Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Giggles are Back!

And just like that, she started laughing.

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!

Have a listen...it gets really good around 0:40.



I love to   laugh. 
Loud and long and clear. 

-Bert from Mary Poppins.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Alexandra, Spanish Tutor

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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.

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Sunday, January 25, 2015

Busy. And busier.

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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.

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Lorelai had her best meet of the season thus far, scoring a personal best on beam!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Double Take

On the day the girls met in Ethiopia for the first time, 
Alexandra was wearing a blue shirt with a pair of yellow pants. 

That was 14 months ago.

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Yesterday, when Elsa came downstairs, what had she put on to wear? 
You guessed it, the same blue shirt and yellow pants. 

Isn't it crazy how much she has grown?

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Of course, she had to add an Elsa touch to it - so red boots it was. 
She is all about fashion.


Monday, January 19, 2015

Go Seahawks!!

If you drive by our house, you'll see the Guard Giraffe showing his team spirit.

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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!!!

Donald's reaction went like this:



Yes, he almost passed out.

And a few minutes later he was in tears. 

Friday, January 16, 2015

Elisabeth Sat Up!!!

By golly, look at that!!!

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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.

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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. 

Done. 

No more fussing with coat sleeves. 

Woohooo!!!!!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Scrubba Dubba in the Tubba

Because guinea pigs need baths, too.

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Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Lizzy the Legless Wonder!

We took the footrest off of Elisabeth's wheelchair because she doesn't use it and it takes up space in the van. And suddenly, because of the way she sits, she looks like a little torso with no legs! We laughed and laughed!

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Lizzy the Legless Wonder!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Gymnastics + Basketball = Saturday

Let's talk about Saturday.

Saturday was busy.

And exhausting.

But oh, so fun!

We started it off by waking at 4 am so we could drive to Lorelai's gymnastics meet some two and a half hours away.

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Lorelai didn't do her very best, but considering it was the first meet of the season it wasn't too shabby! I had her sit down on New Years and write some goals for herself. A lot of those goals were gymnastics related. Well, she was just a hair away from meeting her goal on vault, which is her weakest event. I was very proud of her.

Here she is on bars:



The ride home looked something like this (remember, they woke at 4am):

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I couldn't resist taking a picture of the view out the window!

Once we made it back to the tri-cities, we went straight to Elsa's basketball tournament. And miraculously, we were there by the second quarter of the first game.

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I love this picture of Elsa running down the court. Can you see the pure joy on her face???

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Ladies and gentlemen, we have a two stars in the making!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

The Middle School Selfie

During Elsa's basketball practice Alexandra continued to
try and teach me the art of the middle school selfie:

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"No, mom, the girls at school do it like this..."

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"But they hold their hand in front of their mouth. And open your eyes real wide."

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"And then try to get the shot so just your chin is showing."

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That's the best I could do.
I was too busy laughing.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

The Sorenson Family Bowlers!

On my birthday we went bowling!

We hadn't been in at least five years, maybe more, and of course for Elsa it was the first time...

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And naturally, while we bowled, Elisabeth did this:

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After bowling (I won!!!!!) we dined at our favorite Chinese restaurant and then came home and celebrated with a chocolate cake - would you expect anything else??

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Tuesday, January 6, 2015

A Story About a Roll of Tape

Back in 2008 I wrote a post about some homemade Christmas ornaments that appeared on our Christmas tree courtesy of Lorelai. One of them was a roll of tape with a ribbon tied around it. For the past six years I have hung that tape ornament on our tree - a true family treasure.


***
A few days ago on my birthday I opened some of the most lovely gifts (my girls take the job of wrapping very seriously). When I got to Lorelai's present, I discovered she had even made a faux candle to attach to the top, flame and all!

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And lo and behold, what was inside?!? A new ornament to add to my collection! Oh, we laughed and laughed! Lorelai Leigh is such a bright spot in my life. Her humor and creativity are such a joy!

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I can't wait for next year to hang this beauty on our tree!

Friday, January 2, 2015

Birthday Thoughts

Yesterday the world celebrated its new year.

And today, I celebrate my new year!

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[My daughters and me on my 35th birthday.]

34 was a wonderful year for me. With the children getting older and more independent (and with all four of them in school all day), I find that I am feeling more and more like my own person again rather than just mom. Don't get me wrong, we all know how much I cherish my role as a mother, but after 12 years it feels good  to discover a bit of my own identity again. Specifically, I enjoyed how much I was able to perform on violin and viola last year. In addition to small gigs at weddings and benefit fundraisers, I performed in four symphony concerts, four musicals, one play, and two musical collaborations each with the Mid-Columbia Mastersingers and the Mid-Columbia Ballet.

