Friday, March 24, 2017

The Middle School Concert

I have never been very emotional, I'm just not built that way. But last night...I admit that I felt a bit teary! I attended the middle school orchestra concert that both Lorelai and Alexandra performed in. When I sat down and opened the program I saw a list of all the 8th graders with a note that said  
"best wishes for high school!"

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A wave of emotion went through me...

...and then they started the slide show.

I am becoming a sentimental sap!

Being a parent is the most amazing thing ever; the richest experience available to mankind. I have enjoyed and cherished each step along the way -  I love watching them grow up! And Alexandra...let's talk about Alexandra...she is spectacular, a parents dream. What makes me so very happy when I look at her is the fact that she is living up to her potential (which she has an abundance of!). It's not just me wanting her to be her very best, it's her wanting to be her very best. I think I may have written a blog post about that many years ago when she was just a little thing: how do you make a child want to be their best for themselves and not just to be obedient or to please others? Anyways, Alexandra strives for perfection, pushes herself, has a thirst for learning, and is self motivated. I love her.

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And you should hear her play the violin! 🎻🎵


Thursday, March 23, 2017

"She is a Child"

"Your child is beautiful," 
a student said before school. 

I thanked her and told her a little bit about Elisabeth. You should have seen her eyes grow when she learned that Elisabeth would turn ten before her! 

We finished our conversation and she went on her way.

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After school I stood in the hallway with Elisabeth at my side. The bell had just rung and there were a sea of students about. A different student approached me and asked about Elisabeth (she really causes her peers to wonder!). As I answered her questions the girl from the morning walked up to us.

"I decided she is a child," she declared. "I mean, you can't call her a baby, she isn't a baby, but you can't call her a kid either, because she isn't a kid. So I decided she is a child."

So that was the reasoning behind her comment in the morning, which I thought was so uniquely phrased. 

It made me smile.

"I think you're exactly right," I said. "Elisabeth is a child, that's the perfect word for her."

(Even though she will always be my baby 😊.)


Wednesday, March 22, 2017

A Story About a Super Hero

~A Super Hero~

A super hero gets to you instantly when you're in trouble.
A super hero makes you feel safe.
A super hero puts others before themselves.
A super hero is compassionate.
A super hero always knows what to do.
A super hero is fearless.

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[Elsa comforting Elisabeth after a seizure in the car yesterday.]

~A Sister When a Seizure Strikes~

A sister gets to you instantly when a seizure strikes.
A sister makes you feel safe.
A sister puts you before herself.
A sister is compassionate.
A sister always knows what to do.
A sister is fearless.


Tuesday, March 21, 2017

A Post About Spring (and haircuts)

This past winter was the winter-iest winter I have ever experienced. Freezing temperatures, ice storms, piles and piles of snow. I think school/work ended up being cancelled ten times! There was plenty of time to hunker down at home. I read book after book, did a lot of organizing around the house, played games with the children, and enjoyed the white wonderland outside while sitting next to my warm and cozy fireplace. I heard a lot of complaints from colleagues, and friends, "I can't wait for the snow to melt" and "This winter is terrible" and "Oh no, another storm is on the way". But I loved it! It was exciting, it was beautiful...it was winter at its finest!

But now Spring is here, and I feel equally exhilarated by the prospect of long days, flowers, and warmth. I am ready to open windows, go out on walks, and enjoy the sound of sprinklers again.

Spring is here!

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  photo fcbb33de-bd15-4b46-aa08-151b3282f505_zpslkmu5u0d.jpg  photo 44464246-61d2-4e86-925d-ec311a954460_zpsdngpv9kq.jpg  photo 25bd8da6-6225-4f78-a41f-5f83cf31c3c7_zpsiqbtmr8n.jpg  photo c01b5e0e-3f71-45b9-be72-54528f55d2e2_zpspdpvnsvo.jpg   photo image-0-02-02-f37a9e5ad3b2849d9ca720c7deb6ec7843e9e47e8ce7cab76ab9570f99c7f6eb-V_zpsjzaytetw.jpg 

Now to get Apollo a haircut...



Monday, March 20, 2017

A Story About Shoes

Let's talk shoes.

The one and only time that I remember buying Elisabeth a pair of shoes was for a benefit dinner when she was 17 months old. That was back in 2009 . (See post here.) She didn't really need shoes, but it was a fancy occasion and she had a fancy little dress and she just seemed to need a fancy pair of shoes. 

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[Elisabeth and me, 2009]
But let's be honest: Elisabeth doesn't need shoes. Shoes are to protect ones feet while walking and that is certainly not something that she does. That being said, I have never quite understood why I see so many wheelchair kiddo's like Elisabeth wearing shoes. Heavens, if I could get away with not wearing shoes, I would!

