It’s hard to believe it’s that time of year again. The time where we send out a letter chronicling our year (Kevin says its much more efficient than calling everyone!). It’s been a fun one for us – full of exciting new adventures and learning. We really feel like this year, we’ve had a lot of love, a little peace and tons of joy.
She turned one this year and her birthday party at Great Aunt Donnas’ house was a blast, but the most precious moment actually happened once the party was over. We were videotaping her playing her toy piano when she just looked up at us and started to walk pushing the piano in front of her across the room. It was so amazing to witness her first steps and like her mother, she really eats up the attention too. It still amazes us how quickly she learns and grows (we’re confident she will test gifted, also much like her mother!). She walked on her own the day before we left on our trip to Toronto to begin training for our new Tutoring company, and to our amazement she was running when we got back 11 days later!
For the most part, Reese has been a dream child. All the transitions that people had warned us about went really smoothly for us. That was until we transitioned to cows milk. We went to the store and picked out special organic whole milk, came home, put it in a bottle and handed it to Reese. We were shocked when she took a sip and just threw it to the ground. We tried again. And again. And again. Every time the bottle was catapulted to the floor. We were shocked that our sweet baby was putting up such a fuss. After a whole day of trying, we finally got her to drink it when we diluted it with some formula. But when we tried our switcharoo again the next day, again the bottle went flying. Thinking it couldn’t be that bad, Kevin poured some of the organic milk in a cup and drank some. He spit it right back up! Could it be? Yes, it was sour. I came home to Kevin standing in the entryway with a cup in his hand saying, “Try it. Just try it.” We couldn’t believe we had tried to give our baby spoiled milk! We all recovered and now Reese drinks milk like a champ.
We’ve had plenty of love from lots of directions this year. We welcomed our new sister-in-law, Erin, into our family. It was amazing for Kevin to see it from the other side and watch his brother make a commitment to the woman he loves. And Reese just stares and stares at her Uncle Sean, when he visits us, who looks so much like her daddy!
In fact, he looks so much like Kevin that the pastor got confused before Sean’s wedding and started asking Kevin questions about the next big step he was taking! I also think Kevin really enjoyed getting congratulated all night long, too! Hopefully he passed on the good words to Sean.
Sean and Erin’s wedding also helped us to discover the incredible bond we had formed as a family. When Kevin was taking off for the bachelor party in Las Vegas, and I was heading out to LA with Reese, I just couldn’t get over how anxious I was about being separated from him for the first time since Reese was born. The night before we left, we all snuggled in bed together and just reveled in the unity we felt as a family. Once he got to Las Vegas, Kevin went around the party showing the other guys pictures of Reese on his i-Phone! (I bet Kev was hoping I wouldn’t slip this part in!)
For those of you who are more familiar with the hustle and bustle of our daily lives due to our businesses, you’ll be surprised to know that we’re planning some trips to our favorite destinations this year so that we will fit in some much needed family time and fun (Yes, Kev has finally committed to stepping away from his computer and work to actually go and have some fun.)! Hopefully it works out, because we had to cancel 3 of our trips this year that we haven’t been able to make up for yet.
Finally, we have felt an incredible amount of love from our extended family around Gainesville. Our house is Grand Central Station with grandmothers and grandfathers, aunts and uncles, and cousins all running in and out at all times. We love our nannies, Alina and Lammy, like they’re a part of the family, too. Since moving back to Gainesville it was a little bit of a cultural shock getting used to so many people around us all the time, but now we wouldn’t know what to do without it. A quiet house is kind of a scary thought!
The hectic nature of our lives and work has made peace come in spurts, but it has been profound at points. It’s been fabulous to have the support of so much family and friends within the same community and I’ve really connected with some of the moms in my MOPS group (mothers of preschoolers). It’s really comforting to know that the whirlwind of motherhood isn’t just overwhelming me alone!
Kevin calls our household the 211-degree house. If you add one more degree, we’re at the boiling point. So, we’ve had our share of meltdowns as we’ve started our new business while learning to balance family and work. In fact, we had to cancel our Christmas trip to New York this year because of just too much going on, including a sick baby girl, family circumstances, and a Christmas tree that toppled over! (Yes, we have joined the few that now tie our Christmas tree to the wall!)
But really, we’ve had a lot of peace in our family this year. It’s been great when you get those evenings in, where the work and the world actually stops for a minute and you’re able to just enjoy being together. Family time has become such an important thing to us now. It was magical to watch Reese walk around this Christmas light display near the hospital where she was born. She would touch the light bulbs with her small hands and just smile at their shiny wonder. She is truly the greatest gift ever and our little angel…we are so in love!
For me, I’m just happy to be through baby brain, so that I am able to help with the business we’ve started: Tutor Doctor, which helps families with K-12 age students. For Kevin and me, it feels fantastic to see all the knowledge and networking from marketing conferences we’ve attended and business books we’ve read bear fruit in our new business. We opened in November and have already enjoyed many early successes. While starting a business tends to rob you of your free time and stresses you out, Kevin and I actually have a lot of inner peace about the direction our lives have taken. For me, I get to integrate my life with Reese and my business life, which centers around family. Kevin loves working with the tutors, who are compassionate and dedicated people (Yes, I’m still talking about Kevin!). And we both get so much satisfaction from helping families with problems turn their lives around.
One of our tutors has been helping a family with a four-year-old who has been struggling with identifying her numbers. After her first session with our tutor, she could read numbers 1-5 in any order, I can’t explain the happy look on her mothers face but it felt wonderful. We love how these little successes populate our lives with joy!
And of course, Reese is such a joy, and surprisingly even when vomit is flying! We were heading to the airport to come back home from a trip and suddenly I was covered in vomit. It was totally unexpected, but instead of getting angry or frustrated, Kevin and I just laughed. This year has really taught us to find joy in the strangest places and to take what life gives you with a smile.
Another sweet surprise came when Reese was having a slumber party with her cousins, Christine, John and Ethan. The boys were sleeping in the spare bed in her room and Reese was in her crib. I listened to the monitor throughout the night and everything seemed normal, but at 5:00 in the morning I woke up to whispering and giggling. Somehow – and I don’t think we’ll ever know how – even though their heads aren’t taller than the crib, they had gotten Reese out of her crib and had snuggled her into bed with them. It was a magical moment.
Probably the most profoundly joyful and indescribable moment for us was when we finally heard Reese call us “Momma” and “Dadda” for the very first time! We’ve all probably been called a lot of things in our lives, but it is an amazing thing to hear your child call out to you. We’re so proud of her every moment and her every change – even if it only matters to us. Just recently, Kevin couldn’t believe when she brought him her shirt to put on the other day instead of having to chase her down just to get dressed, I guess it really is the little things that count.
Now Reese walks around the house singing “Dadda” over and over again. Sometimes Kevin will think she has some kind of urgent question or needs something, but no. She just loves to say his name (she is definitely Daddy’s girl!).
So, our house is full of love, joy and just the right amount of peace for us. Here’s wishing you an equally blessed year in 2011.
Kevin, Becky and Reese
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