Thursday, December 18, 2014

Winter Wonderland: Elf Style

We all know and love Elf, right? Good.

So, remember how Buddy makes paper chains and snowflakes to decorate for Christmas?
(See below)

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Well, yesterday I arrived home and found Alexandra in the family room doing this:

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Needless to say, it was AWESOME!!!!

Later that evening I left Elisabeth laying on the floor and went upstairs to put some laundry away. During that time some paper chains fell from the ceiling and this is what I discovered upon my return:

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Ha ha ha! Silly girl!

Once I untangled Elisabeth, the question was, what to do with all the chains? I decided they would add the perfect little something to our tree and wrapped them around in a way that would make Buddy the Elf proud:

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"I'm a cotton-headed ninny-muggins."

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Silent Night, Holy Night

Life has been busy lately. The latter part of November I was performing in Richard III, that was followed by Messiah, and last week was consumed with Nutcracker. I have absolutely LOVED performing in these shows, but it has meant a lot of time away from home in the evenings. So when Elisabeth's school called yesterday to tell me that they didn't have a nurse on staff (and Elisabeth legally can't be there without a nurse) I was thrilled to have an excuse to keep her with me.

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After doing some housework and wrapping a few gifts to put under the tree, I bundled her in a blanket and held her tight in my arms while we listened to Christmas music. Silent Night came on and it seemed like the most perfect, peaceful moment. I know it is good to stay busy and productive, but sometimes the most beautiful times in life are the simple, quiet ones.

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All is calm,  
all is bright.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Road From Dunchai

Before moving to an orphanage in the capital city of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Elsa lived with her family in the remote village of Dunchai. The dwellings are made of mud walls and thatched roofs, there is no electricity, no plumbing, no phones, no modern amenities. It is a very primitive tribe.

On Friday night we sat down as a family and watched a ten minute segment from an Ethiopian documentary titled African Spirit. Those ten minutes focused on the majang people - Elsa's people. Elsa was so excited to have a glimpse back at the land she came from; to see the familiar traditions and culture of her first home. And it was even more fascinating for us to see what Elsa's life was like and gain a greater understanding of her past.

As soon as it ended Elsa glanced at the clock: 5:03 pm. "Time to go!" she exclaimed and popped up from the couch. It was opening night of The Nutcracker and she needed to be there by 5:30.

That night, while Elsa was up on stage, I marveled at the road she has traveled from Dunchai to the stage of The Nutcracker. Not only is it a great distance geographically, but emotionally and intellectually as well. In one year Elsa has become fluent in English and can read and speak basic Spanish, too. She has become accustomed to the modern world: phones, computers, airplanes, and cars (to name a few). She has gladly taken on the role of daughter and sister and has made oodles of new friends. She has experienced holidays and celebrations from Christmas to the Halloween. And finally, she has danced in The Nutcracker Ballet.

Elsa truly is amazing and I have no doubt that she will grow and do something great with her life. Never before have I witnessed such bravery, such willingness to accept what life brings with grace and dignity. She is an extraordinary child and I feel blessed to be her mother, to teach her, to love her - and even more so, to learn from her.

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Elsa backstage as a mouse in The Nutcracker Ballet
Along with fellow rat and mouse, Lilly and Avery.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Fa la la la la la la!!!

Deck **
the  *
 *  *  Halls!

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It's beginning to look quite Christmas-y at our house!

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I am tickled with how this little ornament display turned out. The inspiration for the ornament twig tree came to me at about 12:00 one night and I had Donald go and cut me a small branch off the front yard tree. I love how it looks alongside the prints of my grandfathers Christmas art.

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Stockings are hung on the backs of chairs here in these parts.

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As always, the picture doesn't do justice to the Christmas lights hanging under the cabinetry. My kitchen glows. And it is fabulous!

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Standing guard.

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Ho ho ho!

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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

A Christmas Giveaway!

Tis the season for giving and wants to spread a little Christmas cheer! 
We are excited to give a print of Santa in a Hot Air Balloon to one lucky fan.  photo 397689e2-d300-4df4-8656-cb367b2c857c_zps4944e730.jpg 
Two of Claude's most popular rides at Disneyland are The Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean. To enter to win the print above, simply visit our the Facebook page and leave a comment telling us which of those two rides is your favorite. If you haven't been to Disneyland, tell us which ride you would go on first! For those that don't have access to Facebook, you can email your answer to me at

Contest ends on Friday at midnight and winner will be announced on Saturday morning. 

Good luck!!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Wheelchair 2.0

Out with the old.

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In with the new!

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It seems like yesterday that Elisabeth got her first wheelchair, but in reality it was close to five years ago. The original chair was okay...for a while, but soon proved to have many flaws. She constantly slouched, it was wide and awkward to push, and it had a flat back that soon was not compatible with Elisabeth's severe scoliosis.

The new chair...ahhh...the new chair. It drives like a dream, has a removeable and washable cover, and best of molded to the shape of Elisabeth's back. If you look at the picture above you can see how it curves to fit her exactly. Oh, and I love that the front of the seat is extra wide so she can sit Indian style! Because we all know that Indian style is the only style for Elisabeth!

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For the frame, we chose the color white. We felt that it represented Elisabeth's pure and angelic nature. Plus, it will be fun to dress it up for holidays. (I just bought red tape to attempt to make some candy canes!)

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And did I mention the tray?
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Merry Christmas, Elisabeth!

Monday, December 8, 2014

The Annual Trimming of the Tree

Once we picked out the perfect tree and found the perfect spot to put it in our home, Donald brought all the ornaments down from the attic.

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Then the children got to unpacking and rediscovering some of their favorite treasures. 
(Though Rudolph was a bit distracting, ha!)

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Now Elsa was here last Christmas, so this time around she was an old pro at decorating!

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Daddies make the best helpers:
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And once the ornament boxes were properly emptied...

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...the tree looked like this:

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Oh, Christmas Tree!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Tis The Season!

I feel like we bounced around all weekend. So many places to be! So much to do!

On Friday night I performed Handel's Messiah. Alexandra and Lorelai came to watch and it makes me so happy to see them enjoying such fine music.

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On Saturday morning Lorelai's gym held a practice meet for the competition teams in preparation of the upcoming competition season. Let me tell you something about Lorelai: she amazes me. Being a competitive gymnast takes a lot of discipline and requires a lot of sacrifice.

Here are a few pictures of Elsa and Alexandra watching on as Lorelai does her bar routine. I know Lorelai is pretty far away, but you can make her out if you look carefully.

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After the meet we had the afternoon and evening free (imagine that!!!!!) so we went Christmas tree shopping. This weekend I've heard quite a few people say how they are just getting their tree up and how late it is. Those comments boggle my mind. How is the weekend of December 5-7 late? To me it is the ideal time to put up a tree and decor. Any sooner and it all seems a little stale by Christmas day.  But enough about that for now, I will post more about our decorating fun in the days to come!

Finally, Elsa had her Nutcracker pictures taken today!

Nutcracker week has arrived meaning Elsa will have rehearsals every day.
And from Wednesday on I'll be there too, playing viola in the orchestra pit.

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Tis the Season!!
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