Thursday, February 11, 2016

The Violinist In My CD Player

Anyone who knows me knows that Joshua Bell is my absolute favorite violinist ever. I mean, if you read this blog you've heard me talk about him here and here and here (just to name a few posts). I first discovered him early in my teen years when I was a budding violinist myself. Clearly, I can recall lying on the floor of my bedroom with his CD playing, absorbing every note he played. Plain and simple: I am a fan.

My lifelong dream has been to see him in concert. But as it is, I have been so busy...oh...raising children, and caring for a medically frail child, and adopting from across the sea that I could never justify such a luxurious experience. Until now.

Some twenty years after laying on my bedroom floor and listening intently to the great Joshua Bell play through my CD player, I am finally - FINALLY - going to see him perform!!!!!!!!!!!

I am beyond excited. Ecstatic is more like it. And as if seeing him wasn't thrilling enough, he will be performing one of my all time FAVORITE violin concertos by Max Bruch (which is one that I learned some 20 years ago when I was obsessing over the violinist in my CD player.)

9 days and counting!

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Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Ciao, Ciao!

I admit that before we adopted Elsa I knew very little about Ethiopia or its history. So imagine my surprise when we arrived in that land far across the sea and heard everyone saying "Ciao!"

As I soon learned, Ethiopia was once occupied by Italy, leaving behind a lasting influence. So the little girl from Ethiopia that I was going to adopt said "Ciao" to me every time we said goodbye. It was soooo cute!

After the adoption was finalized and she came with us to America we continued to say "Ciao". Indeed, it was a habit for a while. But its use became less and less until suddenly we weren't saying it at all anymore.

A few weeks ago, while shopping in Target, I saw this dress on display and it brought back a flood of memories:

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I knew immediately it was the absolute PERFECT dress for Elsa. So I surprised her with it.

Yesterday, she wore it to school and all the children were asking her what it said,

"What does it look like it says?" she countered. Then she went on to tell me their creative guesses in pronunciation.

"It says ch-ow," she would explain (to still-confused classmates).

Haha! I love this internationally aware child of mine!


Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Three Sisters At The Gym

Last night I dropped Alexandra at her rehearsal and then went to
watch Lorelai for a bit before Elsa's basketball practice.

(We keep quite a busy pace in our family.)

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I am pretty sure Elisabeth knew her big sister was back there somewhere,
doing fancy things on balance beams...

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And while all of that was going on, Elsa simply did this...

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Is it time for basketball yet??

Monday, February 8, 2016

Required Reading for January

Sometimes it is overwhelming to think about all there is to teach the girls. I get one shot at raising them right. Now, I am not sure there is necessarily one way to get it right, but I can follow my instincts and do the things I feel are important.

Education is one of them. I want my children to have a wealth of knowledge and wisdom to help guide them into adulthood. So I hatched a plan. Each month I will have a required reading book which they will read and then write an essay on. The books will vary in genre, sometimes fiction, sometimes biographical, sometimes historical, and other times informational. I will evaluate carefully and select a book that I feel will be full of impact.

The January Required Reading Book was...


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~A Smart Girl's Guide~
How to make it, save it, and spend it.

It's never too early to learn the ins and outs of finances. Each of my children have their own savings account which I deposit money into weekly. They are able to withdrawal money from their accounts to buy things they want or need as they wish. When they turn 14, they will get a checking account with a debit card. I want them to be so comfortable at managing their own finances that it is second nature by the time they reach adulthood. This book, I felt, would help them realize the importance of managing money and give them new ideas and insight.

I gave the girls four questions to address in their essay:

1. What was the required reading book and what was it about?
2. Why do they feel I chose this book?
3. What did they learn from it?
4. How will they apply what they learned into their daily lives?

All three girls finished reading the book by the January 31st deadline and once the essays were submitted I chose a winner. This month it was Alexandra and she was rewarded with a shopping trip to the mall yesterday afternoon. 

Ready, set, read!

