Friday, April 30, 2010

Random Bits and Pieces

First of all...

My younger sister is currently in the jungles of Belize exploring caves for ancient artifacts; that's the life of an archaeologist for ya! Check out this picture she took a few days ago (she titled it Jungle Jenn):

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Second of all...

Thanks to Hannah for giving me the link to this photo:

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That would be Tori Spelling and family riding around on their Taga's. Aren't those bikes seriously the coolest thing ever?! Mine is supposed to arrive sometime next week and I am so excited that I can hardly stand it!!! Pictures will be posted immediately, I guarantee it :)

Third of all...

Today's the last day to

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So if you haven't had a chance yet, hop on over to Make You Over and pick your favorite for the Mother's Day Makeover. Of course I would love it if you voted for me, but pick whoever you like...just vote! (Word around the campfire is that it is a close race!)


Fourth and final....

This weekend I will be performing Vivaldi's Gloria. It is going to be magnificent....trust me. I was at rehearsal last night and the choir sounded amazing. If you aren't busy on Sunday morning you should stop on by. The performance will be at All Saints Episcopal Church in Richland, Washington. Details here.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Fresh Air

So, a few weeks back Donald and I sat down to watch Oklahoma!. It was his pick, believe it or not (he'd never seen it and the girls had been playing the CD nonstop, so I think he was a little curious about it). Anyways, towards the beginning of the movie, Laurey (the main female character) walks out of her farmhouse carrying a birdcage and hangs it from a hook on the front porch.

And now, if you will, just imagine a light bulb turning on in my head.

Why didn't I ever think of that?

We have birds. Two little birds who live upstairs in the computer room. And while I have always made sure to give them a nice birds eye view out the window, it never occurred to me to actually put them outside every once in a while. Brilliant.

So a few days ago when the temperature was what we shall call perfect, I did it. I carried the birds downstairs and set them on a little table on the front porch. I think they were a little skeptical at first about this whole fresh air thing, but within a few minutes they were chirping away. Yes, they were happy; outdoors amongst their own kind, enjoying the sights and sounds and smells of Spring.

I think we are going to have to make a habit of this.

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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Toothless

The many faces of losing a tooth...

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Success!




Also....there are 3 days left to vote! Did you vote? Am I lame for begging? Ah, well....it is what it is.


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[3 days left. 1-2-3.]


Vote for me (Lisa) at
Make You Over.

Thank you! Thank you!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Asking a little favor...


Vote
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4
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Me.
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Pretty please.
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My cousin Marilyn was sweet enough to nominate me for a Mother's Day makeover (valued at $2400.00, oh la la!)

and...

I was selected as one of the 5 finalists!

so...

I need your help (big time).

Would you mind hopping on over to Make You Over and voting for me?

Please, oh please

and

Thank you, oh thank you!

Warmly,

Lisa

Monday, April 26, 2010

3 years ago...

Most days are ordinary. We go through the usual routines; school, work, play, and family responsibilities. We think, we believe, and we pursue dreams. Sometimes we celebrate, sometimes we mourn. There are times when we succeed, and others when we fail. Most days are filled with a wide spectrum of experiences and emotions that make up life, but they are still somewhat ordinary.

There are however, in every person's life, a few days where [personal] history is made; a handful of days that hold events so significant, so profound, that they alter the course of a life forever.

In my own life I can count but 6 of these days. 6 days out of 30 years.

This past Saturday marked the 3rd anniversary of one of those days for me. April 24, 2007. It was the day that Elisabeth was diagnosed with hydrocephalus.

I have shared my feelings from that day before, so I will not write them again here, but I do wish to express my gratitude for all that I have experienced in these past 3 years. On that day I was forced to face my fears, and what I have since learned is that there is nothing to fear at all.

Life will be unexpected. Life will be challenging. But life can also be rewarding.

We must take the trials we are given and turn them into opportunities; we must look at the challenges that lie before us and find the beauty.

3 years ago my life changed, and I am grateful.

