As I sit here reflecting on the year, my head is full of fleeting thoughts. I think back to all the different New Year's Eves over the years. It's never been a big celebration in my family, but it has always been a time to reflect on the year that passed and to set goals for the upcoming year. I found some pictures from a New Year's Eve that I remember vividly, from 2004 in Singapore, when we had a Stephens family champagne celebration, which we are really good at, followed by an incredible dance party.
Joseph, exhibiting some of his finest dance moves.
In that same tradition, Jim and I have never had crazy New Year's celebrations--in fact, in our almost 11 years together, this is only our 4th New Year's Eve together. We were laughing earlier in the evening when we just finished watching Rio (currently Lilly's favorite movie--it's a pretty good one!), and we were singing and playing "Ring Around the Rosy" with Lilly while Jack was lying on the floor by the Christmas tree, kicking and making his baby noises. We looked at each other and smiled--definitely a New Year's Eve to remember, even if it's not the craziest one.
2011 has been a good year for us. It's had it's highs and lows, but thankfully, more highs than lows. The biggest high, of course, being Jack's arrival in October. He's been such a little (or not so little, as the case may be) blessing in our lives. He made our family of three a family of four. He made us happier and prouder parents, while adding a whole new level of discovery to our lives. We're learning all about what it means to have a son. Jack made Lilly a big sister. It's funny to think that as he goes through life, this year will mark the year he was born. Just as 1981 is significant for me, 2011 will be significant for Jack.
February 2011 marked ten years together for Jim and me, going all the way back to sophomore year of college.
Those ten years have flown by. Although I knew early on in our relationship that we would end up together, I could not have imagined where we would be today--with a bright and bubbly two and a half year old daughter who fills our lives with so much laughter, and an almost three month old son who we're just getting to know but can't imagine our lives without. It's a pretty good place to be.
April 2011 saw Lilly turn two, and with that milestone, our silence was shattered. Earlier this evening, we were looking back to what I had written this time last year, and came across one of our favorite Lilly videos, when she had just learned to tell us to "shit." Just like we did one year ago, we had a good laugh; only this time, Lilly was watching the video with us, chatting away about how that was baby Lilly and how cute she was. At least we don't have to worry about her self esteem!
In 2011, we spent time with our families in Florida, DC, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Connecticut. We didn't make it to Austin this year, but will have to revisit it in 2012 for our five year wedding anniversary. Early in 2011, we learned I was pregnant with Jack and nine months later, Jack was born. This year, Jim and I both turned 30 and discovered that 30 really isn't that bad. In 2011, we went to seven weddings of our family and friends, and had a great time at every one, dancing together and remembering our own wedding day. In 2011, Jim and I went to London for a week and enjoyed spending time together--just the two of us. Jim did his third Ironman and we spent a memorable week with my family in Wisconsin. Lilly began referring to my parents as "GigiPapa"--they are now one person to her. The year was marked by potty training, picnics, and the transition from a crib to a bed. Lilly created Judy, her bunny, who now accompanies her almost everywhere we go. She formed a strong friendship with her doll, Daisy, who GigiPapa gave her last Christmas and who spends most of her time imitating Jack. We keep finding Daisy in Lilly's kitchen sink, and after the initial confusion, realized that this is because we give Jack a bath in our kitchen sink. This year, Lilly formed an even stronger bond with her one, if that is possible. While there are many more memories from the year, those are some of the highlights. 2011 was good to us and I will look back on the year fondly.
As we look to the year ahead, I can only hope that 2012 brings us as much happiness as 2011 did. I look forward to kicking off the year in Florida with my whole family!! We're all making our way down there this week to meet Mum, Dad and Ells. I say, bring it on.