gifting the gift.

ImageOnly a few short hours before the wedding is about to take place at our house (!!!), and the mischievous Kelly Perry and I do something no one should ever do.  We take the bride’s requests and throw them out the window.  Criminal right?  You see, from the beginning, the bride and groom, have gone above and beyond to make sure our home is completely respected.  We’ve all been to those home parties—seen the uncle peek around bedrooms, distant cousins chat away while they make themselves comfortable on the kids’ beds, and that family who sits on the family room couches eating their sloppy BBQ sandwiches while a sign hangs above their heads “Please no food or drink inside.”  They’ve seen it, and didn’t want any of it happening in our home.  So kind, and their protectiveness appreciated, but as we walk through our home on the day of the wedding, their protectiveness isn’t sitting right.  All the efforts made to ensure our home is respected make us feel like our home has turned into a museum.  Walk this way, don’t walk that way, stay here, don’t go there.  Every door is sealed shut.  Just next to our open welcoming foyer sits a furniture barrier saying this living room is closed off.  All of these barriers and closed door decisions create protection.  Protection is nice, but to us, blessing others is nicer.  And that’s the side that we want to land on.  So we risk going against the bride’s requests, and piece by piece move all the furniture that blocks the living room, and open all the doors of the home, and invite peeking and roaming, and sunshine back into the once gloomy closed door hallway.  That’s when things sit right and I shake my head in agreement, yes.  This is how it’s supposed to be.  We firmly believe this:  God gave us this home as a gift, and there is nothing more beautiful than blessing others with a God given gift.  And you know what is so beautiful about this gift giving thing?  In the end, Joe and I are the ones on the receiving end.  To see our home filled with laughter, friendship, family and love.  There is nothing more beautiful.  So did we feel exposed?  Yea, slightly.  Did it feel risky?  Sure, a little.  But, we’d do it again in a heartbeat.  Gifts are meant to be shared, and I’m so glad we shared ours.  Break a smile, Nick and Kaira got married!  And we welcomed the big party into every space of our backyard, front yard, kitchen, living room, back bedrooms, and white leather couches.Image     ImageImageImage    

A little background on the backyard:  This was our backyard 18 months ago.     Perfect backdrop for a wedding right?  Five men, in big yellow rusted machinery, tore up our yard on the very first day we owned our home.  Believe it or not, we actually paid for them to do this to our backyard.  You see, we had a problem.  An expensive problem.  We knew we’d need to put in a new septic system, but what we didn’t know, is that we’d need to put in an entirely new backyard too.  Anything that once held beauty, gone.  Stripped down to the bare bones of a dirt nothing lot.  Life got messy and wonderful all at once.   A new home, a new neighborhood, a newborn, a 17 month old, and a backyard that made any motocross lover drool.  Time to start anew.  And so we did.  A sprinkler system laid out, 2,000 square feet of grass planted, planter areas filled with beautiful country white roses.  And that was the easy part.  Trip upon trip, upon trip, to the nursery (sometimes holding Aria with my left arm and hauling the over-packed wheel barrow with my right)…  Days upon days, upon days, of serious digging and serious planting… Many hours of hand watering (until Joe gave up a weekend to bake in 100 degree sunshine and create the most perfect drip system you ever did see)…  Six fifteen gallon orange trees planted in flip flops and a mini skirt, yes… 12 cubic yards of mulch (about the size of Rhode Island) scattered all over our yard, in blazing September heat.  Insane.   I’ll tell you this, we seriously contemplated hiring a professional during the digging-planting stage as it was really hard work.  In the end, I planted or transplanted 227 plants.  That is a true statement.  And I did most of it in flip flops, also a true statement.  It was easy, not a true statement.  We finished a few days before the wedding, hallelujah.   Now, walking around this place, there is indescribable reward in seeing each and every inch of space around our home growing beautiful things where once lay dirt and dust.  And now that it’s done we’re bored.  Can you say kitchen remodel?

