Wednesday, April 16, 2014

We Adopted...Again!

Yesterday we re-adopted Elsa!

Sound confusing?

You see, last year we adopted her legally in Ethiopia - but yesterday we readopted her under the state laws of Washington. Fortunately, our attorney was there to represent us in Spokane, so we were able to avoid the two hour drive and join them through a conference call.

The most exciting part is that Elsa officially has her new name, which is:

Elsa Lelise Christine Sorenson

We decided to give her two middle names. The first was her last name in Ethiopia and the second, Christine, is my middle name. She is thrilled with her new name - especially because when we adopted her in Ethiopia they made her name Elsa Donald Sorenson! We didn't have a choice in the matter and that is what was printed on her passport and her Ethiopian birth certificate. Needless to say, she was happy to unload that name! Ha!

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** Thank you to all who emailed and sent messages in regards to yesterday's post! What a blessing it is to have such a wise online community who can relate to the issues associated with raising a handicapped child. Reading different points of views really gave me a lot to think about. Grazie!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

G-Tube Discrimination

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There are very few things that get me all worked up. Very few. And that's something I take great pride in (especially as a member of the special needs community - which seems to have a tendency to take offense and/or feel victimized) But sometimes it happens. Yesterday was one of those days.

Here's the story:

I've been trying to get more fluids in Elisabeth. This can be tricky because she can only tolerate around 6 oz every two or three hours. I usually give her two servings before the school bus comes, but she doesn't get any more until around four in the afternoon after I have picked her and the other children up from school. Long story short, I had a brilliant idea to send a measuring cup and a feeding tube with her to school and have her nurse give her some water part way through the day.


When I picked Elisabeth up from school her teacher handed me a form and told me I needed to get doctors orders to give Elisabeth water.


Doctors orders to give her water?????

Since when does a child need a doctors note to have water? Oh wait...they don't. Every other child at that school can have water any time they want. As much as they want or as little as they want. But my girl needs permission from her doctor. G-tube discrimination if I ever saw it. lets skip past the first ridiculous fact - which is that Elisabeth needs permission at all to have water - to the even more irritating fact: I, being a mother, don't have the authority to request water for my own child.

Let me say that one more time - I, Lisa Sorenson, mother of Elisabeth Sorenson, do not have the authority to order water for my child.

Since when does Elisabeth's doctor have more control over her life that I do? That's right, she doesn't. Because I am her mother. I know what's best for her. I am the one looking out for her. I am the one changing her diapers and making her food. I am the one that sings to her and cuddles her and takes her on bike rides along the river. I am her mother. I know what's right. And what's right is for her to have a drink of water in the middle of the day.

(Can you tell I am a little worked up over this?)

Honestly, this is as ridiculous as the time the school informed me that in the case of an emergency they would wait for an ambulance to arrive and transport Elisabeth to the ER which is directly - and I mean DIRECTLY - across the street from the school. I said, "You couldn't just carry her across?" Nope.

What has happened to common sense? If there is an emergency, pick up my child and RUN her across the street as fast as your legs will carry you. And if she needs water, by golly, give the poor child some water. I am so tired of all these silly little rules.

In all honesty, I think I might pull Elisabeth out of school. She doesn't go there to learn, she goes there to have a change of scenery and to give me a little break. But I'm not sure it's worth it. I am her mother and no one can care for her like I can. I can sense her every need, I can understand her every want. She belongs with me, under my care.

In the mean time, I refuse - I ABSOLUTELY REFUSE -  to get a doctors order for the water. I intend to show up at the school every day from here on out and give her water myself. 

Because I'm stubborn like that.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Enrichment for Elisabeth

There is no doubt about it, Elisabeth has regressed a lot in the past year or two. The smiles, the laughs, the few words, the ability to sit unsupported. As she has regressed I have noticed there isn't much she can do - especially now that she can't sit and play with her toys on the floor. Her life just seems - oh, I don't know - a little dull.