Anyways, Alexandra was in need of a new pair of Converse and so on Saturday we took her to a shoe store. That's when I had the idea to put a pair on Elisabeth...just for kicks. Of course, I didn't know what size she would wear, so I eyeballed it and actually found a pair that was a good fit. Instantly, she went from looking like a baby to a big kid.

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She seemed a bit confused. Her legs, which she always keeps up in a criss cross position, dropped down and she kept kicking her feet. I wouldn't say she was annoyed, just not sure why her feet felt so heavy. I left them on just long enough to snap some pictures and show Donald and the girls (we all oohed and aahed). Then, I took them off and she promptly pulled her legs back up.

And that was that. 

Back to shoeless.





Friday, March 10, 2017

March

I set a goal this year to re-decorate the family room side table each month with a different theme.

Here is how March turned out:

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It has me feeling the luck of the Irish!

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Baby Mine

Elisabeth is impaired in many ways. She is cortically blind, she can't walk, she can't speak, she can't eat. The brain damage caused by hydrocephalus - and even further damage by daily seizures - has taken most all abilities from her.

Except one.

Hearing.

Elisabeth's hearing is perfect. I have always viewed it as a tender mercy since music is an integral part of my life. Consequently, I knew from the start that I would share the world with Elisabeth through sound.

And so I have.

When Elisabeth hears something that intrigues her, she holds very still and focuses with great intent. One of her favorite things to listen to is "Goodnight Moon" by Margaret Wise Brown. I recite it to her daily, over and over and over. It's not simply the words, but the rhythm of the prose that to her is a great comfort. Whenever a medical procedure is done - having an IV placed, for example - I whisper that story in her ear. She stays so focused on the words that she takes little notice of a needle being placed in her.

Last night I was holding her and having her listen to the song "Baby Mine" from a small Dumbo ornament. Her eyes got big and wide; you could see her thinking and processing. It melted my heart - just as it does every time.

Through sound, she sees the world.



Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Eight Months Post-Op

We all remember where Elisabeth started.

She was folded in half.

Literally.

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And then came the spinal fusion.

Watching her endure that surgery and the long and hard recovery following was terrible. She suffered. I even wondered if it had been the right choice.

But here we are, some eight and a half months later and I can't hardly believe the difference! Not only is she straight and comfortable, but Elisabeth's quality of life has increased dramatically. She stays awake most of the day and plays by the hour. It's like she has come to life.

We recently went to a follow up appointment and this is how her spine is currently looking:

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You can see the rods easily, but also look carefully beyond them to her spine. It still retains roughly a 33 degree curve, but it is a night and day difference to the 95 degrees it was before.

And the more dramatic difference isn't even what we see on the inside...but what we see on the outside:

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Tall,  
Straight,  
and Happy!

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Something From My Memory

A few weekends ago I traveled to Seattle to watch Joshua Bell perform (again!). It was in my hotel room that I noticed a piece of wall art that looked like something out of my memory:

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I stared at it for a few minutes until I was absolutely certain that it was. Then I went back through old photos on my phone until I found this:

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Not only the same place, but the EXACT location within it. No wonder it felt as if I was staring at a memory... I was!

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That picture was taken at Mission San Juan Capistrano while we were vacationing last summer. It is the most beautiful place and has me absolutely craving our southern California getaway next month. With one of the coldest and snowiest winters on record for our region, I am ready for warmth and sunshine.
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[Another picture I took at Mission San Juan Capistrano.]

And now, because my mind is on vacation and how much I love traveling with my family to warm and beautiful places, here are a few more from our vacation last year:
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[Laguna Beach]
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[Aquarium of the Pacific]

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[Long Beach]

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[Disney Concert Hall]

Just a few weeks!!!! Yay!!!

Sunday, January 22, 2017

While We Were Out...

Lorelai Leigh, 
babysitter 
extraordinaire.

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Last night, Donald and I went to see 'Rogue One' at the movie theater, leaving Elisabeth at home with her big sisters.

"Lorelai, will you take good care of Elisabeth for me? Carry her into bed at seven. And make sure to cover her up with a blanket. And maybe tell her a story."

When I got home, she was safe and sound under her blanket, holding her elephant. And resting at the foot of her bed was the book, 'Olivia', evidence that she indeed had been read a bedtime story.

I have always said that I am grateful that Elisabeth came to me last in line; to have big sisters to love and adore her. And this, this is exactly why.




Sunday, January 15, 2017

Meet Apollo

On New Year's Eve, we added a member to our family:  photo 20161231_112930_zpszvmxqchb.jpg

~ The details ~

Name: Apollo
Owner: Lorelai
Birthday: November 12, 2016
Breed: Goldendoodle

We have had him for two weeks now and he is settling in just fine...
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Friday, January 13, 2017

A Birthday Review

Turning 37  
looked  
like this...

