Friday, April 29, 2011

Deja Vu + Two


[Lorelai, Elisabeth, and a yawning Alexandra, all snuggled into bed together.]

This all seems so familiar: we are (once again) at the hotel across the street from the airport getting ready to fly east with Elisabeth for her stem cell infusion.

Of course, this time there has been no vomiting; this time I haven't had to call Delta and explain that we wouldn't be able to make the flight; and this time we have two more children along for the ride.

Our flight leaves in 5 hours. Wish us luck!

(I'll try to post about our adventures along the way...but you know how hotel internet connections can be so unpredictable - so no promises.)

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Homemade Water

I found this on the kitchen counter:



Me: Girls, what are you doing with this?

Them: Don't touch it! We're making homemade water. First we put the ice in, and then we wait for it to melt. It tastes just like the water at Oma's house!

Oma - if you are wondering - is my mom. And the ice they were using - if you are wondering - was from Sonic. They must have the same water source (or so my children say).

Homemade water, anyone?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Lisa's Travel Tips

Travel season is officially upon us, and I don't know about you, but I am ready to get out there and explore!

There are many adventures awaiting me and my family in the next 12 weeks: everything from a trip to Colonial Williamsburg to the Oregon Coast to Disneyland to the rim of the Grand Canyon. And of course there is my getaway to Italy mixed in there too. Wow, all of that in the next 3 months!

Needless to say, I've been preparing: because if there's one thing I know, it's that successful traveling comes from careful planning.

Here are a few of my own travel tips:

  • Buy a folder. A simple 50 cent folder will do. I purchase a separate one for each trip we take and it holds everything from flight confirmations to hotel reservations to directions I've printed off of Mapquest. It all goes in the folder and it keeps my life [and family] organized and happy.

  • Don't pack the house, meaning: scale back. Don't feel the need to stuff every last thing that you might need into the suitcase. My opinion is that unless you are going to some 3rd world country you can always buy stuff on the road (if, that is, you realize you are desperately in need something you left behind - but chances are, you'll be fine.)

  • Use priceline.com. Seriously, I swear by that website. I have used them time and time again and I simply cannot fathom the thought of somebody paying full price for a hotel or rental car. So go name your own price like I did (and perhaps you too will be staying in the Hilton for a mere $50/night).

  • Do laundry there. This kind of goes hand-in-hand with my pack-less rule. I like to pack clothes for half as many days as we'll be gone and do laundry once half way through the trip. Many hotels these days have laundry service. It's way better than packing around all those dirty clothes, trust me.

  • Research. Learn about where you are going; things mean so much more when you have a good understanding of them. For example, this weekend we are taking the girls to Colonial Williamsburg, so to help them prepare we ordered the movie Felicity: An American Girl from Netflix. The story is about a girl who lived in Williamsburg during the American Revolution and it provided a fun way for Alexandra and Lorelai to learn more about where we are headed.

  • Clean the house. This is my number one rule. Before we leave on a trip I scrub the house from top to bottom. Maybe it's the OCD in me, but I seriously have a panic attack if we go on a trip with things out of order - drives me crazy. And....what a wonderful feeling to arrive back at home to a sparkling clean house.
So there you have it, a handful of my favorite, must follow, travel tips.

Happy Traveling!


[Painting of Machu Picchu by my grandfather - the world traveler himself - Claude Coats. Someday, rather, some-year, Donald and I are going to have to go there....]

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Doubles

Tennis lessons = A lot of pink sportswear.


[Alexandra and Lorelai's new take on giving each other bunny ears.]





Watch out Venus and Serena,
there are new sisters in town.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter Review 2011

Easter


Ready for church in their Sunday best.


Sparkly birds were perched atop the girl's Easter baskets this year.


The annual dyeing of Easter eggs.


"Baa"


The Easter Bunny brought Elisabeth a basket full of binkies.




Elisabeth wore mostly white (to represent the angel that she is).


My daughters, Alexandra, Lorelai, and Elisabeth (who was having a very hard time sitting up yesterday morning :)

Friday, April 22, 2011

Thoughts on Life - 4 years later

4 years. It's already been 4 years. 4 years this Sunday, in fact - Easter Sunday.

On April 24, 2007 I learned that Elisabeth, my 3rd daughter, had congenital hydrocephalus. That day will forever be etched into my mind; where I was, what I heard, how I felt. The pain, the real, physical pain - a heart that ached and ached.

I thought [then] that it was the darkest day of my life. And perhaps it was.

But little did I know how beautiful it would be - the privilege to mother a child so precious and pure as her.

If only I could have seen ahead; if I could have had a peek at life as it is now. Perhaps I would have known that my heartache was not necessary. But, then again, even if I had been granted a look into my future, I wouldn't have understood it; I wouldn't have understood how it could be good. I would have seen feeding tubes and wheelchairs. I would have seen a child with crippled legs and a brain with very little comprehension. And to the me that was, it would have been a frightening sight to behold.

But life works out beautifully. Elisabeth came to me like any other newborn - small and innocent and helpless. But the difference between her and other children is that she has stayed innocent and helpless (just not small). And, little by little we have learned more about her; her disabilities, her medical frailties. We have learned about poor vision, and damaged brain tissue; we have learned about seizures - oh, so much about seizures; we have learned how to feed a child who cannot swallow. But it has all been so gradual that we never felt overwhelmed. We were [are] able to come to terms with each challenge, one by one, and for that I am grateful.