A normal child can explore the world around them, but that's not the case with Elisabeth. Her life will only be as rich as I make it ... so I need to make it wonderful. You see, I don't want Elisabeth to merely exist, I want her to enjoy, to participate, to experience

So I have recommitted myself to finding ways to enrich her life; to add color and sound and excitement where I can. (Because I admit, it is really easy to snuggle her into her beanbag chair and let her be while I do things like tend to the house and other children.) Today's post is the first in a new blog series I am creating called Enrichment for Elisabeth.

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Bike rides
along the river.
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Friday, April 11, 2014

Meet Marta.

Big news!!! 

Huge news!!!

Alexandra recently auditioned for Mid-Columbia Musical Theater's upcoming production of The Sound of Music (the same production company that put on Les Miserables) and we found out today that she was cast as one of the Von Trapp children! Marta, to be exact!

We knew that word would come while she was at school today, so last night I told her that if she got the part I would tie balloons to the car when I picked her up. She thought I was joking. I was not.

When I pulled up to the school there were pink and yellow balloons floating out the sun roof. I watched as she spotted the van - and the balloons. She immediately hugged her teacher and started jumping up and down. Then she came running across the field to me:

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The performances will be in July and of course I will be sharing details all along the way! I am trying to decide if I want to play in the orchestra for this production or not. Part of me thinks yes, so that Lex and I can do it together. But part of me thinks no, so I can be in the audience and watch Alexandra. I have some time to think it over. In the mean time, we are in celebration mode here at our house. I am so so so so so so so proud of Alexandra!!!

"I'm Marta, and I'm going to be seven on Tuesday, and I'd like a pink parasol."
-Marta, The Sound of Music

Lady Brigitta

A small pup in a field of tulips.

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I couldn't resist.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

50 Years of It's A Small World!

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Happy 50th Anniversary It's a Small World!!

I know I've mentioned plenty-a-time before why It's a Small World is my absolute favorite ride (think Mary Blair, my grandpa, children around the world...), so let's skip the small talk and start celebrating!!!

If you'd like to join in the festivities, hop on over to It's a Small World 50th Anniversary. You can create an It's a Small World doll of your own, or even take part in the world wide sing-along. The girls and I submitted our video yesterday and had the time of our lives making it (it's different from the one above). Honestly, I don't think we have ever laughed so hard! See?? It's a Small World just has a way of spreading good cheer!! 

P.S. My mom is going to hang out at Disneyland today in honor of the 50th anniversary. If you recall, she has been referred to as Disney royalty before. (It's pretty much true.)

There is just one moon and one golden sun.
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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

"You are my best mom."

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The children and I had a delightful afternoon yesterday. We spent it at a park by the river. I rocked Elisabeth on a swinging bench while the older girls enjoyed the zip line and dipping their toes into the water. 

We returned home in time to eat dinner before I left for my West Side Story rehearsal. As I was saying goodbye to the girls, Elsa hugged me tight and said, "You are my best mom."

The way she phrased it really caught my attention. It wasn't 'you are the best mom', but 'you are my best mom'. And it suddenly occurred to me why she would choose those words - because she has two mothers, her biological mother and myself.

As the night went on I kept thinking back to her statement. I can see why it would be easy for her to award me the honor of 'best mom'. I take her to play at parks, I read her stories, I dress her in fancy clothes, I go to the grocery store and come home with enough food to fill our pantry and fridge. I am able to make her life comfortable and happy. But does that make me the best mom?

Seyba, Elsa's biological mother, wanted for her daughter what she could not provide once her husband passed away. Things that are easily accessible here in the states are hard to attain in a remote African village - food, healthcare, and education to name a few. She couldn't go to Costco and buy her groceries in bulk. She couldn't go Walgreens down on the corner if she needed an antibiotic. She couldn't walk with Elsa to the local library to pick out books. Indeed, life was hard. So she chose to say goodbye so that Elsa could live a life different from the one she herself had known.

I think of her often, this woman with whom I share a child but have not met. Her bravery inspires me daily and her sacrifice reminds me not only to be the best mother I can, but to appreciate the opportunity I have to watch my children grow and learn. In my eyes, Seyba exemplifies what a mother should be: courageous, strong, and selfless.

And that, without a doubt, makes her the best mom.

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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Now That's a Stomach Piercing!

