Lately, Mommy has been writing phrases on our kitchen chalkboard and calling it “the word of the day!” This last month I scribbled in big letters K I N D, and since it didn’t change for weeks, it quickly became the “word of the month.” You girls loved talking about our word on the chalkboard, but quite honestly you girls were all about the peanut butter M&Ms. This is where it got fun. If Mommy caught you in the act of being K I N D, we’d all rush to the fridge and I’d reward you girls with some cold delicious peanut buttery goodness.
It was a cold January 31st this year. The sun was on its way down, and it was quickly getting colder. On my drive home from a lovely birthday massage, I saw something that caught my attention. A strong kick in the gut urged me to change lanes and swing a u-turn. Back along the frontage road, with cars speeding by, I pulled over, and offered a ride to a young boy and his grandmother. Instantly, I knew I did the right thing, they were in real trouble. The Grandma helped the two year old boy into the backseat, and in a thick accent she told me they were lost and didn’t know their way or her address. She handed me her phone and asked me to call her husband, Hashim. She stressed, “You must tell him we are friends.” It didn’t take long for me to figure out, I might be in trouble now too. Hashim was confused. Regardless, he offered the needed assistance, and we were headed towards their home, a good few miles away. The boy was already asleep on her lap when I asked, “Where are you from?” Her voice shook from exhaustion, “Afghanistan.” It was as if her exhaustion had crumbled all walls between us, and she invited me into her story. She told me how she left her homeland 11 years ago, about the war that ruined her country and destroyed her family. She lost seven brothers. Seven. I listened as she shared of her youngest brother, how everyone adored him, how she adored him. He was handsome, good humored, father to a young boy and girl, and how one day he went missing and has never been seen again. She told of her unbearable grief that cannot be put to rest until his body is found and laid to rest. “Here, turn here.” she said, as I made the last couple turns up to her home. As I pulled up, she touched my shoulder and asked “How old are you?” I smiled. “I’m 36. Today’s my birthday.” She shook her head, smiled, and with deep gratitude she said “Happy Birthday.” And just as she stepped out of the car, she turned back to me and said “I thank your God for you.”
I drove home smiling and content. It’s too easy to fall into the “it’s all about me” birthday, and I confess I have done it too many a years. This marks two. Two years that I have been able to keep my eyes out, keep my eyes on others over myself. I can’t tell you how satisfying my drive home was that cold birthday night. I walked through our front door with my heart full of happies — headed straight for the fridge — and gave myself a healthy handful of cold peanut butter M&Ms. Naomi Mariam (4 years old): You are such a delight Naomi! One night you couldn’t sleep, so you hung out with Mommy and Daddy for some late night chats— Daddy taught both of us about the solar system! *And you are writing a ton of words my love! We are amazed at how you’re applying the sounds of letters and creating words! All on your own, you sat down at the table and wrote a letter to Auntie Anjuli, it was darling. *While at your friend Brooklyn’s house I overheard you say “That’s okay, if it falls down I’ll just build another one.” I was so proud of you! Naomi, you’re so instinctively kind!! *When I picked you up from Sunday School the teachers shared how beautifully you pray for others. And it’s true, sweet girl, your heart is so big for others! *Aria asked you to share with her and your immediate response in the sweetest Minnie Mouse voice “Yes! Sure I can sweetie!” *Daddy made you dinner, and you made him so happy when you said “Daddy, this is like the best macaroni and cheese EVER.” *You’re really into play pretending lately, and you’re calling yourself “Jamima” all day long. Jamima, the syrup lady. *You discovered tap shoes in our bag of hand me downs, and you love them. You turn heads Naomi. You prance in, and everyone knows you’ve arrived. It’s darling and, ok wow, at the same time. Aria Ellen (2.75 years): *You are so much fun. And you remain fierce. You charge (literally) like a rhinoceros into almost anything. You love a good princess dress, but in your heart you’re a ninja. You love being active. Have I mentioned your dynamite ninja roll? You’re amazing. Such a natural athlete, and competitive! Daddy asked “Did you both win?” And you were quick to say “No! No Naomi not win. I win. (With a big finger on your chest), I win. I am the winner.” *Naomi and you play so much together, I overheard you pretending to talk with Santa Claus “Dear Santa Claus, how ya been? How’s your wife?” (You make me laugh!) *You fell super hard to the ground, with three mommies around offering to help you, you showed no