Yes, 4 years have passed. I've journeyed from my darkest day to days that are so overflowing with joy that I can't imagine how it could get better - but I'm sure it will, because that's how life is.


[Elisabeth Elva, ready for an afternoon nap.]

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Ready (or not)

Elisabeth is...

Ready (for 3/4 cup bolus feedings!)
Not Ready (for oral feedings)
Ready (for size 6 clothes!)
Not Ready (for size 6 shoes...no need)
Ready (for touch and feel books)
Not Ready (to learn her ABC's)
Ready (for a handicap accessible house)
Not Ready (to say goodbye to this home)
Ready (for a stem cell infusion)
Not Ready (for a cross country flight [l-o-n-g])
Ready (for a big-girl bed)
Not Ready (to pack away her crib [I'm not ready])
Ready (to pound on the piano)
Not Ready (for Carnegie Hall)
Ready (to be seizure free)
Not Ready (to stop seizure meds)
Ready (for snuggles)
Not Ready (to give up binkies)
Ready (for life!)



[Elisabeth's shirt says, 'Everybody Loves Me' - and yes, it's a size 6!!]


***This post is an entry into the blog carnival,
Recognizing Readiness, hosted by the ever-so-wise Barbara at TherExtras. Make sure to stop by her blog on Monday to read all the entries!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

LOL

Life is good...



...just ask Elisabeth.

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Limbo

Lex and Lor's most recent idea: Do the limbo using the front yard for sale sign.





p.s. - Do you want to buy my house???

Friday, April 15, 2011

Hooray!



Elisabeth and I took one of our road trips to Spokane yesterday. Believe it or not, it's been over 5 months since we've been there. Whoa! 5 months. In the last 4 years that's the longest we've managed to stay away.

Yesterday's visit was to get some x-rays done and figure out what we [they] wanted to do about Elisabeth's crooked back and twisted/pointed feet.

And, as I suspected, the answer (for a second year in a row) is nothing.

Because if Elisabeth stays as she is (developmentally), there really isn't a reason to put her through the ordeal of trying to straighten everything out. She doesn't really do enough to need legs and feet that are suitable for walking - or a straight back for that matter.

If, however, a year or two from now we see some developmental progress, we could surgically correct her feet and get her fitted for braces.

I'm pretty sure the doctor thought that wasn't even a possibility though - he probably just wanted to give me some lingering hope so that I wouldn't break down in tears about my poor baby that will never walk.

Little does he know that I'm so not that type.

If one day Elisabeth walks I'll shout, 'hooray!!'

But if Elisabeth never walks I'll still shout, 'hooray!!', because she's here and she's living and I love her. And that's worth a big, loud, 'hooray!', wouldn't you agree?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

My Symphony


[Tulips in our front yard.]

I've taken to reading the following bit of poetry with Alexandra and Lorelai every night; I can't help but think that the pieces of wisdom written in these words - if followed - can bring great happiness:

To live content with small means;
To seek elegance rather than luxury,
and refinement rather than fashion;
To be worthy, not respectable, and wealthy, not rich;
To study hard, think quietly,
Talk gently,
Act frankly;
To listen to stars and birds, to babes and sages, with open heart.
To bear all cheerfully,
Do all bravely,
Await occasions,

Hurry never
.

In a word, to let the spiritual, unbidden, and unconscious, grow up through the common.

This is to be my symphony.
-William Henry Channing

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

How to resolve a 'sisterly spat'

One of my favorite things to do when Alexandra and Lorelai have a 'sisterly spat' is to make them write down what they love about eachother. Example:



This was written by my kindergartener, Lorelai, and it translates to:

I love you Alexandra. She's cute. I like it when she goes on the couch and jumps with her hands up in the air and says "I'm gorgeous!".



This method works like a charm. Not only do they forget whatever it was they were fighting about, but you end up with a priceless keepsake. A total win-win situation if you ask me.

Monday, April 11, 2011

A Return to Williamsburg


[Visiting Williamsburg in 2004 with 18-month-old Alexandra.]



Once we got the official go-ahead to bring Elisabeth to Duke University on May 3rd, I immediately went online to buy airline tickets. Now, as you can imagine, airfare for 5 does not come cheap. So....I thought that perhaps we should make our cross-country getaway into more of a mini-vacation. Get more for the money, you know what I mean?

When we were originally going to go [back on March 8th] we literally had plans to fly there one day, go to the hospital with Elisabeth the next, and fly home the 3rd. What a whirlwind trip that would have been!

But this time around we have decided to take a few extra days and go visit colonial Williamsburg in Virginia. Donald and I vacationed there back in 2004 (when I was pregnant with Lorelai). We thoroughly enjoyed our visit and are excited to go back. Plus, we feel that Alexandra and Lorelai are at a perfect age to really appreciate taking a 'step back in time'.

Williamsburg, here we come! [again]



[Me and Donald, circa 2004. I think we should re-create this picture - an updated 2011 version, don't you??]

Friday, April 8, 2011

The Neighborhood Park


[This is Elisabeth saying, "I'm too big for the baby swing!"]



[I think that Elisabeth's permanently-pointed feet would make any ballerina envious.]

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