It always startles me - just a little - when Elisabeth pulls her feeding tube out:

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Luckily, Donald and I are experienced tubie parents. We had a new one placed in under a minute flat. Judging by the way Elisabeth winced when we inserted the new one, I'd say it had been out for a good ten minutes - that sweet little tummy of hers was starting to close up already!

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There, good as new!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Gather 'Round for Story Time

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Lorelai and Elsa's room has a tendency to get messy. Quickly. 

Such was the case this week. I finally sent them upstairs to clean it, but when they announced they had finished I went up to discover a room that was still littered with scraps from crafts, blankets thrown crookedly onto beds, and toys stuffed in corners. 

So we started again and I showed them [once again] how to get things neat and tidy
- in other words - up to Lisa standard.

When we finished we all looked around at our work.

"There, isn't that better?" I asked. They both agreed that it was. I suddenly remembered my favorite Berenstain Bears story over on the bookcase: The Berenstain Bears and The Messy Room. I have read a lot of our childrens books to Elsa in the past four months, but I was quite sure I hadn't read that one to her yet.

So I remedied it last night. While I snuggled Elisabeth on the couch I gathered my children around and read a familiar story of two little cubs who couldn't keep their bedroom clean. Elsa loved hearing it for the first time and the older girls for the gazillionth time

When we got to the last page we all admired how the Berenstain Bears had organized everything from feathers to shells to paper into boxes in the closet. And of course, now my girls are itching to do the same with all their miscellaneous craft items. I say, why not?

** As I wrote this post in reminded me of a post I wrote some 5+ years ago. Click here.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Popcorn Popping

The world is coming 
alive again.

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There is something about those soft, white blossoms that speak to me.

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They tell a story of rebirth.

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Winter never lasts forever.

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[My backyard tree.]

Friday, April 4, 2014

Spring Break

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I have been enjoying Spring Break immensely. It's funny though, I had this crazy idea last week that I would do all this spring cleaning with the girls this week. Ha! On the contrary - I've barely been able to keep this place in order - much less clean it out and organize it.

But that's okay. I realize that things like spring cleaning are best done when the girls are at school, so I'll save it for another week.

As you know if you have read this blog for any length of time, I am a HUGE I Love Lucy fan. And, I am happy to report, my children are following right in my footsteps. They pretty much have every episode memorized and we use lines I Love Lucy on a regular basis in our every day lives. It's awesome.

Well, I told the children that I expected them to be lounging in their pajamas watching I Love Lucy every morning during their break. Then I took it one step further and told them that if they could get through every season (we have them all on DVD) they would earn a special treat. Do I win mother of the year for that? Ha ha! Alexandra has taken the challenge quite seriously and devotes every extra minute to Fred, Ethel, Ricky, and Lucy.

Never fear though, our days aren't completely spent in front of the TV. On Wednesday the girls and I walked three miles round trip to our local frozen yogurt shop. It was one of those times where life seemed absolutely perfect. The sun was warm, but the breeze was cool. Life seemed simple.

We decided to go there again today, this time with Donald. But I am not sure the weather is going to cooperate. It seems a little blustery and cool. Plus, clouds keep coming and going. I'm just not sure what the weather is going to do. While I was discussing that very fact with Donald I told him I was actually glad the weather was taking a dip because I am making split pea soup for dinner and that will make it taste better. Donald started laughing. Only I, he said, would think about something like that. But it really is true. Homemade split pea soup wouldn't taste nearly as good if the windows were open, the air was warm, and we were listening to birds chirping in the trees. No, split pea soup is to be enjoyed when there is a chill in the air and a little bit of bluster to go with it.

Our outing to the frozen yogurt shop:
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And tastes for Elisabeth, too!
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Thursday, April 3, 2014

A Childhood Friend

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Through the wonders of the internet, we have come in contact with a family that not only adopted a little boy from Ethiopia, not only adopted a little boy from the same orphanage as Elsa, but adopted a little boy who was a close friend of Elsa's in her remote, Gambellan village.

We are thrilled!

I showed his picture to Elsa and she grinned and said, "That's Tommy!" (name has been changed to protect the innocent).

She went on to tell me that he knew her family and she knew his Dad. Elsa has clear memories of being together as small children in their original home and playing together in the great African outdoors.