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[Portrait by Jon Ball]


My thoughts on the....

1 year anniversary.

2 year anniversary.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

A Recipe-a-Week in 2010

Week 16
French Breakfast Muffins

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Ingredients

> 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
> 1/2 cup white sugar
> 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
> 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
> 1/8 teaspoon salt
> 1 egg, lightly beaten
> 1/2 cup milk
> 1/3 cup butter, melted

> 1/4 cup white sugar
> 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
> 1/3 cup butter, melted

Directions

>Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease muffin cups or line with paper muffin liners.

>In a medium mixing bowl, stir together flour, 1/2 cup sugar, baking powder, nutmeg and salt. Make a well in the center of the mixture. Stir together egg, milk and 1/3 cup melted butter. Add egg mixture to flour mixture; stir until just moistened (batter may be lumpy). Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups.

>Bake in preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes. Meanwhile, combine 1/4 cup sugar, cinnamon When muffins are finished baking, dip tops of muffins in the melted butter, and then in the cinnamon sugar mixture. Serve warm.

My Review

I'm going to be honest, the thing that caught my attention with this recipe was the name. I love France. Oh la la.

What I loved about these: they are so basic. The ingredients are staples found in every pantry, so I didn't have to make any last minute run to the grocery store to whip these together.

The taste is mild, but even so, Donald said that they were 'a little taste of heaven.' I think that the next time I make them I will take the advice of some other reviewers and add little bits of fruit...mango perhaps?

A hit!

Friday, April 23, 2010

"Elisabeth, let's go fast!"

When my sister flew up to visit us at the end of March she was excited to tell me about an ad she saw while reading a magazine on the airplane,

"It's like a bike, but there's a seat on the front, and it also converts into stroller," she tried to explain.

I had a hard time picturing it, so we went to the local grocery store where she found the magazine and showed me the ad.

I fell in love.

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Over the past few weeks I have thought about the bike daily, especially with the lovely spring weather outside and the excitement of summer just around the corner.

I envision us going on rides around the neighborhood and along the river (I live next to the Columbia River). I imagine how Elisabeth will feel with the breeze on her face, and the thrill she'll experience as we speed along the bike trail.

This bike was meant for us;
me and Elisabeth, Elisabeth and me.

Take a look:



Here are a few things I really love about Taga bikes:

> It holds a child up to 49 inches and/or 55 pounds; even my 7 year old isn't that size yet, so Elisabeth will get a good 5 years use out of it (at least).

> She will be right up front with me rather than being pulled behind in a trailer.

> Because she will be up front with me I can talk to her as we ride and say things like, 'do you hear the birds singing, Elisabeth?' or 'Elisabeth, let's go fast!'

>
It is a 3-wheel trike, so we will have the ability to ride very slow if we want, unlike a child seat on a bike that requires the rider to keep up a certain speed in order to maintain balance.

> Elisabeth will enjoy the feeling of motion. This will be exhilarating for her!




So I've decided to order one. We'll just call it an early Mother's Day gift (to myself).



Now to pick a color...

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Which do you think I should pick?



For more information on Taga, visit their website:

Click here.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Childhood Expressions

You never know how one generation might influence another. Sometimes through words, sometimes through actions, and sometimes through art:

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[Lorelai, in my grandfather's art studio. 2009.]

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[Lorelai, in her art gallery (a.k.a. my bedroom). 2010. ]

Now, thanks to the influence of her great-grandfather, Lorelai has decorated our blank white walls with her own artistic expressions; a testament to the wonder and whimsy of childhood imagination.

And my bedroom...well, it has never looked so beautiful!



This post is an entry into a blog carnival hosted by Barbara at TherExtras with the theme 'Childhood Expressions'. For more info, click here.


To view and/or purchase prints from my grandfather's private art collection, click here.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Perfect Timing

A few nights ago, Donald and I went to a hockey game.

The next morning there was a picture on the front page of the Sports section, and there we were, just behind all the action:

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It looks like I am really into hockey. It looks like I am outraged that the other team has just scored.

