Dear Naomi, love Daddy.

IMG_9428-2IMG_3197  IMG_3059  IMG_3005My joy, my delight, my Naomi…

I’ll never forget the first time we met.  I cut the umbilical cord, you were startled but quiet on a warm, brightly lit table, and I turned to ask the nearest nurse if I could touch you.  It was then as if a record scratched to a halt and everyone froze from their business to glare at the first time daddy.  “Of course.  She’s yours.”  Mine?  I think I did one of those squeeze tight blinks and a head shake as if to check the reality of my circumstances.  The flurry of activity resumed around us as we shared our first moment in our artificially heated little world.  I extended my fingers and you grabbed on with all the might your delicate hands could muster.  Speaking in poetic prose, I imparted wisdom about the ways of the world.  Surely anyone within earshot was inspired.  No, the truth is that I don’t remember anything I said, but I remember the scene vividly and I remember the experience of inhaling vast responsibility and exhaling sheer elation.  Our initial time alone together was fleeting as I wrapped you up in my arms to go check on and say hello to mommy.

I remember trying to start a family with the misguided notion that maybe my firstborn would be a son.  That was selfish and silly.  I was high on masculinity or projecting some sort of worldview that has been turned upside down by your beauty and charm.  I may have magnetized your four month ultrasound to the fridge and done one too many Google searches for statistics on incorrect gender predictions.  Strike that though.  Emphasis here: I’m a fool for you and you are perfect for our family.  Getting to know you was quality preparation for the additional estrogen of your sister, and the two of you are a dynamic duo that leaves my heart open to–even hoping for, perhaps–another darling daughter someday.

Another admission: I dropped you once.  You were secure in your carseat, though, which is like majorly reinforced, and it was only from more or less waist height.  It’s also ok because your mom dropped your sister.  Twice, I think.  But your mom is always generously game to hold and sway you in the glow of your night light in a wooden rocking chair that your grandma wanted you to enjoy.

Your grandma and my mother, Mary, was an exceptional woman.  How I wish the two of you could have read books and gone shopping together.  Oh the magnificently smart discussions that would have ensued had you and she gotten face to face.  GrandMary won many hope filled battles against cancer, but ultimately lost the war on February 7th, 2007, almost three years before you were even born.  She wanted to hold and hug and kiss you with all her heart, but her premature passing left a void into which family members and friends must speak her legacy of love, strength, grace, peace, belief, education, and wisdom.  I will tell you of her and such things, but I also know that GrampBill is overflowing with love for you where she cannot, and that you have a mom and Ama whose own torches are big and bold enough to light up your life.

You’re already a light, Naomi, and this month you’re three years old.  Our home would be dimmer without your big smiles, and you smile and laugh a lot.  You respond to the world around you in a way that’s bigger than your little body can fully express.  You are no doubt expressive, though, and I’ve seen a fun surprise make your eyes as wide as your arms are when you hug your sister goodnight.  Your heart is huge.  Your vocabulary is getting almost as large.  You have big brown eyes and, together with your sweet face, you don’t even need words to tell a story.  I believe in your story.  Given your social, bubbly, energetic nature, I believe your story will be woven into a fabric of sensitivity to others.  People already mean something to you.  Friends already matter to you.  I’m grateful to God for the pleasure and privilege of raising someone like you.  I think you bypassed the cocoon phase and entered our world as a butterfly, so I pray for wisdom to teach you how to use your wings–fast.

Let me show you how to plant a seed of faith in a great God and his sacrificial Son, then tell me how to trust him as you climb the tree that grows.

Let me show you a map and the good in people, then tell me how to walk hand in hand with someone in need on the other side of the world.

Let me show you how to play a chord and reach for a tune, then tell–I mean sing–me a masterpiece when all hope seems lost.

Let me show you that I love you with all my heart, then tell me that my love is a compass when you forge relationships, especially romantic ones.