I can't express how excited and thankful I am to have this link to her past. I intend to keep them in touch as the years pass so that they can retain those memories of each other. To start, I had Elsa color him a picture, address the envelope, and pop it into the mailbox.

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Tuesday, April 1, 2014

State Qualifier + Expiration Dates

I present to you, Lorelai Leigh...

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 ...who not only had her best meet of the season this past Saturday, 
but qualified for the state championship, too!

In other news...

Tonight at dinner we ate hamburgers. On the table dinner table was ketchup, mustard, bbq sauce, and pickles. Randomly, I created this little game where we went around the table and everyone had to guess the experation dates of each condiment. The person to get the closest was declared the winner. Donald won every round except the last. The final time around the table (for the bbq sauce), Alexandra was the one asking and I participated in guessing. I was only off by a month!

Sounds silly, right? But it actually made for a fun dinner! 

Give it a try!

Oh! And one more thing...

The Disney Parks Blog just posted an article about my Grandpa in honor of the 56th anniversary of the opening of the Grand Canyon Diorama at Disneyland.
If you'd like to read it, click here.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Welcome to My Circus

Under the big top.
This is my life.
Isn't it wonderful?

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Lisa's Finishing School Part 7 + A Birthday!

9 years! 

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I can't believe it!

How has it already been nine years since we bought our beloved home? 

I love this house. Every room. Every detail. I love how light comes streaming in through the second story window in the front entry. I love the arches leading into the parlor, the kitchen, and the dining space. I love my fireplace and how I can curl up next to it on cold days and read. I love the computer room; how I can sit at the desk and look out over the neighborhood. I love my parlor filled with instruments. I love my family room with the rainbow rug and mid-century couches. I love my bedroom, thankful to share it with Elisabeth so that she is always nearby. I love my kitchen and the prisms that hang in the window, splashing rainbows all around in the late afternoon.

I feel so lucky to have this little place in the world.

As is tradition, our formal dinner (as a part of Lisa's Finishing School) was a birthday celebration for our house. We had five courses in total:


Then we were stuffed!!

Our dinner conversation was all about our house. Trivia about our home, memories, and each sharing what our favorite part of our home is. Elsa loves her bedroom, Lorelai loves that it is 'food central', and Lex loves the parlor (which is where she spends most of her time these days.)

***The funny thing is that Lorelai gave that same answer four years ago when I asked her!
Ha ha!

Happy Birthday, 
dear house!

Past celebrations:

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Sun vs. Clouds

This is one of my favorite sights: 
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Sunny and bright, but set against a background of dark, ominous clouds.


Friday, March 28, 2014

Shirley Temple: The Next Generation

Here's the thing: 
Elisabeth hates getting her hair combed.

Here's the other thing: 
I hate for my children to look like street urchins.

So, usually I just do something simple with Elisabeth's mop of curls - a couple of pigtails, or a single ponytail in the back. I've found that it is much more practical to keep her hair up. Otherwise it easily gets tangled and matted since she spends so much time laying down.

I got to thinking about how lovely her curls were, though, and how I would love to see Elisabeth with a head of ringlets. Lorelai also has the perfect hair to hold ringlets....but she has become such a tomboy that she won't consider such a thing anymore! (Remember four years ago when she was my model for a ringlet tutorial?)

So I decided to go ahead and put Elisabeth's hair into curls. I probably won't do it often; my goal for her life is to make sure she is always comfortable and happy - and putting her through the torture of having her hair styled isn't worth it. But it was fun for a day! She looked like a little Shirley Temple!

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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Purple Day 2014

Today is a day devoted to bringing awareness to epilepsy - so put on that purple!

I would say that out of all the medical conditions that help describe Elisabeth, epilepsy - while not her original problem - has become her most problematic one. Seizures seem to rule her little world. They have stolen away her ability to move, to speak, and to eat. They frighten her; I look in her eyes as she seizes and see fear.

So today, those of us that deal with epilepsy try a little more to spread awareness. People around the globe are wearing purple. As it turns out, I don't have a stitch of purple in my wardrobe! But I was sure to deck Elisabeth out in the royal color - after all, she is a queen!

