Thursday, December 31, 2015

An Ode to 2015

Badger Mountain.
Kindle. Disneyland. Shake it off.
Vice President. Fit bit.  The Music Man. 
Gymnastics State Championship. Blood Infection. Basketball. 
 Baptism. Little Women. Outliers. Yoga. Tooth Extraction.
Anything Can Happen. Jane Banks. Trout Quintet.
 Young Womanhood Medallion. Glasses. Utah. 
  Track and Field Junior Olympic Championship.
Mt. St. Helens.
2015 
 photo 1538_zps9k1upfjo.jpg 

I will always look back on this year as the year mountains were conquered

Dreams do come true. 

  

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Christmas Eve Review

As we set were decorating our Christmas tree a few weeks ago, I was telling my children about Christmas at my house growing up. And then, suddenly, I said "Let's go! Let's go to Oma's house for Christmas!"

And that was that.

So on December 22nd we packed up the van and began the long journey south, arriving Christmas Eve to my mom's - which is absolutely magical when decorated for Christmas.

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Elisabeth, lounging in the family room with view of the roaring fire and the Christmas tree:  photo 20151224_163615_zpsdubw9wdt.jpg

Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse...

  photo 20151224_142419_zpsfbqgtg9o.jpg  photo 20151224_142159_zpsk6hn6dsy.jpg 

Before leaving for California, we celebrated an early Christmas with our family in Washington. Grandma and Grandpa Sorenson gave each of the girls a Kindle Fire. I get a kick out of seeing Elsa use it and comparing it to the life she lived just two years ago in Ethiopia. What a stark contrast! photo 20151224_160353_zpsdg7z1bty.jpg 

It filled me with joy to see my children in my childhood home for Christmas, to know they were experiencing it as I did.  photo 20151224_142342_zps4p4jysfo.jpg 

Among all the treasures at my mom's house, Elsa found this Christmas Golden Book. And in it, my name: upside down and backwards! Ha!  photo 20151224_161644_zpsdolumzxe.jpg 

'Twas the Night Before Christmas...

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

A Story About A Kindle

5 years ago Donald gave me a Kindle for Christmas. It became my companion everywhere I went and oh, all the adventures we had together! It traveled with me around the world to Europe and to Africa. And as it accompanied me on my adventures, it took me on adventures, too. For within that small device was a vast library. A library that could take me throughout the universe and across time. Indeed, there was nowhere that my Kindle and I couldn't go so long as I had an imagination.

Then, in August of 2013, I picked it up to find a shattered screen. I was devastated. It felt I had lost a friend. And I, who simply hates keeping things without purpose, and who has very little thought for sentiment, couldn't bring myself to throw it away.

So I kept it.

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Fast forward to this past Sunday morning. Donald handed me a gift and when I opened it tears filled my eyes. It was my Kindle, restored!

Donald told me how months previous he had seen an identical model at an estate sale. He bought it and watched videos online to learn how to replace the screen. The result was a success. My beloved Kindle is as good as new. And oh, how giddy I get when I think of all the adventures we will once again embark on together.

 Merry, merry!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

I Chose To Nap

It was a busy day, as most days right before Christmas are. We had family coming over for dinner and there were a million things to do in preparation of leaving town. But I decided to stop and snuggle with Elisabeth instead. In a matter of moments I was asleep and Donald captured the moment with his phone.
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Sometimes it is good to stop and slow down.

Sometimes the best thing to do is take a nap next to your baby.

Especially 8 year old babies.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

It's The Thought That Counts

"I know what I want to get Lorelai for Christmas," 
Elsa said proudly.  
 "A laptop!"

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[Elsa, reading by the glow of our Christmas tree last night.]


Monday, December 14, 2015

One Decade

This year we celebrated 10 years of living in our home. In fact, I have now lived in this home as long as I did my childhood home. Yet in my mind it seems I spent aeons living in that house in California and I feel it wasn't too long ago we bought this home. Time is funny like that. It's always the same, always steady, but life experience and perspective makes it feel otherwise.