But the truth??

There was a book in my lap that I was busy reading and they just happened to get a shot of me with my head up (and looking somewhat enthusiastic!).

Timing is everything.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Life as a Mom

I finished cleaning the upstairs.

5 minutes later I went back up.

This is what I found:


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Literally 5 minutes.

That's life as a mom, I suppose.


Monday, April 19, 2010

Meanwhile, back in Spokane...

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[In the waiting room at the hospital.]

Last Thursday I took Elisabeth to Spokane for an EEG. After it was done we went straight over to her neurologists office to find out results. He mentioned that her brain was full of seizure activity (no surprise there), especially on the right side, but (here comes the BIG news) she was no longer having infantile spasms.

?
??
???

What??

I seriously did a double take and said,

"Did you just say that the EEG showed no infantile spasms???"

"Yes," he replied.

?
??
???

This was the news that I had been waiting almost 2 years for; this was cause for a celebration, heck...this was news worthy of a ticker-tape parade! But instead, I was just confused.

1st of all, if she is not having spasms, what am I seeing all day long that looks exactly like spasms?

2nd of all, if she is not having spasms, what do I blame for her developmental regression? ( I want something to blame, by george!)

As I started in with all my questions Elisabeth had a 'spasm'.

"See...there's one right there," I said.

"No, those are just myoclonic seizures, but they do look the same," he explained.


So....


We talked. And we discussed Elisabeth's behaviors as of late; the head banging, the struggle with feedings, the developmental backtracking.


And then he had an idea.


It's possible that Elisabeth has a Chiari Malformation.
Now, I won't go into great detail about Chiari Malformations right now, at least not until she is actually diagnosed with it. But basically it has to do with compression of the brain stem or spinal cord at the base of the skull.

I have spent some time this weekend researching Chiari Malformations, and let me tell you, it makes sense that this might be what Elisabeth is dealing with. Here's a little bit of what I read:

A Chiari Malformation may cause a variety of symptoms. In infants and young children, difficulty with feeding and swallowing are more common and may result in gagging, drooling and vomiting. Abnormal breathing may occur resulting in the child having slow or noisy breathing similar to snoring in adults. Irritability, head banging and nighttime awakening may all be signs of headache in young infants. Symptoms in older children commonly include headache, spinal curvature, clumsiness and in rare cases difficulty controlling bladder function.

So maybe, maybe that's what it is going on. And if so she will have surgery to create more room for the brain and spinal cord.

Coming up in the next few weeks:
  • MRI
  • Visit to the feeding clinic at Sacred Heart Medical Center
  • Swallow study
  • Consultation with pediatric surgeon about getting a g-tube

It's a lot to think about, but I am thrilled that there might be an answer. I want an answer...a solution...so bad. I want Elisabeth to be calm, to be comfortable; I want her to progress and learn and grow. And I know we'll get there, we just can't give up.

As I was sitting and waiting for the neurologist to come into the office I took note of an inspirational poster hanging on the wall. It read,

"We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves strong. The amount of work is the same."

-Carlos Castaneda

That might just be my new favorite quote.

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Saturday, April 17, 2010

Extra! Extra! Read all about it!

Momlogic.com has published a story about Elisabeth.

Have a few minutes? Well hop on over there and read it :)

Enjoy!

Friday, April 16, 2010

A Recipe-a-Week in 2010

Week 15
Raw Cookie Dough (do not bake!)



Ingredients

1 cup butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 (3oz) box of vanilla pudding
1/4 cup milk
1/2 Tbsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking soda
2 1/2 cups flour
2 cups chocolate chips


Directions

In a large bowl, cream softened butter and sugar until fluffy. Add pudding and stir well. Add milk, vanilla and baking soda. Slowly mix in flour until smooth. Dough will be slightly sticky. Stir in chocolate chips and chill. Do not bake.

To make truffles....form chilled dough into balls and freeze. Dip balls into melted chocolate and chill again to set. Serve cold.

