What a difference a year makes. Last January, Great Ama and Thom were just hitched in our backyard, we lost baby Lantern at 10 weeks, and we got the news that Daddy didn’t move forward into the final stage of the State Department, the coveted and highly competitive Oral Assessment. Contrast that to now. We lost two wild and wonderful souls when Great Ama and Thom passed together into Heaven on Christmas Eve (accidental carbon monoxide poisoning), mommy is bursting with life inside her womb (little sister is coming soon!), and Daddy passed into the final stage of applying for the State Department, he’s going to Orals in May! What a difference a year makes.

Juliet Mae (2.5 years): *Oh sweet one, how we love your emerging personality! It’s so joyful, creative, smart and fun. At Auntie Elisa’s and Uncle Mao’s wedding, you not only walked cute and confidently down the aisle, you dragged your little ring bearer buddy down the aisle with you! There was no guessing who was leading who. *And just like that you are getting bigger and getting so much older. You wear size 3T and 4T and you act like a three year old! *This month it was time. Not because you climb out, or any real reason… it was just time. Time for your move to a big girl bed. And as there is excitement to see a new season begin, emotions are stirring… embracing and grieving the beautiful changes of growing up (cue watery eyes). Sounds like a good time to have another baby. *You ate three slices of pizza at dinner! Mommy ate three slices of pizza that night too, and she’s pregnant.

Aria: *Do you see how strong you are? You dragged Juliet through a good portion of the Salt Lake City airport! Boy did we have a scare at this airport. At the end of the moving walkway, your strength left you, and you weren’t able to get your suitcase over the yellow bar. Instead it fell, and so did you, and so did the next 6 people. In one giant pile at the end of the moving walkway, people were falling on top of each other, and you were at the bottom. People did everything they could to jump over the pile of 5-6 people and their luggage, but it was all happening too quickly. I somehow managed to leap over the side of pile with Juliet and yank you away… it was really frightening. I really wonder if you’ll ever get on one of those again.*You have found your interest in the piano! Playing Jingle Bells, Happy Birthday! *Girl, you have a beautiful heart of helps! You love to help! You really love it. It’s a common occasion for you to make your bed, and everyone else’s bed too! *You are very surprising to me, Aria, my girl of mystery. Sometimes you take your sweet time to warm up, and other times (cue story) like at Auntie Leonie’s school, you happily volunteer to sing songs and do cartwheels in front of the 30+ high school students! No shy in you! You were good, and you knew it. A beautiful confidence. *You still visit mommy’s and daddy’s room at night. One night in particular, at say 2am, you waltzed in and approached our bed with the most graceful spin, a spin at 2am! We love you Aria!

Naomi: *You have found a new addiction, MineCraft. *Naomi you are playing the piano with two hands! You will often just sit at the piano and play for the joy of playing, making up combinations of different notes and hearing what works, you’ve discovered how to create chords! It’s mind-blowing. *Do you see that sweet girl sitting in that little green chair? You organized your family to sit around and play a game similar to “simon” where we have to repeat a clapping pattern that you create. Just as you were about to create your pattern, you closed your eyes and said aloud, “Okay, come on brain, more heart, and ready.” I just adore you Naomi. *You are reading like a champ! You got assigned to the highest reading group in your class. And your math, wow. So impressive. *Of all your sisters, you are the most open minded about food. You will try anything. And you do in the sweetest way. After trying some garlic smothered tater tots you gave us your big eyes and said “Whoa! It’s like chocolate cake, it’s sooo good!” We all laughed. I just love you.

Maertz Family Memories: The day of Great Ama’s and Tom’s funeral, Noelle fell ill, which meant Sam was no longer able to read the eulogy at the funeral. One hour before the service, the responsibility fell on Daddy— and he nailed it. With perfect sentiment and a very honorable delivery, he made us all proud. *We enrolled you girls in WeeSing choir at EFCC, you just love it. Our current schedule: Monday Labs & Choir, Tuesday Gymnastics, Wednesday Baking class & Ballet, Thursday MOPS. It works for us. *Playdate with Keri and Gary at Highland Park. *A weekend getaway with the Growth Group girls in Laguna Beach! Just as lovely as it was the year before. *Visited Auntie Leonie’s classroom at Steele Canyon High School. *Celebrated a rainy 38th birthday lunch with Leonie at sushi, and “13 hours” and dinner at Burger Bench with my love. Simple, easy, perfect.

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