Following the breadcrumbs.

IMG_9204IMG_9074 IMG_9254IMG_8995IMG_9037 IMG_0038IMG_0338It was a Tuesday evening, exactly four weeks since we’d lost our fourth baby, and on his drive home from work Daddy said “something big fell into my lap today.” Like any good wife, I found the closest possible place to sit, and planted myself on a kitchen counter stool. Offering my complete attention, I took a deep breath and said “What? What big thing fell into your lap today?” Your daddy laughed at my dramatics and started downplaying the news. But I had this gut feeling, that whatever he was about to share was anything but little. “I might have volunteered myself to work in the UAE this summer.” My jaw dropped first, then my eyes got enormous, “Work in the UAE? The United Arab Emirates?” He continued on with brief explanations like “it’s only for two months”, “possibility of family coming”, “put us up in a five star hotel” and “starting late June sometime.” Your daddy kept talking on and on about this and that, but my mind got stuck on the dates: two months, starting late June sometime— late June to late August. It clicked. We’d be there during what would have been the fourth baby’s due date. We had hoped and planned for a summer hospital visit. Here was a unique opportunity, though, that in the midst of loss offered the consolation of a different sort of adventure. I let the idea sweep over me. Nodding to myself, I was letting my head move in agreement with my heart. I took a deep breath. And in my exhale I interrupted your Daddy,  “You have to do this.” He stopped talking. We both knew it was a done deal. In a matter of moments everything had been decided. We are diving in to the desert this summer.

My friend said it best when she called it a breadcrumb. The UAE opportunity is a breadcrumb. Ever since we circled the globe for many months as wanderlust young marrieds without children, we’ve had an appetite to embark again–to experience the richness of those deep encounters with new lenses, and through the eyes of our curious little ones. So, in the spirit of adventure and with hearts that want to see where the trail leads, we follow the breadcrumbs.IMG_0318IMG_0098 IMG_9582 IMG_0330IMG_9219 FullSizeRender 6IMG_8877 IMG_9381 IMG_8776Juliet Mae (19 months): Your bedtime routine involves going around the room, kissing every member of our family, including “Raffie” the giant giraffe. On this particular night, you blew my mind: On your own two feet, you walked to your crib, threw your hands up and said “Up.” You are so dreamy. Your must haves at night include sound machine, light projector, two babies (one soft bodied and one rubber bodied), and sometimes a binkie. What’s new when you wake up is that you like to wake up according to your timeline. Many a times Daddy has gone into your room when you’ve woken up in the morning or at the end of your nap and, if you’re not ready to get up, you will not get up. You lay there. And lay there. And lay there. Sometimes for up to 20 minutes. You will not let anyone pick you up, until you are ready. *You have a new word. “No.” At this stage it’s kinda beyond words adorable. Especially when you say “No no no no no” from a high pitch to a low pitch or vice versa. So cute! *You are a very social girl. You are quick to engage with strangers, even offering a friendly wave and “Hi” to passerby-ers. You are also quite confident. At a Jana Alayra concert you would not stop charging onto the stage. I had to snatch you over and over and bring you off the stage. You were so delighted in yourself. Finally, I got smart, sat down, and held the back of your dress with all my might. Your tenacity is exhausting! *You are obsessed with fish sticks. Your sisters had three each. But you, Juliet, you ate seven all by yourself. *You see that picture where GrampBill is pushing you in the swing? So sweet right? No, here’s the truth. You fell asleep. Then, minutes later, totally out of the blue, you threw up. Everywhere.IMG_9285IMG_9423 IMG_0146IMG_9249 IMG_0176 IMG_0032IMG_0048  IMG_0281Aria Ellen (Age: “Fee and fee codas”): I told you we were leaving the park in one minute. Aria, you stood at the entrance of the park, waiting patiently, and after three or so minutes you yelled “Mommy!!! You said one minute!” And you charged the way to the car to leave! You are so literal!  An everyday Aria phrase is “An you know what?” Oh Aria this is your phrase. You say it with the biggest eyes and biggest excitement! It’s often accompanied with a hand on my shoulder and about three inches between my eyes and yours. You say it multiple times a day, everyday, all the time. You just love sharing big news with me! Another Aria phrase is “I know.” At this stage in the game it’s still pretty cute… with a tilted head, know-it-all eyes, slightly raised eyebrows, and in almost comedic timing… your little lips very confidently say “I know.” For example, when someone says something like “Aria I really like your hair today” that’s your cue. “I know.” Have I mentioned we recently taught you the word “boasting?”  *After almost three weeks, you earned enough stars for a Target run. You were given $10 towards anything in the store. And you know what you bought? Hello Kitty nail polish. And you became obsessed with it. In fact, look closely at our new home office. There, on the brand new countertop, is your sparkly nail polish. You love sparkly. *During this month, you also earned a $3 sparkly frozen ball. You love it. You slept with it. You lost it at the beach. That night at bedtime: “I pwayed for kids in Afwica and my fwozen baw.” *We visit Daddy at EFCC’s Tuesday Basketball sometimes. This one particular visit you had to go potty and the restrooms were very visible, so I felt comfortable sending you to the potty alone. You had been in the bathroom for two minutes when I and everyone in the gym froze at the sounds of your blood curdling scream. Daddy called timeout and hurried to your sisters as I ran into the bathroom, all basketball games stopped, and everyone was terrified. Your scream was out-of-a-horror-movie scary. I found you inside a stall, door wide open, body trembling, paralyzed with fear. It was the most scared I have ever seen you. Do you know why you screamed, why you were paralyzed by fear, body trembling, a blubbering whimpering mess? The toilet’s flush was loud, and it freaked you out. *For being such a scaredy cat in the bathroom, you blew my mind at the Safari Park. You stood three feet away from the tiger’s lunch, a limp dead rabbit. Aria you watched with interest as the tiger ate the head first. So gruesome, many adults had to walk away, but you kept watching. That night you told Daddy so matter of factly, so Aria, “The tiger ate the bunny. He ate his head daddy.”FullSizeRender 4IMG_9069 IMG_9045 IMG_0209IMG_0120 IMG_9358IMG_0082 IMG_0263Naomi Mariam (5 years): Your ballet teacher pulled me aside “I don’t know what it is, but it clicked for Naomi this week. She has moved from goofy have fun Naomi to working hard and paying close attention Naomi. She is such a good listener! Even for being the youngest in the class (you’re dancing with eight year olds!), she isn’t just keeping up, her skills and staying on task are better than most!” My heart burst with pride Naomi! You are so much fun to watch in your dance class. You dance with confidence, expression and joy. You’re an absolute delight! When we’re driving home, you ask from the back seat “Mommy, are you forgetting something?” I smile and remember that we didn’t finish our conversation properly… “Naomi, do you know how proud of you I am?” Your body goes giggly, you know what is coming. “Sooooooo proud!” I declare. Your smile bigger than Texas. And so is mine. *As I was putting some ointment on an owie I overheard you whisper to yourself “keep it together.” I stopped, looked right at you. “Did you just say ‘Keep it together?'” You gave me the cutest slightly embarrassed smirk and nodded. Your cuteness made me laugh so much! *While watching you girls at a playground, you pulled me down to your level, looked me in the eye and so sincerely said “Mom, thanks for keeping the children safe.” *Lately, you’ve been calling Daddy “Hey buddy boy!” Oh how we laugh! *I hesitate to say this, but you can outrun your GrampBill! He can’t catch you! You’re one fast five year old! *I said, “I’m going to give you three, and Aria three.” You jumped right in, “Mommy that’s six.” We are floored by your gift with numbers! *You see that picture of you holding a lizard? You caught it! Sang lullabies to it! Invited it to your tea parties! And named the lizard Obama (you made one set of grandparents very happy).IMG_0233 IMG_9575IMG_9240FullSizeRender 3 IMG_0110IMG_0160 IMG_9484IMG_0640Maertz Family Memories: I have no idea. Joe and I jumped into this Google calendar idea, and already into month two, I have given up, and reverted back to a good old wall calendar. *So according to pictures, we got Safari Park memberships! Took at trip with Anjuli and her girl crew, a trip with mom, a solo trip, and a trip with Daddy. *We enjoyed a Jana Alayra concert at MOPS. Her DVD has changed our month. One afternoon, I pulled out our portable speaker system, and you gals gave the neighborhood a Jana Alayra concert. Erdos fam came over and we all giggled and adored your show. At nights, if you ate all your dinner and got into pajamas quickly, we’d “award” you with family concert time! *We helped Auntie Leonie and Uncle Dan move a play structure to Ama’s and Papa’s home. *We finished our new home office! Pretty exciting to have a completely unused space become used all the time–used and cute. Finally a place to put those stamps! *The very first picture of this post, at the beach, was taken on another ‘nothing Thursday’ after MOPS. But, after a quick lunch trip to Escondido’s new ChickFilA, I jumped on the freeway and went west. And my spontaneous crazy pushed me to drive to Moonlight Beach with the three of you. Here’s the kicker: I had nothing with me. No towels, no sun screen, no bathing suits, no wipes, no water, no food/snacks, nothing but ourselves, and we did it from 12-2:30, during Juliet’s nap time no less! We had the best time! The best time! You girls are troopers and make spontaneous fun. The Becks rescued us as we were leaving, gave us snacks, towels, and dry clothes to survive the drive home, in traffic. *At Escondido’s Children’s Museum, I felt a nudge to say hello to a beautiful mommy with three little darlings. Who knew that in that very quick “Hello” I’d be meeting a very special friend. Keri and her crew very quickly became dear to us! *We took a family trip to Discovery Lake. We brought a bike with training wheels, a tiny tricycle, and a car for Juliet. Less than halfway around the lake we were pushing Aria’s tricycle loaded on Juliet’s car, carrying/chasing Juliet, asking Naomi to slow down (as a fellow hiker warned us of a bobcat in the area), and begging Aria to keep putting one foot in front of the other. Worst. Family. Hike. Ever. *The picture (below), Juliet takes the cake.IMG_0303 IMG_0367 IMG_9256IMG_8876 IMG_9223IMG_8880