I do love you with all my heart…

DaddyIMG_7845-1photo 1  IMG_3309IMG_2864IMG_2952  IMG_3035 IMG_3445IMG_3203 IMG_3357  IMG_3414IMG_3127  IMG_3405IMG_3476  IMG_3483IMG_2950Naomi (3 years old!!!):  *Naomi what do you want to be when you grow up?  When I grow up I go to school and get a gum (and with zero transition) Away in a mangeh no cib fo a bwed. The wittle Wohd Jesus way down his swee head.  The staws in the sky wook down whewe he way. The wittle Wohd Jesus way down his swee head.  The staws in the sky wook down whewe he way. The wittle Wohd Jesus way down his swee head. The staws in the sky wook down whewe he way.  The wittle Wohd Jesus way down….”  Your version of this song, never ends, ever.  *You call McDonald’s “I want to eat at Old McDonald’s.”  *You’re creative sweetie!  You named your dolly “Boo-hoo.”  *”Mommy can we have cimamim rows for bweakfast?”  “I’m sorry sweetie we don’t have any cinnamon rolls.”  “Oh no, that’s tehwibuh (terrible).  We need to go to the stowe.  That’s tehwibuh.  That’s just tehwibuh!  That’s tehwibuh.” (with your hands up in the air as dramatic as can be).  *As Mommy is trying to dance and run around the house with you girls, you stop, point and shake your head, “No Mom, stop.  We will pway (play) by oursewves (ourselves).  You go pway in the kitchen.”  *”I love you Naomi!”  “Thanks for tewwing (telling) me mom!”  *As our Guatemalan landscaper was leaving, you waved your hand really high in the sky and cheerfully yelled “Origato!!” I laughed and laughed.  *While at the Paschalls’ home, you found Auntie Anjuli’s shoes.  You adored her peach heals.  “Mommy can I have some space please, I need some time with Auntie Anjuli’s shoes.”  *We discovered Winnie the Pooh movies, and you fell in love with the Heffalump movie!  You also discovered your newest phrase from this movie, WHY?  WHY?  WHY?  And you use it often.  *At Auntie Leonie’s and Uncle Dan’s wedding you busted through the doors and cheerfully announced “The bride is coming! The bride is coming!  The entire length of the aisle, you had this adorable spunk in your step, so charming and so confident.  Such a big girl!  Later on at the wedding, you ran up to me, and complained that your dress was all wet.  Sure enough, the entire front of your fancy dress was soaked, and soaked with the worst smell!  Only to find out that during the toast, you reached up to a table to grab your own glass and spilled an entire glass of champagne all over you.  Awful!  You wore pajamas for the rest of the wedding!  *While trying to take kiss pictures of ourselves on Mommy’s iPhone, you grabbed Aria’s lips and said “No Aria, it’s like this! (pictured below).IMG_2941IMG_3281    IMG_3152    IMG_7910-1IMG_2836IMG_2692IMG_3440IMG_3028  IMG_2949Aria (18 months):  *Sweet girl, in the midst of trying to potty train your sister, you came in and stole the show!  After feeling discouraged from Naomi’s lack of interest, it’s almost like you wanted to come up and encourage mommy— you came into the bathroom, sat down on the potty, and just did your thing.  Blown away, I just thought it was a fluke, as you are only 18 months!  But nope, you enjoyed the attention, and I enjoyed giving it.  After three more “flukes”, mommy changed gears and gave you all the potty training attention!  And guess who started to show interest after your big debut?  That’s right sweet love!  You showed your big sister how it’s done.  A dream.  *We just finished singing Old McDonald had a farm and you finished with “EIEIO!”  Bravo sweet girl!  *You love spicy food!  The lasagna was a little spicy, you were eating it like a champ!  Between each bite you’d cry, and look to mommy with huge crocodile tears and a big open mouth and tongue sticking completely out!  You’d wait for mommy to wipe your tongue with a wipe, and you’d pick up your spoon and do it all over again!  You did this after every bite, and you ate almost the entire portion of lasagna!  Funny girl!  *As we sang “Bah Bah Black sheep have you any wool?”  You sang right along with every perfect vowel sound!  *You love “Doe a Deer” and sing and dance along with serious joy!  *You stepped on a bee, so sad.  You were super brave.  *You’ve got great eye contact these days, I just love looking into your eyes and talking with you.  *When GrampBill came down at Thanksgiving he pushed you and your sister in the swings for hours, really.  So long that you actually fell asleep.  Darling.  *You enjoy taking wet wipes, and wiping down the floor, the walls, doors.  I adore your love for cleaning!  *When you tried climbing into your booster seat, you took a big tumble to the floor.  I ran over to you, only to discover my little girl laughing!  You thought it was so funny!  *Aria you love thrill!  