Growing has been on my mind a lot lately.  Maybe because it’s spring (which I love).  Maybe because the birds are chirping busily around our home, building their twiggy nests.  Maybe my little flower beds are finally turning heads.  Or maybe it’s because I feel like the whole world, the entire animal and plant kingdom is growing and blooming, but not me.

This month, like every month as a parent, has been full of high highs and fully flat lows. Thankfully, Joe and I have been walking this month hand in hand in all ways.  And that’s exactly how we walked the streets of Las Vegas— hand in hand.  Yes, you read it right.  We took a vacation without the girls.  A gift.  Make that, a huge gift from GrampBill and Joe’s aunt Peggy.  For two days and two nights Joe and I did a little us time in the land of lights and all nighters.  I will tell you now, we did none of that.  It was two days and nights of just what we needed, us.  Our bodies and our marriage found rest.  (pause).  Which I believe, is the first step towards growth.

Tuesday evenings are my nights out with my lady loves.  We’ve been meeting together for going on 7 years.  Unbelievable, really.  In efforts to be more intentional, we have been taking turns to bring a small exercise, a prompt, something to get the inside stirrings going.  Last week, the stirrings fell on me.  With growth on my mind, I arrived with 9 terracotta pots— filled to the brim with fresh earth, 9 white garden labels, and 9 strawberry seedlings ready to take root.  Together under the porch glow of globe lights, we put our hands into terracotta held earth, planted our seedlings, and scribbled our hopes for this new season.

“a deep breath… content and rooted.”

That’s my soul talking.  This Spring, in the midst of baby tending, toy tripping chaos, sinks full of dirty dish disgustingness, and never ending laundry—I desire a fresh perspective—a reminder that I am rooted in something greater than the mundane around me.  That as my little strawberry seedling takes root, so will I.  As it sprouts out of the earth, so will I.  As its leaves grow fuller and stronger, so will I.  As its roots grow thicker and deeper, so will I.  This Spring I want to grow.

I will always show you where to go.
I’ll give you a full life in the emptiest of places—
firm muscles, strong bones.
You’ll be like a well-watered garden,
a gurgling spring that never runs dry.

Isaiah 58:11 (message)