Sunday, February 7, 2016

A Week in Snapshots

February 1-7, 2016

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Friday, February 5, 2016

Gymnastics Meet #3

Sweet on Gymnastics
Pullman, WA
January 23, 2016

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Three meets in and Lorelai is really struggling. Instead of seeing a steady increase in scores, we have seen regression. This is the part of life that is hard, when things get tough, when you have to stop, evaluate, and make decisions.

Donald and I sat down with Lorelai and discussed where she is at with gymnastics and what her goals are. We talked about the increased difficulty, the reduced competition (many girls she competed against have dropped out), the strict judging, and the importance of focused practice. Because one thing I know is that if you want something, you have to go all in. It doesn't work to sit back and be complacent. Life takes work, it takes focus, it takes dedication, it takes bravery. Life - when lived to its potential - takes so much more than what is comfortable and easy.

So for now Lorelai has decided to keep on trying. To dissect each routine to figure out what she is doing wrong and how to fix it. She has decided to not only put in the time at the gym, but to go to other resources as well; to watch, to read, to ask, to learn.
I told her that this isn't about scores. It isn't about winning. It's about personal progression. It's about being better today that she was yesterday.

I am so proud of Lorelai. She is learning lessons about life that many never even grasp. These are the lessons that will carry with her, that will help mold her into the adult she will become. And I know she has a bright future awaiting her. 

Gymnastics or not, the sky's the limit.   

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

The Laying Out Of Clothes

Every morning before I get Elisabeth up,
I lay out her clothes along with a diaper and box of wipes.

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It's the kind of thing that seems mundane, but I am pretty sure pictures like the one above will remind me [when I am old and gray] of what an extraordinary season of life this was. 

I don't want to forget a detail, not a single one, not even something as simple as laying out Elisabeth's clothes in the morning.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016


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Yesterday, I answered precisely 412 questions in regards to Elisabeth and her development. Some of them required and simple yes or no answer, while another questionnaire asked that I rate her on a scale of 1-3, or, circle 0 if she is unable.

In all, there were only 5 that she is capable of. 5 out of 412.

As I was circling, no, no, no, no, no, no, no....

And 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0....

I thought, this is so silly! Elisabeth simply cannot be measured in the same way as the rest of us. Indeed, the rest of us cannot measure up to Elisabeth.

She is perfect and pure. It doesn't matter that she can't crawl or communicate or make choices, it just doesn't.

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 I smiled, though, at two of the five that she is succeeding at.

They are:

Has good relationship with parents and other adults.


Is well liked by others her age.
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She's got the important stuff all figured out!

Monday, February 1, 2016

Thirty Years

Yesterday I had the honor of performing Sibelius' 2nd Symphony. It was thrilling. Lately I have become even more engaged in my music. It's like it is becoming an even bigger part of who I am. I find myself wanting to learn more and play better.

As I was preparing to leave for my concert I was reflecting back on my musical career thus far. That's when it occurred to me that this January marked 30 years since my first violin lesson. I shared the news with Donald.

"Wow," he said. 

"That's pretty impressive when you can say you've done something for 30 years."

I feel so blessed to have discovered my talent and my passion early in life. And double blessed to have had the parents and resources required to help develop and nurture that talent. What if I had never had that first violin lesson? What an empty life that would have been. But alas, I did. And yesterday I performed Sibelius' 2nd Symphony. And I loved every moment of it. And I felt happy.

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Saturday, January 30, 2016

Seizures Are a Big Deal

The only time Elisabeth gets into mischief is when I am trying to bolus feed her and she swats her hand at the tube...resulting in liquefied food splashing everywhere.

Such was the case today.

I called Elsa down to help clean up the mess and hold her hands.
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"It's okay, you might make messes sometimes, but you are such a good, good girl," I told Elisabeth.

"Yes, Elisabeth, messes aren't a big deal. But seizures are a big deal," Elsa told her.