I love this house. I find it to be absolutely perfect. Indeed, I cannot find one flaw in it. I love the layout. I love the size (not too big, not too small). I love my music parlor off the entryway. I love that my bedroom is large enough to share with Elisabeth so that she is near me every night. I love the fireplace and the warmth it provides. I love our backyard and the magical gathering place it becomes for friends and family on Summer nights. I love all the windows and the light, airy feel they provide. I love it all and I hope to live here all my days.

I feel lucky to have settled into this home at such a young age. When we moved in Alexandra was a toddler and Lorelai only 5 months old. Now Lex is a teenager starring in plays and Lorelai is a competitive gymnast who spends her (rare) free time in the family room doing handstands. And not only have I watched those two grow and learn in this house, but my number of children doubled with the birth of Elisabeth 8 years ago and the adoption of Elsa in 2013.

So much has happened in 10 years and I can only dream of all that is to come. And this home...this home will be the cornerstone of it all; the place we gather to find refuge from the turmoil of the world; the place we come to share and learn and grow.

I love this home of mine.

  photo IMG-1449591821790-V_zpsecdjnl5k.jpg 
[I took this picture through my windshield a few days ago. Thus the rain drops. 
Our home is decked out for the holidays. It is simply magical, especially at night!]

Thursday, December 10, 2015

I Believe in Good


 photo 20151202_121226_zps4zod29ww.jpg


In the six weeks that I have been working as a one-on-one para-educator to a boy with cerebral palsy, I have been careful to observe what I see happening around him. Now, I am the mother of a disabled girl, so being in the company of child in a wheelchair is something I am used to, but this job provides me with a different perspective. At a school I can see how children interact with a peer who is different: how they look at him, how they talk to him, what their intentions are.

And what I have seen has renewed my hope in the human race.

These children are loving. Not only are they kind and accepting of the boy under my care, but they go above and beyond to include him, to encourage him, and to help him be his best.

I can say with absolute honesty that I have not seen even one child look down at the boy I care for. Not one word of negativity, not one look of pity, not one moment of exclusion.

Every day I have children begging to help push him, feed him, play with him and read to him, So much so that I finally made a list to keep track and assign a daily helper. And the care his peers give him is honest, pure, and loving. There are no ulterior motives, it isn't for the praise of being a good helper or for the novelty of pushing a wheelchair while walking in line. It is because he is their classmate and they love him.

One day as I was about to take my little guy to the bus his friend ran up and said, "Wait, I want to say goodbye." And then I watched as he first hugged him, and then took his face in his hands, looked him in the eyes and said, "One day you'll walk, one day you'll be strong."

Those are the moments I witness day after day. It's another reason why I feel so blessed in my job. In a world that is become increasingly more violent and hateful, I get see what's good. I see the pure and innocent spirit of children. And as I witness their love I say to myself, 'There is good in us all. Mankind is good.'

I believe that, I truly do.

Indeed, I believe in good.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

An Ornamental Afternoon

Trimming the Tree.

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By golly, look at that!
Somehow Alexandra is suddenly tall enough to reach way up to the top!
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You'll notice the familiar tape ornament hanging just to the left of Lorelai's chin.
A true Sorenson classic!

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Elsa's third time decorating a Christmas tree. THIRD. Time flies. It really, really does.

  photo 20151206_105421_zpsasgab54t.jpg  photo 20151206_104905_zpsvy54qudn.jpg
And while the girls made the tree sparkle, Brigitta just stayed curled up by the fire in her Christmas sweater.

Before the decorations were complete, Donald and the girls went to a friends house to watch a football game, leaving me alone (with some old Christmas records) to finish things up.
It was a bit magical.

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When they got back, our home was completely transformed into a Christmas wonderland.
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[Lorelai playing her xylophone and Elsa reading a Curious George book.]

Christmastime 
is here!


Tuesday, December 8, 2015

My New Job

Sometimes life just falls into place and you have that comforting feeling that everything is happening as it should.

That's how I feel about life right now.

Ever since Elisabeth started going to school full time I toyed around with the idea of working since I had my days free, but then I would quickly realize that I couldn't work because I needed to be available should Elisabeth need me. Plus, she is only at school from 8:30 -3:00. And there was summer break, no school days, and early release days to consider. I couldn't see how working would be compatible with that. So other than teaching music students from my home and playing in the symphony, I kept unemployed.

