Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Year in Review 2006

What a difference a year makes...

It was Christmastime one year ago when we were just beginning to feel acclimated to family life and the challenges of parenting. Today our lives have a comfortable and familiar rhythm and the kids are thriving.

Christmas 2005: It took a week for the kids to open their gifts, as love at first sight gave way to fascination with boxes and shredding wrapping paper. In the interim, we had a great visit with the Breslin and Trautwein families; enjoyed the “Cousins’ Lunch” at Whitemarsh; hosted Aunt TT, Uncle Scott, Megan, Craig and Casey for a couple of days; and ROCKED New Year’s Eve until 10 PM!

In January 2006 we said good-bye to Molly’s baby chick hair (quite the sad occasion for me) and hello to a couple mouths full of teeth. The winter’s first significant snowstorm found us trying our hand at a time-honored tradition: wrestling the kids into snowsuits. An hour of bundling and buckling and swathing in layers left Mom and Dad drenched with perspiration and the children appropriately immobile. Fifteen minutes later, Mom and the kids retreated to the warmth of the house to watch Dad snow-blow the driveway. On our first “date” as parents, Alli and I attended the Big 5’s 50th Anniversary Celebration at the Palestra.

Aidan had minor little boy outpatient surgery to kick off a busy month of February. Mom was a bit of a wreck in pre-op, but the boy was so loopy on the sedative he’d been given he fairly leapt into the arms of the nurse with scarcely a look back when the time came for his procedure. Post-op was another story, though, and after we arrived home he spent the afternoon at home sleeping first in Alli’s arms and then mine. After a few days of delicate diaper changes he was good as new. February also brought the first of Aunt Barbara’s regularly scheduled visits as she helped Alli take care of the kids and the two of them hosted a bridal shower for Barbara’s daughter/our niece Kristen. Shank, Monique and their kids came down from Welland, Ontario for a weekend.

Spring arrived not a moment too soon: After too many months confined to the house, Alli could take the kids outside! They love being outdoors: playing in their little cottage on the back patio, running around in the yard, pushing their trucks on the driveway, taking wagon rides through the neighborhood, going to children’s parks in the area, and visiting the Lehigh Valley Zoo. When the weather turned warm enough, Molly and Aidan “swam” in their pool, ran under the sprinkler, and ran away from Daddy’s garden hose. We spent July 4th at a neighbor’s house, where the kids got their first look at fireworks up close and personal.

In August, neighbors gave us bike seats their children had outgrown. Alli took Molly and Aidan for helmets (or as Aidan likes to say, “Bipe hap Daddy!”) and taking the kids for a bike ride in the evening became a favorite family activity. August 8th marked the one-year anniversary of the kid’s discharge from the baby home into our permanent custody and we celebrated with our Kazakhstan travel companions Bob, Beth and Nicholas. Molly and Daddy and Aidan and Mommy enjoyed the sights and sounds of Musikfest and polkaed like pros. An article written for La Salle’s quarterly alumni magazine about us, the kids and our adoption experience was published in the summer issue and delivered later in the month. We closed August with a week in Ocean City, NJ with Mo and Pop-Pop: The kids loved the beach and the boardwalk and sleeping in their “beach cribs” (pack-n-plays).

Potty training began in September. Dora the Explorer and Bob the Builder pull-ups along with M & Ms were the catalyst for early success. The kids turned two in late October – the 21st for Molly, the 28th for Aidan – and received terrific two-year wellness check-up reports. For Halloween, Molly was a princess and Aidan a bumblebee. The damp, raw weather limited our trick-or treating but the candy
haul was impressive nonetheless and Kit Kats were an unmistakable favorite. To our delight, the kids got a big a kick out of answering the door and distributing candy, and on more than one occasion we watched as a Kit Kat was extended to a waiting ghoul or goblin only to be recalled at the last moment in favor of a Milky Way or Snickers, said Kit Kat then promptly redeployed to Molly or Aidan’s substantial pile.

November brought exciting news: Alli will be inducted into La Salle’s Hall of Athletes in a ceremony scheduled for February 24, 2007. The stars aligned for this one: 2007 marks the 20th anniversary of her graduation and the 10th anniversary of her induction into the Big 5 Hall of Fame, and February 24 is her birthday. For Thanksgiving, we took Molly and Aidan to Canada: Monique prepared an award-winning turkey dinner; the kids met Nick and Virg and Tara and Tara’s eighteen-month old son Cooper, who took a shining to our Molly, and learned a little French from Mrs. C and Giselle; we all took a trip to see Niagara Falls; and Aidan drove a front-end loader (no kidding!), a two-year old boy’s dream come true if there ever was one.

So here we are, a year gone by and the holidays upon us. Molly and Aidan enjoyed their first Christkindlmarkt in Bethlehem. As with last year, Molly wants nothing to do with visiting Santa’s lap, though Aidan took the opportunity to charm the fat man and request a school bus and a choo-choo. We took the kids to get our tree again this year, and they trooped up hill and down dale with Mom and Dad in search of evergreen perfection. They’ve been excited participants in our preparations, anxiously exploring box after box of Christmas treasures (how have we managed to accumulate so much stuff over the years?) and helping to decorate the tree. We enjoyed a cookie party at our adoption agency and were delighted to find Aidan’s picture in the local paper the next day.

Molly remains as vivacious as ever. She has a great sense of humor, loves to laugh and dance, and enjoys singing and clapping games. She hugs and kisses her babies and stuffed animals with gusto. Circumspect and hesitant by nature, she has made wonderful strides in handling new situations and meeting new people. She is content with solitary play or quiet reading at times but prefers company in most activities. She loves her brother, often at his peril and only so long as he remembers who’s the boss. We watch with fascination as their interaction changes with their developing personalities. She bedevils Mom and Dad at times but remains the apple of her Pop-Pop’s eye. Molly is a sweet, sweet little girl.

Aidan, so small and so frail when we met him, has flourished in the last year. He is keenly observant and extremely curious about how things work. The more adventurous of the two, he eagerly tries new things; however, his ambitions sometimes exceed his capabilities, at which point things begin to fly! He loves everything to do with cars and trucks and trains (Thomas the Tank Engine has dethroned Elmo), and is content to spend hours playing with them. Much like his Dad, Aidan enjoys cleaning and counts the dust buster and vacuum attachments among his favorite toys. He remains a little boy through and through, however, smashing into this and crashing into that and all the while providing play by play and color commentary whether anyone is listening or not. Like his sister, he strikes us as very bright and we marvel at his ability to string words together and form ideas. He is quick to smile and laughs heartily and often. Aidan is a sweet, sweet little boy.

We are reminded each and every day that we are truly blessed. We wish you the special blessings of Christmas throughout the season and the New Year.

Merry Christmas with love,
Pat, Alli, Molly and Aidan

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