Monday, June 13, 2016

Summer!!!

Summer! 
Oh, blessed summer!

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I haven't felt this way about summer break since I was a child in elementary school... the sense of freedom, the spark of possibility.

Last fall I wasn't even looking for a job when the position at Elisabeth's school just seemed to materialize out of nowhere. And then, bam! I was working.

At the time I vowed to myself that I would not drop any balls on the home front; that even though I wouldn't have my days free to tackle my to-do list, I would find a way. And I did.

I found those extra hours in the morning. My alarm started going off at 4 am each morning and I would rise and tackle the day. By the time I went to work at 8:00 the house was clean and vacuumed, laundry was washed and put away, lunches were packed, children were presentable. I kept my promise to myself, I didn't drop any balls. In fact, my productivity rate skyrocketed! Because I knew how limited my time was, I became extremely efficient, accomplishing household tasks, caring for the children, and keeping up with my exercise and music, too.

Friday was the last day of school, meaning that I have 11 weeks of glorious vacation ahead of me. Don't get me wrong, I won't be sitting around sipping lemonade all day...I have things to do, my friends! And summer break means that I have time to do them.

In addition to a personal to-do list that I made, the girls and I composed a summer bucket list.

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It reads:
  • Grand Canyon
  • Golden Gate Bridge
  • Camping
  • Beach
  • Stargazing
  • Whale Watching
  • Go to Yogurt Beach (frozen yogurt)
  • Make Ice Cream
  • Attend a Baseball Game
  • Go to a Play
  • Have fun at the Big Red Wagon in Spokane
  • Eat the Ramen Burger at Red Robin
  • Go Bird Watching
  • Hot Air Balloon Ride
  • Go Mall Walking 
  • Bake Macaroons
Now to tackle the list
Ready, set, go!!!

Monday, May 2, 2016

Nine Years a Miracle

Last week, on April 24th, it marked nine years since that day of the ultrasound.

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That was the hardest day of my life, yet it was the beginning of the richest and most joyous experience I have ever had. Life isn't meant to be easy. Mine isn't; ours isn't. But through trials and hardships we gain strength and happiness and wisdom that cannot be acquired any other way.

My life changed that day, and I am so, so glad it did.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Elsa's 9th Birthday!

Elsa Lelise, age 9.

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We went with a Hawaiian theme for Elsa's birthday and so it was lei's and pineapples all around!

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It was a busy, busy day - as is the norm in our household. We were all off to school and work bright and early but gathered at home at 4:00 to watch Elsa open her gifts. We then went to an early dinner at Costa Vida before separating out to a rehearsal, track practice, and a mallet showcase.

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By the time we all were home again it was 8:45 in the evening. We sang happy birthday to our favorite Ethiopian and watched as she blew out her candles and made a wish.

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For Elsa's 9th birthday she received:
  • Sheets
  • Comforter
  • Four Outfits
  • Nailpolish
  • Floor Rug
  • Lamp

Thursday, April 28, 2016

It's Elsa's 9th Birthday!

Nine! 

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I wonder it often, but on her birthday more than other days: 
What was I doing the day Elsa was born? 

The truth is, we aren't 100% sure of her birth year. If it was in fact 2007 as we celebrate it, I had just found out about Elisabeth's hydrocephalus a few days prior...meaning I was in the depths of despair. I was mourning what I was sure would be the loss of my baby, when in fact, not only would my baby live, but a little girl born half way around the world would be mine, too. Constantly I marvel at life - at the unexpected twists and turns, and how those twists and turns offer so much experience and knowledge and joy. 

Happy Birthday, Elsa Lelise!

It is an honor to be your mother. 

 Xoxo.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Spring Break: Part 1

We left with smiles, optimism, and excitement on our two-day drive to Southern California where family, the aquarium, the ocean, the museum, and Disneyland awaited us.

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But then...in the Middle-of-Nowhere, NV, the car broke down...

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Blah!

