It all started with a text. A text that Joe received on October 31st, his birthday and our anniversary. Like any good wife, I peaked my head over his shoulder and got nosy. It read, “We’re booked!” Booked? Then I said it again out loud, “Booked? Where are we going?” Joe paused, got weird, and mumbled, “Yeah, I meant to talk to you first.” That’s when I got weird. “You meant to talk to me? Talk to me about what? Where are you going?” As much as he tried, a ridiculously happy smirk would not leave his face, “Brad and I are going to hike Mount Rainer at the end of July.” Now he’s beaming, he’s so happy. I, however, am not. “Hiking Mount Rainer!?! You forgot to ask me about hiking Mount Rainer?! How long will you be gone?” Now he’s a little sheepish as he blurts out “Five days?” My eyes explode, “FIVE DAYS!!” Good thing it was his birthday.
Here’s where God brings beautiful vindication to the righteous.
One month later, two days after Thanksgiving, I have a hunch. And sure enough, two lines pop up on a little white stick!! Joe and I are swallowed up in pure joy. Feeling completely blessed to bring another little soul into our family!!! And here’s the kicker: baby is due at the end of July, early August. Ironic isn’t it? Now I’m beaming. Joe Maertz is no longer hiking Mount Rainer this summer. He simply had to change his adventure destination from Mount Rainer to Kaiser Hospital. This new destination provide the same thrill, I have no doubt. Believe me, Joe still has a smile on his face (a big smile), and we’ll soon be Maertz party of five!!! Wow. Aria (19 months!): *While playing with puppets, my puppet said “Hi, what’s your name?” And you nailed it… “Ah-ya!” Then my puppet asked “Do you want to shake my hand, and say Hello?” And sure enough, you grabbed her hand and said “Hehwhoa!” Sweet girl, you understand so much! *At night when Daddy puts you to bed, you absolutely love it when he sings with you! You ask for (sweetly demand) “Ahs Me!!” (Jesus Loves Me), “Doe!” (Doe a Deer) and “Sus” (Hosanna)! You simply giggle and giggle as daddy sings to you, and sometimes you sing along! *You gave Naomi a big hug goodnight and then waved bye bye all the way back to your room. So cute how you two love each other! *You love wearing jackets with hoods on them. And you must always put your hood on! *You will always say “two!! tee!!” But no matter how hard we try, we can never get you to say “one!” *We played a game, “where’s your nose?” and you pointed to your nose. I said a bunch of parts, your eyes, nose, tongue, cheeks, ears, hair, arms, feet (and you got them all!), then I asked you where your bottom was, and you took off running and started looking all over the house for your bottom, holding your arms up and yelling “ahhh you??” (your way of saying Where are you?”) *Aria girl, you are talking! In the car you were yelling “wow!” “wow! pees!” “wow pees!” over and over. Took me a second, but then I asked you “Do you want me to turn the music louder?” So pleased with yourself, you sat back, smiled, and said “Yeah!!” *I did not get you water fast enough, and while I was in your room getting you some clothes to wear, you were dragging the kitchen table chair into the kitchen and when I found you, you were standing on the kitchen counter with your hands in the cupboards getting yourself your own water! You keep me on my toes, love. *Nothing gives you greater joy than pulling yourself up on the bathroom counter, turning the sink water on, and grabbing a tooth brush and brushing away while your feet dangle beneath you. *It is so fun to watch you muster your focus and energy to get your two feet off the ground! You LOVE jumping with two feet! You jump so fearlessly!! *You think timeouts are a game. Timeouts make you happy. You never want to leave your corner. You happily run into your corner and delight in smashing your nose into the wall. Oh Aria!! Naomi (3 years): While driving home in the dark, you shouted “Let’s follow the moon guys!” Early morning I heard a scream, and before I got to you, I heard another scream, Aria closed the door, and your pinky was caught in the hinged part of the door. Your pinky was completely blue, flat and disfigured. I knew we were headed to urgent care. You were so brave as they prodded and took xrays. Thankfully, after a long morning, it was just smashed up, nothing broken! *You came into our bed and talked