Last month we did something we’ve never done as a family before. We went on vacation! Just the four of us. Well, four and a half of us. Third week of June, we did what the crazies do at 9 months pregnant, we drove the 7 hours east and found dry hot paradise… Arizona! Three days three nights we camped out in a gorgeously appointed 900 square ft one bedroom villa! When we cracked open the villa door, Naomi jumped and ran in circles for four minutes straight— “I’m sooooo excited! Mommy I loooooove our vacation home!!” Aria watched with dizzies as her starry eyed sister exploded with glee. In a matter of minutes the whole family was in the waters of the Westin Kierland Resort. You see, Joey researched the world wide web for “best family water park resort” and all the search engines brought us here. With much anticipation, our little family of four and a half settled into the cool waters of the lazy river. Almost instantly the Arizona glow got glowy-er, the noises of others around us faded, and a certain cinematic soundtrack cocooned us. All my senses filled up with perfect. A moment that this mommy dreams of holding forever. Mark it. Remember it. We drifted along those cool waters for the next hour— playing princess castle, pretending to hear a magical toad in the waterfalls, and singing Who’s afraid of the the big bad wolf? These are the moments I want burned into my brain.
Soon, very soon, our littlest will arrive, and life will change as life does. And our family of four will be a memory of the past. I don’t feel the need to grieve the family structure we’ve known, but I do want to mark this point in our family path, it’s significant. For a little over two years, Joe has carried one, and I’ve held the other. He’s strapped one into a carseat, while I’ve tackled the other. He’s sat on Naomi’s bed, while I’ve brushed Aria’s wisps out of her tired sweaty face. I’ve laid in the bed with one burrowed in an arm and the other hand rubbing the other’s back. Now, I’m one arm short. I’m sure there will be many coming moments when I feel I am one arm short of something, perhaps sanity. But I know this for certain, for all the one arm short moments Joe and I will soon encounter, there will be three little darlings— six little arms— wrapping their darling arms around us. Pouring life back into the one arm short moments. Come on baby girl, we cannot wait to welcome you into this family. Big love awaits. Naomi Mariam (3 1/2 years): *You’re becoming a little artist love! You really have a knack for shapes and space. We are super impressed with your imagination and artistry. *You’re very committed to your role plays, committed to being the best cat, monkey, or dog you can. You will not break character love, it’s “Meow meow meow” all the way through dinner and bath time. *When we dropped GrampBill off at the airport, all on your own, you shouted “We’ll miss you!” *While drifting along the lazy river, you slipped off your inflatable ring and each time daddy would help you back up, “Thanks for saving me dad!” It was darling. *Naomi you can spell your first word! H-O- T. You learned it while in Arizona. *You were having a hard time, and said “Do you know what would make me feel better mom? A kiss.” I happily obliged. *You and Aria are playing so well together. It melts mommy’s heart to see you in stitches and giggles over a tea party you initiated with your animals. All on your own, you shared “My job is to protect my sister.” *You corrected someone when they called your little sister Aria, “No her name is Coco.” Mommy laughed! *I am loving the little conversations I get with you. All on your own you will often ask us, “How’s your day?” And then when they ask you the same, you respond “Thanks for asking. My day is going pretty good.” Darling. *Just before bed you invited me to join you for a potty run. While on the pot I asked “Are you almost done?” “Sometimes it just takes a while Mommy. Let’s just talk.” “What are you thinking about Naomi?” “I’m just thinking about princesses, dresses and castles. And squirrels. I’m thinking about squirrels too. Sometimes I dream about these things too. Mommy what do you dream about?” “You.” “You dream about me?” “I sure do.” And you smiled so sweetly at me. Aria Ellen (2 years, 2 months): *You would not stop crying in the car. As a family we all worked together to find a remedy. We sang “Bless the Lord oh my soul” in every animal language possible! “Meows “Moos” “Roars” you held your lower lip as long as you could, but the monkey version finally cracked you! Giggles exploded over the grumps! *Sweet love, you have the best faces. You will go from big beautiful happy eyes to scrunched up nose furrowed brows and fishy lips in a matter of moments. For an entire meal you held the scrunched eyes face, Mommy started to wonder if you needed glasses. *A common response these days is “I do it!” “I do it mahself!” You love exploring your world independently and confidently. Mommy and Daddy must force you to hold our hands in public. When we reach for your hand, you will quickly cross your arms, grab your elbows, and dramatically throw your chin up and away from the bothersome parental hand. *While on vacation, daddy left you to float in the lazy river (with your puddle jumper on) all by yourself. Mommy watched intently