Image ImageImageImage     ImageImage     ImageImageAria, my goofy spunky Aria (16 months): You move to your own beat, you seek action and thrill, and you give the biggest, most crooked beautiful smile!  Oh sweet little one, I love you!  Just tonight before bed, you sat in my lap as I played the piano and sang Silent Night to you.  You are not okay with mommy playing the piano during your solo performance.  You pushed both my hands off the piano.  And there you sat, sweetly playing the piano, all by yourself with that crooked grin plastering your face.  Very proud of your performance!  You love singing and dancing!  Dare I say, I caught you bouncing your foot to the beat of the song?  Yes, I did.  When we pump up music in the car, baby girl you move it, and move it good.  If I listen super close, I sometimes catch myself thinking “is she really?”  I can’t help but wonder if those sweet little tones coming out of your mouth are actually something close to the pitch and vowel sounds.  I’ll say this, there have been times when you sit at the piano by yourself and play complimentary notes together.  You don’t pound on the piano, you actually play it thoughtfully.  Even if just lucky, the moments blow my mind.  *You’re still struggling to get your molars and incisors grown in, 7 teeth in total growing in at once!  It’s not easy on you, but you’re a trooper.  *I’ve been calling you Coco lately.  Oh yes.  I just adore this idea.  I’ve been getting Naomi on board.  “No daddy, that’s not Aria, that’s Coco.”  Your daddy rolls his eyes at my shenanigans.  You’re a force to be reckoned with, and Coco gives you a little more of that punch.  When I say Coco, you turn and look.  Oh I love it.  *I feel like I should just cut and paste this part, it’s in every post.  Honey, you got a double ear infection.  Again.  Sadly, it hit the same time as a viral infection.  You handled it so well.  We went and talked to an ENT doctor, and he suggested we get you in for a hearing test.  A few days ago, daddy was in the kitchen and opened up a bag of chips, put one in his mouth and the chip went “crunch.”  Patter patter patter went your feet, with your body barely keeping up!  From beyond the kitchen, dining room, and far end of the living room, your ears heard that beautiful quiet crunch and you came running!  *You’re in love with the Goodnight Moon book.  You love touching the fire and telling us it’s “hhhhauugh!!  hhhaaaugh!!” (hot).   And when we ask you about that red balloon, there’s no fooling you, you point right to it!  I wouldn’t say you demand that we read this book,  but pretty darn close.  And who can resist when you say “Peeeezz!”  And my personal favorite “Up peeez”  Which you like to say over and over, and over, and in my imagination it sounds like “Happies”— and who doesn’t love hearing their little girl say Happies?