and talked! Here’s what you said —“Mommy mommy I will cuddle with you. Mommy mommy you don’t need to be scared of dragons, mommy mommy mommy, you don’t have to be scared of dragons, Naomi will keep you safe, (you squeeze me tight!) I love you sweetie! Mommy mommy mommy you’re big. If I’m really big I can pick you up (grunts from attempting to pick me up), mommy mommy mommy, Naomi will keep you safe, you don’t need to be scared of dragons.” *I wasn’t giving you the right attention, so you said “Mommy, look at my eyes!” (I laughed and laughed!). *Naomi, you knew Mommy’s head hurt a little “Mommy, how’s your head? Does it still hurt? God please help mommy’s head feel better. Amen.” *”Naomi, are you tired?” “Yeah I am. Look mommy, watch me yawn.” And you often say, “Mommy mommy I’m not feeling good, I think I need to lay down on my bed and take a nap. I think that will make me feel better.” (You make me laugh!) *At public restrooms you are terrified. I did not understand it at first, you’d say “Mommy I do not like the handle!!!!” But what really scares you is the loud flush! You will not let me flush while you’re anywhere near it! *Ama walks into our home and you immediately wave your hand and say “Bye mommy!” (You simply know, it must be babysitting time.) *You started taking gymnastics! It’s all darling until you delightfully wander away from your class and climb onto the big trampoline, and sure enough, begin jumping on the trampoline, happily shouting, “Hey everybody, look at me!!” Maertz Family Memories: *Daddy started a Christmas tradition. Anytime we’d see Christmas lights around town we’d have to shout out “yep yep!” Girls, you loved this! *Celebrated 41 years of Ama and Papa’s holy matrimony at EscoGelato, complete with a loud song and Naomi blowing out their anniversary candle! *I lost my wallet. Twice. And left my debit card at Nordstrom Rack (Where’s my brain!? Joe is asking this question constantly). Debit card and wallet returned to me every time! Good people do exist! *Maneevone Christmas celebrated Asian style, hello Hot Pot! Kids steal the show by acting out the Christmas story! Manoah is Joseph and Naomi is Mary (complete with a towel on her head), and I’ll just say—- at some point Joe may have had helped Naomi birth Aria (our Baby Jesus). *Maertz family trip to Vacaville for Christmas! Girls you loved playing on the stairs! Up and down and up and down, Aria you zoom down on your belly so fast! Bundled up park trips and silly play in the garage. Girls you had a blast making forts and slides with all of GrampBill’s giant furniture pillows! On Christmas Eve we enjoyed Costco’s best Prime steaks, yummm. *Dinner at the Whites’, pulled pork sandwiches with homemade buns! Dance party included!! *Ashley and I end up doing a very spontaneous late night dinner to Vinz!! Oh joy!! *Maertzs and Paschalls do a last minute run to the snowy mountains!! Just 100 yards from the cabin, and we cannot get the cars up the steep icy hill— our cars sliding all the way down the hill backwards!! Finally punching the gas, we hold our breath (the kids think it’s better than Disneyland!) and we fly up the hill! Naomi darling, you LOVE the snow!! Late night full of dance parties and a big bed full of cousins! It is a long night. Both girls end up in bed with us, and sure enough, it isn’t a complete vacation until a child wets the bed, and the whole cabin is awake at 6:02am. Have mercy! *Joe and Sam stay back to enjoy a day of snowboarding, while Anjuli and I charge the road with a car full of six children (in utero counts!)!! *Fun family brunch trip to Snooze while Joe is trying to get his passport renewed. *Make a trip to Costco for passport pictures and we come home with a backyard Space Dome! *Joe and Tim White enjoy a fancy night out at The Staples Center watching the Clippers!! *Our band plays our final Sunday at Flood Church with Nichols Maybury on guitar. An era has ended. *Playdates with Anjuli, Janneke, Ashley, Maria, Tammi, Brenda, Shanah and Hillary give us great adventures! *Our amazing neighbors give me a lesson in making homemade Italian meatballs, and make life a little easier by watching my girls so that I can take a trip to satisfy my insatiable food cravings without kids! *Make a practice drive to Hillsdale, and a spontaneous playground meetup and Miguel’s dinner with the Sawyers!! *Flood Hillsdale is launched!!