So even though I loved the baby/toddler stage while it lasted, it feels good to watch the girls grow into young ladies, and at the same time reclaim a little bit of Lisa. 

Yes, life at 35 is absolutely swell.

35!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

New Year's Day

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[Elisabeth, ringing in the new year.]

I've always loved the bit of mystery that comes with the New Year. As I reflect on the past and make resolutions for the future I can't help but wonder, what will this year bring? Because while life can be planned, it cannot be predicted. And it is that unpredictability that makes each year unique; a story that is told day by day, week by week, and month by month until the year comes to a close and you look at what has been created.

Sometimes you see a picture that makes sense - like a piece of realistic art. Each brush stroke was thought out and carefully placed, the final product being clean and easy to understand and interpret. But other years are more abstract, like a canvas covered with confused lines and a splattering of color. The painting tells a story of intention mixed with surprise and chance. But regardless of whether the painting is realistic or abstract, a masterpiece has been created; each year beautiful in its own right.

And so today, on the first of January, I look at my blank canvas with excitement and gratitude, thankful for life and all the adventures it brings - both planned and not.

Now let's get painting!

Welcome, 2015!
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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

An Ode to 2014

2014. 

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As I began this year I took on what was perhaps the biggest challenge of my life: to live chocolate free. In the years leading up to this one I had become nothing short of addicted, eating chocolate all day every day. Do I dare admit that I would buy the 72 oz bag of chocolate chips at Costco and finish them within a week? Chocolate had become my main fuel source. Chocolate, chocolate, chocolate. 

I knew I needed to make a drastic change. 

So I resolved to go one year without; to rebuild healthy eating habits and treat my body the way I knew I should. I completely changed my health routine: I started practicing yoga again, eating balanced meals, drinking lots of water - and most importantly - I stayed away from chocolate and sweets. 

I expected to see a drastic difference in my physical state. I thought I would lose a ton of weight. Or perhaps I would look in the mirror and see a radiant complexion. Or maybe I would feel different, full of new found energy. But the truth is - none of that happened. My weight more or less stayed the same, my skin looks as it did a year ago, and I don't have any more energy than before.

But even though I didn't notice many physical changes, it doesn't mean that my efforts were for naught. Because that one resolve, the resolve to change one bad habit in my life, ended up changing my whole life. I gained self discipline I never knew I was capable of. I learned that I can do anything, that I have the strength to resist all temptations. I learned that through focus and dedication there is no challenge too hard. And as I have gained this strength, this knowledge, I have felt an unmatched sense of happiness and self respect.

Without a doubt, this has been the greatest year of my life.

Farewell, 2014!

Monday, December 29, 2014

To: The Sorenson Pets ... From: Santa Claus

Santa has never brought gifts for our pets. Maybe it's because they have never been on the good list before. But this year, 'he' decided it would be fun to surprise the girls by bringing presents for all their furry (and scaled) friends.

On Christmas Eve, shortly before they went to bed, the children started talking about the pets.  

"I wonder if the dogs will bark at Santa?"
Elsa asked.  

"Maybe he will leave them a bone if they don't bark."
she concluded.

That got Lorelai thinking...  
"I should hang a stocking for Guinness!" 

She immediately ran to her dresser and came back with a sock which she clipped to the side of his cage using a bobby pin. At this point I was thinking how grateful 'Santa' was that 'he' was prepared with presents for all - including the animals.

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And here's what was in those pretty packages:


To: Cesar Flickerman
From: Santa

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A new fish bowl. Or perhaps I should say fish cube. So modern, I love it.


To: Brigitta
From: Santa

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New water and food bowls! A step up from the old baby bowl we used before.


To: Emily and Scarlett
From: Santa

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These each held a ginormous bone from the local butcher. The dogs were in heaven.


To: Guinness
From: Santa

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Santa just happened to have a bottle of Guinea Pig shampoo to put in that sock Lorelai hung. So perfect! Guinness also got a hay trough for his cage and a grooming kit.

And...

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A new playpen! I can't wait for warmer weather so we can take it outside!

Is he not the cutest? Yesterday, the girls spent their afternoon doing a fashion photo shoot with him - dressing him up in doll clothes and hats. Cutest thing ever! Post to come!

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"I'm one lucky dog!"
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