We’re delighted to share this
Christmas New Year’s Valentine’s Day letter with you, just a little later than we originally intended.
On the final day of 2010, we found ourselves hurtling along the dark highways of Pennsylvania on our way to visit family, giving us some much-needed time to nap and to reflect on this past year. (Ken did the reflecting while everyone else napped.)
On March 29th, one day before his big sister’s birthday, we were introduced to the newest member of our family, Joel Tiernan Walkerâ€”our first boy, our first home birth. Mom and baby did great, and we loved the experience of being home together as a family, with a skilled and experienced midwife close at hand.
It seems strange to share with you news of his birth now almost a year later; itâ€™s hard to remember a time before Joel was a part of our family. We’re grateful to report that Joel is a happy little guy, who is eager to eat and sleeps well. He’s always just a moment away from giving us his trademark goofy grin, especially for Mama.
The year with him has flown by: sleeping (almost) through the night, waving and cooing, eating solid food, even sprouting teeth! Joel isn’t crawling yetâ€”heâ€™s content to let his sister rush a toy to his side when he gets crankyâ€”but we expect the new year will bringÂ that development any day now.
In addition to becoming a big sister, Dahlia also had a number of milestones last year: kicking the pacifier habit, getting her first professional haircut, celebrating her third birthday, and embarking on her first year of preschool. Along the way, DJ transformed from a toddler into a little girl.
Her stuffed Elmo, whom Dahlia had loved since she was in diapers, was traded in for an entourage of three-inch-tall Disney princesses, who perpetually provoke, tease, ally, double-cross, and (inexplicably) marry each other in the wild narratives of Dahliaâ€™s playâ€”essentially playing out a daily episode of Jersey Shore right on our coffee table. Clearly, sheâ€™s already preparing for high school.
Our daughter has taken ownership of her role as a big sister and is eager to help out around the house. She’s vey patient, tenderhearted, and values order in her life. For her first parent-teacher conference at preschool, her teacher informed us that Dahlia used to cry when other children get in trouble because she doesn’t want them to “break my teacher’s heart.” On the frequent occasion Dahlia tells us that some children at school don’t listen, we remind her that there’s no need to worry: God is watching over her.
Sarah continues to grow as an urban mom, filling her Facebook account with the joys of raising an infant and a preschooler. Her days start with walking the children several blocks to Dahliaâ€™s preschool in Newark and are often full with helping manage an organic food cooperative, commuting to New York to attend a momsâ€™ Bible study in Greenwich Village, or lining up dog training clients for the nights and weekends when Ken can be home with the kids.
Joelâ€™s birth this year has given Sarah the opportunity to immerse herself in the world of cloth diapering, enjoying the satisfaction of environmental stewardship and diaper fashions. Sarahâ€™s savvy with the growing cottage industry of cloth diapering has kept costs down as she scouts for deals and sells used diapers online, the demand for which never ceases to amaze Ken.
We celebrated Sarahâ€™s thirtieth birthday this year with a surprise party at our beloved Chocolate Factory apartment buildingâ€”which also marked our second year here. Seeing Sarah enter her thirties with her usual poise and grace was a reminder of how she is a woman of patience and wisdom beyond her years.
Ken reached his fifth anniversary at his workplace, a financial firm in Manhattan, getting aÂ feel for what it takes to succeed in business in New York City. Work there hasnâ€™t been as difficult as it was at the worst of the economic crisis (overheard from an analyst: â€œthe end of the world is priced into these stocksâ€), and it offers the chance to build a career and keep us near family, friends, and a church community we love.
Earlier this year, Ken reached the halfway point of his three-year term on the session (kind of like a board of directors) at the Village Church in Greenwich Village. Church leadership has been stretching Ken, pushing him to take the burdens of others upon himself and grow in compassion, discipline, and faith. We believe deeply in the mission of our little church in Manhattan, and it is a joy for our family to give to this work. We hope for Godâ€™s increase in our midst 2011.
The triple challenge of family, career, and church has sidelined Kenâ€™s entrepreneurial and journalistic plans for his local blog, the Daily Newarker. It was tough to set aside such a fun project; the blog had reached a level of respectabilityâ€”having been featured in the Star Ledger and garnering Ken some radio interviews. Our optimism for our beloved city remains despite the silence, and Ken aspires to a more sustainable creative outlet in the new year.
Thanks for reading. We pray this letter finds you well in 2011, and hope you keep in touch.
Joel, Dahlia, Sarah and Ken