Finding significance in the monotony of everyday— that’s my biggest struggle these days. It’s hard to be creative day after day, after day, after day. It becomes tiring to have too much planned; it becomes pull-your-hair-out boring to not have anything planned. More than once a week, this is my scenario: I will buckle you girls into the car, fill my bag with the snacks, shoes, diapers/wipes, sunscreen, sippy cups, bathing suits/towels (just in case) and pull out of our driveway with no idea where I’m going. None. Zero. Nada. I drive because I have to go somewhere. I have to leave the house. I must DO something today. And I start driving, figuring out a destination with each turn. Familiar turns, familiar roads, the safer routes, the easier ones. But there’s something in my core that says fooey to the easy, snubs my nose to the familiar, so I embrace the words perched above our faux antler key hanger— Be You, Bravely. I read those words and something in me feels empowered, capable, and let’s be honest— a solid pinch of crazy. Be You, Bravely pushes me to make the unfamiliar turns, charge head high toward the unknown, the big, the wild destinations. Twice this last month, these three little words have pushed me to take my normal nothing mundane days and brave some adventure. 1) While packing you girls up from an IKEA run, the crazy hits— we’re already down here, let’s do a quick run to the downtown Waterfront Park. I announce the adventure and you all squeal with joy! I change you into swimsuits and lather you up in sunscreen. Far from a boring day at home, this park requires guts— the nearest parking spot is four blocks away. In blazing summer heat, you three and me walk stroller-less through crazy downtown traffic, over four sets of train tracks, in bathing suits. We embrace the wild downtown park filled with fantastic and our “this is not suburbia” i.e. “my eyes are glued on all of you” kind of company. 2) Rest time/nap time concludes, you girls are eating a snack around our table, and the crazy hits– let’s pack up and enjoy a late summer afternoon at Moonlight Beach. Conduct last minute coordination with a coastal mommy— so she, me and five little ones tackle the preschool mommy life with bravery. This afternoon was not one bit boring. I might have saved the life of a brave 4 year old who thinks it’s fun to disappear in the the waves (maybe she’s reading the sign hanging above our keys too?). I can always count on the brave adventures to smother the everyday monotony. Mustering bravery and a solid pinch of crazy always makes for some solid memories that you girls will likely never remember, but I will, and they are beautiful ones. Juliet Mae (14 months): You’re a walker! You found your feet on September 27th! You took your first few steps and it was a done deal, you were off. You’re exploring everywhere, into everything, and climbing our kitchen ladder! Aye! Thankful for your sister’s watchful eyes! *With company over, you had one minute with your diaper off. That was all it took. You went down into a squat, and on our very expensive Anthropologie rug, you did your thing!! Everyone screaming, me included! You got so scared! In efforts to swoop you up, I didn’t have time to direct toddler traffic away from the poo! Sure enough, your oldest sister stepped bare footed right into your big brown mess! *You love the ocean! You laugh, giggle and charge your way to the next wave! You might have fallen underwater, but you popped right up with the biggest grin, ready for more! You’re awesome! *Juliet, you are very expressive! You are high highs and low lows, and you can be one or the other in a matter of seconds. You make it very clear that there is something you want, but it’s also very clear that we have no idea what it is you want. *You brought me a diaper, you laid down, and sure enough you had a poopy diaper! You’re amazing! *You’ve graduated into a forward facing car seat! *You’re talking a ton! You just talk and talk, so cute! Most of it is pure babble, but you’ve nailed a few words— “Bah” ball, “Dada” Daddy, “Nah nah” which is your word for “I want that!” *You love to drop things on the ground and say “Uh-oh!” It’s so darling. *One morning you woke up at 10:30am!! I was certain you were dead! AYE!! Aria Ellen (3 years): *You got your fevers again. Such an awful feeling seeing you so sick. It’s become very clear that you’re dependent on your antibiotics every single day. Hoping your bladder reflux heals up over time. *You are not an ocean girl. You are a sand girl. Happy as a clam, on the sand. We made a fantastic sand castle, with a huge wall to properly fortify the castle from the waves! I don’t remember exactly how it happened, but as waves approached you used your magical powers, threw your hands up at the encroaching waves and yelled “FORTIFY!!” Over and over, you protected the castle! “FORTIFY!” Hysterical and awesome! Later on that day, you said to Naomi “Nah know what? When we was at the beach with GrampBill, I was holding nobody’s hand (emphasis on nobody). I was so brave (emphasis on so). You see me?” Love hearing you talk about your bravery. *All on your own, out of nowhere, you told Daddy “Daaaad? I wish I have big boobies. Like Mommy.” As always, you crack us up! Naomi Mariam (4.5 years): You are a brave girl! You run straight into the ocean’s crashing waves, no fear, only delight! You love going underwater into the foamy white crashing waves! Well, I don’t love this, it’s frightening! I might have told you a little story, and for the rest of the day you were scared saying “I don’t want to float off to Japan!” It worked! *Read your sister’s FORTIFY story above. Cause you heard your sister, and saw her magical powers, and you did the same thing. Held your arms up to the encroaching waves, and yelled “FIVE-TO-SIX!” Smartie girl!! *As you finished up another one of your many pretend stories, you said “and they lived heavily ever after!” *Naomi, you do not like to be left out, or miss out on anything. During an afternoon “picnic” on the kitchen floor, you excused yourself to the bathroom and yelled “Don’t start the fun without me!” *You answered your first word problem! “If yesterday was Wednesday and tomorrow is Friday… today is Thursday! You nailed it. You’re a smart girl, Naomi! *At church, one of mommy’s friends tried to connect with you. She said “I really like your dress, I wish I had a dress like yours.” And you looked right at her and said “You need to be happy with what you have.” Ha!! Way to preach contentment! Maertz Family Memories: *Poway’s Saturday morning Farmer’s Market! *Flood Hillsdale with sick kids and a kind Donna McCoy. *Sister dinner at Rancho Bernardo’s Veranda! *Papa and Ama bought us a VitaMix! Papa made a point to tell me “It’s not your Vitamix, it’s the girls’ Vitamix. Do not return it. It’s not yours to return, it’s theirs. And they need their smooties everyday.” Ha! *Lots of Kaiser trips, for Aria’s high high fevers and for my mystery cough. *Eric Lehman’s not-so-surpise birthday party with Whites and Swifts. *Celebrating Ashley’s birthday under glowing summer globes with Stacey and Erin! *Phil’s BBQ Sunday lunch and Costco run, and finally becoming adults with our own membership. Thanks Dad for 19 years of Costco membership as your dependent! *A fantastic (and very generous!) dinner with the Murdocks at Vintana. *ICF with Ama, Papa, the Paschalls and a ton of wonderful International Students! Girls, you love going to ICF! *I acted on my activator strength and called NIck about staying on at Hillsdale. *Small GG at Thai food and late night Jack in the Box. *Malina and Mary came into town! Enjoyed a sister lunch at Miguel’s in 4S Ranch. *With GrampBill and Mary/Malina in town, everyone went to Carlsbad state beach together! Ended the day with a family potluck at the Bartons’! *I spoke on a MOPS marriage panel at EFCC. I might have said too much. Ha! *Farewell dinner for Jennifer. She’s off to UC Davis!