Truth be told, I was a little worried. I mean, how could you not be when stuck in a desolate place and traveling with a medically frail child? But I dared not show the girls my concern. Rather, I turned to them and said,

"When life doesn't go as you expect, you figure it out and carry on. That's what Sorenson's do."

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[Yes, I still take pictures of Donald everyday, draw angel wings and a halo onto them, and send them to him via text.]

Then Donald and I tried to determine what in the world we were going to do and, more importantly, how to get our children to Oma's house as promised.

The story is long and involves a friend driving a few hours to come to our rescue and an auto repair shop owner just happening to arrive at his shop literally one minute after we arrived with our van (on a Saturday night, when they were closed. Miracle!). He diagnosed the problem quickly and vowed to get us on our way. And he did!

I am so grateful for the tender mercies we experienced that day. A very unfortunate situation was an opportunity to teach the girls to handle life bumps in the roads in a calm and positive manner.

Keep calm and carry on.

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[Elisabeth and I waiting as the mechanic fixed the van.]

We rerouted to Salt Lake because it was the closest place we could get to and crashed for the night. The next morning we woke early and hit the road again.
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On to California!!!

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Sneezies vs. Seizies

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We were driving to the Seattle area today for a gymnastics meet and Elisabeth looked so cute holding her new goose, James. Naturally, I turned around to snap some photos.

That's when I sneezed.

Sometimes, unexpected sounds trigger seizures in Elisabeth. This was one of those times.

I felt horrible and climbed behind me in the van to comfort her.

"I'm sorry my sneezy gave you a seizie," rolled off my tongue. I didn't mean to rhyme, but with Elisabeth I often times use baby-talk and it just came out that way. I said it a few more times and then realized how very 'Dr. Seuss' it sounded.

I wonder if the Who's down in Whoville had sneezies that caused seizies??

Monday, March 14, 2016

Keep Calm and Carry On

Let me start by saying that I rarely feel overwhelmed. Rarely.

But, I will admit that last week, for a brief while, I felt a bit like life was raining down hard.

We learned of a dangerous situation that Alexandra has been dealing with at her middle school. The details are too graphic and horrible to write here, but simply put, her life was being threatened by another student.

As the facts emerged I felt sick to my stomach.

That day, I opened a cupboard in the kitchen (which has family pictures lining the inside).
This picture stood out to me:

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Alexandra's kindergarten photo. It made me a little sad to realize that the innocence of childhood doesn't last forever. Life comes at us. Everyone of us. Alexandra was not naive to the ways of the world, the dangers of it, but I never would have wanted her to face first hand what she has in the past weeks.

As it is, a police report has been filed and the young man involved is being charged with a criminal misdemeanor.

And...

While all of that was happening, Elisabeth fell ill. She wasn't breathing well and had a terrible cough. After taking her to the ER they diagnosed her with pneumonia. My heart broke to see her so sick, so miserable.
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We have always known she is at high risk of pneumonia due to her severe scoliosis, but up until this point she had avoided it.
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Trying to protect Alexandra and trying to get Elisabeth well, all while I kept up with work and the symphony and managing every day routines in our home seemed like too much.

But that is life. It comes at you hard sometimes. One of the most important lessons I have learned in my years of mothering Elisabeth is to keep calm and carry on. It does no good to crumble, to hide, to wallow in self pity. Rather, you need to conquer each challenge and obstacle as it comes your way. And brighter days are always just around the corner.

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[Blossoms in our yard.]
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Elisabeth has made a speedy recovery. And while she is not 100% well yet, she is breathing better and even has the energy to sit up and play.

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[Elisabeth this morning.] 

Keep calm and carry on, I say.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Gymnastics Meet #5

Rose City Challenge 
~ Beaverton, OR ~
March 5, 2016

Another great meet for Lorelai! She is continuing to show growth as a gymnast and most importantly, is keeping a great attitude. Her coaches - as well as Donald and I - are pleased as punch! And Lorelai is quite happy with the results of her focus and work, too. 

