, and spitting is a new found skill. *After waiting one month, your big girl bed never arrived in the mail, so we improvised and you have a Japanese style big girl futon bed! You transitioned perfectly, staying in your bed through the night; and even enthusiastic about Aria sleeping in your crib that very night. Lows: *You got, yet another, double ear infection. *Just as those infections concluded, you called us into your room at 7am to rub your back, wouldn’t even lift your head off your bed you were so sick. You fell asleep again and didn’t wake up again until 1pm. It was so sad to see you sick with a viral infection. *You ran down the big hill near our home, and you ate it. You got big raspberries on your knees, but after a quick moment of tears, you were back to your happy little self again, not another complaint about it. *You eat when your hungry, but other than that, you will sometimes refuse to eat. Loves: *You love wonderpets, “Save the owl, save the bee, save the squirrel.” *Singing “Doe a dear.” *You love dance parties, and are fabulous at shaking your bootie. *Being upside down! *Helping mommy with sweeping, gardening, cooking, you love helping! *Some of your favorite foods: chicken nuggets, yogurt, cheddar cheese, roti, peanut butter, cheerios with milk.
Joe and me: Joe, you’re loving basketball on Tuesdays and Thursdays (you got yourself a new pair of BB shoes!), you also got yourself a pretty Les Paul guitar, your selling your Taylor 810ce (and saying goodbye to ten years), still flying up to Dryden on Mondays and Wednesdays (waking up at 4:45am, horrible), and you’re back into Arabic and doing good. GrampBill came and helped us with a Flood day, and did fabulous! I’ve been loving the sunny summer like days— planted bulbs and pretty flowers around our lamppost, and two giant seed bags of wild flowers in the backyard! I picked up Joe’s electric guitar for the first time, it was really fun! Naps shifted, so I’m enjoying a little extra time in the mornings/late afternoons to get out of the house with the girls. Anthropologie goofed on it’s pricing and I came home with a $12 lamp shade! Fell into a good rhythm of reading my bible; each reading brings clarity and the restful feeling of being anchored. Birthday memories: Chopped my hair off, loving it. Spent our first night away, just the two of us, for my birthday (thank you mom!). Laughed and connected over drinks and Paradise Point’s outdoor firepit— something we haven’t been able to do in a very long time. Joe got me a sewing machine! Enjoyed a casual dinner at Coronado Brewery, and an amazing brunch at The Snooze in Hillcrest (wow!). Growth Group loved on me in the Jackson’s glowing verandah, tiara included. White’s hosted a cozy fire pit/s’mores evening of affirmations, and sneaky Joe coordinated Wanoodlations and a homemade birthday cake to celebrate! All topped off with my sweet dad wishing me a happy 33rd birthday (I’m 34).