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I have lamented, on occasion, that my birthday falls on one of the shortest days of the year. Let's face it, January 2nd - especially up north where I live - is cold and dark. It seems like you get cheated out of a lot of birthday fun compared to, let's say, Donald, who has an August birthday. He has sun from 5 am to 9 pm, plus warm weather which opens up so many possibilities for outdoor recreation and parties. January 2nd, not so much.

Anyways, Alexandra recalled me having talked about that fact before and took charge of my birthday decorations.

"You always say that you don't like how your birthday is on one of the darkest days of the year, so I brought you the sun."

And so she did, flowers, bright wrapping paper, yellow lemons and party goods. It felt like a ray of sunshine awaiting me in the kitchen, and I felt loved.

She also wrote me a looooooooong birthday note (see photo below). It is filled with the most beautiful things - memories we share, things we laugh at, and reasons she is grateful I am her mother. I imagine that I will read and re-read that letter hundreds of times over the course of my life. It is a treasure.

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There was also an adorable note from the dogs to 'Master Lisa', composed by Lorelai. It was the sweetest! The best was Scarlett asking for her own Instagram page like the other mutts...and she has since gotten it!

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Other images from my 37th birthday:

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Birthday snuggles with my baby (above).

The girls, breaking their 2016-fast-food-fast (below). 
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This year I am going to take the time to feed Elisabeth by mouth more often so that she can enjoy flavors! (below)

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Lorelai likes to hold Elisabeth on her lap and bounce her around and move her arms. And while she does is she sings, "Stimulation, stimulation!":

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And at days end:

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Oh, what a sunny day!

Monday, January 9, 2017

The Children's Library

I can recall being pregnant with my oldest, Alexandra. I was so excited about gathering children's books for her to read. In fact my friend, Janice, hosted a baby shower for me with a book theme! All of the guests brought along a copy of their favorite children's book to help me build a collection of beloved classics. 

I also recall my mom giving me a complete set of Beatrix Potter books (top right shelf in picture below). I remember being thrilled, yet also feeling like it was going to be forever until my newborn baby would be old enough to listen to stories being read - much less read them herself!

Fast forward to yesterday. I was working on cleaning out and organizing the upstairs hallway and bedrooms. While in Elsa's room I realized she has advanced beyond children's books and on to more difficult chapter books. In an effort to open up shelf space I decided to move the collection of children's books into the hallway.

As I placed each one on the shelf I reflected back to that baby shower and the beginnings of my collection. Oh, how time has swiftly passed! Not only did my first baby grow and read and love those books, but three others that came after her. And now, now they are on to the next stage of reading (and life!).

(Well, maybe not Elisabeth, but she is a special case!)

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[My children's book collection, relocated to the upstairs hall.]

"Well, I guess now I wait for grandchildren 
to enjoy them one day," I told my mom.

From one generation to the next, life carries on.


Monday, January 2, 2017

Birthday Thoughts

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It's my new year.

January 2nd.

I know I have said it before, but I love having back to back new years. First, the new calendar year and then the new Lisa year. Needless to say, I really feel the pull to start afresh and improve myself the first week of January!

It's hard to believe that I am 37. With each year that passes the proportion of one year to that of my entire life gets smaller and smaller, and so the illusion begins that time is moving faster. It isn't, it's the same, but one year feels fast!

Here are a few of my resolutions and goals for the year ahead:

  • Feed Elisabeth by mouth every day so that she can enjoy food! 
  • Do a makeover on Elisabeth's little corner of our bedroom.
  • Become an official for USA Track and Field.
  • Research and study the composers and pieces I perform with the Symphony.
  • Write a dinner plan at the beginning of each week.
  • Create a miniature village in the back corner of my yard (like seen on the Storybook Land Canal Boats at Disneyland!).
And here are some of the things that I am most proud of at age 37:
  •  I love my job. When I am there I feel energized and inspired. I am one of the lucky ones that gets to do what they love and earn a living at the same time. This job was meant for me, of that I am sure. I am constantly brainstorming ideas so that I can provide rich and educational experiences for the boy I work with. And more importantly, I make sure he is happy, comfortable, safe, and included.
  • I am a musician and I use my talents. As a child my parents spared no expense to make sure that I was able to develop as a musician. Now, thanks to them, I am able to teach others, perform with a symphony, and use my abilities to provide music throughout my community (church services, weddings, etc.)
  • My home. I love my home. It suits me. I have no desire for more or better because I feel that what I have is perfect. I am grateful for the gift of contentment. As I look at the world around me it is easy to see that many fall into a pattern of always wanting more. That seems like a dreadful way to live! So yes, I love what I have and I cherish this place I call home.
  • I am proud of my home library. Over the years we have filled our home with books (Lex recently counted and the number exceeds 1200!). They bring me such happiness!
I am excited for the year ahead. I have a feeling a lot rich experiences await me...so here I go!

37!


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