I turned thirty five. Yes-sir-ee, thirty five. And, if you know anything about me, you know I love love love my birthday. I’ll be the first to admit, the obsession was more than slightly out of hand. This year, however, you’ll be happy to know, something has changed. Something really good. It only took 35 years, but I’m proud to say that this year I just like my birthday. Yep, just like.
I’d like to say I’ve matured, but that may be going too far. What I can tell you is that it all started when I opened a book in early January. I’m so not a book reader, but this one’s different, it’s not a book, it’s a soul changer that found its way onto paper pages. I should mention, this book is a not just a soul changer, it’s also a dangerous read. After two chapters, I cornered Joe, “We need to sell our house and move to a third world country.” His response floored me, “Great. When?” I’m bonkers in love with this man. This book is called Kisses from Katie and it’s ruining me in the greatest way. The kind of ruining where, I actually care less about me and my birthday and care more about those beautiful little souls that don’t have anyone celebrating their birthdays, those voices that have been lost, forgotten and have sadly become another statistic. Kisses from Katie shares story after story of a young girl’s undying love for Jesus and for those forgotten people that live in nothing huts in the nothing parts of Africa. This book stirs things on the insides. Things that are deeply embedded in me— but, with the whirlwinds of motherhood and everything else-hood, these stirrings have sadly sat lifeless on my heart’s walls. Thankfully, this birthday, my heart has cracked open again and my eyes have turned out, and for my birthday dinner we changed things up, we didn’t spend a dime on me. Dinner was paid for by a generous giftcard/friend, Joe’s gift to me was paid for by our credit card points (I’m telling you, I love this man!), and here’s my favorite part— the unused birthday funds went entirely to supporting a great ministry that helps children escape sex trafficking in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Quite honestly, it has been the best birthday I’ve ever enjoyed. My heart has been dusted off, my eyes are where they should be, my soul has been revived again. Hello thirty-five, it’s about time.
‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” Acts 20:35 Naomi (3 years): My darling Naomi, I simply adore you. Your vocabulary has come to life! I can hear your heart through your words! Out of nowhere, you’ll look sweetly at me and ask “Mommy, how’s your day?” On your own initiative, “Ama, how’s your nose, are you feeling better?” Each night you love hearing stories about princesses and far away castles. You love going on “exsabitions!” (expeditions), and you simply love reaching over to Aria’s carseat and holding her hand. If you could only see how you melt mommy’s heart. I love you sweet girl. *I found out the hard way that you can open a nail polish bottle! *When putting on your shoes, “Oh! I put them on backwards! I’m so silly!!” (followed by oodles of giggles!)! You can put your socks and shoes on all by yourself, makes mommy so happy! *You were trying to tell me your forehead hurt, but I’m pretty sure you thought of the phrase “tummy ache.” You threw the back of your hand up on your head (in the most dramatic of ways) and declared “Mommy I have a tummy head!” *At our Super Bowl party, you found your way to the front of the room, just in front of the tv, and with all eyes on you— you cheerfully declared “Hello everybody!! Welcome to Flood Church today!” and you started singing “Jesus Loves Me!” and halfway through, you shouted “Come on everybody, sing along!” And sure enough, the room full of 15 or so adults all started singing right along with you!! *You know no stranger. None. At the park, without fail, mommy will watch you walk up to little kids, big kids, and even adults and interact with them, “Hello! Do you want to buy something from my bakery?” And you have a little interaction, giving them a pretend something, and then saying “Okay, that will be 15 dollars.” You have no fear of people, adventures, places, heights, or running off on your own! (Mommy has fears of your fearlessness, lots of fears!). *You finally did it, you dropped your nap. You didn’t give us any choice, really. We can make you take a nap, and you will, but we pay for it at night, when you are wide awake until 10pm. And so it goes, you wake up at 7, always announcing to us “Mommy, Daddy, it’s seven o’clock! It’s seven o’clock!” *You really love talking about your birthday, almost once a day, I hear something like, “Last week I was two, and then I had my birthday, and now I’m three! And then next week, at my birthday, I will be four!” You’re getting your number order down real good! *You went with mommy to the beauty salon and got your nails done! The lady sitting next to us was overtaken by your sweetness and when we went to pay, she surprised us and paid for you! *Gymnastics is still fun for you, rough for mommy. You love running around, full speed, doing