"Exactly," I agreed.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Gymnastics Meet #2

The VEGA Challenge
~ Battle Ground, WA ~
January 17, 2016

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~ Scores ~

Beam: 7.35
Bars: 8.3
Floor: 7.0
Vault: 7.675

Total: 30.275

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[Lorelai and her teammates stretching. She is the 7th one back.]

Before the awards ceremony there was a handstand competition. Lorelai didn't win..but she held her own!
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MCGA came in 2nd place and while Lorelai was in the locker room changing we snagged her award and posed for a picture.

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Afterwards the girls took advantage of the photo booth area. That's Lorelai's best friend and teammate, Dianne, behind the emoji pillow: photo 20160117_154022_zpsq1dorm9j.jpg

Friday, January 22, 2016

A Post About New Strings.

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As a musician, strings are something I see as a luxury, one that I rarely allow myself. New strings - nice ones - are expensive and I can never justify spending the money when I have a million other things on the need-money-for-this list (for example, a custom car seat for Elisabeth.)

So you can imagine my joy when my mother presented me with a new set of strings for my birthday this month! It had been [embarrassingly] years since the last ones were put on.

When we returned from California life was busy - basketball, rehearsals, students, gymnastics, work.... I just hadn't found the right moment to put the new set on. And that's the silly thing about me, it has to be a moment. I mean, it takes but a few minutes to do the task, but I wanted it to be an experience, I wanted to soak it right up.

Yesterday afternoon, the opportunity arose. A few of the girls were gone, one was upstairs, and Elisabeth was resting on the couch. The house was quiet and there was sun streaming in the music parlor window. "This is it, this is my moment," I thought.

As I opened the first string I read the back of the paper sleeve and my heart just about burst with excitement...

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It reads:

"I use Pirastro's Evah Pirazzi strings on my 1713 Stradivarius. I find that they offer the best combination of power and quality. - Joshua Bell

What???!!! I have the same strings as Joshua Bell?!! It might have been one of the most exciting discoveries of my life, haha!

(If you don't know who Joshua Bell is, quick! Go to YouTube!)

Then off with the old, and on with the new...

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Ahhh....the sound of heaven.

New strings!

Glorious, clear, brilliant new strings!!!

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P.S. I have more exciting news about Joshua Bell! Stay tuned!!

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Gymnastics Meet #1

~ Clarkston, WA ~
January 9, 2016

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~ Winter Spirit Meet ~

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This was not Lorelai's best meet and her scores were a lot lower than she wanted, but the triumph was in her attitude. Usually she is extremely hard on herself, but at the end of this competition she had a smile on her face. She was enjoying the experience regardless, and that made her a winner in my eyes.
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Bars - 7.825
Beam -  7.9
Floor - 8.35
Vault -  7.35

Total: 31.425

Friday, January 15, 2016

A Merry Little Review

Christmas at my mom's house was so nostalgic for me. Seeing my children wake up and gaze at wonder at the same tree I woke to throughout my childhood. It was magical.

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Uncle David, Uncle Marc, and Uncle Michael were all there, too.

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Elisabeth loves her new doll and elephants.

And Lorelai was thrilled to get Grace, the 2015 American Girl Doll of the Year! (She, like Lorelai, loves to bake!) photo 20151225_083458_zpssacnpf7i.jpg

The number one thing on Alexandra's Christmas list was a typewriter. And...Santa delivered!

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The days leading up to Christmas Alexandra kept smiling and saying, "click click"...mimicking the sound of the keys typing. She was quite confident she was going to get one!

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She spent the rest of Christmas vacation typing...and I have carefully saved each and every manuscript!
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'Twas a 
merry day 
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Some gifts included:

Colorful Toy
Cabbage Patch Kid

Superman pictures
Etch a Sketch
Frozen sticker book
Stacking Cups

Grace Doll
View Finder
Hand Mixer
Vans shoes
Guinness Book of World Records

Kindle Fire
Kindle case
Lava lamp
YOLO Juliet

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[Domino's from Uncle Michael]
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