To learn all you could ever want to know about epilepsy, please click here.

In other news...

I walked Elisabeth down to the park the other day and took her on the swing. It was a little awkward...have you ever tried holding a six-and-a-half-year-old with a crooked spine on a swing? It's no joke! But I finally figured out a way to secure her and hold on while we gently swung back and forth.

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I love Elisabeth. Earlier today I held her in my arms and watched her drift off to sleep after suffering a strong seizure. As I gazed at her perfect little face I was overcome with joy. She's mine! I am so lucky, I am so honored. She is a gift from above and I will spend the rest of my life making sure that hers is as happy, comfortable, and safe as possible.

Monday, March 24, 2014

The Final Curtain

All good things must come to an end.

I had my last performance of Les Mis yesterday. Over the course of two weeks I played the show in its entirety 10 times. At approximately 3 hours per performance, I clocked roughly 30 hours of Les Mis. No wonder I can't get it out of my head.

I thoroughly enjoyed it - every minute -  and was stricken with great sadness when the moment came to play that last note. It's silly to get attached to a show, I know, but this one meant something special to me. But alas, it was time to turn in my music and collect a paycheck. Like I said, all good things must come to an end.

Now what to do with my life? (Other than run a household and tend to the children, of course.) Oh, I about start up rehearsals for West Side Story. Tonight.

How long do you think it will take to get these lyrics out of my head?

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Cookie Season

In case you were wondering:

Living a chocolate-free lifestyle is not easy when you have two girl scouts and it is cookie season.

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I've found the strength to resist. I don't know how, but I have.


Friday, March 21, 2014

The Giver Official Trailer

At last! A first glimpse at The Giver!

I am thrilled with the way it looks. Word has it that it does differ from the book, but fans are ensured that the integrity of the story is kept. And really, what I connect with most is not the little details of the novel, but rather the message it conveys; the way it makes me feel. So I think I will be okay with the changes made.

In case you haven't seen it yet, here is the trailer:

Have you read The Giver yet? Words cannot express how dear this book is to me. 
Please, oh please, if you haven't yet, get yourself a copy and get to reading!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Lisa's Finishing School: Part 6

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[Lex and Lor, at intermission.]
Les Miserables. I'm in love with this musical. It has indeed taken over my life these past few weeks and I am totally okay with that. I brought the big girls to watch it on Saturday night and - while they enjoyed it - I don't think they are in love with it like I am. But that's okay. This year is about exposing them to lots of art, music, movies, musicals, dancing, singing (and etiquette). They don't have to love everything, just be aware of it.

Next month I'm playing in the pit orchestra for West Side Story. I've got plans on incorporating some Shakespeare into our studies (I can't wait to share the book series I discovered!) and explain how West Side Story was inspired by Romeo and Juliet.

In the mean time, I still have three more performances of Les Mis. If you live locally and haven't been yet, I strongly encourage you to do so. It is truly spectacular. Ticket info here.

P.s. I finally got my travel journal updated! Now for the rest of the tabs...

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The St. Patty's Day Surprise

The night of March 16th was much like any other March 16th - I went from toilet to toilet, putting in a few drops of green food coloring. I've done it since the girls were young and they always squealed at the thought of leprechauns using their bathroom! I was especially excited to see Elsa's reaction. Then I went to bed and set my alarm for 4 am (I had that day trip to Spokane with QE, remember?) 

You can imagine my surprise when - at 4am - I entered the kitchen to find a St. Patrick's Day surprise awaiting me! Green yarn was tied from every knob and drawer pull, handmade place mats were set at the table, and a leprechaun decorated the pantry door! My heart melted as I realized that my children had worked hard to create this St. Patty's Day Spectacular. I later found out that woke at 2 am to get everything set up. I seriously love my children.

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It was the best surprise and the perfect way to start off my long day of appointments with Elisabeth. Because I left so early, Donald stayed home to get the children off to school. He was sure to send me pictures of them all decked out in green. We made extra sure that Elsa would be safe from pinching. Pinching was how they were punished for being naughty at the orphanage and Elsa was quite concerned when we explained the tradition of St. Patrick's Day pinches!

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