I was in the kitchen this morning as Elsa was pouring herself a bowl of cereal. The dishwasher - which I ran the night before - had not yet been emptied so Elsa opened it and grabbed a spoon.
"Oh, this is still dirty." she said casually as she placed the spoon into the sink and grabbed another one from the dishwasher.
Curious, I picked up the spoon and examined it. It was shining. So I called Elsa over and asked her to show me where it was dirty. She pointed to the tiniest water spot on the bottom left curve:
[The 'dirty' spoon. See the water spot? Me either.]
I couldn't help but find the ironic humor in it. What a difference 15 months can make! Elsa went from a culture where they use their hands to eat each meal, to returning a spoon to the sink because of a water spot.
I spent the morning thinking about how much she has learned and changed since she came here to America. Somewhere, sometime in the 15 months since we adopted her from Ethiopia, she learned the art of being critical. Because I can guarantee you she wasn't like that before she moved here. It stood out as a strong reminder that I need to be cautious of the example I set. I need not focus on the small imperfections, but rather on the big blessings. There will always be the good and the bad - that's the way life is, plain and simple. The beauty of it all comes in the fact that we can choose what to look for. Do we seek to find fault; to be offended; to continually be dissatisfied? Or do we choose to live with gratitude; to love and to serve; to be happy?
My favorite app on my phone is my Merriam-Webster dictionary. I love to look up words. And not just words I am unfamiliar with, but common, everyday words, too - because I wonder how they will define them.
Last night I used the word peculiar and it occurred to me that it is a delightful sounding word, one that I need to use more often.
Then I went to my Merriam-Webster app to see the official definition of peculiar.
So, we kind of did things a little backwards. Normally a child would take ballet class first and then perform in The Nutcracker. Not here. Elsa performed as a mouse in The Nutcracker last December having never taken a dance class.
But yesterday we remedied that.
I give to you, Elsa Lelise at her very first ballet class:
I only stayed for the first ten minutes or so because I was holding Elisabeth in my arms (and taking pictures - you learn to multi-task real well when you have a child like Elisabeth), but in those quick ten minutes I must have thought, "Oh, I wish Seyba was here to see this!" about ten times.
Seyba, Elsa's biological mother, is always in my thoughts. I am dedicated to giving Elsa the best childhood possible because Seyba is trusting me to do so. And I hope that even though she can't see Elsa as she grows and learns, that she can feel her in her heart and know that all is well.
I'll never forget the moment that I found out there was a sequel to my beloved book, The Giver. It was like I had been given a great gift. Well, that happened again today - times ten thousand.
I just read that Harper Lee once wrote a sequel (in the 1950's) to To Kill a Mockingbird! And that book is going to be published this summer. I am in shock. To Kill a Mockingbird is one of my favorite books of all time. To read about Scout 20 years later...to have that story continue....wow. I am speechless.
Seizures steal smiles and giggles away from Elisabeth a majority of the time, but it seems that once or twice a year she will wake up in a mood to laugh. Those moments of joy seem like pure magic to us. And her laugh - so infectious!
Before I ever had children, I knew I wanted them to be bilingual. The tricky thing was figuring out how to make that happened seeing as I only spoke English.
A year or so before Alexandra began kindergarten I learned about a dual language program that our school district had implemented. Children in the program would receive half of their daily instruction in English and half in Spanish. I knew immediately that I wanted in. After passing a basic kindergarten preparedness exam, Alexandra was accepted into the program by luck of the draw. And because siblings get priority, this paved the way for Lorelai and Elsa.
Here we are seven years later and Alexandra is completely proficient in Spanish. And because of that she has been hired as a tutor for a 1st grader who is also in the dual language program. I watch with pride as she teaches this young girl. This is exactly what I wanted for my children. I wanted them to be bilingual because I knew it would provide for them opportunities and experiences as well as give them increased knowledge and understanding.
Lorelai Leigh, at the Rock n Roll Classic in Vancouver, WA this weekend.
Lately, life seems to be moving faster than I can keep up with it. Each and every day seems to be strategically choreographed, making sure that everyone gets to where they need to be. Alexandra is busy tutoring, working on the yearbook staff, studying guitar, and playing basketball. Lorelai is devoted to gymnastics, putting in 13 hours a week plus meets almost every weekend. Elsa is working hard at reading, getting quite proficient in English and Spanish. She is also practicing piano daily and dominating on her basketball team. Donald is busy with work as well as coaching a boys basketball team. And me? I've been at rehearsals constantly it seems.
Oh, and Elisabeth! She just comes along for the ride.
My point is, we are at that stage of parenting where there isn't much down time. I think when I was a young and dreaming of being a mother, this is the stage I was looking forward to the most. The part where I really saw my children discovering their talents.
And it's everything I hoped it would be.
Lorelai had her best meet of the season thus far, scoring a personal best on beam!
If you drive by our house, you'll see the Guard Giraffe showing his team spirit.
I admit that I am not a big football fan, but the Seahawks/Packers game yesterday was absolutely incredible. Unbelievable, even. At one point, when the game was almost over, I told Donald just to turn it off - why watch? A win was inconceivable.
And then bam! In the final moments of the game, 16 points!!!
Elisabeth hasn't sat upright and played for months and months. Goodness, it might even have been a year. The combination of seizures and a spine exceeding an 80 degree curve have made it simply too hard to balance. But yesterday, she sat herself right up and played with a toy for a solid five minutes!!
It was nothing short of miraculous.
Do you like her poncho? I am SO excited about it. It is nearly impossible to get Elisabeth's arms into winter coat sleeves due to her cerebral palsy. A year or so ago I saw a post somewhere about ponchos being the perfect solution for special needs children like Elisabeth. When I spotted this cable knit one at Old Navy I snatched it up in an instant.
And it works better than I even imagined.
When it's time to go out we just plop it over her head.