       Naomi (2 years old):  You silly girl.  Your little personality is rearing its head, and it’s more everything.  More enthusiastic, more delightful, more helpful, more sweet, more expressive, more impatient, also more interested in having things a particular way, your way.  Hello darling two year old!  Mommy pushed the cart, Aria sat in the baby seat, and you proudly stood in the large basket while we did a little grocery shopping.  You took great delight in singing Doe A Deer, so Mommy sang along too.  You quickly looked at mommy, held your hand out and shook your head in disapproval “No Mommy. No singing Mommy.”  As you continued in your now solo, it only got louder. “LAAA a noe to fowow SOOO!!”  Even louder now, you gathered a crowd, “TEEEE a wink wiff yam and bed!!!  Now, you’re really loud…  “That will bing us back to DOE OH OH OH— DOOOE!!!!”  You did it.  You gave your first concert to the patrons of the Sprouts Deli section.  There wasn’t a single face without a smile on it.  *At Trader Joe’s you went right up to the employee stacking strawberries, and asked ever so sweetly “Oh hello!  How’s your day?”  *You love Mickey Mouse.  Even with a 104 fever, the hot dog song will bring you back to life, you’re a dancing machine, and you always invite everyone in the room to dance with you.  “Common Daddy, dance!  Common Ahya, dance!”  *When mommy leaned in to kiss you goodnight, you said “Get out of my face.”  I ran out of your room and laughed so hard!  *You baptized your stuffed Mickey Mouse in the toilet.  Yuck.  *Daddy asked you “Would you like to watch the NCAA Tournament Men’s Basketball National Semifinal?”  You smiled sweetly and said “Yea.  Mickey Mouse!”  *You’re so cute when we ask you a question.  You tilt your head, hold your finger to your pursed lips, think about it, then say “Mmmm, okay!”  *You got your first bee sting!  Awful.  But honestly, you were a champ.  Maybe a few seconds of tears and then you were super brave as mommy took forever to get that stinger out.  Mommy and Daddy are so impressed by your resilience.  *You are really into your dolls, Madeline and baby.  You take them everywhere with you, like a good mommy.  *You are getting so good at your letters!  You love spotting them while we drive around town, and you ask Daddy to pray for the letters at bedtime. You pray for Y, X and P.  *Daddy and Mommy couldn’t figure out why you’d point to the tv and say “Thai gull.”  It was so odd.  We kept thinking you must have seen a Tiger.  Baffling.  Finally Mommy got it, you were saying triangle.  You’re learning your shapes sweetie!  *You finally figured out how to pedal and steer a tricycle!!  *Rough month with another ear infection & viral infection.  Doctor said the ear infection looked really painful— you just sat there smiling cheerfully.  Loves: Mickey Mouse, Doc McStuffins, singing & dancing to Doe A Deer, pretzel sticks in peanut butter with sprinkles (why not?), wearing your rain boots everywhere, riding your bike, hugging Aria until she squeals, eating popsicles.      Aria (10 months):  You are a pointing maniac!  Your desires and interests are all becoming clear.  That little finger of yours tells us what you want and where you want to go!  *You point, lean, and dive out of our arms to get what you want!  *You are funny!  You love playing games with us.  You hold a blanket/clothes/anything over your head and love dropping it in surprise, peakaboo!  You love it when we chase you!  You will dart away, and wait just around the corner.  Once you know you’ve lured us, you’re off!  Being chased gives you the giggles.  *You’re still super busy!  Getting an unblurry picture of you is impossible. *You talk!  Not words, but serious volume and dramatic inflections!  You’re trying so hard to tell us what you’re thinking!  *You love dancing!  Music grabs your attention and you’re quick to start your squat bounce!  *You loved crawling around on the sand at the 4SRanch Park, but mommy didn’t love that you kept eating the sand!  *You think it’s so funny to drop all your unwanted food off the edge of your high chair, and let it fall to the floor.  (Naomi thinks you’re hilarious.  Mommy, not so much). *You learned how to clap, and you love clapping!  *You love reading books with daddy, and you’re good at turning pages!  *Hands down, you love your bath.  You dive out of our arms as we walk up to the bath, you dive over the ledge to get yourself into the bath, you happily stand right at the spout and do squats under the waterfall!  *You are really good at playing independently!  You are fascinated with the toys and hearing the toy noises.  I’m really impressed how you’re quick to figure out what the toys do!  *You figured out how to tilt your head back and drink out of a sippy cup!  *You figured out how to climb small slides, and how to turn around and come down feet first.  You’re brilliant!  *Your hair has this adorable little curl just above your right ear!  *You’re tough!  With a sister that absolutely loves smothering you with hugs, you have quickly learned to get on your stomach— that sets you up for a solid getaway!  *You love swinging, and mommy loves pushing you in our tree swing!  *You have two teeth. You are gumming your way into adulthood.  *You met Ritz crackers and fell in love.  *Like your big sister, you had a bout with an ear infection, viral infection and a run of eczema too.  But, not to worry, we Maertzs are a strong bunch, or as your sister still says, Haertzs.

Family memories:  Auntie Malina came into town, and she loved on you girls!  I dug a serious ditch in our backyard, emphasis on serious. We hired a new gardener (this is a bigger deal than it reads).  Joe won in Vegas, and I fell in love with Lagasse’s Stadium!  Baylor made it to the Elite Eight, and I gave them a shout out over the microphone at church!  I watched their game against Kentucky under a blanket— it hurt my eyes.  Enjoyed making botched cookies in exchange for a treasured late night talk with aunt Peggy.  Joe took his Taylor Guitar to the factory— they determined the messed up finish was their fault—he lands a brand new finish!  Todd & Squish came to visit—I loved the company and genuine sharings.  Joe celebrated Sam’s 31st birthday on a north country brewery tour.  Katie Scott came over to talk about life and I sent her home with The Alchemist.  Anjuli and I took a trip to Esco’s farmer’s market and we ran into Maria.  Three adults, eight little children.  It was zone defense, wild and wonderful.  Joe gave us the best present… he built a tree fort in our backyard!  Joe and I led worship at SOMA.  Joe and his five manfriends landed a date to climb Mt Whitney!  Joe is on a mission to get lean and mean.  Fine by me.