Until now.

Back in early October I saw a job posting for a position at Elisabeth's elementary school. It was to be a one on one para-educator for a boy with cerebral palsy. I couldn't believe my eyes...and quickly thought through all the reasons this would be the perfect job for me:

  • I would go to school and leave school with Elisabeth.
  • I would be in the same building as her should there be an emergency.
  • I would have her same schedule; she has a day off, I have a day off.
  • I would get to snuggle Elisabeth during my lunch break.
  • I would get to see Elisabeth off and on all day (can you see this was a major plus for me?).
  • I would be using my knowledge and expertise in caring for a disabled child.
  • I would be earning money to put towards another adoption.

On my pro/con list there was not one con...just pro after pro after pro.

So I applied...and they hired me!

I have been working now for the past 6 weeks and I can say it has been such a positive experience, everything I expected and more. Of course, seeing Elisabeth all day has been a blessing, but I also get such joy out of being in a second grade classroom, in interacting with the children, in hearing the funny things they say, in helping them learn, and in caring for the boy under my watch.

I wake every morning excited to to go to work and know that life, once again, has fallen into place perfectly.

I feel blessed. And happy. Oh, so happy.

  photo fe42d5e4-675b-40cf-8953-bc8e5af66052_zpsnya5xekx.jpg

Monday, December 7, 2015

Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!

Never was there a more happier crew, 
than them what sings 
Chim Chim Chiree 
Chim Chiroo!
-Bert
  photo 20151122_172544_zpspuoin0wx.jpg

Mary Poppins was...perfect. Not even practically perfect. Just plain ol' perfect.

Alexandra shined like a star and I was pretty sure my heart was going to burst with pride. It was a huge role and there was so much pressure on her, but she rose to the occasion.

In all there were six performances, which meant we spent a lot of time creating curls:

  photo 25c45f4d-dac4-4e46-9bc3-a0598fc77217_zpslzrr1oxe.jpg  photo cb37038f-6ff2-4e72-b487-aebc16bd23d1_zpshwuvftj2.jpg

Every night the auditorium would fill with people and trust me when I say magic happened during every show. The music, the sets, the cast...all so magical.
   photo 20151121_193052_zps2tn6mkmf.jpg

Alexandra wants to continue on with theater, and I am sure many more big roles await her in the future, but there is no doubt that this role, the role of Jane Banks, will always be special. Every kite she fly's, every chimney she sweeps, every spoon full of sugar she scoops will take her back to this cherished memory.
 photo 20151122_172430_zpsg8rpwv6r.jpg

For several months, Mary Poppins was her life. And so naturally, tears began to fall after the curtain fell on the last show.

 photo 20151122_172943_zpsqcfpbruz.jpg

And then she went home and cried some more...

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"With every job when it's complete, there is a sense of bitter-sweet, that moment when you know the task is done."
-Mary Poppins

Friday, December 4, 2015

Function + Beauty = A Happy Lisa

Behold, the new blender!!!

  photo IMG_20151128_145921_zpse0yr8zup.jpg

At our house, a blender is a big deal. A really, really big deal. With Elisabeth being tube fed, everything must be liquefied to perfection or it won't go through the tube. Our previous blender served us well for years. It was a basic Kitchen Aid model...nothing fancy like the ones being demonstrated at Costco...but even so, it worked amazingly. Whatever I threw into the pitcher almost instantly became liquid: meat, dairy, fruits, vegetables, bread....everything liquefied in a matter of seconds. In fact, it worked so well it led me to wonder why anyone invests in the 'expensive brands' anyway. Needless to say, we went with another Kitchen Aid.

But the best thing about our new blender....it is green!!
When something is both functional and beautiful, it makes me extremely happy.


Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thanksgiving Day 2015

My life is everything I dreamed it would be... 
...and many things I never dreamed it could be.

  photo IMG_20151126_104849_zps5pryzdre.jpg
[Candles burning in my home, Thanksgiving Day, 2015.]

