NYC ———-> Highlights: Four days and three nights of just us! Enjoying blocks upon blocks of wide eyed, full sensory adventure. Skylines, space, city life, noises, constantly changing everything—- eye candy for the sleepy adventurers inside. Dressing up and going out! (A lost art in a world with two little kids.) Sitting still and soaking up (again, a lost art). *Our first night in town, we wander past a Gyros street vendor, jump in line, and our mouths fall in love! *With no real destination and absolutely no time constraints, we roam, finally climbing our way atop The Kimberly Hotel at dusk, and we cozy up to an outdoor fire while overlooking the gorgeous NYC rooftops! *Sensory overload at Times Square! *Finding The Bald Man’s hot chocolate, a serious highlight. I’ve only enjoyed this deliciousness once before on the Manley Beach pier in Sydney, and sipped it as we ferried past the Opera House. And now I sip it again as we meander around New York City. *Honoring the very sacred space of the former World Trade Center, finding my high school homecoming date’s name etched among thousands. *Conquering the Brooklyn Bridge! *Flagging down taxis like a boss. *Falling in love with Ray’s $4 NY Pizza joint. *A beautiful day in Central Park, with nothing better to do than sit, soak and savor. *Fancy Indian food at Union Square hit the spot, and upon our departure I managed to knock over (but still catch!) a giant candelabra, showering an entire table with hot candle wax. Oh my word, horrible. *A night with my Broadway boys… seeing Newsies! Naomi (3 1/2 years): Naomi love, you are at such a fun stage. I really love your imagination, your conversation, your understanding, your thoughtfulness. You are grasping so much! Everything is coming together, and I just adore your comprehension of your little world! *You understand that everyone has a whole name. And you love talking all about it. At night, as I tuck you into bed, you always give me the best conversations. One night, you were so interested in talking about everyone’s whole name. We went over everyone‘s whole name, and then you asked “What’s Luna’s whole name?” (the neighborhood cat). *My darling, you can count to thirty! And the best part is when you nail it, you’ll say “I’m so proud of myself!” You are obsessed with being a baby. You talk like a baby, you want to be held like a baby, our greatest success at dinner is when we feed you like a baby, you want to only wear baby clothes— clothes that are even too small for Aria! You insist on wearing baby clothes to bed. It’s funny and not so funny, thank goodness it’s just a stage. *You finally got the self-swinging leg pump thing down! You get it, and pump your legs like a champ! Mommy loves this more than you know. *You are obsessed with Rapunzel hair. You love tying mommy’s long scarves, or anything really, over your head and pretending you’re Rapunzel. You’ll climb up to your bunk bed, throw your scarf (I mean long golden hair) over the edge of your bunk and shout “Rapunzel Rapunzel throw down your golden hair!” You’ll throw your hair over and Aria will do just as you ask and start climbing up your “hair”. Your head is now smashed into the side of your bunk, and you’re screaming for her to stop! Problem is, you do this over and over multiple times a day–always ends up in screaming and a very unhappy Rapunzel. *You are so good at writing your letters! You love sitting on the iPad and tracing your letters, you love learning my love! You can clearly identify every letter and even write the majority of them! *Upon entering the Paschall home, you threw your arms around Manoah and shouted “You’re my best friend, I’m just so happy to see you!” Manoah smirked and excused himself from your arms and enthusiasm. *You love talking about summer. I guess at one point I said we can’t play in the water until it’s summer time, because every day you’ll ask, “Is it summer yet?” *Often times, when I introduce you as Naomi, you’ll correct me, “No, I’m princess Sophia.” Aria (23 months!): Sweet girl, you’re funny. You constantly surprise me. You have a silly spunk to you, a spunk that comes out when you’re comfortable in your surroundings. And when it’s on, it’s on. You come up with the silliest things. You put things on your head, you jump around intensely, taking clothes off is a given, you make funny faces, you throw a look. You are original, my love, and it’s fun to see your personality shine. *You use possessive words, like “Aya’s” (Aria’s), and “Mimi’s.” *You love playing Hide and Go Seek with your sister. You cover your eyes (very intensely, if I may say), and count to ten (you