This is your Daddy.

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IMG_5879IMG_5914 IMG_5877IMG_5969 IMG_5915IMG_5905IMG_7191 IMG_7196 It’s been ten years Joe Maertz. TEN. You’ve earned this.

He’s the kindest. Eleven years ago, your Daddy offered his hand and helped me step down off a high ledge. I thanked him, looked into his big brown eyes and said “How are you not dating anyone?” In a matter of weeks, that question became irrelevant. His kindness has won my heart over and over again. I love your Daddy’s kindness.

He’s so smart. He’s the best kind of smart— cause with all that wisdom and knowledge soaked up in that head of his, he doesn’t flaunt it. He’s crazy smart and crazy humble, the best combination.

He braves deep waters. Figuratively and literally. It’s always a gorgeous beach filled with vacationers enjoying the ferocious wild waves, from the safety of the sand —- but not your Daddy. He read the warnings, he considered the signs, but he saw an adventure. With great confidence, he throws himself into the wild waters. He frolics and the rest of us fear for his safety. But, then something shifts, and his bravery oozes into all the grown up little boys on that beach, and one by one, they join your Daddy. Within minutes, your Daddy has a clan of bobbing heads in the water with him. It happened in Cabo, it happened in Kauai, it will happen again with you girls, I’m certain. Hold tight to your Daddy’s hand, he’ll give you the best adventure.

I can’t beat him in Boggle. One, he won’t let me. And two, he’s really good. He always always wins. I love this and hate this about your Dad. He doesn’t let me win. He doesn’t let me run the show. This one trait about your dad is what ultimately made him completely irresistable to me. It was early on in our dating, everything was going great, but it was happening really fast. And because I was used to running the show, I told Joe what our relationship needed. Along the 52 east freeway, I said, “I think we should take a break…” He sat quietly for a moment, then confidently said, “Okay. Starts tomorrow.” He didn’t know it then, but his response won me over forever.

He’s a man of discernment. 4 years ago, we were a thread away from owning 927 San Pasqual Rd. A beautiful home, gorgeous really, but the lot sat in a precarious spot, just off a very busy road. We sat together at Rockin’ Jenny’s, a local sandwich shop, and as we were 3 months pregnant with Aria, we talked for a long time about our accepted offer. Something about it didn’t sit right with your Dad. And in that conversation, I knew, he knew something I didn’t. An hour later we revoked our offer. And wouldn’t you know it? Days later, our dream home popped up on the market. It wouldn’t have come to be if your Daddy didn’t have the discernment he does. It’s the kind of wisdom that’s easy to follow, makes me want to follow.

He is the best of both worlds— creatively analytical, poetically precise. And what better way to use these rare gift combinations than to design and build our kitchen (yes, your dad did that). Down to every itty bitty detail, he created a perfect and beautiful kitchen.

He’s ridiculously funny. Right after your Daddy’s handsome looks, it was his humor that roped me in. We were leading worship together on a houseboat trip, and while passing by the high school girl’s boat, he flaunted “Hey, I heard this was the laaame boat.” All the girls laughed and laughed, and I did too. I’ve been laughing ever since.

He goes onto social media and announces to everyone his pursuit of a dream. Not his accomplishment or achievement of a dream, his pursuit. Everyone knows, a pursuit takes time, and doesn’t always happen on your first try, or second, or ever. But this is what I love about your Dad. He shares his plan, he rallies excitement, he goes after it with his people cheering along side— and it doesn’t ruin him to announce— “today was not my day.” He’s not derailed by the loss, not even a bit. He keeps his eyes on the dream, everything else is just a means to getting there. That’s your dad.

It was an early Sunday morning. I was getting ready, and your Daddy was still sleeping. In the 13 years we’ve known each other, Sunday mornings have never looked like this. We met doing Sunday worship together. And today, I was headed down to lead a morning church service all by myself. With a good size lump in my throat, I kissed your Daddy bye. He sat up and met me in my tender moment, and said “Let me pray for you.” This is your daddy.