emotion, got back up and came quickly to my side, not a tear. You are tough. *You’re obsessed with paper airplanes. Daddy makes you a new one almost daily. *I caught you outside painting our back deck with water and a paint brush at 7:15am with your pajamas at your feet, buck naked. You had the biggest grin on your face! *You say funny things. You got out of your bed in the morning, turned around and said “Thank you bed.” Out of nowhere you said “Mommy don’t lose me, don’t drop me right there on the road, got it?” *While you were walking to Mommy and Daddy’s bed one morning, you spotted a bag of brownies on the counter. You ate all of them. *You adore your baby sister. You ran to her side “Juliet, it’s okay, I’m here. Everything’s going to be alright.” (You’re so wonderful Aria!) *Remember how I mentioned Naomi has been calling herself Jamima lately? Aria, you told Naomi “No! That’s not a good name. I want to call you Naomi.” You’re honest my love. *Lately, you take your time to eat, you’re in absolutely no rush. Unless french fries are involved, then you stuff your face. *You make the best faces. You’re goofy, fun, and full of imagination! *One day nap time was particularly hard for you. You were so upset. Papa sat by your side quietly, rubbed your back, and in a simple moment, you were fast asleep. *Big bummer, you burned your finger on my curling iron. It was awful. Totally awful, but as usual, you were beyond tough and handled it better than any big girl. *You are obsessed with these purple hightop shoes. Obsessed, and I totally love it. You got style. Juliet Mae (5 months!): *You know me! You really truly know me. You light up when you see me, and my darling, that is 100% reciprocated! You lean towards me, and it just about makes all of my insides do a happy sigh. *You sit like a big girl! Daddy and your sisters had fun with this one! They’ve been teaching you in the evenings, and time after time you’d flop to the ground! Your sisters would giggle away as Daddy would say “Steady! Steady!” And then when you finally figured it out, everyone cheered for you! It was pure joy in this home. *Your hair! It has taken off, and it’s what everyone noticed most this month. It’s the fluffiest light (ever so slightly strawberry) blonde hair! Your fluffly hair only makes you that much more darling! *You got your second tooth! *One night we got a big scare from you. You were struggling to breathe, so Mommy rushed you to the Emergency Room, only to discover you had a case of croup and you weigh 18 pounds! *You eat like a champ! You grab the spoon with two hands and shovel it into your mouth! *You light up and smile so easily! You’re a happy baby–a happy beautiful blue eyed, light haired, fair skinned baby! Maertz Famliy Memories: *Kitchen kitchen kitchen. Many construction folks have been over. Many trips made to IKEA, Lowes, Home Depot and flooring vendors. Your daddy installed 15 cabinets, an electric oven, a gas stove, a sink, a garbage disposal (Twice! Because he loves Mommy), a fancy kitchen sink faucet, and a stove top hood! He’s kind of amazing. I would like to document (very humbly) that I made it FOUR WEEKS without kitchen counters and water in the kitchen. I am really amazing. (ha!) We have been really good at the slow and steady. Really truly there have been many major bumps along the way and we have had only two moments of uproar. And both marital “incidents” have had two things in common: It was past midnight and the location of something within one inch. Life goes on. *Whites joined us for dinner on a Friday night. *Played at Hillsdale and Kearny (introduced Oceans). *Friday night dinner as a family at Cheesecake Factory! Surprisingly kind of enjoyable! Of course we went to dinner at 4:50pm. *Our van battery died while I was with the girls at church, Auntie Anjuli and Daddy came to save the day. *Playoff football game with Whites/Lehmans at the Whites. *Birthday dinner with Leonie, Anjuli, Mom and Grandma at Nordstrom Cafe! *Paschalls invited Maertzs over for a yummy Enchilada dinner! *Joe got some pretty insane news this month. He got a long awaited email. He called me, went outside, opened the email, and read it out aloud to me. The first word was “Congratulations” and, just like that, everything could be changing. To celebrate this big day we dined at Vinz (with our Juliet!), thanks to Great Ama. *GrampBill swung into town and we enjoyed Buono Forchetta as a Maertz family! *While installing our kitchen sink, we discovered a very serious problem in our garage, it was flooded! Our washing machine line clogged and dumped water everywhere. *A lovely date night at Urge (thanks GrampBill!). *Girls and I enjoyed 4S Ranch Park and ChickFilA, a lot these days! *Growth Group hit up U.S. Grant Hotel for a night of laughs! *On my 36th birthday, Daddy took all three girls to Diego’s to get mommy a yummy breakfast burrito. We stopped by Marazzi for a final floor purchase! Late lunch at Cheesecake factory, a massage, and a night cozied up with the West Wing. Perfect.