Image ImageImage ImageImage  ImageImageNaomi (2 3/4 years):  You are so adorable!!  And you’re growing up fast!  Your language gets better and clearer every single day.   *You like to put your pajamas on all by yourself!  You’ve got it down too!  *You are really into the living room wall clock right now.  And you’re super good at identifying what number the long black line is on!   When you come into mommy and daddy’s bed in the mornings, you look at daddy’s digital clock and know that you have to be quiet until the clock says 7 o’clock!  Huge.  *A little bit of perfectionism peeked out this month.  You did not like that you struggled to mix the water color paint, and you certainly did not want mommy’s help.  *You are still super duper sweet.  You give hugs and cuddles so easily.  When daddy gets home you and Aria run out to Daddy and give him the biggest hugs!  One morning, you hugged mommy and daddy at the same time and said so sincerely “You guys are the bestest ever!”  *At bedtime each night, you love processing through your day.  “My favorite part was…. (this or that)” and then you sweetly ask “Mommy what was your favorite part?”  Darling.  *You understand praying is when we ask God to help our family and friends and say thank you to God.  It’s precious to hear you rattle off every single name you can think of.  Uncle Jim and Uncle Rolland get prayed for a lot.  *You have these sayings when you get really upset, you say “That’s not funny!!” or my personal favorite, “I need some space!!!”  *You got so tired with Ama, you told her, “Ama, I need a nap.”  And sure enough, you did.  *One morning, you and I sat together on our backyard deck and I held you as we watched the sun rise over the mountains!  I love cuddling with you.  Your enthusiasm fills my heart, “The sun!!  The sun is up!!”  And shouting sweetly at the morning birds “Sing birds!  Sing!!  Come on birds!  Sing along!  Here we go!!”  (Shouting, mind you).  *I brought you back to our home toward the end of the wedding, as we parked and walked up to our home, you saw all the people and shouted with your joy volume on high “There’s a party at our house!!  There’s a party at our house!!”  Then you saw the beautiful bride.   Take your huge joy and enthusiasm and mix it with awe.  You gasped, “There’s a princess in our house!!”  *At Brooklyn’s 2nd birthday party, a musical entertainer kept asking for volunteers to help her with the music.  Each and every time she asked for a helper, you jumped up, and volunteered with a big smiley “ME!!”ImageImage  ImageImage  ImageImage ImageMaertz family memories:  *Head north to trade places with GrampBill!  I fly to San Fransisco to meet Shelly, arriving early, I drive to Berkeley and meet The Paper Source (a dangerous new friend).  Shelly BARTs it over, and we enjoy a memorable dinner at Gather.  Napa does not disappoint.  We hit up l’Auberge for a fancy lunch, V. Sattui for a lovely afternoon, downtown Napa stroll, and finally some of the most delicious Italian food I have ever met at Tre Vigne.  We enjoy massages, relaxing around the pool, a little shopping, it just could not be any more wonderful.  Somewhere along the line, I ask her how was riding BART under the bay?  She insists she didn’t go under the water, while I insist she did.  After a lot of confusion we finally discover she flew into Oakland!  The whole time we both thought she’d flown into San Fransisco!  Minor detail.  All the while, GrampBill brings fresh help and humor into this home during “the Mulch” weekend.  Joe tackles a huge driveway full of mulch with fabulous neighbors and BFF Tim White!  In one day, 12 cubic yards of mulch is moved.  Impressive.  *The morning of the wedding, Joe, I and the girls enjoy a casual breakfast at Panera, and it’s pretty successful.  *Wedding day feels very special and surreal, not stressful at all.  Our work is done, and all we have to do is enjoy a really fun party!  115 people gather for a 2:30 wedding, thankfully, it is a sunny, beautiful day.  I get all giggly thinking how everyone is sitting at a wedding in our backyard.   So much fun.  A favorite moment for us has to be when our band and spouses all gather in the kitchen, just the 8 of us, and we initiate Kaira into the clan.  I’ll remember the music, the laughter, the cornhole games scattered throughout the property, the table linens swaying in the summer breeze, and finally the cutting of the cake.  Nick and Kaira ooze with joy in our dining room while guests gaze through the windows and the surrounding rooms pack full with familiar faces to see the big cake moment.  Naomi’s eyes huge.  She is soaking up this moment, a princess is in her house!  I am soaking up this moment, our home is bringing joy to others.  *Band boys head over on a late night Monday, and believe me when I say, we’ve already started planning for the Christmas Concert.  *We enjoy a yummy dinner and even better company with the Sawyer clan down at Point Loma, dance party included!  *I run into my Kindergarten teacher at Trader Joe’s!  It’s been 29 years, and Mrs. Carolyn Young is still as lovely as ever.  *With a little wedding motivation, I finally tackle the blank walls inside our home!  Finally!!  *Head to the Wild Animal Park with some sweet neighbors (Joy and Lizzy!!), I see elephants mate, that’s all I will say about that.  *Make it to Bates Nut Farm twice this month— the girls love running wild and feeding those pesky animals!  *The Maertzs join much of San Diego and head to The Miramar Airshow!  It is wonderful, loud, and horrible.  Can you say long walk to the car?  *I take the girls out to Sushi and EscoGelato!  Sushi is fabulous for the first 20 minutes, and then the last 10 minutes—chasing girls running in two directions with rice everywhere happens. *I get to enjoy another great year with Tina and Big Brothers Big Sisters at their Gourmet Dinner!  Tina assigns me to go up on stage and hold a $12,000 watch during the Live Auction.  I take the stage and carefully hold the very expensive watch on stage in front of 700 rich people, including Dean Spanos.  The cameras zoom in on the very expensive watch and shoot their live feed onto the screens above just in time to follow the very expensive watch from the display all the way down as it crashes to the floor.  I’m not sure what is louder, my screaming adrenaline as it blasts through every vein in my body or the crowd as they all gasp in unison.  My most horrible moment of my life just happened.

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