IMG_5756IMG_7184 IMG_7181IMG_5802  IMG_5605IMG_5397IMG_7182 IMG_7183 IMG_5454Juliet (15 months): *When we ask you to lay down so we can change your diaper, you do! And the best part is you lay there so incredibly still. I could open up your diaper, run to another room to get wipes, come back, and you’d still be laying perfectly still on the floor. Compliant to a T. *For Halloween, GrampBill, GG and Aunt Peggy bought you a darling flower costume. You wanted nothing to do with it. You would not even tolerate trying it on, not for a second. *When mommy and daddy returned from Hawaii, Mommy was beyond excited to see you! The moment you woke up, I was at your door, and GG and Aunt Peggy were right behind me, excited to see us reunited! I walked in the door and the smell of your room was repulsive. Oh Juliet, an unexpected reunion. Poop all over your sheets, your crib, your cheeks, your ears, your head, your mouth (!!!!)… your hands looked like brown mittens. I yelled “start a bath!”  What a mess. But worse than the poop— after all was said and done, you dove out of my arms, didn’t recognize me, and wanted nothing to do with me. It took almost 48 hours. 48 hours of put me down, walking away from me, treating me like a stranger. Aye! *This month you said “Mama” for the first time— and just like that, you completely redeemed yourself this month.IMG_5025   IMG_5780 IMG_5406Aria Ellen (3.5 years): *Just as Daddy was exhaling, you said “Are you fwustwating?”  *You love getting yourself dressed in the mornings, and you are so good at it. You think about the colors and you thoughtfully consider the weather. “Ehs eh coh ousigh?” *I dropped you off at MOPS, you started singing Daniel Tiger’s song “Grown ups come back!” So cute. *In this season, you win for most compliant. Somehow, little miss independent has become little miss “okay!”. That’s your response to everything, especially if your older sister’s in earshot. You love the positive attention for being so easy going, and quite honestly, we’re happy to give it. *You love your bike. You’re a fierce rider, and you take it oh so seriously. *You and your sister sleep in bunk beds, guess who sleeps on the top bunk? You. Guess who wakes up every morning, sitting on the edge of her bed, legs dangling, singing at the top of her lungs? You. You wake up happy love. All day you play hard. At night, you are fine admitting “I’m tiyehd (tired).” You close your eyes, and are sometimes off to dreamland before we leave the room.                         IMG_5657 IMG_5809 IMG_5436  IMG_5194IMG_5271 (1)Naomi Mariam (almost FIVE years old!): *Earlier this month, you saw a little boy playing a violin in a magazine, “Can I learn to play the violin?” Sure enough, Amazon Prime had your 1/4 size violin at our doorstep in two days. You’re elated. And Mommy is elated, Ama is teaching you. *You jumped on the piano one day and started experimenting with playing notes at the same time. And all by yourself, you landed on a gem. In two parts, you play B (alone), and then E F# (at the same time). Then you move to B — E G# (a third inversion E chord!), you have great finger control and an incredible ear.  *Captured on video, you changed Juliet’s diaper all by yourself! It was pure joy to watch you! You made Aria your assistant (she did nothing you so sweetly asked of her). My favorite part was watching you trying to lift up Juliet’s booty for a new diaper. You were so patient with your limp baby sister, spoke so politely as you gave tasks to Aria, and you nailed the task all by yourself! *While at Bates Nut Farm, we attended a “Learn about a pumpkin” show. With an audience of 60 or so kids and moms, you were quite disappointed that the presenter didn’t choose you as a volunteer. As soon as she said “Don’t worry kids, I’ll pick more volunteers in a few minutes…” you jumped out of your seat next to me, and with determination, you hurdled two rows of crowded kids.  They looked at you in confusion as you made a space in the front row where there was no space. When it came time, you leaped to your feet, hand sky high, and sure enough, you stood on stage as the proudest “pumpkin” the patch had ever seen.IMG_5382 (1)IMG_5160 IMG_5304 (1)IMG_5751 (1) IMG_5807Maertz Family Memories: *Our band, The Gate Called Beautiful had our last and final Sunday at Flood Hillsdale. After almost 2 years, 7 toddlers, and a move to Corona, it simply became too much. Now, Mommy is carrying the torch for the GCB boys. *Celebrated Brooklyn’s 4th over a casual and delicious White weekday dinner. *Sister dinner at Rancho Bernardo Inn’s Veranda. *Daddy takes the FSO test number #1 again and, perfect timing, we found out that he passed while we were in Hawaii! *Leeana’s Breathing Room book release party in the Hamilton’s twinkly backyard. *Basketball, Monday night prayers, Growth Group, and MOPS fill our cups. *Host Lehman’s here for a final backyard hamburger dinner. *It’s only October, and Joe attended three Christmas Collective rehearsals. *Girls got library cards! You all love the library, and mommy loves pairing it with EscoGelato. *Growth Group sends off Tatum with a last group at Ponce’s. *EFCC’s Harvest Party, no one gets lost! *Bates Nut Farm with MOPS! You girls loved the maze. *Mommy did music and hosted a seminar at Flood’s Women’s Event! The speaking part made mommy lose sleep. *Lehman’s farewell party at the Tankersleys’, your Daddy’s speech stole the show. *7th annual Maneevone/Paschall pumpkin party— carved up a pirate ship pumpkin, and we didn’t lose! *Celebrated Reed’s 4th birthday at his grandparent’s home in Corona. *For Halloween, you girls toured the family friendly streets of 4S Ranch. GrampBill laughed as he spoke of your trick or treating method as “aggressive.” He told us how Naomi would charge ahead from door to door, and when someone didn’t answer their door fast enough, you opened it and welcomed yourself into their home. *GrampBill, GG and Aunt Peggy took you girls to Disneyland! *Playdates: Jenn & Leila, Mary Ann and nanny, Anjuli and crew, Erin & Mary at Safari Park, Amie & Tinsley at Hilltop/ChickFila.

Hawaii: The view from our vacation rental was mesmerizing, our lanai a mere 15 yards away from crashing waves! We watched surfers, turtles swimming, locals fishing with nets, and people from all over the island came to our little outcropping to enjoy the island’s best spot to watch a sunset. First day, frolicking in the waves at the Sheraton beach, dinner at yummy Italian food. Day two, hiking a muddy and memorable Kalalau Trail, with a spontaneous swim at the base of a huge waterfall! Day three, (our ten year Annibirthoween!!), drive to Waimea Canyon, anniversary naps, Shipwreck’s beach, a fabulous dinner at The Beach House next door! Day four, a day trip adventure up the Napali Coast! Day five, relaxation at its best at Shipwreck’s, and our second consecutive dinner at Merriman’s! This entire trip was only possible because your girls have incredible folks who love you, and divided the labor into a labor of love: GrampBill, GG, Aunt Peggy, and Ama— after 7 days, you had managing three little girls down to a science, a finely tuned machine! Thank you thank you— thank you!IMG_5337 IMG_5442  IMG_5761 IMG_5311 IMG_5320IMG_5974