My Little Mummy

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The last 48 hours have left me exhausted both physically and mentally, but luckily not emotionally. It is near impossible for me to become emotionally exhausted (a trait I inherited from my mother).

Anyways, because I am physically and mentally exhausted I don't feel up to recalling (and typing) all the details of yesterday's EEG and neurology appointment right now.

But know this:

I received some HUGE news.

News that should leave me ecstatic...but somehow I just find myself with more questions.

Details later.
I promise.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

A Bad Day Looks Like This:

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Things have been rough for Elisabeth lately...

...her spasms have been damaging her brain and causing her to regress developmentally...

...and part of that regression means that she is forgetting how to eat...

...forgetting how to eat means losing 4 pounds...

...forgetting how to eat also means it's not so easy to get all her seizure meds down...

...and when she doesn't get her seizure meds down, she sometimes starts having seizures...

...like yesterday morning, for 20 minutes...

...yikes...

...so today we head back to Spokane...

...where an EEG will see what's goin' on in that little brain of hers...

...and then we'll visit with the neurologist...

...and we might just see about getting a g-tube put in too...

...because days like yesterday are no fun...

...just ask Elisabeth.

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[Yesterday afternoon. I am trying to feed Elisabeth (key word: trying). She is exhausted, can you tell? Seizures do that to you.]

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Thoughts on Self-Improvement

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A few months ago I toyed with the idea of quitting the symphony; I was overwhelmed with rehearsals and just wanted to be home raising my children (while they are still young and want me around). Of course I quickly dismissed the idea; I just love performing too much. But I did commit to myself to accept less gigs (ironically I type this just one day after saying yes to a gig in two weeks....ahh well, the pay is good).

And then....

Last week I was on the phone with my mom and we were discussing how important it is to keep up with things as we get older. In my case, me and my music. I put so much effort into my musical studies while I was young and I mustn't let my skills slip away. If I were to quit the symphony, even if my intention was for it to only be a few years, I fear that I would never get back into it. Once you stop something, it's hard to pick it up again. And then my mom mentioned how it's also important for my children to see me play so it will reinforce to them the importance of developing and using talents (a practice what I preach thing, I suppose).

And then...

A few days ago I went and listened to one of my best friends, Yasmine, as she performed a solo voice recital. Uhhh....hello....can we say talent?! It reminded me of the time I saw Sarah Brightman sing in concert, only better because this time I had a front row seat and my daughter was sitting next to me.

Yasmine's performance was flawless and I left the recital completely inspired; here is one of my peers, who is a mother and music teacher like myself, but she is continuing in her own musical studies. She takes lessons and competes. How fabulous is that?

So after pondering my own situation I realized that I have gotten a little lazy with my own musical abilities. I do perform with the symphony and at weddings and things like that all the time...but I don't push myself. I am just staying in my comfort zone; which is okay...but like I said, Yasmine inspired me to do more.

So, here's the plan...

Last year on my summer to-do list I wrote that I wanted to learn Mozart's Rondo Alla Turca on the piano. I chose that piece of music because it has always been one of my absolute favorite classical works. I can listen to it over and over again and never tire of hearing it. But alas, as the summer progressed I found myself taking the children swimming and planning picnics to the park while my goal to learn Rondo Alla Turca became forgotten...

So I have recommitted myself to learning it. And to add extra pressure I am announcing an online recital:

Please join me here at
The Far Side of Complexity
on
Thursday the 2nd day of September 2010
as I perform
Mozart's Rondo Alla Turca
(courtesy of YouTube)

Now that I have totally put myself out there let me add this little disclaimer:

Piano is hard for me (unlike the violin which comes a little more naturally). Also, because piano is challenging for me I am giving myself plenty of time to learn it (which is why my concert isn't until the end of the summer).

I will not guarantee a lightening speed tempo, I will not guarantee that I won't stumble across the keys (I didn't earn the nickname ol' butterfingers for nothing). I will guarantee that I will try my hardest.

And with that I must excuse myself....I'm off to practice!