I dreamed of a beautiful home where my family would be safe and happy. I dreamed of being married and raising children with my husband. I dreamed of playing my violin for audiences. I dreamed of filling my home with books and creating an atmosphere of learning and imagination. I dreamed of traveling to far off lands and exploring the world. All of these things, by chance, as well as by determination, have become my reality. 

I did not dream I would adopt a child from across the globe. I did not dream that I would have the unique parenting experience of raising a child like Elisabeth. I did not dream I would climb mountains. But these things, too, have become my reality - and, oh, how lucky I feel! 

I have been blessed with the most amazing experiences and each day I feel immense gratitude that this is my life

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 8, 2015

My Climb Up Mt. St. Helens

Part 1: Why I did it.

Last March I began hiking a local hill named Badger Mountain. I found myself going up three, four, five times a week, addicted to the victorious feeling I got each time I reached the top.

One day, as I was getting ready to go hiking, I gave Elisabeth a hug and said, "Elisabeth, I couldn't take you even if I wanted to," knowing that the task of carrying her crippled body up the hill would be near impossible. Then I thought to myself, what if I had to? That's when I vowed to become strong, to work unceasingly towards improving myself so that I can always be whatever Elisabeth needs me to be.

Indeed, I decided that day that I would climb mountains for her.

 photo 20150912_131543_zpsxbzh5nsp.jpg  photo 20150912_132448_zpsvz1pnhzg.jpg

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Mary Poppins

Opening Night is in  
8 days!!!

  photo IMG_20151010_102536_zpswfs49rh3.jpg

Donald snapped the photo above while they were doing a promotional photo shoot...I am in love with it. Each actor looks the part...and the costumes and setting are...practically perfect!

Alexandra has been busy with an intense rehearsal schedule. The role of Jane Banks is large: she is in just about every scene, has multiple costume changes, 150 some-odd lines, and a long list of songs to sing. But she has risen to the occasion - as I knew she would. Alexandra has been a star since the day she was born.

Last night was the first rehearsal with costumes and I snapped the following pictures before the rehearsal began:
  photo 20151104_180040_zps6noxcmal.jpg 
Alexandra's costume rack with all of Jane's outfits.  photo 20151104_182520_zpsasdia3s9.jpg 
Alexandra and Sydnee chatting on stage before rehearsal.  photo IMG-1446690497785-V_zpsrq5jksqt.jpg 
Jane and Michael Banks. And a tattered up kite. :)  photo 20151104_183202_zpss9p6qybg.jpg 
This one made me laugh...seeing Lex lounging on the prop furniture...still waiting for rehearsal to get going (with Bert walking in front and Winifred behind). 

And one picture from rehearsal:
 photo 20151104_184131_zpse4irmm0j.jpg 
In this shot Alexandra is singing 'The Perfect Nanny'
"She must be kind she must be witty..."

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Lorelai's Birthday Review!

The day she turned 11... photo 20151019_154655_zps9nt5b2vz.jpg  photo 20151019_154754_zpssj8zhi9j.jpg  photo 20151019_154627_zpshq4w0e2o.jpg

Gifts and decorations full of color and fun.  photo 20151019_154703_zpsymuu03l3.jpg photo 20151019_154640_zpscgics97e.jpg  photo 20151019_154623_zpsjwpberta.jpg  photo 20151019_154615_zpskbgw4ym5.jpg

The opening of gifts...

 photo b40d0f11-ea5f-4a12-b5fe-ca8e57feeb16_zpsthqmwn5l.jpg  photo 4c0f0d8c-a29c-4f76-a113-21363fffd729_zps6jmzkuwo.jpg  photo 9e13d1fc-f3fb-46bd-bc91-f3eeed67b90a_zpsysat8qeb.jpg  photo 43c8ddc8-24a0-4e66-bb9f-2b2c233204b4_zpsgnmbmx3v.jpg

Presents included:

~ Fitbit
~ Bubble gum
~ Shoes 
~ Clothes
~ DVD of Grace Stirs up Success
~ Racoon mug
~ Coloring book and colored pencils 


The cake...  photo 20151019_154922_zpsnkhun0lo.jpg  photo 20151019_203130_zpsyjiehxi2.jpg  photo 20151019_203153_zpssiqxubua.jpg

Make a Wish!!!!

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And that's how you turn 11!!!

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