The most exciting part of this gymnastics meet was that Lorelai scored above 32 - earning her way to state! Lorelai is over the moon! We all are. At the beginning of the competitive season she was regressing, unable to get past some mental blocks. But look at her now! 

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Scores: 

Vault: 7.85
Bars: 8.3
Beam: 8.15
Floor: 8.1   

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Good job, sweet Lorelai!!! 

And a picture of our drive to the meet this weekend...it was absolutely picturesque!

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Monday, February 29, 2016

February Required Reading

So...one night right around the new year, we were gathered around the dinner table ready to eat. I was so pleased with the meal I had prepared for my family, it was balanced and beautiful. Then it began...the grumbling and complaining. And that's when I lost it.

How could they complain?? These children have traveled to a place where they have seen people starving in the streets. They have a little sister who cannot eat, but rather receives all of her nutrition via g-tube. My children have perspective! They should open the fridge and pantry - which are filled with fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy, and meats, and be filled with gratitude. But they weren't. So it was time to get tough.

I announced right then and there that there would be no fast food for all of 2016. Also, I would once again pack lunches for them (they had begun packing their own lunches) to ensure they had healthy meals. The children were horrified. The prospect of a year without fast food seemed cruel and unusual in their eyes. But when I say it, I do it. And so it has begun.

As I sat down to determine a required reading book for February the topic of nutrition came to mind. I thought it would be good for the children to read facts about food to help reinforce the things I had been teaching them. After reading some reviews, I decided on...

Nutrition Facts for Kids

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Alexandra is the first to turn in her essay...what a gem! Oh, how I laughed! 
It simply has to be shared. So without further adieu, here it is:


Alexandra Sorenson
2.28.16
Nutrition Essay

So, nutrition. Nutrition, nutrition, nutrition. BORING! You know, I would have enjoyed the book a lot more, if it weren’t for the author’s totally biased opinions. Like, honestly, in my mind, I was like, “Darn (insert author’s name), Back at it again with your stupid, totally biased, ridiculous opinions!” Ok, my venting is done. Well, it is done for now. Okay, back on topic. So, let’s just face it. There is an overwhelming amount of fat people in this world. Well, this country. TO be honest, I don’t think there is a whole lot of obesity in other countries like there is here… Anyways, there are fat people here, because no one really pays attention to Nutrition. People just eat artificial, fake, unhealthy food. And that isn’t good. So yeah, every once and a while, you can have something unhealthy. If I recall correctly, the author stated that 90% of the time, you should eat healthy, and nutritiously, and that 10% of the time, you can have sweets and other unhealthy foods.

                I would have to say, one of my favorite parts of the book was when it talked about CHOCOLATE!!! Did you know that chocolate in its original, pure form is actually really healthy, and good for you?!?!?! Yeah, you did know that, and I did too. But it was really fun reading about chocolate. But most people actually don’t know that. Most people know chocolate as the candy bars with all the added sugars, milk, and other products. Most people know “Milk chocolate” not your pure cocoa bean chocolate. You can probably tell that I like chocolate.  Moving on. The book also talked about snacks. Instead of eating potato chips with dip for a snack, why not have an apple? If you want sugar, apples have lots of sugars in them! So do strawberries! SO, the next time someone says they want sugar, or something sweet, give them an apple! So, ALERT! ALERT! MAJOR ANGER ISSUES AHEAD! MAJOR RANTING AHEAD! BEWARE!

                Here is what really ticked me off about this book. THE AUTHOR! I absolutely hate the author of this book! Ok, maybe I am being just a little over dramatic… but seriously, come on! If you are going to write a children’s book to inform them about nutrition, don’t have all these biased opinions! Please! Is it really that difficult? NO! You may be wondering, “Well, what is wrong with the author? What makes them so biased? Why are you freaking out?” This is why folks. In this ridiculous book, the author claims that it is unhealthy to use hand sanitizer, cleaning products, etc. I mean, seriously, is it really?  Apparently to the author, when you use hand sanitizer, it kills off 99.9% of the bacteria. Some with household cleaning products. But, according to the author, it is the most terrible thing in the world to use these items, and to kill 99.9% of the germs and bacteria! Why might you ask? Because while it does kill off all the bad bacteria, it also kills off all of the good bacteria, that fights off the bad bacteria. THAT IS TOTAL BOB SAGIT RIGHT THERE! Yes, it is totally, definitely, the most terrible thing ever, in the whole entire world to use hand sanitizer, and cleaning products.

