Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas 2008 ~ Waiting for Baby ~ Keeping the Secret

December 2008

Happy Holidays! 2008 is almost a memory and for our family, it was a year spent closer to home after our travels of 2007. WE needed to relax and rest our feet. Or so I thought! We were as busy as ever! The early part of our year is always busy as we focus on the PADONA convention and busy-ness and excitement that that entails. It has truly become a family business and everyone has jobs and works hard. By the time we arrive in Hershey, the work is finished, but for me, the stress begins, hoping all goes well. Annika simply becomes the hotel's princess. Imagine being a 5 year old in a hotel full of Hershey's chocolate! I am busy from 6 am to 10 pm. Meanwhile, everyone is doting on her, giving her treats and taking her swimming. She does work too. She helps unpack boxes and she can make deliveries and is great at meeting and greeting members, with a firm hand shake and a great memory for names. We love convention. Its hard work, but its a wonderful week and over much too quickly.

After this year's convention, our big project was to throw an after prom party for Kate, my godaughter and one of Annika's godmothers. It was great fun to plan. The theme of the prom was Breakfast at Tiffany's, so our theme was Tiffany inspired, with everything colored tiffany blue, a cake that looked like a Tiffany box, gift bags for the attendees, and a refrigerator full of food. They arrived at midnight, woke up Annika, who happily joined them in her own pink ruffled tutu. We thought she would greet everyone and fall asleep. but she joined the fun and and at one point was seen on out on her swingset at 2 am! They were wonderful kids and we had a great time and even got some sleep !

Over the summer, we spent weekends at the beach with friends and instead of going away, we had guests from afar. Throughout the summer, we had visitors from Kazakhstan. Elena, who was my translator when I adopted Annika, and while I was there became so dear a friend that I asked her to be one of Annika's godmothers, spent a week at the beginning and end of the summer with us. Her 10 year old son Jenya came along, too. We talked, relaxed, drank tea, traveled locally and just had wonderful girl time, while the children played. Despite the fact the Jenya speaks Russian and Annika speaks English, they managed to have a great time and were inseperable throughout the visit. They made up silly games, played outside and suddenly, I had a house filled with noise and laughter. Annika was sure she was learning to speak Russian, and began to put a series of unrecognizable sounds together and spoke to us in only this language. She was quite surprised when we did not understand her Russian! Even now, she continues to speak "Russian" occasionally and when I ask her to translate, she politely advises me to learn Russian too! After Elena and Jenya left, we had the two Anyas, Elena's daughter and her best friend, spend time with us, which was great fun and involved a bit of sightseeing and a lot of shopping. They are two teenage girls from Kazakhstan who spent the summer in various parts of the US and ended their trip at our house. They arrrived with one suitcase each and went home with five! We spent a lot of time at the mall and Annika loved playing with the "big girls" who doted on her, polished her nails, and let her play hairdresser with their long hair.

Like many families, we spent much of our year focused on who was to be our next president. Even Annika had a strong opinion and made her choice very early...long before any grown ups in our house made any decisions. In February, during a primary debate, she walked over to the TV and pointed to one man and said "I like him ...and he'll need her to help him," pointing to Obama and Hiilary. "What"s his name?" she asked. I told her his name and she said "Onka Cobonka? I never heard a name like that. I like him." She remained committed to her candidate and by August, she would wake up each morning and ask, "Is today the day that we find out if Onka Cobonka wins?" By election day she fortunately learned to pronounce his name and cheered happily when I woke her at 11 pm to see the announcement of the winner.

We are well and happy. Work keeps us busy, but I enjoy it very much and for that I am fortunate, but the time at home is most cherished. Annika is wonderful. She is smart and happy, fun and funny. She sings and dances her way through each day. She is 5 and since she isa summer birth day, she does not start kindergarten until next year, which has given her the opportunity to blossom this year. She loves school and continues at Montessori Children's House. She just started reading and is so proud of herself. She loves math, music, and gym. She also takes ballet. Annika has asked Santa for a scooter and leapfrog computer game. Her favorite toys are coloring books, crayons, her dollies, her doggies, and her bike. She will work at her little desk for hours and since her desk is across from mine, quite often, we work together. She has two pet hermit crabs named Jenya and Little Shawn, who are dearly loved. She is full of energy, full of questions, and full of love.

Although I am so blessed, I still struggle. My life will always lack the sparkle my mom brought to it and laughter and energy my dad brought and thats most apparent at holiday time. Having Annika is wonderful and seeing the world through her eyes is joyful and she makes everything fun. I hope you are well this holiday season and that you spend time doing things that make you happy~that the people you care about are close to you and that you have good fortune and health in the year to come.

Warmly,

Kristen

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