Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The State Championship

At the beginning of the month we piled into the van and headed west to the 2015 Washington State Gymnastics Championship where Lorelai competed as a level 4 gymnast.

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I struggled to get good photographs, as you can imagine this was a big meet with a lot of people. And said people just didn't want to get out of the way. But, we do the best we can do, right?

Lorelai performing her floor routine:

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Lorelai on the balance beam:

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Lorelai on the uneven bars:

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As for was clear on the other side of the gym and the was absolutely no getting a photograph of that.

Lorelai didn't place, but....she competed at the state gymnastics competition for goodness sakes! I am so proud of her. Being a competitive gymnast takes hard work and sacrifice. While most 10 year olds get out of school and head home to play with neighborhood friends, Lorelai goes straight to the gym and doesn't get home until it is nearly bedtime. Last summer, when she moved up to level 4 - and consequently the more intense practice schedule - she really struggled. She was in tears every day and hated being away from home. At one point we even made the decision to have her quit, but her coach encouraged her to give it a month and see if she adjusted. And...obviously she did.

Gymnastics is about so much more than state titles. It's about the life lessons it is teaching Lorelai at the young age of 10. She is learning about hard work, about dedication, about persevering even through pain. She is learning to focus, to manage her time, and to be disciplined. She is learning about her body; how to balance it, how to control it, how to treat it well so that she can be her best. And last but not least, she is surrounding herself with peers who are like minded and equally as dedicated.

All of these things will play a critical role in developing Lorelai into the person she will be as an adult. I have no doubt she will take the skills and lessons taught through gymnastics and do extraordinary things in life.

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Lorelai and her fellow teammates.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

The Day Elsa Turned Eight!!

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will be 

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

It's Elsa's Birthday!!!


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On this day, Elsa celebrates 8 years of life.

Often, I wonder what I was doing the day she was born. Most likely I was crying - for it was just four days after they discovered Elisabeth's hydrocephalus via ultrasound. Those were hard days for me. Little did I know while in the depths of sorrow, that not only would Elisabeth live, but another little girl who was just born on the other side of the world would come to be mine, too. 

Elsa has brought such joy to our family. She is absolutely the most compassionate person I have ever met. Despite the hardships she has faced, she chooses to live with happiness and optimism. Never does she regret the path her life has followed, nor does she feel resentment or anger due to the losses she has experienced. Instead, she finds the good in all things, all people, all situations. Elsa is an extraordinary person, one that I am proud to call my daughter.

Happy 8th Birthday, 
Elsa Lelise

Monday, April 27, 2015

I survived, I conquered.

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I was up in the middle of the night on Friday. The pain in my mouth was too great. My gums were swollen. I knew this wasn't good.

Last Thanksgiving I had a tooth break and when the dentist patched it up he warned me that it wouldn't last much longer. You see, that particular tooth was a baby tooth. For some reason I was born with no adult tooth to replace it, so for all of these years it just stayed put.

On Saturday morning I went and hiked Badger Mountain. It was cold and windy, but I knew I needed to do something to pass the time before my dreaded emergency appointment. I also know the feeling that comes each time I reach the top of the mount, like I had conquered it yet again. I thought that perhaps that feeling of strength would carry with me.

When I arrived at the dentist he confirmed my greatest fear, that the tooth needed to come out. My dental phobia kicked in; my body began to shake and tears began to well in my eyes.

"That tooth is supposed to last from age 2 until around age 10," the dentist explained.  

"But for you it lasted until age 35. It's like a Honda that went a million miles."

I looked at the clock and realized that I had a performance of Little Women starting in less than an hour and a half. Nitrous wasn't an option. But I wasn't sure I had the strength of mind to get through it without. I had only a few minutes to make the decision. Finally, I said, "Do it,"

And so I faced my fear. I was brave. My tooth came out. And twenty minutes later I was sitting in the orchestra pit with a mouth full of gauze, a numb face, and bloody drool dripping down my chin.

But I survived. I conquered.

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[They gave me a frog to squeeze. It actually really helped!]

Now to get an implant... :(

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

"You won't fall."

At that exact moment,

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  Elsa was saying,

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"I've got my arm around you so you won't fall."

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I am continually grateful that Elisabeth has big sisters to help her through life.

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Sisters = Love

Sunday, April 19, 2015

"To the parlor."

I saw Alexandra pick Elisabeth up and start carrying her out of the family room.

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"Where are you taking her?" I asked.