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[Thanks to Michelle for the penny-farthing bicycle necklace I am wearing!]

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Lunch on the Front Porch

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Just one reason why Lorelai liked having Daddy home from work yesterday:

A Happy Meal

(shhh...don't tell Alexandra...she was at school)


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Monday, April 12, 2010

Happy.

A few things that are making me incredibly happy today...

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  • These new green storage baskets that I purchased at Michaels (let the Spring Cleaning begin!).
  • Lorelai's acceptance letter into the Dual Language program next year.
  • A new blog that I have with my siblings.
  • Allegiant Air now has a direct flight from where I live to LAX for $160.00. Oh happy day!
  • A neurologist who is going above and beyond to try to help figure out what's causing Elisabeth's head banging.
  • My least favorite team was eliminated on The Amazing Race last night.
  • Donald's taking the day off of work....just because. (now that's happy!)



It's the start of a new week...make it a good one.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

A New Recipe-a-Week in 2010

Week 14
Fried Rice

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Ingredients

2 Tbsp oil
3 cups cooked, cold rice (white, brown, or instant)
3 green onions, sliced
2 tsp soy sauce
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup carrots, sliced
3 Tbsp fried rice seasoning mix

Directions

In large skillet, heat oil; stir-fry rice and green onions. Add seasoning and soy sauce; stir fry 1 minute. Push rice to side, add eggs, scramble; stir into rice. Add carrots.

My Review

Last week when my sister was in town visiting she cooked up a delicious dinner of fried rice. It was completely scrumptious and I decided to make some on my own. Now here's the thing with me and cooking: not easy. It never has been and I doubt it ever will be. For most people making a dinner of fried rice is simple and basic...for me, it's an accomplishment.

I was so pleased with how it turned out. We had a delicious, light dinner, served with some chicken egg rolls.

Sure to stay on our dinner menu.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Big Kid on Campus

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In September, when she turns 3, Elisabeth will graduate from the Children's Developmental Center to the Kennewick School District. It seems like yesterday that we were having her evaluated at the Developmental Center (at just 3 weeks old), and now here she is, the big kid on campus. I compare her to a senior in high school getting ready to graduate. Time flies.

Today is her transition meeting. We will go to her new school and meet all her new teachers and see the facility. Her current therapists will be there too and we will discuss Elisabeth's transition to the school district. I am very excited about this; not about leaving her current teachers and therapists, but excited to see what's next for Elisabeth.

I have a feeling good things are in store.



**I have been working on (and finally finished) a new section titled 'Get to know me' up above on my navigation bar. Go take a peek if you have a minute.

***Have a great weekend!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

It's the thought that counts.

So, my sister is on her way back to California to rest for a few days before hitting the road again. You may (or may not) remember that she is an archaeologist and she will be spending the next few months in Belize on a dig. I will be sure to post pictures of her adventures as I get them.

Our visit this past week was delightful. Full of long evening walks, plenty of cooking, and lots of help entertaining the children.

One of my favorite moments was when she told me that she had seen the perfect gift for me at the airport on her way here. A yellow
Life is Good mug that said simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. I love it (she so knows me).

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And to return the favor I told her that I had seen the perfect gift for her too. I pulled my Pottery Barn Kids catalog out of the telephone book drawer and showed her this:

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A white whale basket. Anyone who knows my sister knows that she loves whales. In fact, for as long as I can remember, whales have been her thing. So when I saw this I knew it was meant for her.

She reacted just as I imagined....she LOVED it! In fact, she may have even let out a squeal when she saw it. It is just so Jennifer.

No actual gifts were exchanged....but it's the thought that counts, right?

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Yoga lessons....

(from Aunt Jenny, of course)


Partner Tree Pose:
(we called it The Sister Tree Pose)

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More Trees:

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Child's Pose:

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Elisabeth wanted in on this action:
(not really, she was more just into head banging).

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And yet more of the famous tree pose:
(there's a forest growing in my family room)

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Namaste:

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The end.

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