So, the author also wrote about how you should only eat food that is all organic. That is a bunch of phewy right there. Apparently, food that isn’t organic is done to death by farmers, who drown their fruits and vegetables with toxic stuff that will kill us. But no! We should not eat food like that! We should only ear food (and I quote) “within a 100 mile radius.” Yes my fellow reader, you read that right. That’s right. You should only eat food that has been grown within a 100 mile radius! Beware, if you eat food from other countries, you will die, and be cursed. You might as well say goodbye to your family now, because you won’t live much longer.

Another part that I thought was really fun about this book was the food colors. The author showed us how different colors of food mean different things. For example, white foods, such as onions and cauliflower help with your immune support, green foods, like avocado and broccoli help with detoxification, yellow foods like lemons make you beautiful, orange foods like carrots and oranges help with cancer prevention, red foods like tomatoes and red onions help with heart health, and purple foods like grapes help with longevity. Cool huh?

This book also taught us about food pyramids. Food pyramids are nutritional diagrams in the shape of a pyramid. They are designed to show us how to bake better food choices. The pyramid breaks food categories into a spectrum so you can have lots of variety in your diet. IT is recommended that we eat more food from the wider sections, like grains, fruits and vegetables, and less food from the smaller sections, like fats and sweets.

This book also had a diagram of a nutrition facts label. We were taught how to read the label, and learned what some of the numbers and words mean. For example, the “Percentages Daily Value” show us a number of vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin A, Calcium, and Iron. These numbers help determine if the food in the package has a high or low amount of a specific nutrient. The author said that two things that you should NEVER eat is foods that have high fructose corn syrup, or Trans-fat. But I think that it is ok if we just have a little bit.

                So, the final thing that I am going to talk about is Digestion. Digestion is the process of breaking food down into millions of tiny pieces. Digestion begins in your mouth when you chew your food, and ends in the toilet, following a route about 30 feet, all inside your body. After you chew and swallow your food, it travels to the stomach by way of a tube called the esophagus. Food does not fall down the esophagus because of gravity; wave-like muscle-contractions carry the food down to the stomach. We have what is called the small intestine, and the large intestine. The small intestine is a coiled-up organ that looks like a tube. It helps us break down our food. The large intestine makes poop.

                In this book, I learned that eating healthy really isn’t that bad… I don’t know if you have noticed (Whoever is reading this right now) but I actually have been trying to be healthier. I have been choosing apples (Surprise, surprise! J) as my snacks instead of unhealthy foods. Actually, frankly we don’t even have any unhealthy food in our house to tempt me anyway! (Except for the ice cream in the freezer that I may have had a bowl of) But that isn’t the point. I have actually been trying pretty hard to be a healthy person lately. And yeah, sometimes I am tempted outside of the house. For example… my fellow reader, (heaven help me) SO, funny story actually, really funny… A couple weeks ago during the second weekend of Holes, my mom packed me a really delicious dinner. Really delicious. Then, in between shows, my friends and I were talking. I was just telling her about how I am not allowed to have any fast food all year, and how outrageous it was. Then she was like, “Do you want me to get you anything from McDonald’s? I am getting some for dinner. And then I was like, SURE!!! And she came back with a cheeseburger, fries, and a drink for me. SO at the moment, I was like, “SCORE!” But after I finished eating, I honestly felt like crap. I felt really bad about it, and I physically felt sick to my stomach. I couldn’t even finish my food that is how bad I felt about it. And I still feel bad about it. Only now, do I realize that I didn’t need fast food, and I still don’t need fast food. I would have been perfectly fine with the meal that my mom had made me. So, let’s all agree, me, and my fellow readers that we should just forget about the past let bygones be bygones, and move on! Ok? OK! So, let me finish by saying that I am really going to try and make an effort at this new nutrition thing. I think that one I get used to it, I will have a happier and healthier lifestyle. J

Friday, February 26, 2016

Family Reading Night

Yesterday was Family Reading Night at Lorelai and Elsa's elementary school.