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"To the parlor, 
I'm going to play guitar for her," she responded.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

I Was A Smart Kid

I've been reading back through my childhood journal lately. 

 I love my number one goal when I was 17 years old...

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[1. Be more like mom. (helpful, always giving, funny, etc.)]

Seriously, if you had a mom like mine you'd want to be just like her too. 


Wednesday, April 15, 2015


Seven weeks ago I started taking a supplement called Thrive and it has changed my life. I wake up at 5:30 every morning excited to exercise and conquer another day. I am in a healthier state both physically and mentally, which is critical when raising a child who cannot do anything for herself.
 Elisabeth needs me to be the best I can be - and so I will.

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I look at this picture and am somewhat amazed. I reflect back to a few years ago when I was walking with a cane - and even a month ago my back leg was barely getting up off the mat. I have recommitted myself to living a healthy lifestyle and it feels absolutely invigorating!

If you would like more information on Thrive and how it can help change your life, too, I invite you to go to their website and make a customer account so that you can see all the products they have to offer. I promise, you won't regret it!

Friday, April 10, 2015

Disneyland x's 2!

Next month we are heading south to my old stomping grounds in Southern California. Naturally, we promised the girls a day at Disneyland. After all, it's tradition!

A few days ago Alexandra approached me with a question. She wanted to know if we could go a second day if she paid the admission price for her and her sisters.

"Absolutely." I told her.

For the past few months Alexandra has been working as a Spanish tutor and has carefully been stashing her money away in the bank. After sitting down and calculating the cost she figured out that she will indeed have enough to cover the admission. I am continually proud of Alexandra and the person she is becoming.

Here is a video of her telling Elsa the exciting news:

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Opposites Attract

Yesterday afternoon Alexandra was helping Elsa with her homework.

"You have to find three sets of things around the house that are opposites, so go look."

A little while later she returned.

"Did you find some opposites?" Alexandra asked.

"Yes," Elsa replied.

"Okay, tell me."

"Black and white."

"Where? Where did you find black and white?"

"You and me."

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Monday, April 6, 2015

A Little Mischief

Even the most perfect and pure among us sometimes find themselves getting into a little mischief - as was evident yesterday when Elisabeth decided to taste the grass from her Easter basket.

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By the looks of it, the mischief didn't pay off. 


Friday, April 3, 2015

Why I Marvel

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[Elisabeth Elva, age seven.]
I was looking at Elisabeth yesterday and marveling. It is an interesting thing to parent a child so unique; quite different than I ever imagined it would be. I recall a day in particular when I was pregnant with her. I was at the mall and saw a family pushing a wheelchair with a severely handicapped child in it. The girl was not just physically handicapped, but mentally as well. I knew that if Elisabeth were to survive until birth I was looking at a clear image of what my future would be. It was a little frightening, to be honest. 

When Elisabeth was born she looked as normal as any other baby. Even in the first few months she seemed like a typical infant - because really, newborns don't do anything other than eat and sleep. But I knew the truth, that other children would grow and learn and progress while Elisabeth stayed behind in a permanent state of babyhood.

And so it has been, Elisabeth is still like a baby. She can't talk or walk or eat. Nor does she understand much or know how to communicate. She has become that girl in the wheelchair at the mall. But it's very different than I imagined it would be. You see, it doesn't feel like a burden, but a privilege. The truth is, when I take Elisabeth out to stores and I see people looking at her, I secretly assume everyone wishes she was theirs. I feel like I am the keeper of an angelic being. And when I look at her, I don't see a person who is lacking, but a child who deep inside holds more wisdom than I could ever comprehend. It's almost as if she's on a different plane than the rest of us, like she can't even be compared to typical humanity.

 That is why I marvel, that is why I am grateful, and that is why I feel so blessed that she is mine.

Monday, March 30, 2015

She Won!!!!

May I present to you the Highlands Middle School 
Vice President for 2015-2016 school year:

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When I arrived at the school to pick her up I had not yet heard if she had won the election. I spotted her across the grass before she saw me. I could see she had a sparkle in her eyes and was standing tall and proud. And I knew. I knew she had won.

One second later she spotted me and came running into my arms, "I won! I won!"

Friday was perhaps my proudest parenting day thus far. As I sat in the gym and watched her sing her speech in front of all her peers I kept thinking, "I can't believe she's mine." At the end of her song I heard a young man behind me say, "Did she just say 'It's your loss if I lose'? I like it. I'm voting for her". I then looked at all the other students and could see that they were all a little bit in awe. To impress an audience of middle schoolers is no easy feat...and she had done it.