You love when we scare you, toss you, wrestle with you.  The bigger the thrill, the bigger the giggles!  *You are a light sleeper!  Naomi needed a diaper to go to bed, the only diapers were in your room and you were already asleep.  Daddy and I were unanimous “Someone is going to the store!”  And we did.  *Uncle LeRoy started rubbing your back, and you just laid limp on the couch, and stayed still for almost ten minutes.  You were in heaven!  *After daddy had you all bundled up in your pajamas, ready for bed, you ran to the potty and tried to take your pajamas off.  Daddy helped, and you signaled to daddy that you wanted some privacy.  When daddy came back, you went poopy in the potty all by yourself, and you initiated it!!  That a girl!!IMG_2690  IMG_2710IMG_2829 IMG_3262l d-0137IMG_7885-1IMG_2653Maertz family memories:  *Potty training!  *Mommy lost her voice, so Daddy lead the music at ICF’s Thanksgiving dinner!  But mommy still pulled off singing The Prayer with Malina at Auntie Leonie and Uncle Dan’s wedding!  That’s right, Auntie Leonie got married to Uncle Dan, and Naomi your favorite part was your new wedding shoes, even weeks later, you’re still talking about those fancy wedding shoes!  So much fun!  *Family comes into town for the wedding, and we get to host the Rehearsal Dinner at our home, complete with Thanksgiving Sliders and fancy new Christmas lights draped all around the backyard!  *GrampBill and Uncle Jim come into town, and we host Thanksgiving in our backyard!  A beautiful glowing evening, kids played on the playset while the adults enjoyed a delicious dinner!  *GrampBill headed to bed early, and we surprised the Paschalls for a fun Friday night visit! (too rare!)  *After 11 years together with our band, we finally created a live album!  This is a way bigger deal than it reads.  And with tons of practice, we pulled off another Christmas Concert, with a brass section!  Also a much bigger deal than this sentence will ever portray.  *Joe’s eyelid twitch is evidence we need more sleep.  *We needed a last minute babysitter, and no one was available, except Papa.  He happily came over and loved on you girls for almost 3 hours!  Ama shared later that just before he left home, he told her “Pray for me.”  *Tea/play date at Ashley’s home.  So fun to be in her home where we played together as kids, but now our kids play together!  *Play dates with Hillary at JavaMama!  And a trip to Trader Joe’s together, the girls went berserk when they all found the monkey together!  *Christmas Party at the Torres’ new home!  Dressed up, and enjoyed a great evening with friends, and a dramatic game of LCR— where I won 60 buckaroos!!! (after making a big pot of Potato soup for the party, I never want to see a Russet potato again).  *Our Christmas Concert played on a local San Diego Channel all Christmas day!  (Mommy and Daddy were on TV!!) *Potty training was a really big deal this month.  That little froggy potty went everywhere with us!  Lots and lots of accidents, but this one takes the cake. I’m tired of being cooped up with all the potty training and think it’d be a good idea to take a trip to the mall.  After a quick run to the mall’s Target, I decide the cart is working as a great stroller, so I take the Target cart all over the mall.  It doesn’t feel odd, until I get a ton of looks, and serious glares, pushing the bright red Target card through the clothing racks of Nordstrom.  Maybe it’s more than just the bright red cart.  Maybe it’s the Veggie Tales screaming from the portable DVD player disrupting the Nordstrom aura, or the Jamba Juice smoothie that loses its lid with sticky goodness dripping from the cart (horrible).  Naomi disappears, and when I turn the corner, I find her playing with life size stuffed penguins in Nordstrom’s fancy Christmas floor display.  And just when I think it can’t get worse.  I hear Aria cry out, I rush back to the child standing in the red Target cart (she is our Houdini), and she’s reaching down to her pants.  And sure enough, in the middle of Nordstrom (thankfully a tiled walkway) she lets loose.  And the Jamba Juice that earlier dripped all over the floor, is of little concern to me anymore.  There is a lake, a LAKE.  Aria peed all over the Nordstrom floor.  Naomi is now MOVING the penguins around from the display out into the Nordstom entry foyer, and having her penguin friends greet the shoppers “Hello!” and “Merry Christmas” as they enter the store, all the while Veggie Tales is still screaming out of those little DVD speakers and Aria is butt naked in the Target cart.  Hands down, the worst potty training moment yet.IMG_7965-2l d-0124 IMG_2648  l d-0077l d-0125IMG_3306IMG_7814-1IMG_2678IMG_2584l d-0142IMG_3270