An author, Lisa Harkrader, had visited the school during the day and was in the library that evening so that the children could meet her, ask questions, etc. Elsa had told me as soon as she got home from school that she wanted to read Harkrader's book, The Adventures of Beanboy. I assured her we would purchase it and Elsa even got three bookplates signed by Ms. Harkrader last night (there are three books we plan to buy).

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[Elsa and Lisa Harkrader. She is holding up the signed bookplates to put in her new books!]

While in the library, Lorelai, who is a library helper, showed us the part of the library she is in charge of:
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This is one of my favorite pictures ever of my daughters. First of all, they are in a library...which I love. Second of all, it just highlights each of their personalities and stage of life right now. Elsa, so girly, Alexandra, looking like a teen, Elisabeth, the forever baby, and Lorelai, the super athlete.

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At the end of the evening, all the 2nd graders reported on stage to put on a performance for the parents. There is Elsa, on top and in the center, that big pink bow just popping against the black curtain behind her. She was so nervous! It was cute!!! I am so proud of her!!!


Monday, February 22, 2016

Joshua Bell Live!

Saturday night was the night my dream of 20+ years came true: 
I listened to Joshua Bell perform live in concert.

With Alexandra in a play and Elsa having a basketball game, and with Elisabeth and her special needs, it made sense that I just go alone. 

So I gave Elisabeth kisses...

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 And posed for a picture with my family...

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And set off on a solo adventure to Portland. 

After checking in at the hotel, I got dressed and did my 
hair into a good see-Joshua-Bell-perform hairdo. 

I was tickled with how it turned out:

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Then off to the concert hall!  photo IMG-1456021121513-V_zpsn4xujwig.jpg

As I walked in I was trembling. I couldn't believe the night was here, something I had waited so long for. Part of me was a little nervous. I had built this up in my head for so long and soon it would be over and I would never have this first magical experience again. But I decided not to dwell on that, to soak up the moment while it was happening.

The interior of the hall was breathtaking:

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Joshua performed the Bruch Violin Concerto - which happens to be my favorite. Having played it in my youth, I know every note, and that intimate knowledge of the piece made it even that more thrilling to listen to. It was as if I could not only hear the music, but feel the music. And when Joshua Bell played it...oh, the sound! The only way I can describe it is to say it sounded like butter tastes: smooth and rich and creamy. I couldn't stop smiling the entire time. My dream was coming true and it was the most magical of experiences!!!

And then - as if that didn't qualify it as one of the best nights of my life already - he was signing autographs in the lobby afterwards!!

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I met Joshua Bell!!!!!!!!!!!

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I still can't believe it. Twas the perfect night in every way, from beginning to end. 

There is a lot of negativity in the world; a lot of evil and hatred and misfortune and anger. But as I fell asleep that night and reflected on my evening I thought how that experience felt like all the good in the world. It felt inspiring, happy, beautiful. And it was all for me. The memories I made will be ones that I cherish forever.

The next morning I took out my autographed CD and listened to it on repeat as I drove back to my home and back to my family.

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The drive was beautiful. I spotted seven bald eagles!  photo 20160221_091149_zpshpkc2k16.jpg 

And at last I was back and within minutes the girls and I were playing a game together in the family room. 
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I am blessed in life, of this I am sure. I am blessed by my family. I am blessed by music. I am blessed by rich experiences - such as the concert this weekend.  

Life is good.
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