On the drive to Dubai.

IMG_1164 3 IMG_1074 5IMG_1065 5 IMG_1632 3IMG_1644 3 IMG_1926Something happened on the drive to Dubai. Just as we were in sight of the big city something started tugging on me. Nudges. Deep nudges. God whispers. “Let go of your dream. I am bigger than your dream.” — echoed on repeat in the deepest parts of me. I wanted nothing to do with these Let It Go shenanigans. I knew what the nudges were leading me to, and I did not like it, not one bit. Mile after mile, the echoes grew louder and louder and I just couldn’t silence it anymore. FINE. I’ll do it. “Joe, what I’m about to say is going to come out of nowhere, but I just feel like I am supposed to say this while we are still together face to face. I don’t expect you to, or need you to respond, I am just supposed to say it.”  Deep breath as the tears start pouring. “I just want to say thanks. Thanks for the past six months of you being patient with me.” (Long pauses, tears, and me thinking, what am I doing?) “And for your openness to trying for a fourth child. ” (More tears). “I guess what I am trying to say is, we don’t have to try anymore. We can be a family with three little blessings.” Joe grabbed my wet hand, dripping with tears, and held it tightly as he drove. He didn’t say anything. He didn’t have to. He knew my words were grieving words. Me grieving a dream; me grieving a rainbow baby.

Hours later, my toddler sorority and I boarded a big plane. And just like that, 9,000 miles separated our family. I knew it would be a long journey ahead— Daddy was staying behind in Abu Dhabi for another five weeks— but what I didn’t know was that less than 48 hours after landing back home I would have a new nudge. An unbelievable nudge that would put all my hopes and dreams into one plastic white stick.  Little did I know that during that long ride to Dubai, where God was nudging me to let go of a dream— that dream was already in the making. #blownaway #shockeddaddysfaceoff

IMG_1106 4 FullSizeRender 3 10.20.15 PMIMG_1097 4 FullSizeRender 4 10.20.15 PMIMG_1133 3Juliet Mae (2 years): Let me start with— if you’re a mommy with a non-compliant two year old— don’t read this. You will not like reading about our Juliet. Okay, you’ve been warned. Juliet— Can I just tell you how darling you are? Every single day you steal my awe and my wonder. Your sweetness, your newly formed sentences— “Aye wah fyyye!” (I want to fly, you even threw your arms wide as you saw a flock of birds fly over), your laughter, your cheerful and social disposition— you give mommy and daddy so much joy! You must be the world’s best 2 year old. You are the best eater. You sleep better than your sisters. You’re incredible at sharing with others. If I must give you a time out, you walk yourself to the corner and stay perfectly still for minutes. You love getting dressed, each morning you are pulling mommy to your closet to help you pull down this or that. When it’s time to do your hair, you are so incredibly cooperative. I just can’t say it enough— you must be the world’s best two year old. On top of it all, you potty trained yourself this last month! You have proudly moved into big girl panties with little to no accidents! A dream.IMG_1617 2 IMG_1597 3IMG_1119 3 IMG_1838 2IMG_6775 IMG_1805 2Aria Ellen (4 years): Okay sporty. GrampBill got you and Naomi private tennis lessons— and when your sister lost interest on day three, you took over the court! Not just a cute kid who can make solid contact, you made folks two courts down stop their game to see this four year old wonder smack the ball! Your coach is begging us to move up there so he can raise up the next tennis star! You turned many heads that week Aria! You’re blossoming into this fun, thoughtful, and spunky kid— who loves ketchup, giving “ugga muggas,” sleeping on the top bunk, helping mommy and daddy with anything, being outside on her bike, waking up early, and single pony tails (this last one is always a miracle to pull off!). With Naomi off at school, you are taking the lead at home and it’s so very fun to watch. You have such a good heart, Aria. I love how you have this natural protective spirit over your little sister. You are always looking out for her. You’re a wonderful big sister.

IMG_1400 2 IMG_1141 3IMG_1601 3 IMG_1793 2IMG_1831 2 IMG_1605 3Naomi Mariam (5.5 years): The time finally came. You entered kindergarten this month! The night before you started school, I made your lunch, and sent the picture to Daddy in Abu Dhabi. He teared up thinking about his little girl coming of (school) age. You have made us so proud, you’re so bright, smart, kind, assertive, confident, fun, a pure delight to have in our clan. And now, you get to share your gift with the world. You have been so excited about this day! No tears or worries from you, you were ready! On your first day of school, I wrote three little letters on the inside of your wrist in pink sharpie. UBU. As I watched you march into your class, you covered your letters with your other hand, and after every few steps you’d peak at your letters like they were a road map. They are, Naomi. Whenever you don’t know what to do, you be you. Go get ’em big girl!

IMG_1667 3 FullSizeRender 5 10.20.15 PM IMG_1745 2 IMG_1759 2IMG_6735 IMG_1816 2Maertz Family Memories: After almost four weeks in the Middle East (July 15th – August 9th), adjusting home was a beast. Thankful for Ama who stepped in on a morning when everyone was ready for the day at 2:50am. In the very difficult first few days, we readjusted with trips to Dr Martinez (to reassure us that Naomi’s head injury was healing nicely), Kindergarten orientation with Mrs McNiff, and ballet class with Mrs Dean. This first week, Mommy was so off her game that she accidentally killed the van’s car battery three times in four days. Three times she told daddy “I just forgot to turn the keys off.” Thankful for AAA and Mr Wright for saving the day! After one week home, we boarded another plane and headed north. After 21 hours of travel with you three, all I had to do was 80 measly minutes to Sacramento! Parading around in matching “Big Sister” t-shirts, you girls got so much attention! But even three matching “Big Sister” t-shirts didn’t communicate the big news to GrampBill! Aria finally grabbed GrampBill’s attention and said “Look at Juliet’s t-shirt!” Sure enough, he read “Big Sister” out loud and it still didn’t hit him. It wasn’t until I pointed it out a second time with huge eyes— boom. He got it. Everyone got it! Happy tears flooded the Sac airport! I bid my farewells and headed off to Vegas for three nights with Shelly! Meanwhile, Daddy struggled through the hot, muggy summer of Abu Dhabi— solo. He had his 60 hour work routine down. Waking at 11am, swimming in the Shangri-La pool, showering, eating all too often at Shake Shack at Dalma Mall, and into work by 2pm. Working a grueling 12 hour shift, he’d head home at 2am and call mommy and his girls on his way (3pm here), crashing soon after. He did this on repeat for 5 weeks. After Camp GrampBill (with GG and Auntie Peggy!), girls and I headed back home to join Tatum, Eric and Silas Lehman who were staying at our home. The very next morning was Naomi’s first day of school. The next few weeks were very blurry for mommy. She was exhausted. There were many bedtimes where Naomi would remind me “We forgot to do school today.” Yes, we sure did. But at that point, with Mommy into the difficult stages of a first trimester and Daddy on the other side of the world, Mommy was simply happy that everyone was alive. Thankful to family, friends, Ice Cream Happiness, Chick Fil A, and many other fine establishments who helped this mama survive five weeks (and two days) without Daddy.

IMG_1841 IMG_1800 2 IMG_1899 10.20.15 PMIMG_1828 2 IMG_1482 3IMG_1952 IMG_1616 2IMG_1656 3 IMG_1594 3IMG_1287 3 IMG_1371 2IMG_1230 IMG_1765 2IMG_1208 IMG_1155IMG_1130 3 IMG_1192IMG_1785 2