smartie!) saying all the numbers but “one” and “four”, then you pop your eyes open, crack a huge smile and shout a bunch of very not clear words (not even remotely close), but we understand “Ready or not here I come!” *Ate Mexican for lunch, and you insisted on dipping your chip in the salsa over and over again. Never mind you would cry (scream) from the heat as it burned your tongue, that didn’t stop you, you’d just look to mommy and I’d soothe your tongue with a baby wipe, then you’d continue at it again. And you’d repeat your love hate for spicy over and over again. *You also love peas. You will eat eat eat them in fist fulls. And something else we learned as you pointed to your nose and said “nose owie, owie nose”: To our fright, you had taken peas and shoved them up both your nostrils. After a little home surgery, we pulled out seven peas from your little nose. Seven. And the crazy part is that you don’t cry and scream over our home surgical caretakings, you lie crazy still, I honestly think you like it. *You love running! You run run run in circles around the front yard. Up to the mailbox, down to the front door, around the porch, and back again, you love running! *You are so darling when you pray. You clutch your hands, bow your head, and pour sweet intensity into the closing of your eyes, and you pray “Ama, Papa, Mimi, Uya, BahBoo…” So darling. *Every morning within 15 minutes of waking up, without fail, you will ask for “ana” (banana). And you are relentless with saying “ana” until you have an ana in your fists. *I really don’t know where you learned it, but it’s your signature move: stomp your feet together, throw your hands down, then swing them forward until each hand grabs an opposite elbow, head down, eyebrows furled, lower lip out. It’s your move. And mommy just laughs at each grand performance! *Your absolute favorites these days: your pink Crocs, going potty by yourself “ah peas” (privacy please) and swinging. Maertz Family Memories: *Joe and I enjoyed a rare Sunday morning treat—sitting quietly at The French Bakery while Ama and Papa chauffeured the girls to church. It simply felt foreign and wonderful all at once. *Celebrated baby Woodall # 2 at Extraordinary Desserts in Downtown SD. *Celebrated Manoah’s sixth birthday with the whole Maneevone/Paschall clan! A perfect family night of laughter and craziness! *Couples Night at the Whites, great dinner, laughter and community. *ICF gym night gives us a chance to enjoy a quiet dinner out at a local Thai joint while the girls run around to their hearts’ content! *On trips to Costco, mommy will walk into the cold refrigerated sections on purpose just so the girls get “cold cold!!” and will want to squeeze in tight for a big hug as we walk as a three headed cuddle monster all buried into each other’s arms for warmth. I love this! *One very awful night, Joe and I woke to a rite of passage into real parenthood. At midnight, Naomi showed up at the side of our bed in desperate tears. Completely dark, I couldn’t understand why she was completely drenched. In one very quick moment I smelled the evidence, and then Naomi confirmed it as she threw up again, all over the bed, the duvet, the floor. It was a very long hour of cleaning everything and everyone up, only to have our very sick little girl continue throwing up through the night, every 45 minutes. Oh. My. does not even begin to capture the agony of this night. *Lehmans’ littlest one was hospitalized for a week, and the Maertzs adopted Avery for 24 hours! The next morning brought a quick fun front yard hang out with Tatum and Kelly Perry stopping by! *Enjoy lunch with Hillary at Avocado Grill! Perfect. *Heinrichs host a NCAA Tournament dinner, and everyone shows up! Lots and lots of kids and lots and lots of fun. *After a week of music gear setup in our bedroom and romantic nightly practices, Joe kindly pulled off an early morning band practice sans me to get ready for Easter. *Celebrated the coming of baby Zoey Paschall at The French Bakery! The girls came along and fit right in with all the ladies. *Celebrated Sam’s Birthday at the Paschall home! *April 4th – April 7th Joe and I flew to NYC! Enjoyed leading worship at a Focus on the Family event for a small group of beautiful women, hosted at Manhattan’s Omni Hotel. In the meantime, a huge thank you to Ama, and GrampBill & Aunt Peggy for flying out here to love on the girls! I have no doubt the girls got spoiled and loved! *Whites host NCAA Basketball Final’s BBQ, fun times with the whole clan! *Greyson’s 2nd birthday in Coronado. *Playdates: Kristy, Brenda, Brooke/Monica, Ashley, Anjuli and Hillary!