whatever your little eyes see! Your favorite spot is the ball pit! You not only jumped into the balls without your coach’s permission, you shouted to your friends “Come on guys, it’s so much fun!” and recruited two of your classmates to join you in your gymnastics class mutiny! I’m dying. *We couldn’t find you in the house! We searched and finally, I opened up the hall closet, and there you were in the dark, hoarding the iPad, “My sister won’t bother me here Mommy.” (see below) Aria (21 months): Aria, I love you so much! And I have been saying that all month! You’ll do something that makes my heart soar and I can’t help but shake my head and say out loud “I love that girl so much!” Everything is coming together for you. Your words, your faces, your comprehension, your personality, it’s all a total delight to see you! *This is the season of “I do!! I do!! I do!!” You might as well only know two words, as these are the only ones spoken out of your little lips these days! You love putting your shoes on by yourself. Climbing in and out of the car and into your carseat by yourself. Going potty, by yourself. Climbing into your booster seat all by yourself. Singing by yourself. Playing the piano by yourself. Need I say more? And along with your declaration of independence, you also love to show us your hand, arm fully extended, big “stop” hand in our faces. The “go away” hand, “I’ve got this all by myself” hand, it almost always accompanies your “I do!!” I do!!” And sure enough love, you actually do these things really well all by yourself! *You are obsessed, obsessed with shoes. Shoes shoes shoes. First word in the morning, last word at night. *You are equally obsessed with the book Brown Bear! “Bah boo!” (which is the same word you say for GrampBill and Boogers). At night after we read it, 9 or 10 times, you will not let it go, so I’ve finally thrown in the towel, and you insist on sleeping with the Brown Bear book like a blankie. Oh Aria! *I’m pretty sure I heard you say “Ah ooov ouuu!” (I love you!) *You say soooo much! And you understand just about everything. You handed me something and said “Eh go!” (Here you go!). So sweet hearing your little voice come to life! *You had one of the worst bouts with a virus mommy’s ever seen. For over a week, your little body fought super high fevers. Mommy tried so hard to be brave, but she couldn’t hold back the tears when your temperature read 105.6. But even with these crazy high fevers, you still walk around, carrying your water, asking to sit at the table and eat Cheetos. You are tough!! Maertz Family Memories: GrampBill comes into town and we enjoy a warm lazy January Sunday morning washing cars and blasting Harry Connick in the front yard, breakfast at Champions, Kit Carson park trip where GrampBill ends up carrying the bikes, Joe heads south to an all-inclusive resort with the Maertz boys for a weekend of scuba diving in Cozumel, Mexico(!!), celebrating Leonie’s big birthday: a lovely girl brunch- a random Paschall gathering with loads of family- and a super fun family birthday dinner at Entwined celebrating Leonie’s newest decade(!), me and the girls tackle Hillsdale Church sans Joey and dinner at Nordstrom (when my salmon pasta came to the table I had to insist they take it away asap– prego aversion!), an afternoon and dinner with the Sawyers, an afternoon of laughs and a lovely dinner with the Loucks, my birthday spent relaxing at the French Bakery for a quiet no children morning, reading my book on the front adirondacks on a gorgeous sunny day with some mint ice cream, Anjuli and Ashley crash over for a fun filled playdate, Joe and I enjoy our fancy Italian dinner and figure out how our family can better love the world, Joe comes home from Mexico and finally finds the street tacos he dreamed of just down the street— hello Mi Rancho!, crash Jackson Paschall’s 5th birthday party at the Paschalls, enjoy the broBowl/Superbowl with wonderful friends at the Torres’ home, Joe starts his low carb/low calorie diet & starts up basketball again, we fall in love with The Princess Bride all over again, an afternoon with Brooklyn (so her mommy could get some work done!), girls are troopers as they hang out with us in Flood’s back room with high fevers (happy as larks), Valentine’s flank steak dinner on our back deck with globe lights, full moon and a cozy heat lamp, fireside viewing of 007 Skyfall, loads of trips to Kaiser this month (and a scary trip to Zion for an abdomen ultrasound of our littlest), making and delivering Valentines to our neighbor friends (hearts cut from the girls’ watercolor creations attached to fresh oranges from our tree!), a spontaneous Saturday as tourists—the ferry over to Coronado and right back (girls’ first boat ride!), a bike taxi to Seaport Village, a carousel ride (girls loved this!), Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream (mommy loved this!), walking the boardwalk and getting the girls balloon animals, watching the sunset over the bay (randomly driving alongside Mark Suhonen!), enjoy a fun midweek dinner with old friends at the Heinrichs (sans children!).