How to take cute pictures of your kids…

IMG_2850IMG_3163IMG_3420IMG_3057IMG_4604First you’ll need two adults for this holy act of photography. Now do your best to get your kids to stand next to each other in a straight line–impossible, I know. It should be noted, the fewer fragile items nearby, the better. Parent one, stand a good distance away from the perfectly lined up children. Now for the fabulous part. Instead of initiating the completely overused chorus of “cheese,” gather your best balls in the house and create a nice stack next to parent one. When parent two is ready with the camera, parent one fires away. One ball after another, one picture after another, aim right at the children. Keep tossing. The closer to the kids faces the better. After all balls have been thrown, and all the laughter subsided, you will have fabulous memories, captured. We do.

IMG_3264   IMG_3272IMG_3280Naomi Mariam (4.5 years): You are so much fun to be around. You are full of wonderful conversations, asking so many questions (“Why did God make me the biggest sister?” “Does God ever die?”), and doing it all with the cutest manners. Ama bought us a “Manners” book, and you actually love it. And good manners are pouring out of you! “After you!” as you hold the door open at ChickFilA (which we frequent as a family 3 times a week). One night: “I’m getting very sleepy, so let’s talk about all these these things in the morning.” And you ended with, “If I wake up, I’ll pray and God will take care of me. And if Aria wakes up, I’ll pray for her this loud (you hold your hand up to signal just a pinch) and God will take care of her too.” *At ICF, you serenaded everyone during dinner, daddy played Do You Want to Build a Snowman, and you sang so confidently on the microphone! Up to twenty people gathered to watch you, and you gave a sweet show! *God made you the big sister because you are so good at it! Juliet went berzerk as she saw you eating macaroni and cheese. You sweetly gave up your dinner to feed it to her. You couldn’t feed her fast enough. Juliet leaned out of her chair with a huge “Ahhhh.” You said “All right! All right! I’m coming!” And you corrected her when she grabbed the spoon “No, don’t touch. No no, sweet girl.” *You keep changing our calendar to December. You’re so excited about turning five. *You swam the length of GrampBill’s pool, and back! Wow.

IMG_3344IMG_3301IMG_3433 IMG_3362IMG_2809IMG_3334 (3)Aria Ellen (3 years): You surprise us Aria. One minute you’re all about taking balls directly to the face (and loving it!) and the next minute you’re by your big sister’s side comforting her. “Eh okay, you doh nee to cwy, God may you speciaw and he woves you vewy much.” Queue heart melting. I love your love for your sisters. *As we boarded the plane to Sacramento, Naomi got to the coveted window seat first. You waltzed right over the seats, wedged yourself between Naomi and the window, and without a fight, she let you have it. *We should probably work on past tense with you too. You have a past tense phrase that works like a beauty for you. “Hey Mommy, member we went to the new maw (mall), and I faw (fall) down and got an owie on my head last night? And member when we went to Disneyland for my birthday way last night?” *As we were going to bed one night, you declared in the happiest upbeat voice “Hey! Aye nah scwweewed (scared), angels watching over me!” You’re smart Aria. One night I threatened to take away your favorite toy if you didn’t start eating, you got smart and took away my threatening power “Hewe (here) Mommy, Ew (I’ll) shawe hew wiw (with) ewe.” And you gave the toy to me. Wow. At another dinner, you said to Daddy. “I doh wah fwee, I ohwy wah two” (I don’t want three, I only want two). Daddy said, “You are having three and you need to speak politely.” You turned up your assertiveness and sweet juice, “Daddy, I powitefuw (polite-ful) say two.”      IMG_2781IMG_2787 IMG_3373 IMG_2807IMG_3258Juliet Mae (13 months):  You are a happy girl! Happy, cheerful, always wanting to be included in the flurry of activity, and quite adamant about what you want. *You started shaking your head to say Yes and No. It’s not always the clearest communication, but you know it means something and you love seeing us respond happily to your head bobbles. *You kiss, wave bye bye, sign more/banana/water, and you give the best hugs (you pat people’s backs as you hug! So stinkin cute!) *You stand! And your favorite place to stand is on top of your sisters’ princess table chairs! You are a daredevil with good coordination. You haven’t fallen yet! Well, strike that, you did fall head first out of the bath tub, oops. *Besides that little tub incident, you love water! You jump into the pool, you are pretty good when Mommy dunks you under the water, and when we dipped you in the ocean, you could not get enough! You loved the strong currents against your legs and you loved getting tossed by the waves. *Your best trick these days: We say “Giant Goliath fell to the ground.” And you take your hand and slam it down on your highchair tray. “BOOM!” We all laugh! You do it over and over. You enjoy making us laugh! *You talk (i.e. babble a lot)! You talk and talk, and you just love it. You talk with inflections, pauses, facial expressions, and dramatic syllables, it’s so absolutely darling. You are a talker Juliet!

IMG_3201IMG_3406IMG_3155 IMG_3330IMG_2875 IMG_2891IMG_3504Maertz Family Memories: *Messed up Ave Maria at Amy Benson’s wedding! I stop to buy a whole new outfit from Target on the way to the reception. *Jessica had a baby shower AND a baby! Matthew Botica made his big debut on August 16th! *Joe enjoyed dinner with Steve Mikalis in San Clemente. *Irene (and baby Phoebe) joined us for a morning. *Picnic at Esco’s Children’s Museum. *Loucks girls came over for some sing song and play. *We unraveled quicker than ever at EFCC’s Wacky Water day. Managing three kids is not easy. *Tackled three kids at Kaiser all by myself. It was enormous. But my “look what I did today” marker felt equally enormous. *After Hillsdale, the Stangers hosted the band and families for a BBQ lunch. *Mindy play date, Naomi and Soren got married. *Amie and Tinsley joined us for a morning. *Anjuli and girls come for a morning. *Surprise Angela for her birthday at Buona Forchetta! *Best time in Vacaville for five summer nights. Date night with Jim and Melissa! Lots of swimming at Gigi’s condo, great chats with Lujans, and a fun afternoon of swimming at GrampBill’s. Girls played hide and seek in the backyard with Jim and Melissa— Aria hid next to a cactus. Splinters everywhere. Horrible. *Kitchen: completed top pantry doors, crown molding, trim, mudroom baseboards. Almost done.IMG_2976 (1) IMG_3445IMG_3424 IMG_3130 (1)IMG_3414 IMG_3532IMG_3322