A december to remember.

IMG_4147IMG_4695 IMG_4574IMG_4303  IMG_4700 IMG_4221 IMG_4184 IMG_3913 IMG_4856   IMG_5036Remember that December when—Naomi turned four years old? When Ama, Daddy and I were up on chairs and tables at 11:55pm on December 3rd (after one very long day/ late music practice) expending every last drop of energy into blowing balloons and hanging streamers? This house was snowing party streamers! Seeing Naomi’s joy the next morning made it all worth it. All day, she announced “I’m four years old, I’m almost five years old!”

Remember that December when— Naomi and Aria learned The 12 days of Christmas? It was the most ridiculously wonderful thing ever. How Naomi counted up and down so perfectly, and remembered the very complicated song. And then, the beloved “Six geese a layin.” I don’t know how it started, but I can tell you how it ended up— hilarious. Both of you got into a perfect squat and pooped out a perfect egg. Every time, without fail, “Six” stole the show and sometimes ended the show!

Remember that December when—Juliet got her immunization shots, became super upset and Naomi & Aria ran to her side, held her flailing hands and sang “Baby mine don’t you cry, baby mine close your eyes, rest your head close to my heart, never to part, baby of mine”? The nurse was in shock. She shared that these shots are pretty painful, and babies always cry. The minute the girls started singing to Juliet, she stopped crying. Sisterly love; their love dulled the pain of Juliet’s shots. It was honestly one of the most tender moments to see the girls run to Juliet’s side, comfort her with their tender voices— I’ll never forget it.

Remember that December when—Anjuli was 29 weeks pregnant, and sent me a text “Yea, we just arrived in Mexico! What’s crazy is I just had a gush of water get my pants all wet”? That text was the beginning of a very long thread of texts. How I woke up the next morning to no internet, no phone, no texts, and how I thought a foreign country had attacked our satellites and we were a country at war? But Joe just forgot to pay our AT&T bill. And remember how mom, Joe and I were trying to text with Sam in Mexico, text the Paschall and Maneevone families, text friends, consult with an insurance broker, connect with the US Consulate in Cabo, collaborate together and fund $12,000 to the Cabo hospital, aaaaaand feed six kids dinner all at the same time? We should be in the circus cause we pulled it off, and only burnt 3 quesadillas in the process.

Remember that December when—Mommy sang O Holy Night on the local Fox news? How that marked the beginning of a very long and wonderful weekend? Remember all the practices (starting at our home in September!), the overnight at a downtown Hyatt (with a four month old baby in tow— thank you Bartons!), the sleepless nights, the trips to the mall to find the right outfit? With 15 other musical talents— we did it! A Christmas concert for over 5 thousand people at the San Diego Convention Center! This still blows my mind. Was I nervous? Yes, I lost sleep over the talking parts— 30 seconds of talking on the news and the other 30 seconds of welcoming folks to the Collective. Playing drums, piano, sleigh bells, singing eight Christmas songs— that was the fun part.

Remember that December when— we were leaving church (with a van full of tired baby-kids) and literally seconds before we were about to make a left turn to go north, I reminded Joe that IKEA’s kitchen sale ended that day? How we made a face at each other (the kind of face we probably made just before we clicked the “purchase” on our around the world tickets), and just like that, Joe changed lanes and jumped onto the South on ramp instead of North? That lane change marked a commitment to ourselves and our kitchen, and it’s been messy ever since. A perfect time to host Uncle Jim/GrampBill and Auntie Malina/Auntie Mary for a span of ten days. They provided helpful hands in the midst of needing them, and well, with no kitchen, they had no expectations of any meals. A perfect time to extend love and receive it.