The Candidates:

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The Speech:

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The Victory Hug:

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Thursday, March 26, 2015

A-L-E-X - that's Alex

Tomorrow is speech and election day at Highlands Middle School
Alexandra decided take Taylor Swift's song 'Blank Space' and change the lyrics up a little bit.

I think it turned out phenomenal.

Sometimes I can't believe she is my daughter - 
she is absolutely exceptional in everything that she does. 

I am so proud of her.

"It's your loss if I lose."

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Hello, 'again', Elisabeth!

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Last November Elisabeth had a fundoplication done to prevent vomiting. From the time she was born, Elisabeth vomited all day, every day. This meant I was continually changing bibs, clothes, and bedding. Not to mention the discomfort that she lived with. A fundoplication seemed like the right things to do in order to improve quality of life - for both of us.

Little did I know how it would change her life.

These past few weeks it is as if Elisabeth has awoken from hibernation. For years she has slept the majority of the day. She stopped sitting upright, she stopped playing with toys, she stopped smiling and laughing, and she stopped vocalizing. She was regressing in every way.

What I didn't anticipate with this surgery was the difference it would make in her seizure activity. You see, now that she doesn't vomit, all of her medications stay in. And with her medications staying in, seizures are down to a few a day. And with only having a few a day, her brain has come to life!

She is smiling, laughing, sitting up, playing with toys, interacting...she has even started saying the word 'again' again after several years of silence. It is miraculous. I had mentally resigned myself to the fact that Elisabeth would never regain the skills she had lost - I never imagined this could happen! It has brought us such joy to see our little angel coming to life 'again'.

And to think, there were times during her rough recovery 
that I questioned if it had been the right thing to do!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Outliers: Part 1

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For my birthday in January my brother gave me the book Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. I can say with certainty that it has had more influence on me than any other book - ever - and quickly claimed a spot in my top five.

Outliers dissects the lives of successful people by analyzing the factors that contribute to their success. It immediately had me thinking back to a post that I wrote in 2008 titled Thoughts on Greatness. In that post I thought about the greatest people who have ever lived and wondered, were they predestined for that greatness? Or was it all just a random (yet perfect) aligning of circumstances? These ideas have fascinated me for years and so I found Outliers to be absolutely captivating. One thing I was reminded of after reading it is that we need to work for success...and that when life presents an opportunity it needs to be taken advantage of.

And so I have become an extremely demanding mother. I see my children and the opportunities they have been blessed with in life and refuse to let it all go to waste. Where I used to think, 

'Oh, Lorelai went straight to the gym after school and didn't get home until 8:30, I won't make her read.' 

 I now say, 

'Lorelai, you have to go to the gym straight after school and won't be home until 8:30, so wake up early so you can get your reading done.'

My view on childhood has completely changed. I used to view it as a time for children to enjoy being carefree and act on their whimsy. But now I see it as a prep period. This is their prep period for life. This is the time to learn discipline, develop talents, gain confidence, set goals, and figure out who they are. Now is the time to prepare them so that when they turn 18 they are ready to venture out into the world, completely capable of managing themselves and their affairs. 

On Friday Elsa was in the music parlor practicing piano. There were some mistakes in the piece she was learning. I told her the problem was with some of the notes as well as the counting. Her timer went off but I explained that she couldn't leave until she corrected the mistakes. She sat and sat and kept asking for me to just show her

'No,' I said, 'this is something we have gone over before. You need to think it through, solve this on your own. If I just show you, you won't be building problem solving skills. Plus, I would take away the joy that you will feel when you fix the problem and get it right all on your own.' 

So she kept sitting and kept working. There were some tears - and a lot of frustration. But I would not bend. I now see each day and each experience as an opportunity for my children to grow in intellect and character.

In the late morning she approached me and asked me to come to the parlor and listen. I did....and it was perfect. Oh, how she beamed! Then she reached over and gave me the tightest hug along with a 'thank you, mom'. She understood why I had made her stick with it and she felt the joy I told her she would feel - a joy that comes from conquering a difficult feat and knowing you never gave up. It was a simple yet profound lesson, one that I am sure will carry on with her to adulthood.

**Stay tuned for more posts in my Outliers inspired series.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Project: Car Selfie

Every morning we document ourselves as we head out the door to greet the world.

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Trust me, by nightfall we don't look so fresh faced.

(That would be a whole other post...)
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