as you have always insisted on being held in water. In a matter of moments, the fearful face quickly changed into curiosity, your body language relaxed, and the next thing I see is my little Aria delighted in her new found independence in the water! You shouted “Swamming m’self!!” I haven’t been able to hold you in the water since. *Your language is improving leaps and bounds each month! With your little hand in the air, waving at me “Mommy tahm!” (come!), in the car “Wah we gahwing?” (Where are we going?) “We gahwing home Mommy? No. No nigh nigh Mommy. I say(stay) here, watch.” While putting your shoes on, I accidentally pinched your big toe and said “I’m sorry!” You looked up, happily smiled, tilted your head, put your hand out and cheerfully explained “Eh happens!” I die. You are so cute! *At bedtime, you prayed “Mommy, Daddy, Mimi, Ahya, Papa, GrampBill, Ama, swamming, bed, dinner, cow, high-five, doggie, poo poo.” That’s all it took. You and your sister were swallowed up in the cutest bedtime gigglefest over “Thank you for poo poo.” Initiated by you, Aria. Baby girl in the belly: (34-38 weeks): *It has been a hot few weeks! Nothing feels better to this prego mommy than blasting cold cold on my feet and driving to ChickfilA for a large sweet tea with extra ice! We may have done this very thing six days in a row. Yes. *Mommy stepped on a scale and her eyes got kinda big. I’ve gained 45 pounds with you my love, and we aren’t at the finish line. I’m blaming it all on my sausage toes. *Stranger at Costco yells out to me: “You’re having a boy.” I tell them, “Actually it’s a girl.” And they say “They’re wrong. It’s a boy.” Not quite sure how to respond to such confidence, I politely say “Oh maybe,” smile and walk away. You’re definitely fixed on me like a basketball, a very low hanging basketball shaped baby girl. Maertz Family Memories: *Girls love on me and Baby three with a night out at Prep Kitchen in La Jolla. *Just before dropping GrampBill off at the airport, we savor a glowy sunset dinner at Queenstown Public House, a beautiful dinner out on their porch. *Our first family vacation to Arizona! Beyond wonderful. *Joe and Sam team up and dinner host the Director of Intelligence for the Presidential Guard of Palestine, just because. I love my husband. *Angela takes me out for a sunset 1/2 birthday at C-Level. *Grandma Millie visits for a few weeks. We celebrate her 88th birthday at Rancho Bernardo Inn’s fancy brunch and a girls trip to the salon for pedicures. *Enjoyed a “tea party” with Ama and Great Ama at Nordstrom Cafe. Girls, you couldn’t be any cuter in your dresses and pearl-like necklaces! *The four of us hit up Phil’s BBQ for dinner and ChickfilA for ice cream, a great summer memory! Aria, all you could talk about is “Cow! High Five! No hug. High Five!” *Spontaneous swim at the Paschalls’ on a Saturday evening, perfect summer play. *After Flood Hillsdale, the band families enjoy tasty BBQ at the Stangers’, swimming included. So much summer fun, that 3/4 of us all fall asleep on the drive home! *After 30 years, Maneevones’ 1204 Birch Way undergoes crazy home renovations. Serious chaos just before the Botica Maneevone Wedding!! *French Bakery morning with the four Maneevone girls, Ama, and Great Ama! *Jessica’s bachelorette party at Cordiano winery. *Maertz Family hits up the Del Mar Fair! Girls you loooove the Fair, and there are a good amount of rides you both can do together. Aria you were 33″ tall–just shy of the 36″ mark, and Naomi— there wasn’t anything you couldn’t ride in Kiddie Land. We linger into the night, and you girls hit the sack just past 10pm! *Fourth of July was a perfect gathering of old friends (Tankersleys, Jungs, Lehmans), a bunch of kids frolicking in the pool, great food, greater laughter, and s’mores. On the drive home we chase down firework shows, and enjoy them together from the hood of our car! *Kubo Family surprises us with a visit, and we get the wonderful surprise of hosting them for the week! Lots of late night laughter! *Wedding rehearsal at the Maneevones’, Rehearsal Dinner at the Paschalls’. *Joe hikes the 8 hour round trip trek to the top of San Jacinto with Eric Lehman! *Josh and Jessica get married on July 7th, a gorgeously warm day with lots of warmer memories of family surrounding them Sunday picnic style! *Swimming at the Paschalls’ turns into a random family dinner. *EscoGelato with Kubos, Paschalls, Ama, Great Ama, and Maertzs— big table all to us! *Maertz family trip to snow cones, celebrating the end of a very long, full, wonderful week of celebrations. *Menconi neighbors shower us with love: invite Joe and I over for a delicious home made three course meal, while Michelle loves on our kids at home! We love our neighborhood. *Swimming with the Sawyers on a beautiful warm Saturday afternoon. *We play our final Flood Kearny before baby girl’s arrival and Mommy has her best/worst moment on a microphone ever. What I meant to say was “Please stand, greet each other, say Hi to those around you, maybe even cross the aisles…. and be really brave and vulnerable, say Hi.” But I didn’t say that. I said “Please stand, greet each other, say Hi to those around you, maybe even cross the aisles… and expose yourselves.” Oh yes I did. No room to recover, I just walked right off the stage.