Remember that December when— we shared a Christmas dinner with good friends and the Whites gave everyone lottery tickets and I won $1050.00?!! I screamed and flailed like a fish on the ground for 5 minutes until someone read the back and the ticket was a fake!IMG_3983IMG_4711  IMG_4503IMG_4754 IMG_4981IMG_4572IMG_3967  IMG_4085IMG_3939Naomi Mariam (FOUR YEARS OLD!!): *You blew my mind one morning, you jumped on the piano and played Three Blind Mice, or as you say “Free Find Mice.” You love playing the piano and you stop when you make a mistake, you want to play it right. Ama says you’re just like your mommy, when I was little I loved playing the piano too, but like you— I wasn’t the most patient when my Mommy tried to teach me something. *You loved showing me and Papa your somersault skills. We laughed as you rolled one after another after another—twenty rolls in a row! It was so funny watching you do twenty straight somersaults! *Kindness is in your heart. Out of the blue, you said “Mommy, Daddy, I love you. I love you ever so much.” And to Juliet when she cried, “It’s okay Juliet, you don’t need to be afraid of the scary things, I’m here to protect you.” Naomi! You are a dream! *You saw a sunset from the front yard, and you insisted we come and see it too. Sure enough, it was breathtaking. With your arms fully extended into the sky “It’s so beautiful! The whole sky is pink!” *Naomi you are reading! You are sounding out letters, and doing great! You are so proud of yourself, and we are so proud of you! *You leaned over to Auntie Malina, lifted her hair, and whispered into her ear “This is the best Christmas ever! Let’s open more presents!” *We took a family beach trip to Carlsbad, Auntie Malina will always remember this day as the day she chased you down the beach. You ran and ran and ran along the water’s edge, and your little legs would not stop, they just kept running! She guessed that you ran a half a mile, and your sweet Auntie chased you the whole way! Later that night, Mommy asked you what happened, “Mommy, the puddles, I was just chasing the puddles!”IMG_4465IMG_4850     IMG_4452IMG_4579  IMG_4497IMG_4848 IMG_4766  IMG_4406IMG_4473Aria Ellen (2.5 years): *You ate so much bacon, you threw up. *You insisted that Daddy read to you from one particular book, it didn’t matter that the book had no pictures, you sat so quietly and content as Daddy read three pages from “The Prayer Of Jabez For Women.” *In the mornings, you and Naomi are climbing into bed with us just before 7am. We are able to keep you both quiet and usually sleep for another 10 minutes. But one morning, you couldn’t handle it— “Daddy it’s time to wake up, it’s sunny! The sun is up! It’s not time to sleep, it’s time to wake up!” Guess who got her way.  *You are a crack up. A bona fide crack up. You have these signature moves, Aria moves. First: your dance move. You bend over and throw your elbows into the air and twist your little body back and forth as fast as possible, your elbows flailing back and forth— it’s hilarious! Second: your freeze pose. When we play freeze dance, without fail, you will freeze into one (and only one!) position. The song ends and everyone freezes, but you. You throw your hands down onto the ground, and with incredible determination and clever mechanics you throw a wobbly foot high into the sky. It is so funny. *As I was tucking you into bed, “Mommy we blow kisses? Good idea?” Yes, Aria, that is a wonderful idea. And so just before I closed the door on our day we blew each other handfuls of kisses. It’s just the best.*You love a lot of things, but one thing you love is being scared. Ama bought you the board game Operation, and you don’t even try to miss the metal. You go straight for it! You LOVE a good scare! *In the midst of a kitchen remodel, with lots of errands to run, your naps took a bit of a backseat, and without really planning it, you’ve been doing life without naps— and you’re an overall happy camper! Little miss adaptable. You impress us so much Aria.IMG_4038IMG_4570     IMG_4833IMG_4838 IMG_4164  IMG_3927 IMG_4773   IMG_4602IMG_4677Juliet Mae (4 months): *The doctor measured you three times, she was sure she measured you wrong. She wasn’t wrong. She couldn’t believe how long you are! 27 inches and 16 lbs 12 oz of pure baby love— you are into 9 month clothes! Your sisters adore you Juliet. *You know what you got for your first Christmas? You got TWO front teeth! Yes, you did. At four months old, you popped out your TWO front lower teeth. It wasn’t pretty, but with gallons of saliva to witness the miracle, they broke through and made a grand entrance! *You are a mover! I put you down on our rug for tummy time, and when I came back you weren’t anywhere near where I left you! You’re a little rollie pollie! *One Saturday, we had nearly 20 family and friends over to help us demolish our kitchen. Through sledge hammers, circular blades, and incessant banging— you slept. You slept like a perfect little baby, one wall away, in your private “walk in closet” nursery. *You still have baby blue eyes!IMG_4816IMG_4801  IMG_4871IMG_5047  IMG_4637IMG_5071IMG_4813IMG_4990  IMG_4893IMG_4793Maertz Family Memories: *Celebrating Kristy Heinrichs at Estancia Spa with the ladies. *Loads of Christmas Collective practice, set up, and sleeplessness. *Naomi’s fourth birthday! All you want is for us to take you to the country to see the stars (we’re working on it!). We bought you a pink doughnut and pink scooter, sweet little one, it didn’t even bother you that it arrived on the 5th. *Mommy sings on FOX News with Nick and Mark, on a chilly December morning outside. So much fun. I practiced my interview a hundred times, and when it all went down, I said nothing as planned and instead talked about Mariah Carey. *Spent an afternoon with Leonie visiting Anjuli at Mary Birch! Thank goodness she and womb baby girl made it back to America! *Joe is off work for two weeks and he is taking this kitchen apart piece by piece! *A night of Balderdash at our place with Mom, Malina, Mary, Anj and Joe— and I’m pretty sure someone peed their pants we laughed so hard. *Grilled cheese and tomato soup dinner at the Paschalls’. *Carlsbad Beach Day with the Maneevone Family! Gorgeous day, kids had the best time. It was so much fun. Girls went back the next day, again. *Naomi took first place in the pajama run! *Playdates with Amie/Tinsley here and ChickFilA. *Plenty of EFCC Basketball, MOPS and Tuesday Mommy Mornings at EFCC.IMG_4997IMG_4058  IMG_4750IMG_4120   IMG_5058IMG_4204IMG_4228   IMG_4198IMG_4222